INTERVIEW: Luring movies to film in Virginia

Posted by Phil Riggan – email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - We'll soon have many more movie stars in the Richmond area.

Hundreds of locals -- including Varina High School students -- were extras in the Lifetime TV movie "Unanswered Prayers." That movie debuts Monday night on Lifetime at 9 p.m.

Tax incentives were a big part in getting that movie filmed here.

Andy Edmunds, of the Virginia Film Office joined NBC12 to talk about that and other projects in the works.

DIANE WALKER: Thank you so much for joining us.

ANDY EDMUNDS: Thank you for having me.

DIANE WALKER: The movie "Unanswered Prayers" is based on a Garth Brooks song and it's a ballad about infidelity, we understand a marriage is tested when an old flame shows up. Give us the role that Varina High School plays in the film.

ANDY EDMUNDS: When a movie comes into an area, it brings with it huge economic impact and for this reason, many states are now offering huge incentives to attract that business to their state. When they come, they spend money on everything from paper clips to renting helicopters. So at the Virginia Film Office, our mission is to create jobs for Virginians and to be competitive. Fortunately, the governor just enacted a new tax incentive program to try to attract this business back to the Virginia. A lot of business was moving away to other states with more aggressive programs.


ANDY EDMUNDS: So as a result of our latest program, we're able to attract this movie, "Unanswered Prayers," to the Richmond area.

DIANE WALKER: And Varina high school is the scene of the football game.

ANDY EDMUNDS: And they were crucial to helping us gain access to the football field for a scene.

DIANE WALKER: We're sure a lot of students will be watching tonight. I want to show you a guy and I believe you recognize him. I believe his name is Steven Spielberg. The rumor mill has it he was in town last week eating at Millie's Diner with key figures from the Virginia Film Office.

ANDY EDMUNDS: I heard that.

DIANE WALKER: And rumor mills also says that Steven Spielberg is interested in shooting an Abraham Lincoln film here. Can you confirm that for us this evening.

ANDY EDMUNDS: All I can say about that is Steven Spielberg is truly a student of American history and what better place than to experience it here in the Commonwealth of Virginia?

DIANE WALKER: That's a no? We were hoping we would get you to say yes that's another big deal coming to Virginia, but you can't say for certain. Can you discuss that for us?

ANDY EDMUNDS: Spielberg has been here for two other movies in the past. We track projects to long periods of time. As a matter of fact, the John Adams project filmed here and spent $80 million in Virginia, we followed that project ever since it was book deal.

DIANE WALKER: So there is a possibility, perhaps, it's the works?

ANDY EDMUNDS: Always hope.

DIANE WALKER: You're talking about it. It's a lot of competition, 42 other states offer tax incentives to get production crews here. What did Virginia offer that these other states didn't to get this movie that's airing tonight?

ANDY EDMUNDS: Superior locations and great crew combined with the tax incentive program to bring them here and also a previous relationship we had with the producer. It is a relationship-driven industry and the producer that worked on this movie had actually done four other movies in Virginia, so we were able to tap into that friendship along with great support from the community and business owners.

DIANE WALKER: Excellent. That's wonderful for the state. We appreciate you coming, thank you so much.

ANDY EDMUNDS: Thanks for having me, appreciate it.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.