Do you remember going to Universal Studios in Orlando some 20 years ago and making a Star Trek video chronicling your battle with Klingons?
If so, then you may have run into Dale Gordon.
Gordon, who would sometimes put on Vulcan ears and fill in when needed for these fan-made videos at the Florida theme park, is now in a much bigger role — trying to bring film production back to the state she has called home for so long.
“Our primary function is to market our particular geographical area as a filming destination, and to kind of act as a one-stop-shop resource guide for filmmakers,” Gordon recently told the Tampa Bay Times. Gordon is the new film commissioner for the Tampa Bay region, an area that is probably more known for its bombs like “The Punisher” or “Cop-and-a-Half” than more critically acclaimed productions like “Cocoon” and “Edward Scissorhands.”
Despite having a film studio and theme park, Florida has really fallen behind when it comes to luring television and film production to the area. Many shows that are set in Florida, like “Dexter” and “Cougar Town,” are actually shot elsewhere. And many new long-term productions like “Grimm,” “Revolution” and others are finding greener pastures in other states offering much bigger cash and tax incentives to lure filming there.
Florida has been so far out of the game in recent years that Tampa, for example, has not even fully staffed its film commission office with a leader. That is until recently when Gordon was selected after a nationwide search to fill the post.
Now, Tampa has to find ways to join forces with its southern neighbor, St. Petersburg, which has successfully lured productions like “Dolphin Tale” and “Magic Mike,” to present a much larger arena to film in.
And that means making sure that the streets of Tampa can double for really any other place in the country.
“One of the jurisdictions I used to work with had a small quaint town setting, but they had palm trees that lined the main street,” Gordon said. “In order to make themselves more film-friendly, they took out all of the palm trees on the main street, just so they could get more filming. And they did, because they could be ‘anywhere America’ generic.”
It’s not clear how much of a Star Trek fan Gordon is today after spending a good amount of time helping fans with their own Star Trek videos. But her focus now is to make Central Florida’s film industry live long and prosper.
To see the complete interview (which is behind a subscription pay wall), click here.
And want to remember what those old Universal Studios videos were like? The green-screen productions included an introduction with Gene Roddenberry, William Shatner, DeForest Kelly, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei and Leonard Nimoy, and featured special effects from “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” See one of those videos by clicking here.