Often overlooked in its contribution to cinema history, the State of Florida has the distinction of being among just a handful of regions in the United States to have a continuous connection with the American motion picture industry. This relationship in turn has produced iconic entertainment that has shaped the state's image to the outside world, while production spending has served as an important booster for local economies across Florida. The purpose of this study is to demonstrate how the sometimes cooperative and often contentious dynamics between film and television producers and state politicians have influenced this history of film production in Florida. This can best be understood by examining the ideological divide between the pro-business and anti-corporate factions in Florida's government. Through a series of interconnected case studies that apply place-based analysis, this project demonstrates how the Florida government and communities have historically interacted with the motion picture industry. While Florida never truly became an "Almost Hollywood" or "Hollywood East," film producers and state officials were at various times successful in turning the cities of Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando, and Miami into important centers for film and television production. Yet just as each of these production hubs gained momentum, resistance at the state and local level resulted in the industry's decline and departure. These moments of cooperation and conflict provide important insights into the specific environmental characteristics that inspired filmmakers to come to Florida, as well as the social-political circumstances that eventually pushed them from the state. With a close scrutiny of trade press sources, periodicals, local newspapers, and the personal papers of filmmakers and politicians, this work explains the varied reasons behind the repeated rise, fall, and occasional exodus of the state's motion picture industry. This will be achieved by scrutinizing examples that range from policy decisions made by Florida's government from the turn of the twentieth century on through to the current efforts being made by Florida lawmakers to reinvigorate the state's production industry.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Texts and Technology
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Morton, David, "The Heralds of the Dawn: A History of the Motion Picture Industry in the State of Florida, 1908-2019" (2019). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 6365.