JULIE GORDON , FILM COMMISSIONER

HISTORY OF BAY COUNTY FILMING

HISTORY OF BAY COUNTY FILMING

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Bay County is full of film-worthy notations. And for the record, the term “film” has a broad definition encompassing basically “anything shot with a camera”… movies, tv shows, commercials, documentaries, industrial/corporate or instructional videos, music videos and print.

As far back as 1986, movie makers have been taking notice of Panama City Beach. The film “CONDO” was shot at Pinnacle Port in 1986, before much of the development along what we now call “The West End”. Award winning director Victor Nunez sees the area as “quaint and cozy” and filmed Ruby in Paradise in 1993, then returned to the Panhandle for “Yulee’s Gold”, then again for “Coastlines”. The big hit that still brings attention was “Truman Show” starring Jim Carey, and while memories bring back the street images, many water shots and speaking roles were filmed at Deer Point Dam and in a converted warehouse off 19th street. 2003 brought the Lionsgate film “Secondhand Lions”, where Shell Island served as the backdrop for the French Foreign Legions’ take on Arabian knights riding horses down the beach and ultimately a sword fight unveiling Princess Jasmine. A slew of independent pictures have also taken advantage of the World’s Most Beautiful Beaches with “Born & Raised”, “A Free Bird”, and most recently “Dancin’, It’s On!” (aka East Side Story) which have all won awards in various categories.

Blockbuster films have historically not been the meat and potatoes of the film industry here in Panama City Beach. Television series’ flock to our beaches for reality shows such as ABC Family’s “Back to School”, “Blind Date”, “Rock of Love”, Jamie Kennedy’s X Factor, National Lampoon, and the list goes on and on. Destination-based shows are our best friend. HGTV”s House Hunters and Beachfront Bargains, Travel Channel’s Bikinis & Boardwalks, REELZ Polka Kings, and shows of this nature exemplify why Bay County IS such a great place to live, work, play AND film.

Panama City Beach has played host to some powerful music videos over the years. Luke Bryan, Alan Jackson, Colt Ford, Trick Pony, Alabama, and other artists are repeat visitors who have chosen this as their location. This market is heating up and we can look forward to many more.

Infomercials and commercials also add to the list, and let’s not forget the benefits of print work. Pottery Barn, Longaberger Baskets, Levis, Janson Beach, etc are great clients that have visited us over the years and returned for subsequent projects.

While the history of filming may have started over more than 30 years ago, Bay County has grown into a popular filming destination, and the people of the area make it a wonderful experience for all.

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