Our roots in Florida’s production industry go back to about 1980 when a bunch of us came from California to finish up what we’d started with EPCOT and then decided it would be a real good idea to try to stay. In 1984, we began the preparation in earnest for the project that would become the Disney-MGM Studios.
Once the studio opened in 1988 things moved quickly and the industry built, changed, reformed and built again- I guess about a dozen cycles worth by now and some version of the team was always in the middle of it. In the late 90s, two things happened that I think lined us up perfectly to be where we find ourselves on the edge of 2013. One was the digitalization of the industry- which not only revolutionized production but by the end of this decade will see the complete renovation of how content makers get their work to audiences. The other was our discovery that at the root of everything we have always done, there was always a story and that the use of story as a design system was our true passion. We like to work with a basic story structure when we do brand development-and pretty much everything else. I’d like to use the model to maybe tee up some questions for us all to graze on about our Florida industry going forward.
Setting establishes the experiential environment. It’s the WHERE but it’s the essential where- not just the address. In Florida, we have always hung our hats on location as a seemingly unending string of Miami based hit series proves. What else can we say about our setting? Easy to get to, easy to live in, easy easy easy!
Voice is our persona. I wonder today what our media creation and production voice is? Are we confident and grounded? Spunky and entrepreneurial? Is our voice heard because we’re loud and cranky or because we speak softly but are well known for having something valuable to say?
Behind that voice is Character. So who are we collectively? We’re complicated I think. We still have a fresh outlook but we’ve also been to a few rodeos. I’m pretty sure no matter how “tough” we want to be, we can’t shake our upbringing which is essentially cordial and hospitable and once in a while, we’ve been known to be just a tiny bit too optimistic- maybe a better fault than the opposite.
Emotion provides the power behind our promised experience. What is it we want our industry colleagues to feel when they think about us? Welcoming? Calm, provided for, collegial? Excited? Refreshed?
Plot establishes our failure and success drivers. Our Florida production plot has had so many twists and turns it would take 15 writers to untangle it. The basics are still solid: we have a great place to work, we have a friendly business and production climate and we have very methodically grown our core indigenous business.
Finally, my favorite: Conflict. This aspect of our story maps out the Florida Production Industry’s “Hero’s Journey”. This is the part of our brand story that has the spice. Now without getting at all partisan, Florida has PLENTY of spice these days and probably always has. One of the great things about our story is that we RARELY have to make up our conflicts. We’re a people of passion and we’re plain spoken- a pretty good recipe for conflict. Fortunately, we have used our conflict to build energy instead of self destruct-mostly.
So there are a few things to consider. Where we go with this story next is ours to write and produce. The “feature import” business is tough and competitive. The “incentive of the week” often wins the big picture market share but she’s a fickle and demanding mistress. Series television is a solid and growth-building manufacturing process. It creates long-term jobs and leaves a legacy of talent. Then there are the new forms- from ultra low budget reality TV, to made-for-streaming, to games (both “serious” and fun) to forms that we can’t guess at yet.
Just like we sort of did back in the early 80s, we probably have to pick a place or two to stand, edit our story and go with it. I hope it has a lot more economic gardening and a lot less reliance on on-off imports. I hope that story includes Florida as the owner of and mecca for its own rightfully gained mastery- that could look like a major creative center evolving down the street here in Orlando and/or a radical new way to shoot 3D. One thing we know as storytellers is that if you can gain an understanding and appreciation of your audience and get these 6 elements clear, you can unleash a powerful force.