The Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker 2019: Small Cities and Towns

10.  Richmond, Virginia

Richmond, Virginia is older than the country that sprung up around it, with a swirl of architectural styles ranging from Tudor to Colonial to Georgian to Spanish, as well as a living history museum, featuring attractions such as Henricus Historical Park, which offers a daily recreation of 17th century colonial life in Richmond. There are also Civil War battle fields and surviving structures of the era, all of which no doubt contributed to Richmond being chosen as the location for Harriet, moviemaker Kasi Lemmons’ biopic of Harriet Tubman.

Period backlots in Richmond used for John Adams, TURN: Washington’s Spies, and Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln may be repurposed for Harriet; scouting for the film was done over the summer in conjunction with the Virginia Film Office. The office has its hands full lately, with Netflix reportedly knocking at Virginia’s door and asking for changes to the state’s incentive program. Qualified productions are currently eligible for 15 percent reimbursement with a minimum budget of $250,000, and if the production is shot in an underdeveloped area there’s a 5 percent increase available; the incentive program is capped at $6.5 million annually.

Having reportedly sent a letter to Virginia’s governor in recent months in which it noted having 700 projects in production in more than 100 countries, Netflix is lobbying Virginia to take on a Georgia-level incentive program that will entice the streaming giant to put down roots in the Commonwealth. Although details about the discussions between Virginia and Netflix
are scarce, Andy Edmunds, director of the Virginia Film Office, recently visited Netflix headquarters in California, a move reminiscent of a royal emissary being sent to pay respects to a newly powerful king.

A production films at Old City Hall in Richmond, VA. Photograph by Kent Eanes

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A complete version of this two-part article appears in MovieMaker’s Winter 2019 issue, on stands February 6, 2019. Featured image illustration by Laura Breiling.

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5 Comments

  1. T. Bender

    August 27, 2019 at 6:46 am

    After working on such films as MI 3, Transformers 1 & 2, WindTalkers, Operation Dumbo Drop, Speed 2 and other films along with such TV series The Unit, Threshold, and Space Above and Beyond. My wife and I now call the Knoxville area home. I also had a great time doing commercials.
    Now retired for many years.
    The Knoxville area is a great place to shoot lending itself to all film genres be it action adventure, sci-fi, comedy or drama. One might call the Knoxville area a blend of old with the new.

  2. Michelle Daniels

    February 4, 2019 at 10:15 am

    Cumming, Georgia is a great film city too! There’s so much filming happening there and it’s a small suburb just north of Atlanta. Ozark called this city home – there’s other productions that have discovered it, too.

  3. Pearl Spa KC

    January 24, 2019 at 1:31 am

    Kansas City rocks!`

  4. Rebecca Gibson

    January 17, 2019 at 7:46 pm

    Winnipeg! Not to brag, but there is about to be a BOOM here. The community is amazing, so welcoming to production (not burned). The architecture is glorious, there are four beautiful seasons, the crews are not only competent – but tenacious and deeply talented. There is a tax credit unparalleled in any other Canadian centre that was made permanent by the provincial government 2 days ago. Great hospitality, diverse people – strong and experienced producers. It’s the world’s best kept secret in film, and it’s only getting better.

    • Eric C Oveson

      January 19, 2019 at 3:07 pm

      That is interesting, had no idea.I am sensing there is going to be a big change overall in the industry too, like how many times can you see a film and it’s LA or New York ?

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