PARKERSBURG - From the undead to dolls, the Mid-Ohio Valley and other West Virginia venues have been the sites for a number of films.
The West Virginia Film Office in Charleston, which is part of the state Department of Commerce, Division of Tourism, offers a number of incentives to attract potential filmmakers to the area.
Pam Haynes, director with the film office, said one of the movies filmed in the area, "Bubble," used a number of different local sites for filming and premiered here as well.
Pam Haynes, director with the West Virginia Film Office in Charleston, said the office has many services and programs available for those considering West Virginia as a film venue.
"We worked with Cecil Childress at the Blennerhassett, he was a dream to work, he bent over backwards and rolled out the red carpet for them," Haynes said. "We were very pleased with the support of Felice Jorgensen at the Smoot Theatre for allowing the premiere to take place at her theater. We had the mayor's help, they allowed the film office to use the services of the fire department to capture some images from the top of their bucket truck. We just met with the production manager of the film in L.A. in November, and they are still talking about what a wonderful experience it was," she said.
In-state production companies can take advantage of the services offered through the film office as well, Haynes said.
"If they get a tax credit, they can apply it to any liability they own, business franchises, corporate or personal income. However, if they don't have enough tax liability, they might have tax credits left over they can sell to another company or individuals that do have a tax liability. It works well for in-state companies," she said.
Other Movies Filmed in West Virginia
* "Bubble," the 2005 movie based on a murder mystery plot. Some scenes were shot in Parkersburg and Belpre.
* "Salvage," was a 2006 movie that had some scenes filmed in Parkersburg. It is a scary move based on a sadistic killer.
* "Still Bill, " filmed in 2009 features the life of soul legend Bill Withers. Some scenes for this film were shot in Slab Fork, where the singer, songwriter and guitarist was born.
* "Dancing Outlaw" featuring the Boone County sensation Jesco White was filmed in Boone County.
* "The Night of the Hunter," a 1955 film had a portion filmed in Moundsville. The film is based on a preacher marrying widows for money then murdering them.
* "The Devil and Daniel Johnston" is a 2005 documentary which had a portion filmed in Weston. Johnston was a manic depressive singer, songwriter and artist.
* "Matewan," a 1987 film based on a labor organizer taking on the coal mining companies that controlled everyone's life in this West Virginia town, it features James Earl Jones and was filmed around the New River Gorge area as well as Thurmond.
* "We are Marshall," a 2006 film based on the 1970 plane wreck that killed most of the football team and coaches at Marshall University in Huntington. The film features actor Matthew McConaughey who takes the job of head coach after the fatal plane crash. Some of the movie was filmed in Huntington and Kenova.
* "Gods and Generals," a 2003 movie based on the rise and fall of Stonewall Jackson. A portion of the movie was filmed in Harper's Ferry.
* "Win a Date with Tad Hamilton" is a 2004 movie based on a small-town girl winning a contest to go on a date with a male celebrity who is Tad Hamilton. Different sets of the movie was filmed in Charleston, Fayetteville, Frazier's Bottom and Grandview, W.Va.
* "Correct Change," a 2002 movie filmed in Charleston, and Moundsville. The movie is about a prison inmate telling a story about how he was used by a drug-addicted prostitute.
* "XXX" is a 2002 movie featuring Vin Diesel and Samuel L. Jackson as the main actors. Diesel portrays Xander Cage as an extreme athlete recruited by the government for a special mission. A portion of the movie was filmed on the New River Gorge National River.
* "Unstoppable" is a 2010 movie based on a rail company trying to prevent a combustible, chemical freight train from wiping out a city. Denzel Washington stars in the movie. A portion of the movie was filmed in Benwood, Follansbee, and Wheeling.
* "Primal Fear" is a 1996 movie about an altar boy murdering a priest. It features actors Richard Gere, John Mahoney, Alfre Woodard and Laura Linney. A portion of the movie was filmed in Keystone.
* "Coal Miner's Daughter" is a 1980 movie based on country singer Loretta Lynn's life. Actors in this movie include Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones. Portions of the film were shot in West Virginia.
* "Super Size Me" was a 2004 documentary of a West Virginia native examining the results of the fast-food industry by eating McDonalds food for a month. A portion of the movie was filmed in Beckley.
* "Sommersby" is a 1993 movie set in the south after the Civil War. Actors included Richard Gere, Jodie Foster, James Earl Jones and Bill Pullman. The opening winter scene in the movie was filmed at Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort.
* "Lassie," a classic movie, was filmed in 1994 in Hinton and Sandstone Falls on the New River Gorge National River.
* "Reckless" was a 1984 movie based on a love interest between a well-to-do girl and a gritty roughneck football player. Portions of the movie were filmed in New Cumberland, Weirton, and Wheeling, W.Va.
* "America's Heart and Soul," 2000, Walt Disney Pictures, filmed in Weirton; "Fools' Parade," 1971, Columbia Pictures, Moundsville; "Gettysburg: The Speech That Saved America," 2007, Charles Town, Shepherdstown, Jefferson and Berkeley counties; "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution," 2009, ABC, Huntington, Barboursville, Milton, Charleston, Hurricane, Ceredo, and Kenova; "Pudd'nhead Wilson," 1984, PBS, Harper's Ferry; "Stage Struck," 1925, Paramount Pictures, New Martinsville; "Strangest Dreams: Invasion of the Space Preachers," 1989, Troma Films, Kanawha County; "Whispers From Space," 1995, Last Prom Productions, Weston.
For more information:
* West Virginia Film Office in Charleston, call toll-free 866.6WV.FILM, or go to the office website: http://wvfilm.wvcommerce.org.
Eric Benson, a local filmmaker, said he hopes to work with the film office on some projects he's involved with now. Benson's earlier faith-based film "Seven Deadly Words" was filmed primarily in Connersville, Ind., but did have a showing locally.
"We didn't work with them on that project because it was primarily filmed in Indiana, but we do hope to work with them on our future projects. Our new projects are also family-friendly faith-based stories. We have two scripts in the works. The next one is 'The Publication.' It's a mystery/drama, and we are looking at the Glenville and Parkersburg area for possible film sites," he said.
Benson said one of the key aids the film office has available is the tax credit program.
"West Virginia, unlike some other states, has a low threshold for participating in the program. Many states require $300,000 or more, before it can be transferable. Having the lower threshold helps lower budget family filmmakers to participate, and working with their program is ideal," he said.
"The office also gives us the ability to network around the state for cast and crews. So the tax credit and that ability are two key things I see as great benefits. The staff there are wonderful, they love showing off the state through the medium of film, it really is an untapped resource," Benson said.
Benson said when he is invited to speaking engagements on his filmmaking projects, he takes the opportunity to talk about the film office in Charleston.
"There are a lot of people that just don't know about the program here. Some states have tax credit programs, but don't have a transferable tax credit," he said. "I always take the opportunity to talk about the film office in West Virginia," Benson said.
Haynes said the film office has a lot to offer potential filmmakers.
"They have to meet certain requirements. They have to have a minimum spend of $25,000 in the state, and projects cannot violate certain provisions of the statute: no filming of sexual activity, no minors involved with sexual activity, and others," she said.
"We believe the legislative intent with the provision is that it not be a typical stereotype, like 'Wrong Turn,' that's is our interpretation. That doesn't mean it has to be a positive story, it doesn't mean it can't be negative, it just cannot be significantly derogatory, we believe that relates to the stereotypes," Haynes said.
"Wrong Turn" was a 2003 movie about a group of people stuck in the backwoods of West Virginia where cannibalistic mountain men whose bodies are disfigured kill people that travel through the area. The movie was filmed in Canada, but portrays the hills of Greenbrier County in West Virginia.
The film office also provided some assistance for the local filming of "Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies," a production which premiered this spring in Parkersburg.
"We assisted them with locations, acting as liaison with property owners, city officials, whatever they needed that helped them do business here," Haynes said. "They also participated in the Tax Credit Program."
The West Virginia Film Industry Investment Act provides up to 31 percent tax credits for in-state spending. Funded at $5 million annually, there are no caps but there is a requirement for a minimum spend of $25,000. Eligible projects include feature length films, TV films and series, commercials, music videos, and commercial still photography.
Purchases and rentals of tangible personal property and purchases of services directly used in production are exempt from state sales tax, with some exceptions. Stays at the same facility for more than 30 consecutive days (per room/individual) are exempt from state and local taxes.
The office can even affect the flow of the Gauley River to suit productions every November, a complimentary service made possible by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Huntington District.
Filming on most state-owned property is fee-free, although there are some restrictions.
Depending on the scope of the production, the film office may assist with negotiations of other incentives such as discounted location fees, space rental, vehicle rental and others.
For more information on the services, the requirements, restrictions and exemptions, contact the West Virginia Film Office, at 866-698-3456, or go online to: wvfilm.wvcommerce.org.