“I figure marriage is kind of like Miami: it’s
hot and stormy, and occasionally a little dangerous… But if it’s
really so awful, why is there still so much traffic?”

Frankel’s Miami Rhapsody may not be the most famous South
Florida-lensed movie, but it certainly gets its setting right. With
beautiful scenery, a huge arts and cultural scene and perfect weather
year-round, each year the city of Miami attracts more moviemakers
to its shores—many of whom make the move a permanent one. Here,
several local moviemakers share with MM the experiences
of working in “The Magic City.”

Sarah Dawson
Christopher Zara
Akif Hakan Celebi
John R. Munn
Mark Clark
Carol Green

As a writer and aspiring director, I feel that Miami’s
rich tapestry of different cultures really helps my creative process.
With people from all walks of life here, I am continually inspired
and motivated to make movies that are as fantastic and dramatic
as real life.

—Sarah Dawson, [email protected]

Being from New Jersey, I sometimes find it difficult
to feel at home amidst the tourist traps and sweltering South Florida
summers. This sense of non-belonging is often reflected
in our films with “lost soul”protagonists alienated from their surroundings.
As a backdrop for visual storytelling, Florida’s endless suburban
landscapes can evoke love/hate feelings that aid the conflict necessary
for a good story.

—Christopher Zara, Writer/Producer,
Sketchbook Productions, www.sketchbookproductions.com

Miami attracts the most creative talent on earth;
people who enjoy working in this subtropical environment sans Hollywood
pressures. Visually, Miami is a diamond and when observing how the
city is photographed in each project, one gets a new perspective
of aesthetics. Miami as Casablanca is a unique education unto itself.

—Andrew Nathanson, Location
Manager, [email protected]

I moved to Miami Beach five years ago. Through local
organizations like IFP and Entertainment Incubator (a monthly networking
meeting), I was able to meet other filmmakers and find a publicist
(formerly from LA), a screenwriting teacher (formerly from LA),
a producer’s rep (from NY), musicians (from LA and NY) and investors
from overseas (who do business in Miami). And we have a nice beach!

—Betsy Blankenbaker,
Producer/Writer/Director (Something to Cheer About; New
York in the Fifties
), [email protected]

Miami and South Florida are not only about palm trees
and sandy beaches. There is a huge cultural diversity here that
makes it very interesting to explore, and provides lots of interesting
stories and ideas for filmmakers. Writers will find massive inspiration
here as well, especially if they get deep into the minds of the
elder locals sitting by the boardwalks or street corners who are
always ready to entertain you with a great story. Miami is alive
and kicking!

—Akif Hakan Celebi, Producer/Director/Cinematographer/Founder,
South Florida Independent Film Group, [email protected]

I recently finished a feature film with the guidance,
encouragement and generosity of other filmmakers, talent and the
South Beach community that contributed to the film without any thought
of personal gain. I have learned that filmmaking is an organic experience
and that people want to help you realize your dreams.

—John R. Munn, Writer/Producer/Director
(Women from Jupiter), [email protected]

I’ve got an itch. I’m from the Midwest and I was
always told, “Never scratch an itch.”That’s what I call the Midwest
mentality. So I made a change in my life and I started scratching
my itch. My itch is moviemaking. My back­scratcher is Miami.
This city could scratch my itch forever.

—Kevin Roberto Bertolini,
Technical Director/Head of Post-Production, TB Digital Productions,
Ltd, [email protected]

Miami is not Hollywood. Miami is tropical locations,
heat, skyscrapers, natural light and crewmembers who become family.
This county educates one more about the limitations of bureaucracy
than about the vision one can offer through the lens of a camera.
If only they could see what we can see.

—Carol Green, Unit Publicist, [email protected]

While shooting my second feature, Hide, I’ve
found that all the resources needed to make a great film are right
here in Miami! I graduated from the University of Miami Film School,
where there was great access to equipment and a lot of freedom to
experiment. With the Keys, Everglades and South Beach only a short
drive away, the possibilities are endless. If only there were more
ambitious people down here to more quickly make South Florida the
wonderful production oasis it will someday be!

—Mark Clark, [email protected]