Hillsborough will try to lure The Infiltrator film with $250K subsidy

03/05/14 Seán Kinane
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Tags: Tampa, film, Movies, IIFA, Hillsborough County Commission, subsidies

The Hillsborough County Commission is going into show business. Wednesday the board committed a quarter of a million dollars in subsidies to lure a feature film called The Infiltrator. It’s based on a non-fiction book set mainly in Tampa by a local author who worked for the Drug Enforcement agency investigating banks laundering money for Pablo Escobar’s Medellin Cartel.

Commissioner Ken Hagan says the county’s financial incentive to snare the film is about a third of what was originally discussed.

"I want the board to know that this commitment is not for closing fund where you give money up front with no strings attached. That's where states have gotten into problems with some of their incentives in the past. The money is given post-production only after the approved thresholds have been met and documentation has been provided."

Dale Gordon is executive director of the Tampa Hillsborough Film and Digital Media Commission. She says homegrown productions like The Infiltrator have the most economic benefit for the region.

"With this project, the economic impact, obviously, we've talked looking at $20 million locally, several hundred jobs, 2400 plus room nights into the area. If it was a straightforward state incentive we've already said that they have been pre-qualified at the state level but there is currently no tax credits. The problem that we get into with this project in particular is that their official start date was supposed to March 10. They have a 45 day window but session will not be done until after the project needs to make their decision whether or not they are going to come. So, with that, the local incentive is somewhat of a safeguard for them."

Gordon mentioned one reason few films had been produced in Tampa in recent years is because of the county’s record on human rights. For example, for eight years until last June the Commission forbade official Hillsborough County recognition of gay pride events.

Commissioner Al Higginbotham also got the board to approve an additional $50,000 in subsidy for a separate film.

"There is also another movie that is being filmed and worked on here and is called '7 Inductees' and that's about 7 Indians who are coming to Tampa to go to college. It is a positive story, it's not an Animal House type movie but it is going to be featured around the world, in India, throughout the US with a focus on Tampa."

Next Month Tampa will host an international film awards ceremony sometimes called the Bollywood Oscars. The 15th International Indian Film Academy Weekend and Awards will be from April 23-26.

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