The Advantages of Shooting on Location in Miami

Dave's Grip & Lighting grip truck in Wynwood Miami

A producer buddy of mine and I put this piece together loaded with insider tips and information on our favorite Miami locations. Do you want to know where to find the most interesting Miami neighborhood locations? How to easily permit your Miami shoot? Or, how to get that sales tax exemption? Well, if so, read on…

Today, film locations in Florida and Miami are more than just the ones located on its famous beaches. Miami is now grown up and with its varied neighborhoods, there’s an ample supply of interesting locations to choose from throughout Miami-Dade.  Couple that with great weather, a fine selection of camera rental houses, grip truck rentals, professional crew, actors, and production resources, including an efficient permitting process, South Florida continues to welcome to film productions from around the US and the world.

Productions Shot in Miami and Florida

Significant films have been shot in Miami and the surrounding area including Ace Ventura, Bad Boys, Dolphin Tale, Edward Scissorhands, Fast and Furious II, Goldfinger, Magic Mike, Marley and Me, Moonlight, Never Back Down, Pain and Gain, The Punisher, and many others, including the most famous one: Scarface.

The best-known television production shot in Miami was, of course, Miami Vice followed by CSI: Miami. Some episodes of Dexter were shot in the area. HBO shot Ballers here. Fox shot Graceland in the area, and Netflix filmed Bloodline in the Florida Keys here in South Florida.

Commercial producers enjoy the Miami area for its mild weather during the wintertime, as well as for its diverse ethnic communities that provide exciting backdrops. Nike shot an advertising campaign in Miami featuring NBA player LeBron James previously of the Miami Heat.

There’s an online movie and television map tour of the Miami productions and their shooting locations. There is also a full filmography list for those who are interested in films that date back to the 1940s. For active projects, you can see a list of current productions now filming.

Film Location Types & Neighborhoods

Miami-Dade County has fantastic film locations including beautiful residences, ethnic neighborhoods, high-rise buildings, waterfront properties, and exciting city streets/urban landscapes.

Residences

Housing choices to use as film locations include luxury homes, villas, beachfront properties, Americana-style bungalows, and cottages.

Many villas here are European style influence. These villas look like those found on the coast near the Mediterranean in countries such as Greece, Italy or Spain.

Ethnic Neighborhoods

Miami has neighborhoods with an intriguing ethnic mix including Cuban, Puerto Rican, Latino, Asian, and other nationalities. Each of these exciting neighborhoods has a distinctive flavor that is appealing to many filmmakers.

High-Rise Buildings

The high-rise buildings include apartments, offices, and expensive condominiums. These buildings have marvelous penthouse suites. The views from the windows are spectacular. Downtown Miami has a business area that looks like the tall buildings of any major American city. Productions can reproduce street scenes representing the cityscape of any major metropolitan area found in the USA.

Waterfront Properties

These locations include everything from massive hotel/ resorts located right on the beach, to restaurants, to homes with a boat dock, to simple beach huts. The sunsets are spectacular, and the sleek speedboats flying by and jumping the ocean waves are a Miami classic.

City Streets and Urban Cityscapes

In Miami, there are wide palm-lined streets. The urban cityscape is diverse with micro-neighborhoods that represent a cultural ethnicity or style that characterizes the sights and sounds.

The ten most interesting neighborhoods to shoot in Miami are:

  • Design District – upscale shops line outdoor walking malls.
  • Wynwood – lots of art galleries and street art.
  • Little Havana – Cuban style.
  • Coral Gables – an abundance of tropical trees, flowers, and lush gardens.
  • Coconut Grove – a laid-back vibe and the Cocowalk boardwalk.
  • Miami Beach – most of the buildings are Art Deco style.
  • Downtown – could double as New York’s Broadway with its many theaters.
  • Brickell – the financial district with tall office buildings,
  • MiMo – also known as the Upper Eastside with many brightly-painted hotels.
  • Midtown – large murals, tattoo parlors, vintage clothing boutiques, and jazz clubs.
  • Other locations include public parks and world-class beaches. If interiors are needed, Peerspace offers many interior areas and studios that are available for rent by the hour.

Incentives for Filming in Miami, Florida

A statewide sales tax exemption and a two-tiered county-sponsored grant program encourage production companies to film in the Miami-Dade County area.

Sales Tax Exemption

Florida offers production companies and sales tax exemptions for items purchased in Florida and used in making television, film, or music video projects. This exemption does not include sales taxes for hotel stays or rental of vehicles; however, it does cover sales taxes on anything else purchased by the production company in the state. For example, there is an exemption from sales tax for a variety of camera rentals in Miami.

To take advantage of this sales tax exemption, apply online before making any qualified item purchases.

Miami-Dade County Film Grants

Miami-Dade County has a grant program, offering money for certain types of expenditures that are made by production companies. There are two tiers of grants for productions shot in the area:

  • For a qualified production that spends a minimum of $500,000 up to $1 million in Miami-Dade County, a production company can apply for up to a $50,000 grant.
  • For a qualified production that spends more than $1 million in Miami-Dade County, a production company can apply for up to a $100,000 grant.

North Miami Incentives

North Miami offers attractive incentives. And as a result, many productions have been filmed there, including Miami Vice, Ballers, and Graceland. The most considerable incentives come from expenses and investments made within the boundaries of the North Miami Community Redevelopment Agency area.

The current incentive programs include:

  • Pre-Production Expenses: There is a 30% reimbursement possible for pre-production expenses from between $10,000 and $50,000.
  • Free Parking and Space for Base Camp: Any production company that invests more than $20,000 in filming in North Miami qualifies for free parking for the production. Companies that spend more than $50,000, also get extra free parking space to set up a base camp for the filming.
  • Location Fees Waived: For production companies that invest more than $30,000, the fees for the use of public parks, community centers, and other public spaces may be waived
  • Police Support Fees Waived: For production companies that invest more than $100,000, the fees for police may be waived.
  • Production Expense Reimbursement: Production companies that invest in businesses located in the North Miami Community Redevelopment Agency area may receive reimbursement of 30% of their expenses, subject to the availability of funds under the incentive program.
  • Apply for expense reimbursement with the film permit application. The film permit approval process is speedy. Permits are approved within one to three days once the production company has at least the required $1 million minimum liability insurance in place.

Why Miami is Great for Production

Production companies enjoy plenty of local support for filming in Miami. A full range of production resources and the availability of production assistance, supported by each Miami-Dade municipality, are offered for filming in the Miami area.  Additionally, there are plenty of professional crew, local talent, and other support for production companies to use both in Miami Beach and Miami-Dade County productions. Filming is made easier with one-stop permits. And, if producers/directors need camera rental, Miami has professional film equipment and grip truck rental available for filmmakers.

Thanks to the local enthusiasm for supporting film and television productions and the diverse locations, producers, and directors fall in love with Miami. Many, like Michael Bay (Miami Vice, Bad Boys, Pain & Gain), continue to return to Miami time and again to shoot their productions and take advantage of all that they find in Florida.