An actress, artfully splattered with blood and surrounded by a bustling group of fake evidence technicians and police, lay in a sheltered lot, creating the scene of a murder freshly discovered in an approaching hurricane.
Surrounding her, at least two dozen non-speaking extras shuffled around, backed by many more technicians, makeup people, truck drivers, cooks and all the assorted equipment required to produce A&E's The Glades, at a price tag of about $2.5 million per episode.
All these jobs and money could have landed in the Tampa Bay area, where several scenes for the pilot episode were filmed.
But when it came time to choose a home base for The Glades, which premieres Sunday on A&E, producers picked the Fort Lauderdale area instead, building sets in a Pembroke Park industrial space.
Why? Producers blamed Tampa Bay businesses and film commissioners, saying people gouged the production during the pilot shoot and didn't provide resources quickly enough.
"The town, the community, they weren't as sophisticated," said Glades creator Clifton Campbell. "We'd have a location we thought was locked up, only to have one demand or another spring up, like whack-a-mole. Some people looked at this as 'This will be great for the community.' And some people said 'How much money can this make for me?'"
Set in fictional Palm Glade, The Glades deals with a Chicago cop-turned-crime solver in the Sunshine State. Starring Australian actor Matt Passmore, it's an ambitious attempt to meld the adventure hijinksof popular cable series such as Burn Notice and Royal Pains with an expansive look at Florida's landscape.
Local film commissioners have said that the production initially planned to film one day in the area, increasing to five after talking with location scouts. With scenes set at the Don CeSar Hotel, a Crabby Bill's restaurant and the Belleair Country Club golf course, producers got to work without adequately informing property owners what would happen once a crush of trucks and workers appeared for filming, the commissioners said.
"We can't force private property owners to charge less for their locations," said Lindsey Norris Guthrie, manager for the Tampa Bay Film Commission. "We had some people offer locations for free ... and we got them permits in record time. At the end of the day, they got the locations they wanted and the show was picked up for series, so they achieved everything they wanted."
Still, now that Florida has approved tax incentives for film and TV production amounting to $242 million over the next five years, industry experts predict more projects forFlorida.
"There's so much talent here, I hope these (series) can show people outside the state what we have to offer," said Jordan Wall, a Clearwater-raised actor who plays the geeky evidence tech Danny Green on The Glades.
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The show debuts at 10 p.m. Sunday on A&E.