Business and Show Business Emerges in Sarasota County

Originally Published in The Herald-Tribune. On 10-08-18

Media savvy businesses know that “show business’ is a big part of their success.

If businesses cannot “show” who they are, what they do, why it matters and where it applies to their target customer, the cobwebs will grow and the phone won’t ring. At the root of success for a growing, thriving company is the understanding that “showing” is inseparably entwined with success.

Tervis has to show it has the best tumblers people want to buy. PGT has to show it has superior windows to withstand storms and protect from the sun. Enzymedica needs to show not only that it has the best natural digestive health products, but why people need them. PropLogix needs to show that it has the best real estate due-diligence solution for the industry.

Through the work of the Sarasota County Film & Entertainment Office, the county has benefited from the growing market for storytelling productions by businesses.

Productions are being made every day in the private sector, enabling business to merge with show business and get their stories told with flair as well as facts. There are commercials being shot, infomercials being made, documentaries and reality programs taking dives into the “real” as well as the creative. Stories are being told and products and services are being seen inside TV programs, movies, documentaries, music videos, streaming of web series, vlogs, clips on Youtube, Vimeo, Facebook, Twitter, and through many other outlets where businesses seek to find their target customer.

Each year, the SCFEO is involved with more than 300 projects in Sarasota County that help companies “tell their story” — whether in the format of a commercial, an industrial or training or corporate video, a short film, a documentary, an online video or promo, a pitch-person on camera, radio or television interview programs, or many other formats of show business helping business.

According to the latest government statistics, 326 businesses in Sarasota County alone provides “storytelling” services for businesses — marketing, advertising, press and publicity agencies, film, TV, video, radio and other media productions, and many others.

That’s a lot of stories seeking to be told in the most illustrative way possible, within every imaginable budget. Sometimes, it’s a matter of inserting a business’ key product, such as when a national TV medical drama used a simulated human body and that high-tech, high-concept “prop” came from a Sarasota company. Or perhaps showcasing a locale, such as an on-location shoot on St. Armand Circle, with characters shopping in high-end stores amid lush surroundings, illustrating the aspirational hopes and dreams of the main characters in the drama.

A company’s story needs to be told — pitched to its target — with power, precision and punch.

To help us all get better at this storytelling, and to support Sarasota County’s emergence as a market that excels in helping businesses tell their story, the SCFEO is bringing in the world renown Robert McKee for specifically that purpose. As the “Guru of Gurus,” to quote filmmaker Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings) who is a former student of his, McKee has taught more than 100,000 attendees how to tell their stories, from fiction to fact, from entertainment to business.

McKee usually conducts his seminar in densely populated global cities such as London, Beijing and New York City. The SCFEO is thrilled to make this opportunity available for not only professional writers, aspiring writers, producers, directors, and numerous creative individuals, but also educational institutions, their faculty and staff, and students of all ages.

McKee has taught more than 100,000 people since 1984, including filmmakers and writers such as Peter Jackson, David Bowie, Meg Ryan, Kirk Douglas, Joan Rivers, Geoffrey Rush, Akiva Goldsman, John Cleese, Russell Brand and writers at Pixar, to name a few. His students have won hundreds of major awards, including Oscars, Emmys, Tonys and more.

The seminar will take place Oct. 19-21, in the Ringling College Academic Auditorium. To register, go to For inquiries regarding group rates, call the SCFEO at (941) 309-1200 extension 104, or toll free: 888-765-5777 extension 104.

Contact Mark Huey, president and chief executive officer of the Economic Development Corp. of Sarasota County, at EDC is the public/private partnership leading economic diversification efforts by working with community and regional partners.