April 15, 2012

Miami City Commissioners Wield Their Ignorance

Let me posit a situation to you;  you want to create a highly specialized facility to lure a highly specialized industry to town.  You want members of this industry to choose you over all other possible locations on the planet.

Do you:
  • Find the person most qualified on the planet to create your facility, someone with a proven track record of success and a sterling reputation for serving the industry you're attracting.
  • Hire your neighbor, who has absolutely no experience or reputation in this highly specialized field, and is completely unknown to this industry.
Well, if you're the Miami City Commission, you go for your neighbor.  After all, they know absolutely nothing about the highly specialized needs of the highly specialized industry.

In this case, we're talking about the film industry.  The CRA has been tasked with building a soundstage with production support facilities to lure film and television production to the area.  It's a good plan.  But lousy execution.

Film and TV production not only have very specific needs, those needs must be addressed in a certain fashion.  For example, it's not enough to know how to wire a building; it's not enough to know that it needs a lot more power than you think it should, you also have to understand how that power needs to be distributed so that the various uses of that power don't conflict with one another.  These are things not addressed by the building codes; they are learned through experience.

Miami Today News reports that the commission has decided to exercise their dismal ignorance and rejected a surprisingly well conceived selection made by the Community Redevelopment Agency.
Citing their wish to give preference to local companies, directors of Miami's Community Redevelopment Agency have rejected a selection committee's recommendation to hire California-based Bastien & Associates Inc. to evaluate the possibilities for the Miami Entertainment Center...
Since you're probably not in the film industry, you may not know who Bastien & Associates are.
"Bastien & Associates is No. 1 in the world for this type of thing," said Mike A. Shehadeh, senior vice president and chief operating officer of CES Consultants Inc., which would have been the local partner to Bastien & Associates. "They have built more than 150 sound stages and they have 90% direct client contact. They have the experience and relationships with producers and operators of studios and can bring them to Miami."
Now, if you're a smart person, this sounds like just the kind of company we need.  Production companies will know that any project B&A is associated with will meet the industry standards they need.  That's because they've built a lot of the best studios on the planet, for most of the major film and television production companies.

Sadly, we don't have smart people on the commission.
"There's a strong feeling that we should have local preference," said Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones.
Right.  Because when you think "world-class film production facilities," your first thought is "Miami."  Well, of course, that's only if you're a commissioner in Miami with utterly no background in film production.  Well, at least Spence-Jones was cleared of that ethics charge.
"Part of a CRA is to promote local businesses," said Commissioner Francis Suarez. "If it's not a local firm, who's going to be checking?"
So let's not go with a company that will inspire confidence in the film industry.  Let's go with someone with very little experience.  Good plan - if you want the project to fail.
But "Bastien is not here today," said Willy Bermello, a principal of Bermello Ajamil & Partners, an award-winning Miami company that has landed such high-profile projects as a Port Miami makeover. The company's projects in the entertainment sphere include the Univision Network offices, television and radio broadcasting studios for the Spanish Broadcasting System in Miami, and the G-Star School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, the largest motion picture sound stage in South Florida.
And why am I not impressed? 

First, the Port of Miami has fuck-all to do with film and television production.  Second, the actual production facilities they have done don't exactly stand out.  G-Star School of the Arts?  Really?  I mean, it's a decent enough facility, especially since it's really currently the only one in Florida.  But it's one sound stage.  And a couple of broadcast stages, which are not remotely considered sound stages, FYI. 

Bastien and associates has built over 150 sound stages.  They include:
  • Los Angeles Center Studios, California ( 2 sound stages and support facilities)
  • Manhattan Beach Studios, California (2 sound stages, production support buildings, commissary, and administrations office building)
  • Dubai Studio City, United Arab Emirates (14 sound stages, production, admin, and so on)
  • Viacom Broadcast Center, California (newsrooms, broadcast stages, and support spaces)
  • CBS Studio Center, California (three sound stages, four story production support building)
  • Paramount Pictures, California (2 sound stages and facility renovations)
  • Dreamworks SKG, California (8 sound stages and production support buildings)
And these are just the ones I could find in a quick Google search.  There are dozens of articles about the studios and stages they've built, the master plans drawn up for facility growth and enhancement.

And see those names?  Major production companies: CBS, Viacom, Paramount, Dreamworks.  These are the companies we want filming here in Miami.  Which do you think will give them more confidence; coming to film in a sound stage built by the same company that built their own studio, or some firm that's won awards for parking garages and toll plazas, and, oh yes, they built a sound stage for some school in the sticks, once.

Yes, the CRA is there to create opportunities for our local businesses; but to do that, you have to bring in the experts that will equip our local businesses for that success.  And that's not some local company that commissioners have received kickbacks from a relationship with, but a world-class firm that's actually creating the standards with the industry we're trying to attract.

The Miami Commission is making an incredibly stupid and irresponsible decision.  It's past time to clear these morons out of office.


  1. lol @ 'G-Star School of the Arts'. ridiculous.

  2. I know, right? It's like trying to find a business manager, and your choice is a Harvard MBA who managed a dozen different Fortune 500 firms, or a kid who ran a lemonade stand in front of his house one summer.

    The Miami City Commission is unbelievable stupid.