Florida Film Production Gets Boost With Animation Incentive

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Planet Blue (Arrow Sky Media and DIRECTV)

By James DeRuvo (doddle NEWS)

With $1.25 million in local tax incentives and a cost of living that benefits from no income tax, animation company Arrow Sky Media plans to bring new jobs to Orlando, Florida by moving their headquarters from Tennessee. Could this be the start of what Florida needs to attract production back?

“The cost of living is good in Orlando. There’s more to do here. Everyone is really excited about Creative Village, too.” -Victoria Lauren, managing director of Arrow Sky.

Starting with a small group of about a dozen employees, Arrow Sky Media looks to move into Orlando’s “Creative Village,” and make a $2.93 million investment over the next three years through hiring of game and app developers, animators, production managers, and IT support personnel. The company plans to hire up to 114 employees, filled from graduates of the University of Central Florida.

Producers of the DIRECTV children’s TV show Planet Blue, Arrow Sky seeks to expand with additional children’s programming that will include Greenbean Avenue and Arrow Crossing. The company is also working with the Orlando Science Center to create a live production of Planet Blue that will feature holograms and live actors teaching about the importance of respecting our planet.

Arrow Sky received the tax incentives thanks in part to the efforts of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, who managed to secure two incentive packages for Arrow Sky that including matching funds from the city of Orlando itself, which will join the Florida Qualified Target Industry Program incentive (QTI), and additional investment from the Community Redevelopment Authority.

Managing director Victoria Lauren chose Orlando chiefly because she didn’t really want to go anywhere else, and she had plenty of options that also offered film credits, which Florida has since phased out. “I know that film credits weren’t on the table in Florida anymore,” added Lauren. “I knew Georgia had film credits, but I just didn’t want to be in Georgia. And the incentive packages for jobs were still available.”

ucfvalenciarendering-300x219Timing couldn’t be better for Arrow Sky either. In addition to eliminating the Florida film credits program, the state legislature is also considering cutting all incentive programs, including the QTI. Arrow Sky has to prove its worth, though, in that the incentives will not be rewarded until all jobs have been hired and kept on payroll for a set period of time.  But if all goes as planned, that investment will spur the hiring of additional jobs over the next give to six years to 300 total.

While her partner company Magnetic Dreams will remain headquartered in Nashville, Lauren says the move has already begun for Arrow Sky, which will be housed in the 7,000 square foot Thornton Park Building in Creative Village. The 68 acre complex is located in the heart of downtown Orlando and offers an urban campus that will include the University of Central Florida (in a new campus), and a new high tech office space for digital media and creative companies. An ideal location for Arrow Sky to set up shop, and pluck some of the best grads that UCF has to offer.

Time will tell if this will help lure production back to Florida, if cities and taxpayers are willing to give tax incentives the Sunshine State no longer offers.

Hat Tip: Orlando Sentinel

About James DeRuvo

James has a multi-faceted career that spans radio, film and publishing. A writer about the technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years, James is also an award winning film director, having garnered a Telly Award for his short film Searching for Inspiration. He's also worked as a producer of many talk radio programs in Los Angeles with topics ranging from entertainment to travel to technology.

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