Hillsborough film company gets tax money

UPDATE 7/20: Commissioners approved the incentive unanimously Wednesday, without any discussion.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FLORIDA (7/19/16) - County commissioners are expected to vote Wednesday on $25,000 worth of subsidies to incentivize a Hillsborough County film company to shoot a film in Hillsborough County.

The tax dollars are the latest attempt from the county to support its struggling film industry.  But unlike a 2015 film incentive recipient, The Infiltrator, this week's subsidy-seeker boasts no multi-million-dollar budget and no blockbuster cast.

The proposed incentive, designed to "secure the local filming of the motion picture," will cover 10% of the budget for No Postage Necessary, a film produced by Plant City-based Two Roads Picture Co. According to the subsidy application, production is scheduled to start next week.

But 10Investigates has reported on the poor return-on-investment for film subsidies, with a state economist finding they return just 41 cents on each taxpayer dollar.

According to county records, the majority owner of Two Roads, Jennifer Closshey, has been a regular campaign contributor to commissioners over the last decade, donating $2,500 to Al Higginbotham, $250 to Ken Hagan, and $250 to Stacey White. 

Neither Higginbotham nor Hagan, both ardent film subsidy supporters, returned requests for comment Tuesday, nor did Closshey or the head of the county's film commission, Dale Gordon.

"They are being awful cavalier with money that doesn't belong to them," wrote Andres Malave, Florida communications director for conservative group Americans for Prosperity, in an email.  "Taxpayers won't see a good ROI, the state had proven that. Citizens should note who supports it and hold them accountable when it counts."


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