We can't say we didn't see it coming. Orlando premiered on MM's "Top 10 American Cities to be a Moviemaker" list two years ago at the prestigious #5 spot, ahead of Los Angeles and Chicago, then dropped in 2005 to #10. Last year they cited a lack of native funds (read: generous art-loving rich people) as a reason for its five point slide. This year, we didn't even make the honorable mention list.
So who's to blame? Is it the local Film Commission? No. Orlando boasts one of the nation's most supportive commission offices. Is it a lack of quality crew and facilities? Nope. We have hardworking experienced crew base and nearly a dozen soundstages that lie dormant most of the year. So why isn't Orlando on that list in 2006?
Well, it's true that the lack of patronage is a problem, but it isn't the problem. The problem is that Orlando filmmakers suck. I'm talking about the "artists," now, not the fantastic support crews. Nearly every time I see something written and directed by an Orlando filmmaker, it's a cheesy, schlocky embarrassment. Until Orlando becomes a haven for regional filmmakers with vibrant, distinctive voices, it will never become a top filmmaking destination. Unfortunately, the really excellent young directors keep leaving for New York, Los Angeles, and Canada, because young cutting edge artists like to be around other young cutting edge artists. So the cycle feeds itself.
Well, I for one am not heading to LA or NY, although it remains to be seen whether I can be considered excellent or cutting edge. My hope is that other filmmakers with guts and talent will stay in Florida too. I do believe this region will one day host a serious independent movement. It's just a matter of time.