Thursday, September 26, 2013

Dr. Beach Filming TV Pilot on the Island

Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman a.k.a. "Dr. Beach"
On July 17th, 2013 several of the directors of PIE met to hear a presentation about a proposed project to film a TV pilot on the Island.  Robin Madden of Islander Properties hosted the get-together, and provided follow-up information about the new series in development, “Buying Beachfront”.

The series would feature “Dr. Beach”, the Director of Florida International University's Laboratory for Coastal Research. For the past 23 years he has been publishing a list of the “Top 10” beaches in the country, and is known worldwide for his annual rankings.  Dr. Beach is a professor of environmental science and expert on beach quality, coastal impacts, hurricanes, beach erosion, currents. He is a former Director of the National Hurricane Center.

“He came to our island 3 years ago after being introduced by a mutual friend”, says Robin. “Dr. Leatherman loved our island and has since visited quite a bit.” However, much as he appreciated our beaches, the Island never made the rankings due to our lack of accessibility and amenities.

But his general liking of the Island led him here when be developed a television pilot entitled "Buying Beachfront". The pilot will feature a Realtor and Dr. Beach, with buyers looking at three beachfront homes. Dr. Beach will focus on the scientific aspects of buying beachfront homes, such as beach quality, impact glass, flood/pilings, currents, environmental issues, etc.

A production company has been identified for the filming, and 8 houses listed with various Realtors on the Island have already been screened with the owners. The production company will have input into the homes that will be used for the pilot.

Charlotte County is providing $79,000 to film the pilot from the county’s bed tax, which is used to fund marketing efforts for Charlotte County tourism.  The Englewood Area Board of Realtors is also contributing $1000.00 towards the funding of the pilot.

When the series is picked up, Dr. Beach hopes to film the series (possibly 12 shows per year) on various beaches in Florida. He may also film one other segment of the series elsewhere in Charlotte County.  Dr. Beach will also film a 3 minute video that focuses on all of Charlotte County.

The timeline for filming is not established as yet, but could begin as early as October. The group was told that a minimal number of people will be involved. 

Reaction from the audience was mixed.  While they appreciated the information about the filming, there wasn't much room for local input.  “Its a done deal” said one attendee.

One PIE director pointed out the inconsistency of the message: on the one hand, they were told that the pilot would not bring a lot of tourism to the Island. But on the other hand, tourism promotion funds are being used to produce the show. 

PIE President Jim Gordon was unable to attend the meeting, but noted that he "would like to thank Robin Madden of Islander Properties for hosting the visit by Dr. Leatherman and for inviting PIE members to attend. While there are different opinions regarding this initiative, the information presented was helpful to all who attended."