Film history in Jacksonville, FL


It all started when...

Jacksonville has an incredibly rich film history that spans over 100 years. Before there ever was a Hollywood, Jacksonville was where the motion picture industry filmed during the winter months. The city gained the nickname the “Winter Film Capital of the World” because the ideal weather climate attracted over 30 movie studios to set up shop. 

Kalem Studios was the first major film studio out of New York to come to Florida in 1908. The studio initially found commercial success in making the original 15-minute short film Ben-Hur and a film adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson’s characters Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The studio would experience 10 very successful years making short and feature length films in Jacksonville before they inevitably headed west for California. 

In 1915 Joseph Engel opened Metro Pictures in Jacksonville, which would later go on to merge with other studios to form Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer or more commonly known today as MGM Studios. That same year “The Gulf Between” became the first feature length film to be shot in Technicolor, which would become an industry standard for years to come. 

A year later film producer Richard Norman came to Jacksonville looking to set up a location during the winter months. Jacksonville’s most established silent film studios Norman Studios opened their doors in 1920 where it remain an example of film history for over 100 years in the cities Old Arlington neighborhood. In 2003 The Flying Ace, filmmaker Richard Norman’s ground-breaking cinematic achievement, made its debut at the inaugural Jacksonville Film Festival after 75 years of being out of public sight. 

Over the years, Jacksonville has served as the ideal backdrop for several Hollywood films including Basic, Creature From the Black Lagoon, Cool Hand Luke, G.I Jane, Lonely Hearts, The Manchurian Candidate, 3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets, The Devils Advocate, Tigerland The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking, and Sunshine State.


If you are interested in Filmmaking in Jacksonville, Florida. Please visit the City of Jacksonville Page to learn more.