Friday, March 5, 2010

Lights, Camera, Action!

The beauty of Miami's tropical environment and beaches have been the setting for many television shows, movies and commercials since moving pictures were invented; the earliest film made in Miami was a short silent comedy called The Taming of Mary - in 1912!  The film and television production industries are an important part of Miami's economy.  According to FilMiami, a Miami-Dade County agency that keeps track of on-going projects, as well as issuing permits for work, in February, 2010, alone, productions added more than $16.5 million to the Miami economy and employed more than 1700 local people.  More than 200 production permits have been issued in just the first two months of 2010. On an annual basis, according to Filmiami, "The Film & Entertainment Industry employs approximately 10,000 full and part time workers and has an annual impact of $2 billion dollars to the local economy with permitted productions contributing more than $150 million." 

There are shows set in Miami which were never filmed here; The Golden Girls is one of the best known, as is the classic 1950s movie Some Like It Hot, starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. Even CSI: Miami only tapes in Miami when there are shots that can't be done elsewhere, such as skyline or Everglades scenes. The rest of the time, the show films in Los Angeles. Before re-locating to Los Angeles, FX's top drama Nip/Tuck was also set in Miami but didn't film here.  There are also productions which are taped or filmed in South Florida that are NOT supposed to be set here, but that's far less common because Miami is far too distinctive-looking to stand in for any other city! 

Of course, the largest category of productions made in South Florida are those which are both set in and made here. The beaches, sun, sparkling water, tropical foliage and wildlife are almost always included in those projects. While the most famous TV show ever made here, Miami Vice, put Miami and Miami Beach back in the public eye and is credited with rejuvenating and reviving Miami, current hot series set here include USA Network's Burn Notice, the #1 rated original show on cable, and Showtime's critical darling Dexter. Even classic series Flipper and Gentle Ben were made in South Florida, although their settings couldn't be more different; Flipper was made at the beach while Gentle Ben was set in the Florida Everglades. 

Movie-making in Miami has produced some of the most exciting and sexy movies ever, including Scarface, Body Heat, Wild Things, Bad Boys, Out of Sight (from the novel by Miami author Elmore Leonard), Any Given Sunday, Goldfinger, Thunderball, The Transporter 2 and 2 Fast 2 Furious. Comedies made in and about Miami include The BidAce Ventura: Pet Detective, There's Something About Mary, Marley and Me, Meet the Fockers, Police Academy 5 & Revenge of the Nerds 2, and the classic coming-of-age movie Porky's, partially filmed in what is now Oleta River State Park in North Miami Beach. 

Even the reality TV craze has left its mark on Miami. The 1996 season of MTV's The Real World was made here and has been followed by a season of Top Chef, a Key West version of The Real World, occasional episodes of Hogan Knows Best and Brooke Knows Best, as well as A&E's popular Miami Ink, about a South Beach tattoo parlor. The 1960s incarnation of The Jackie Gleason Show also broadcast from Miami Beach, and is commemorated by the Fillmore Miami Beach Jackie Gleason Theater on the beach. 

With Univision, Telemundo and TeleFutura based in Miami, there's always a lot going on in the Spanish-language TV world. Telenovelas, Spanish-language soap operas, are huge hits for these networks. They are also recognized for their excellent local programming and news coverage of the Spanish-speaking world. During the recent earthquake in Chile, MSNBC regularly cut to the Hialeah headquarters of Telemundo for updates because Telemundo already had reporters in Chile. 

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