Life’s Rewards is the first-of-its-kind scripted entertainment series produced for a destination. The series tells the story of a man from New York who works in finance and travels to Florida for a conference; he becomes stuck in the state with no money, forcing him to use his reward points to live.
“From the filming aspect, it wasn’t too different, but from the writing aspect, that’s where the most differences were because it’s so specifically targeted toward tourism but in a narrative way,” director of photography Erik Van Lenten said. “It’s not a tourism commercial. The project just highlights a lot of fun locations and a lot of things to do in Florida, specifically around the Tampa/St. Pete area.”
The unique project also had most of its cast and crew stay and film on-location, including editor Brian Shephard, who edited as the series was being filmed. This is not the typical format that longer-form projects are filmed in, which makes the series even more different.
“There’s a lot of commercials and promotional videos and stuff, but never have I seen the use of a narrative show as a vessel for creating buzz for tourism,” Shephard said.
The project, which was funded by the tourism board, was filmed in about four weeks and shows multiple locations throughout the Tampa and St. Petersburg area.
Everything needed for the production of the project came from Central Florida with nona.media providing most of the camera equipment and production support.
Rhys Lynn, first assistant camera on the project, co-publisher of Nonahood News, and founder of nona.media, believes that the Central Florida filmmaking industry is coming back due to the year-round filming opportunities and temperatures.
“Film brings a lot to an area. It brings a lot of jobs and a lot of money to local businesses,” Lynn said. “The more that we can push local filmmaking, the better. And I think it’s good all around.”
Lynn hopes to continue being part of filming projects and expand nona.media into a media production company that takes on bigger and better projects.
“I’m really proud of what we created,” Lynn said. “I really like filming locally because it has the ability to positively impact local businesses and push them forward, which we are always trying to support.” nona.media is currently on set filming for another project coming soon.
Life’s Rewards premiered on May 1 at The Sunscreen Film Festival in St. Petersburg and is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, VisitFlorida.com, Places.Travel, and GoUSATV.
Photos Courtesy of Erik Van Lenten