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Jeff Zbar | 9/21/2010

Focusing on Florida's Film Future

For movie entrepreneurs John Textor and Greg Hauptner, all the world's a sound stage. Or, at least, Florida is.

Textor has moved the $51-million visual effects studio he acquired from director James Cameron (of "Avatar" fame) from California to Port St. Lucie. Working from temporary space in Tradition while its permanent facility takes shape, Digital Domain Holdings plans to begin active production of digital animation and photorealistic imagery in fall 2010.

 John Textor
John Textor, chairman / CEO of Digital Domain Holdings, finds fertile ground for filmmaking in Florida. [Photo: Steven Martine]

Hauptner has opened G-Star Studios and G-Star School of the Arts for Motion Pictures and Broadcasting, an 860-student charter school and active movie studio/back lot, in Palm Springs, Florida.

Both CEOs like the synergies they've found at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Full Sail University in Orlando, the Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts and the new digital media program at Indian River State College. Textor plans to build a digital animation college in the region in conjunction with FSU's Film School; Hauptner sees G-Star as a feeder to these programs, and to a burgeoning Southeast Florida film industry.

"This is becoming an area like Hollywood was back in the '20s and '30s," he says, "when little studios popped up down the street."

Textor credits Florida's lack of a state income tax, plus the tax exemptions available to companies engaged in Florida in the production of motion pictures, made-for-television motion pictures, television services, commercial music videos or sound recordings as reasons to relocate here.

And while some might say that Port St. Lucie is too far removed from the movie industry's California epicenter, Textor scoffs. "Creativity wasn't born in L.A. Why not pick a state that happens to be the epicenter of animation education? I have a chip on my shoulder to prove that."

Tags: Southeast, Business Florida

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