money for movies

Brent Finnegan -- July 20th, 2007

Forgive the brief diversion from local issues, but I saw this TV3 story about movies being shot in the Valley, and I had to say something. The story points out that film productions bring in tons of money to the localities where it’s shot. Evan Almighty was shot in Charlottesville, Crozet, and Waynesboro, and the economic benefit to that area was huge. Unfortunately, the TV3 story overlooks the most important aspect of how the film industry selects its locations: state incentives.

Virginia ranks at the bottom of the list of states in terms of financial incentives for film productions. From VirginiaBusiness.com:

“Virginia has lost more than $800 million in production work since 1994,” says [Commissioner of the Virginia Film Office, Rita] McClenny. “Virginia needs to be more competitive. We are being left behind.” …“If we do not have the same incentives or advantageous financial situations to offer, they’ll pick our competitors,” says Andy Edmunds, the film office’s locations manager. “Show business is a business. It’s not called show art.”

In 2004, the Virginia Film Office invested a little more than a half-million and brought in $190 million in film industry money, according to film office representatives. Meanwhile, North Carolina — similar to Virginia in topography, history, and available workers — crushed the Old Dominion in the competition for film sites. “In the last 25 years,” says North Carolina’s Film Commissioner Bill Arnold, “we spent slightly under $6 million. In return, the film industry spent more than $6 billion here. Every dollar invested gets $1,000 back.”

Apparently the General Assembly didn’t get that memo.

So, while it’s nice to sit around and say “we hope more films will come to the Valley,” if there’s no legislative will behind that sentiment, it seems rather pointless.

3 Responses to “money for movies”

  1. Mary Lou Miller says:

    I agree. The state can not compete with other sates until they offer big tax incentives to bring productions to the Commonwealth. Another big drawback in a state like Virginia, is the lack of production personnel. Most had to be trucked in to work on Evan Almighty. The industry is so small here, it’s hard to support any full time film jobs here.
    That Shane guy at TV 3 should do his homework.

  2. Bubby says:

    That is an absolutely astonishing ROI. Hey, I’ll re-train for one of those high dollar film jobs! Are they looking for rough-hewn country boys with an “Andrew Jackson” look?

  3. finnegan says:

    Heh. I hold a degree in film and I still haven’t figured out how to get one of those elusive high dollar film jobs.

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