President & CEO, Tampa Hillsborough
Film and Digital Media Commission
Dale Gordon was always interested in the film and digital media industry. A class at the University of South Florida piqued her interest in the logistics of what goes on behind the scenes before the first camera begins rolling, and an internship with the Palm Beach Film Commission had her completely hooked on the business side of movie magic.
Responsible for promoting Tampa and Hillsborough County to media moguls, she has put Tampa on the radar with directors and producers from all over the world, bringing more than 561 productions to the area that have had an economic impact of $26 million and employed hundreds of locals. The crime drama “The Infiltrator” starring Bryan Cranston and Tim Burton’s “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” were recently filmed here.
“Getting ‘The Infiltrator’ to film here was of tremendous significance to the Tampa film community,” Gordon said. “We were about to lose them because other cities were offering them huge incentives, but the Tampa community really stepped up. Everywhere I went, everyone I talked to said, ‘yes,’ to help bring the movie here. Hillsborough County gave a local cash incentive, the most aggressive offer in the state of Florida. Port Tampa Bay offered free production offices. Epicurean offered discounted hotel rooms. Mayor Buckhorn provided police officers for security. It was a true community effort that will reap tremendous rewards, not only in the initial economic impact, but also due to the added value of tourism and exposure for the area.”
You have mentored a lot of people in your industry and often lecture at area Universities. What advice do you give to younger people?
Be true to yourself. It might sound corny but I learned early in my career that it was best to listen to my own intuition and follow it. At first I tried very hard to be what I thought others wanted me to be but once I let go and listened to myself, I succeeded more than I had thought was possible.
I encourage people to follow their dreams. I tell them, “If it is something you believe in, don’t let go of it. If you do, you will probably regret it.”
Do you have a favorite charity?
I like to help in the community wherever I see a need but as a USF graduate, I am very involved and supportive of them. I also founded the Tampa/St. Pete branch of Women in Film and Television. The networking group is open to both men and women and provides a platform to encourage more women to take on leadership roles in the film industry.
What is your goal for the film, television, and media industry in Tampa?
I want to see a sound stage built here. If we want to take a step up to the next competitive level as a filming destination, we need this as a tool to lure high-impact productions. We currently miss out on these opportunities because of the lack of such a facility.
What are your 5 favorite locations for filming in Tampa?
1. Ybor City – it is a historic gem.
2. The Airport – the administration there is very supportive and they do not charge a location fee. It is astounding to have that kind of support from an international airport. I tell every director and producer I meet about TPA.
3. It is very difficult for production crews to film in hospitals because you do not want to disrupt patient care. The USF Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS) is the most advanced medical training center in the world and has operating rooms and labs set up just like a hospital. It’s essentially a set.
4. Port Tampa Bay is very film friendly and offers an industrial look, which diversifies and offers depth for the market.
5. Filmmakers fall in love with Hyde Park because of the beauty of the neighborhood. There is nothing else like it.