Blake Dowling: ‘Top Gun,’ Florida Man & the return of our film industry (we hope)

All things are cyclical, and with enough clamoring, the films and tv crews will be back.

On May 16, 1986, at the movie theater with my father, on screen, I met a character named Pete Mitchell.

Mitchell was a Navy aviator and was sent to an elite school to train with the best of the best.

Thomas Cruise Mapother IV played Pete, who went by the call sign Maverick.

The movie was “Top Gun.”

On May 20, we returned to see it again, and then again and again.

My father said his friend Jack would be joining us on one occasion; I only saw his friends Doug and Bobcat? Who is this mysterious Jack?

Turns out that friend was Mr. Jack Daniels: they had an exciting time with that inside joke.

A few months later, Top Gun came out on VHS, and we watched that movie at least 40 times during my childhood.

Cousins Alex and Dale can confirm the Top Gun “phenomenon.” I have never seen any movie watched more by anyone ever, pops loved it. I was ecstatic when the trailer for the sequel came out, all sorts of childhood memories came roaring back and some minor PTSD as I still involuntarily wink in rapid succession when any Kenny Loggins music is played because of the 500 hours of Top Gun time logged in my life.

The new film Maverick has ties to Florida with Navy Pilot Miles Dunford flying stunt scenes for Cruise during the filming. Miles got to live a dream; we thank him for his service.

Our state has ties to lots of films.

Did you know “Caddyshack,” the “Waterboy,” “2 Fast 2 Furious,” “Edward Scissorhands,” “Marley and Me” and “Tomorrowland” were all filmed in our state?

One of our good friends, Brad Swanson, president of Florida Internet & Television was on hand for a good deal of the filming of “Caddyshack” as his father was a producer on the film back in the day. You can hear him tell that story on our podcast, Brad is a true celebrity in his own right and a fighter for those he works and advocates for and for those he calls a friend.

The Caddyshack production sites included are Plantation Country Club (Fort Lauderdale), Boca Raton Hotel (Boca Raton), and Rolling Hills Golf Club now known as Grande Oaks Golf Club (Davie), and Biscayne Bay (Miami).

Florida continues to rule in all things, tourism, college football (sort of), and electoral votes, so why not movies?

You don’t hear about it as much as you used to, a trade association called Film Florida said the state has missed $1.5 billion in film and TV opportunities since 2016. That was the year that the $242-million tax credit for the film industry expired.

Obviously, a film crew boosts everything in a town, bars, hotel rooms, coffee shops, restaurants, you name it.

How bad is it?

A Netflix show called Florida Man shot the show in North Carolina.

Craig Pittman, a celebrated author in our state, with whom I interact on Twitter occasionally had this to say from the Miami New Times about the show.

“They missed an incredible opportunity to film and observe Florida Man in his natural habitat,” Pittman seethes to New Times.

Craig’s book could be the origin of the phrase Florida Man/Woman, etc.

If you go back to 2006, Florida was only behind cinematic elite states New York and California; but those rankings are outdated.

The aforementioned tax credits ended 6 years later, and the film and TV companies exited for Georgia (see “Walking Dead,” etc.) and New Mexico, and other states with better incentives.

All things are cyclical, and with enough clamoring, the films and tv crews will be back. State Sen. Joe Gruters of Sarasota sponsored a bill this year to establish some new incentives for moviemakers. Critics call it “corporate welfare,” I think having a vibrant movie industry in Florida is logical because we have the best of everything here so why not be the TV and Film capital of the nation.

Plus, I can’t watch Florida Man knowing it is not filmed here, can I Craig Pittman? Nope.


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies; he can be reached at [email protected].  Blake is is also the producer and writer of this short film, created on location here in Florida. BOOM!

Blake Dowling

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at [email protected] or at

One comment

  • Yeah

    June 11, 2022 at 11:45 am

    Movies are great but 20 for popcorn and 7 a drink plus admission is kind of high

Comments are closed.


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