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

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

Annual Lists

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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