'East Side Story' begins shooting in PCB

Brandon Bryant

Brandon Bryant performs a dance during the monthly First Friday meeting of the chambers of commerce at Florida State University Panama City. Bryant is the choreographer for “East Side Story" and past winner of "So You Think You Can Dance?"

ANDREW WARDLOW | PanamaCity.com
Published: Monday, January 14, 2013 at 12:10 PM.

PANAMA CITY — Filming begins Sunday morning on a feature film, “East Side Story,” to be shot entirely on location in Panama City Beach.

Recent weeks have seen massive auditions for local dancers and actors to participate in the movie, while crew have scouted shooting locations at area hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions.

Bay County Film Commissioner Julie Gordon introduced the cast and producers of the movie at a joint “First Friday” meeting of the Bay County and Panama City Beach chambers of commerce Friday morning at Florida State University Panama City. She also discussed the boost the film industry can lend this area’s economy.

“The economic impact of film comes in a variety of forms, from the immediate returns that we see right away in the form of heads in beds, lodging and restaurants, to direct services like car rentals, entertainment, even heaters,” she said, referring to a need for portable heaters that cropped up during a “Biggest Loser” event at New Year’s. “There’s a lot of businesses that you don’t even think you’re in the film industry, but we’re going to need you.”

The film office is credited with between $5 million and $11 million annually in local economic impact, Gordon said. Florida is the No. 2 state for money spent in the film industry, she said, adding, “We would like to stay that way.”

Perhaps the greatest impact is more difficult to measure — promoting the area as a great place to visit and to live. Recently the beaches have hosted two HGTV specials, a Travel Channel program and a “chefs throwdown” that will appear on the Discovery Channel, Gordon said.

“That’s advertisement we couldn’t buy if we had to pay for prime-time television,” she added.

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