LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Florida gladly cast its
vote for HBO's TV movie about the Sunshine State's recount
circus after the 2000 presidential election, casting aside any
worries about reliving the tumultuous period.
The state and its cities bent over backward to host the
film shoot for "Recount," which premiered on the cable network
Sunday, recognizing not only the financial benefit but also the
As a result, party politics were set aside. Heck, one city
even re-routed a parade just to avoid affecting the shoot.
"It was not an 'Oh my gosh, this is so high-profile, let's
back off' attitude," says Todd Roobin, director of the
Jacksonville Film & Television Commission. "Quite the opposite.
It was very open arms because it is a very historical moment in
To shoot "Recount," one would think that the filmmakers
would go nowhere but Florida, but the production did consider
-- for a moment -- a Louisiana production; the tax incentives
in that state are that powerful. But executive producer Sydney
Pollack, who initially was on board to direct, and later Jay
Roach, who took up the mantle when Pollack stepped aside to
battle cancer, pushed hard for the Sunshine State (Pollack died
"It obviously had to be done in Florida, and the question
was how much can you do in one place" producer Michael Hausman
says, "because economically it makes sense to shoot as
centrally as possible."
The story ranged from Miami to Tallahassee and Palm Beach.
But the production couldn't afford to migrate from location to
location, so Jacksonville was chosen as the base. It had the
architecture, the beaches and the warehouse space to pass off
as the entire state.
The production dug up real polling machines and set up in
actual polling stations used in the election as well as real
campaign offices and government buildings.
"It was amazing the amount of real things we shot in, if
not necessarily in the real city," Hausman says. "We were able
to duplicate it thanks to our research people and production
designer Patti Podesta."
LOCALS LEND A HAND
Another plus of shooting in Jacksonville was its proximity
to the state capital; Tallahassee was the site of key legal
battles in 2000. With the help of Craig Waters, then-spokesman
for the Florida Supreme Court, the production was able to shoot
in the building and even received permission to shoot in a
couple of the justices' chambers. The filmmakers populated the
inside and outside with hundreds of extras in a shoot that ran
Wednesdays-Sundays, taking advantage of easier access during
"It was unprecedented," Hausman says.
The Tallahassee production coincided with the annual
football game involving Florida Agricultural and Mechanical
University; as part of the festivities, a marching band was to
parade in front of the court. "The city was so cooperative that
the parade was moved to another street," Hausman says.
The state and its cities were so helpful, in fact, that the
only major set that had to be constructed was the U.S. Supreme
Court, which was built in a Jacksonville warehouse.
Credit for that city's support seemed mostly to go to its
Republican mayor, John Peyton.
"He is extremely supportive of this industry, and he knows
of the significant high-wage jobs that it attracts and of the
businesses that are impacted," Roobin says.
One of the boons the mayor oversaw was a $25,000 grant for
a rebate on hotel rooms. Counting cast and crew, the production
used about 5,000 nights worth.
According to the film office, the shoot brought more than
$3 million into the local economy, of which "a good portion of
that was labor," Roobin says. Overall, the production spent
about $9 million in the state and employed about 4,000 extras.
"It was a huge injection into the economy," Roobin says.