TAMPA — If you have a film aficionado in your life, holiday presents are easy.
If that aficionado digs movies made in the Tampa Bay area, presents are still easy.
There are plenty of options. For decades, Hollywood has used area locales for backdrops.
Here are options that are available on DVD and through streaming services. Take it up a notch and give the gift of a movie night experience: popcorn, drinks and one of these films.
Made in 2019, True Love Blooms is about a woman who honors her father’s memory by continuing the community garden he built in St. Petersburg. But the future of the garden is threatened when a condo builder buys the property for development.
Shot on both sides of the bridge during that same year, Love in the Sun is about an advertising executive who trades in her high school sweetheart and beach community for a gloomy job in a Midwestern city.
Fear of Rain was made throughout the area in 2019. Starring Katherine Heigl and Harry Connick Jr., it’s about a schizophrenic girl struggling with terrifying hallucinations as she begins to suspect her neighbor has kidnapped a child. The only person who believes her is a boy she isn’t even sure exists.
The One and Only Ivan, about a gorilla who uses his ability to paint and draw to convince the world that he needs to be freed from captivity in a mall, was partially shot in Lakeland, including at the Southgate Shopping Center, in 2018.
Made in 2020 in Tampa, Justin Long directed and acted in Lady of the Manor, about a historic estate’s tour guide who winds up befriending the manor’s resident ghost.
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Joe Davison battled a Demogorgon — and lost — in Season 2 of Stranger Things and recently partnered with the Tampa Bay Times in an investigation of the haunted Cuban Club. In 2018, he directed Beauty Is Skin Deep. Shot throughout the bay area, it tells the story of a string of teenage murders linked to high school romance drama.
There are also plenty of classics from which to choose. Both Cocoon and Summer Rental were made in St. Petersburg, The Punisher was shot in Tampa and Goodfellas filmed a scene at ZooTampa. Or watch the quirky Edward Scissorhands, which used Lutz as a backdrop, and then visit the home where the main character stayed. It is now a museum dedicated to the film.