TLG talks to John Lux, Executive Director of Film Florida
I was born and raised in the Chicago area and went to Purdue University in Indiana. My early goal was to write for Sports Illustrated but I found myself more interested in electronic media than print media so I followed more of a production route.
It was in my senior year of college that I discovered a love for post production and editing in particular. When I graduated from Purdue I got a job as the post production assistant at a small production company outside Chicago. After 18 months in the job, I needed a change of scene so my girlfriend at the time (now my wife) and I followed some friends to Orlando, Florida.
It was in Orlando that I got more involved in the entertainment side of the industry. I moved away from the technical side and got more into the operations side of the business. I worked for a media and experience design company called IDEAS for 18 years before joining Film Florida.
What does your role as Executive Director of Film Florida involve exactly and what do you enjoy most about the job?
I first got involved with Film Florida in 2013 and then officially joined the organisation as a volunteer (all our members are volunteers) in 2014. I became the Treasurer on the Executive Board in June 2014 and then in June 2016 I was made the full time Executive Director.
I see my role as part operations, part sales (membership) and part finance. Since our entire organisation (the Executive Board, the Board of Directors and the general membership) is made up of volunteers I am the only person focused on Film Florida all day, every day. My role is to make sure we are constantly moving forward. All our members are involved in Film Florida’s development, but since every one of them has a full time job outside of the organisation I have to focus on making sure milestones are being hit and progress is being made on all our initiatives.
"Our goal is to continue to advocate for the industry by telling the story of our industry through the stories of our members."
Please tell us about Film Florida and your vision to help create and mantain a sustainable, professional and productive entertainment production industry in Florida.
The mission of Film Florida is to grow and strengthen the industry. Film Florida is a not-for-profit entertainment production association that provides a leadership role in Florida's film, TV, and digital media industry by representing a coalition of interests, including private industry, local film commissions, industry associations, educational institutions and labour organisations. Its purpose is to offer to businesses and individuals the benefits of a statewide trade association to promote the creation of jobs in the film and entertainment production industry and to promote economic development and tourism. Our goal is to continue to advocate for the industry by telling the story of our industry through the stories of our members.
How many members (government agencies and private business) do you have providing services to the entertainment industry?
There are more than 55,000 Floridians working in the industry. Many that work in the industry work for small companies or are individual independent contractors.
What is the scope of member activities?
The core member activities revolve around our four quarterly meetings. Our meetings can last up to three days and rotate to various locations throughout Florida. Recent, and soon to be used, locations include Cocoa Beach, Palm Beach, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tallahassee, St. Petersburg and Boca Raton.
"Currently Florida has seven counties and two cities that have local programmes to attract film and TV projects to Florida."
In between our quarterly meetings we partner with member organisations or companies that host events. By doing this we are helping our members with their events while also offering our membership additional opportunities. In recent years we have also hosted a number of ‘meet ups’ and professional development opportunities. In addition to that we attend between six and ten conferences, trade shows and film festivals throughout the USA to give our members the opportunity to participate and promote the industry in Florida.
Please tell us about the incentives Florida currently has on offer to foreign producers?
Currently Florida has seven counties and two cities that have local programmes to attract film and TV projects to Florida. Details and contact info can be found here under Local Incentive Programmes. Each programme varies and most are ‘stackable’ so you can utilise more than one per project.
What can you tell us about Florida as a filming destination?
Florida has a lot to offer anyone looking for a filming location. We start with our State Film Commission, then the more than 60 local film commissions or liaisons that assist on the local level. With warm temperatures year round, hundreds of miles of beaches, a countless number of diverse neighbourhoods and locations, Florida has long been considered the perfect location for ‘Anywhere USA’. We believe Florida has locations, experienced crew, in-depth infrastructure and a desire to do excellent work as well as a willingness to work with budgets. All of those elements make it the perfect location for film and TV. Florida can double for any location except ones with mountains and snow! Whether it’s a beach, a countryside, a desert, a specific or generic neighbourhood, a rainforest, swampland, or anything in between, Florida can double for just about any state in America or any country in the world.
Please tell us about post production and VFX facilities in Florida?
Florida has many post production and VFX facilities. As technology has advanced over the last 20 years, the ability to do high quality work in post production and VFX has increased accessibility and made cost effective work achievable.
What are the advantages of filming in Florida?
Many jurisdictions offer free permits and all of our local film commissions do their best to be as efficient as possible with permitting. In general, Florida is a very film friendly state for filming when it comes to permitting, cooperation with local authorities, access to private locations and public roadways.
"Florida is a very film friendly state for filming when it comes to permitting."
What are your future plans for the growth of Film Florida?
As a membership-based organisation, we are only as strong as our membership allows us to be. The goal is to continue to grow our membership base which in turn allows us to market and promote the industry in Florida more. It also allows us to offer more professional development and networking opportunities for our members. Membership has grown in each of the last three years showing the industry’s desire to continue to grow in Florida.
Where did you last take a vacation?
My last two vacations were to Chicago in the Summer to visit family and a cruise last Spring. Our family enjoys going on cruises as it’s really the only way to disconnect and the ease of activities, meals, room, etc make it appealing.
What was the last movie you saw and loved and why?
The ironic truth is that I don’t watch many movies. I have always been more of a TV guy so I watch more episodic television than movies. My favourite TV series are The West Wing (pictured above) and The Big Bang Theory. If I had to pick some favourite movies of all time, they would include Forrest Gump and A Few Good Men.
If you hadn't become the Executive Director of Film Florida, what other job would you like to have done?
If I were not the Executive Director for Film Florida I imagine that I would be doing something with similar tasks within the industry. Having experience with operations, finance and marketing is a good combination when looking for a job. I enjoyed my time early in my career as a video editor and have enjoyed getting back in to that on a small scale recently so if I wouldn’t have gone down my current path it’s possible I would have continued editing.
Thank you John. It has been great talking to you and finding out what makes Florida such a great location destination. I hope to meet you at FOCUS 2019 – the meeting place for international production.
Click here to contact John.
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