By Lisa Petrillo

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It was the first day back at work for many of the people on a south Miami set who were shooting a public service announcement.

After being closed for months, the Miami-Dade Office of Film and Entertainment is back in business with safety in mind.

“We have a crew of about 70 people. We tested everybody for COVID. All tested negative which was very important to make sure we could work on the shoot and right now we’re prepping for a first shot,” said Luis Valderrama, who is producing the PSA.

Miami-Dade’s Film and Entertainment Office has resumed issuing permits for film, television, and photo shoots on county-owned properties. The office was shut down in March due to the pandemic.

“Our sweet spot when we had a lot of production was somewhere between January to May. So we were doing well and we had a couple of movies that we’re coming. Then everything fell out, unfortunately,” said Miami Dade’s Film and Entertainment Commissioner Sandy Lighterman.

Miami had its movie and TV production heyday with films like “The Birdcage” ( 1996) and “There’s Something About Mary” (1998) and many more. Then, when the state stopped offering incentives years ago many productions went elsewhere.

“A year without incentives brings $150 million of direct spend, no multipliers into the local economy. When we had incentives, it was almost half a billion dollars a year, almost $480 million. So it definitely makes a big difference,” Lighterman said.

Still, there have been some notable productions in South Florida in recent years, like the Oscar-winning film “Moonlight” in 2016.

CBS4 also got a chance to visit the set of Bad Boys 3 in April of last year.

Now more than ever, Lighterman said, production crews should feel safe and secure about coming back to work here in South Florida.

“It’s safe because there are protocols in place that are way stricter than even those the county has in place,“ she explained. “They have their zones and pods and different wristbands that you can’t cross into the other zone and that’s all about safety. They have COVID safety supervisors and medic on sets.”

“We appreciate it because getting back to work in and of itself is to be appreciated. And staying working is the key to stay working,” said Doug a production member on the set of the PSA.

Lighterman points that she knows that productions will continue to ramp up in South Florida because due to the virus everybody has been watching everything from home on all the streaming services, so the demand for content is high.

Lisa Petrillo

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