Marc Sarnoff's Miami CRA Film Studio Stalls, Pisses Off Industry Locals

Categories: News
crarendering.jpg
A year later, Miami's purported film studio looks nothing like this.
Don't worry, Marc Sarnoff. We're just not all cut out for show business.

The City of Miami's most frenetically incompetent commissioner -- he of the pop-up pedophile-thwarting parks, a personal arsenal of firearms, and lies about his family lineage -- noticed that South Florida is finally becoming a top-flight film and television destination. After all, we've recently provided the backdrop for Charlie's Angels, Burn Notice, Tom Cruise's Rock of Ages and the New Times-inspired Mark Wahlberg flick Pain & Gain.

So "Marky Mark" Sarnoff decided to break himself off a piece of that action by building the city its own film studio. In February 2011, through the property-tax-funded Omni Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), the commissioner engineered the $3.1 million purchase of an 89,000-square-foot warehouse from the Miami-Dade County School Board.

The complex, to be dubbed the Miami Entertainment Complex, is on 29 NW 13th Street, across the street from the privately-owned Ice Palace film studios. The CRA planned to turn the building into a full-fledged studio with another $10.6 million in taxpayer cash. In Sarnoff's scheme, the CRA would rake in $3 million in revenue annually by renting out the space for film projects.

In a riveting article written by himself and posted on his own website -- forgive the typos -- Sarnoff posited: "We already have a Hollywood in South Florida, but what about turning Miami into the Hollywood like the one on the West Coast where all the big movie are made?"

Almost a year and a half later, the warehouse remains depressingly untouched. And Sarnoff appears to be quietly cutting his losses. The CRA sold part of the property to the Florida Department of Transportation for just over $1 million, according to the agency's documents, and Sarnoff concedes that the agency is open to shopping the rest. "We're debating what to do with it," he tells Riptide. "I don't see us selling it and saying 'That's it.' We might consider selling it with the stipulation that the buyer uses it as a film studio."

But local entertainment honchos will be happy to see project choke. In an unscientific poll of owners and managers of existing local studios, most told Riptide that they hated the idea of the city using tax money to establish a competitor. "The idea of taking public money and putting it into a venue like that is wrong," said one industry insider who asked not to be named. Agreed developer and film-biz entrepreneur Gil Terem: "I'm paying for
the government to compete with me. It feels a bit like Cuba."

"Talk to most any filmmaker in Miami," says blogger and local film industry stalwart Al Crespo. "Nobody's happy."

Sarnoff has heard the criticism. But in true Hollywood fashion, he puts on his stunna shades to block out the haters. "Nobody in Miami has a real movie studio," he huffs to Riptide. "I'm trying to fill a gap that doesn't exist."

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28 comments
Brayman
Brayman

Hey, he had to go. Teresa locked him out of the gate again. Give the poor man a break!

Disgusted!
Disgusted!

At the dog park today Sarnoff was urinating on a tree. The guy has clearly lost it.

Sabbonito
Sabbonito

Marc Sarnoff made false statements to police and lied in a court of law to ensure that his ex-lover, Reid Welch, would go to jail. When is the New Times going to get the scoop on this story? 

Kathy Carr
Kathy Carr

Another disturbing physical altercation between Marc Sarnoff and his wife Teresa in front of the dog park on Shipping Avenue in Coconut Grove. He called her "a lying, fat cunt" and pushed her to the ground. Then she locked him out of the gate that surrounds their two houses. A white SUV picked him up. Police showed up, but Teresa wouldn't come out to speak to them.  

Follow the money
Follow the money

Talk about overpaid and under qualified... Four of the idiots working part-time at the CRA have pay and benefit packages that exceed $150,000 per year. Three are political appointees.

Swatboy11
Swatboy11

The city of Miami has cut benefits and pay for its police officers, firefighters and employees every year for the past three years. So sure, what could go wrong with getting into the movie business? 

Another scam
Another scam

Only corrupt scum like Sarnoff and Bockweg and their bagman Gonzalez would think a noisy low ceiling site under a very busy highway WITH NO PARKING would work for Hollywood films. $4 Mil has been lost already and the site sits empty attracting graffiti and homeless.

Livronn
Livronn

One of the reasons the last film guy quit was because they tried to shove this thing down his throat and he wouldn't play ball. 

No way, Jose.
No way, Jose.

Sarnoff and the ass kisser Bockweg really thought a site under a highway and adjacent to soon to be very busy freight trains was a good location for a movie studio? And no parking? And low ceilings and hundreds of columns? Follow the money.

Film studio?
Film studio?

Pieter Bockweg, Marc Sarnoff and Bert Gonzalez? Bockweg, Sarnoff and Gonzalez got their jobs because they excel at kissing ass and they have no ethics. They screw the taxpayers every chance they get.

MRCman
MRCman

If Peter Bockwieg, Bert Hernandez and Marc Sarnoff knew an iota as much about film production as they do about corruption, this studio would be a smash success. 

Liar Liar
Liar Liar

Sarnoff is the same guy who lied on TV claiming his grandfather founded RCA. Got busted. Total jerk.

Sarnoff promotes billboards
Sarnoff promotes billboards

Al Crespo is correct. But he left out Marc Sarnoff's bosses, the outdoor advertising industry. Sarnoff is the biggest salesmen for billboard and mural ad companies. Sarnoff is best known for promoting all the illegal LED billboards you see around Miami. Watch Sarnoff and his stooge Billboard Bockweg try to install illegal billboards on the taxpayer owned site. If you think Miami has gotten more low class? Thank Sarnoff.

al crespo
al crespo

First, FDOT will be using the portion of the property they purchased to widen I-395 to accommodate the increased truck traffic to and from the Port of Miami in the next couple years.

Secondly, the newly refinished FEC train tracks 50 feet to the West of the building that will be used for trains moving containers to and from the building, and that  would be another major hurdle for sound recording inside the building.

Thirdly, the building is not really large enough for a major film studio.  It would work as a commercial TV studio space, but Miami already has a number of those, and this location would directly end up competing with them. 

In addition, there isn't enough additional space for the kinds of support services that a major film studio requires, such as a prop/set dressing shop, plentiful makeup and wardrobe, possible grip and camera facilities.  Worst of all, is the parking.  The only way that Rock Of Ages squeezed in there was renting Eugene Rodriquez's parking lots.

Over the years the local film industry settled in around the county, and there is no business reason for any of those companies to consider packing up and looking for space inside the CRA boundaries to be closer to this "studio."

No one at the CRA - which means dumb Bert Gonzalez - never bothered to actually talk to anyone in Miami-Dade County about any of this, but he did go up to West Palm and talk to the guy who owns the charter school/film studio complex - G-Star.

Bert convinced Commissioner "Ethics" Sarnoff that building out the studio and then renting it all to a school like G-Star was the way to go.  If you go back and look at DDA minutes from last year Sarnoff even acknowledges that this was a way to go, and he's even mentoned the University of Miami as a possible tenant.

The biggest misconception that all of these people - by which I mean politicians like Sarnoff - have, is that when they start talking about the local film industry they talk as if there was no "industry" or infrastructure here before they got the bright idea to build a studio.  The local industry has been here a long time, and especially since 1984, and the start of Miami Vice, we've had all of the component parts, including camera houses, grip/lightening companies/film labs/post houses/prop houses, etc.that sustained a lot of work over the last 25-30 years.

Contrary to the conceptions of most people, the so-called film incentives have not improved the local infrastructure and "industry," as was originally touted as the reason for these incentives.  While crew people have benefited, most local companies have ended up being shut out as the big California companies brought their own cameras, grip/lighting gear/ all the production vehicles, and even their own walkie-talkies. 

There are always exceptions, but I don't think that many local film industry companies would claim that they've seen the kind of benefits that they were led to believe would occur back in 2002 when incentives became the next best thing.

Ten years have come and gone, along with at least half-a-BILLION dollars in tax payer money going to these incentives, and the argument is always that more money is needed to keep the bubble from bursting.

The explanation for the what's and why's of this happening are to content heavy to go into here, but, folks always came to Miami for locations, and not for studios. A number of folks through the years explored the possibility of building a new film studio complex, but none of those deals went through for a very simple reason, there was never any way to guarantee the kind of sustained film production requiring a studio to support the costs involved.

That remains true today.

al crespo

Count L.F. Chudzikiewicz herb.
Count L.F. Chudzikiewicz herb.

 Dear Mr. Garcia-Roberts, it is probably a 100% accurate article, and in a place with an involved citzenry it would be cause for reforming the CRA, but nothing will happen until you have to write the next well-writen but depressing article about how in a city with poverty public moneys get wasted. The sad, sad, sad fact is all other the world people are discouraged from being involved in public life, that means not just politics, but anything. I wish I had something hopeful to say, but hope in the context of South Florida government is just "not on" as the English would say.

Tnginc
Tnginc

All that work has nothing to do with Sarnoff and the CRA and this stupid studio. It has to do with tax incentives. And they can go away as quickly as they came. Commissioner Sarnoff already has what the city needs for a studio: it's called the Coconut Grove Convention Center, and it houses production of the #1 cable drama, Burn Notice. But Sarnoff thinks it's an eyesore, and shouldn't be renovated. He thinks anybody in the production business should work in the ghetto, surrounded by homeless people and railroad tracks. This has nothing to do with being "Hollywood South" and every time he says that, he just sounds stupider and stupider. 

John Hawley
John Hawley

Rip on Miami all he wants, but the city sees the regular production of more cable programming and music videos than any other city in the Southeast. Those of use who do work in the industry have our greatest opportunities in Miami, Orlando and Tampa. It is a simple truth that we recognize.

Lorna Boman
Lorna Boman

If it was a legit studio without the taxpayers money it would be a great asset to Miami. Think about it, we could create zombie movies with real life zombies in those studios! :)

Tnginc
Tnginc

This was a bad idea from the beginning. Why should a bankrupt city that struggles to provide basic police and fire services want to be in the movie business? 

Vernon6
Vernon6

and what the hell is FDOT going to do with it?

Sir Sausage
Sir Sausage

Instead of burning money on a studio that no one wanted, they should've spent the money on cleaning up the neighborhood

Observant neighbor.....
Observant neighbor.....

That is not really his wife. The marriage is an arrangement for political benefit only. She lives in the house next door to him. He is gay and has been in an on going dispute with his ex-lover, a man named Reid Welch, who is just as crazy as Sarnoff. Google Marc Sarnoff and Reid Welch. Sad.

E. Mumford
E. Mumford

I saw that when I was walking my dog. Sarnoff is scum.

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

@al crespo


i also understand many of the necessary related industries do not exist here so the industry will never be self-sustaining for long

Mattjhoppe
Mattjhoppe

Your Right Mr. Crespo. And the CoconutGrove location is an ideal spot for Film/TVProduction that should be considered For a permanent studio.

nevernot
nevernot

No one's ripping on Miami, he's talking about a failed attempt to put some studio's out of business while enriching himself and friends by placing a "studio" directly under a major highway in a building with thirteen foot high ceilings and posts every twelve feet required to hold up the roof. Sounds like a great sound stage right? No parking, incessant noise 24 hours a day, no room for rigging lights, and no space large enough for a set except maybe a closet scene. Follow the money, it was never meant to be a studio....

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

@Tnginc


..........actually it's a GOOD IDEA that's just sixty years too late........back in the olde dayz,  jacksonville had all the ingredients necessary,  and for a while,  a movie industry did survive,  BUT,  then everything moved out to the HOLLYWOOD area - and that was that

Sabbonito
Sabbonito

Why wasn't Sarnoff arrested?

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