Although the festival had been scaled back from sixteen days to four, the quality of the films, the caliber of the celebrity guests, and the size of the crowds has grown. “It was better than ever,” said festival President Chad Moore. Independent films including happythankyoumoreplease, Charlie Valentine, and Breaking News Breaking Down were screened at Cinebistro, Muvico Ybor, and the Tampa Theatre.
In order to nurture local filmmakers and the local film scene, the festival held free educational panels to educate young filmmakers and actors. Panels included: “We Dare to Scare” on special effects, “Is Film Dead?,” a discussion on digital film, and “The Future of Florida’s film Business,” as well as a panel for actors.
Celebrities spotted at the festival were Jerry Springer and Melora Hardin (The Office), who both had films playing at the festival, Stephen Baldwin, Armand Assante, and local fashion designer Ben Chmura (Project Runway). Even Governor Charlie Crist stopped by to the closing night party held in fashionable Hyde Park.
The Gasparilla International Film Festival was signifigant in that elected officials were at the events alongside filmmakers and celebrities, there to support the budding film scene. Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, State Representative Rich Glorioso, and State Representative Kevin Ambler all came out to support the festival on opening night at the Tampa Theatre.
But the politicians’ support wasn’t just for show, they are working hard behind the scenes as well. An incentive bill to court the industry into coming to our beautiful state sponsored by State Representative Kevin Ambler, (R- Tampa), recently passed through the House Economic Development Policy Committee unanimously. Rep. Ambler is also on the advisory board for the Gasparilla International Film Festival, and authored a film incentive bill in 2003.
With the film incentive bill, filmmakers from L.A. are not the only ones to receive benefits. “Film in Florida is so important to our state,” said Governor Crist on why it’s beneficial to court the film industry. “It’s clean…high pay…creates jobs.”
More movies made in the state of Florida would provide jobs to local residents, either directly through being hired to work on the production, or indirectly by providing services to the production. On top of benefiting the state economy through direct employment, films shot in Florida would serve as an advertisement for the state, inspiring fan to visit the Sunshine State, and benefiting the already established and lucrative tourism industry. It is estimated that a film presence in Florida would generate $18 billion a year.
The Gasparilla International Film Festival is made possible through the support of their sponsors. While all are important, perhaps the one that made the biggest impact is new sponsor Digital Domain. The visual effects studio, which is responsible for about 70% of the top 20 highest grossing films of all time, just broke ground on a new studio in Port St. Lucie. According to Chad Moore, Digital Domain plans to continue to sponsor the Gasparilla International Film Festival.
Can’t wait until next year? The films and parties of the Gasparilla International Film Festival can be experienced year round through their membership program. The Gasparilla International Film Festival offers private parties and film screenings for those who support the arts by becoming a member.
More information on the Gasparilla International Film Festival can be found at www.gasparillafilmfestival.com.