The most famous film set on the Gulf Coast of Florida is Citizen Kane. The Orson Welles masterpiece many, including the AFI, consider the greatest American film of all time.
“Here, on the deserts of the Gulf Coast, a private mountain was commissioned and successfully built. One hundred thousand trees, twenty thousand tons of marble are the ingredients of Xanadu’s mountain.”
Citizen Kane written by Herman J. Mankiewicz and Orson Welles
And while Citizen Kane was actually shot in Southern California and on Long Island, there are plenty of other films shot on the other west coast—in Florida. And since I took the above photo on St. Pete Beach last weekend I thought I’d focus on a few films shot in the greater Tampa Bay area.
Just a couple of miles north of where I took that photo on Pass-A-Grille sits the historic Loews Don CeSar Beach Resort where just last month The Infiltrator (starring Brian Cranston) shot some scenes. The same place Robert Altman shot part of HealtH (1980).
Director Ron Howard shot Cocoon (1985) in and around St. Petersburg, Florida. Steven Soderbergh shot part of Magic Mike (2012) on Treasure Island—starring Channing Tatum who graduated from high school in Tampa. Harmony Korine shot Spring Breakers in several locations in the area.
The pastel neighborhood featured in Edward Scissorhands, starring Johnny Depp, was shot a few miles north of Tampa in Lutz, Florida. Dolphin Tale starring Morgan Freeman was primarily in and around Clearwater, Florida and Oceans 11 spent a couple of days shooting at the Derby Lane Greyhound Track in St. Petersburg.
I’m sure there is a much longer list, but those are some of the higher profile productions and/or production people connected with projects shot in the area. If you’re interested in shooting there contact the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Film Commission and/or the Tampa Hillsborough Film and Digital Media Commission.
This is a fitting place to mention that in 2007 screenwriter (and St. Pete Beach resident) Mike France (Cliffhanger, Hulk) bought the historic Beach Theatre on St. Pete Beach. It was probably more of a romantic and nostalgic choice than a profit-making business decision and the theatre closed a few months before he died in 2013. But Kudos to France for keeping the art deco theatre—which first opened in 1940—alive a few more years.
And for what it’s worth, I was doing a little research last weekend for a new script I’m writing and on the same day I took that sunset shot I caught the sunrise at Melbourne Beach on Florida’s east coast. Melbourne Beach is where Jim Jarmusch shot part of his classic indie film Stranger Than Paradise (1984)— A must see black and white film shot using only master shots.
Here’s a photo of mine from sunrise at Melbourne Beach. (To inquire about shooting on Florida’s space coast (including Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach, Melbourne) contact the Space Coast Film Commission.)
P.S. Congrats to the Tampa Bay Lightning for their victory last night against the New York Rangers to advance to the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
‘The Greatest Film Ever Made’
Orson Welles at USC in 1981 (part 1)
‘State of Cinema’ (Soderbergh)
Fueling Your Imagination (Jarmusch Style)
Scott W. Smith
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