The West Virginia Film Office has set in motion ways to promote the state in hopes to secure more film production here.
Recent films, "The World Wars" and "The Men Who Built America" portions of which which were set in the Eastern Panhandle, have opened up possibilities for future works to be shot here. To draw the attention of the film industry, local support is needed, said Pam Haynes director of the West Virginia Film Office.
Haynes explained to a group of business and tourism leaders Friday afternoon that the community can play a large role in recruiting film producers to select the area. The meeting, held at the Bavarian Inn, was organized by the Film Office in conjunction with the Jefferson County Development Authority and the Convention and Visitor's Bureau.
Haynes described the Film Office, which falls under the state Department of Commerce Division of Tourism, as a vehicle to recruit the film industry for their needs in movies, music videos, commercials and television shows.
While an absolute draw, according to Haynes, is a tax incentive, that is something West Virginia already offers. Production companies can receive tax credits which encourage them to select an area for filming. Once that tax incentive is present, there are other methods of recruitment which include such things as crew and vendor directories that are compiled by the Film Office which provide a resource for film producers looking for a location.
Joining in the presentation from the Film Office was Lisa Wells, who shared while people don't often think of the support needed for a production, those in the film industry are looking for areas that can serve all the needs of a production team and a project.
A vendor directory, Wells said, provides names of such businesses as restaurants, hotels, dry cleaners; any type of business that could be needed by a group staying in the area on a temporary basis. A crew director, she explained, lists a skilled workforce who can be hired on a part-time project oriented basis to assist the production of a film. Examples given included cameramen, makeup artists and hair stylists.
The Film Office is working to increase the entries in their directories, which are the first places researched by potential film producers when selecting a location. The meeting Friday was to encourage member organizations and even government officials to encourage local businesses to participate in the directory.
This is a free service through the Department of Commerce. While the Film Office knows of the need for the directories, Haynes said, "It's impossible for us to create a phone book, that's why we need your involvement."
Data shown at the meeting indicated that only 320 businesses in West Virginia are listed in the directory currently with only 30 or so in the Eastern Panhandle.
The low representation, Wells said, is simply because businesses don't know the directory is out there. They don't know they should be included in it. To make folks aware is a reason for the Film Office's push with the meetings such as Friday's similar ones which will be held in other locations in the state.
Visiting the office's website, one can find links to sign up in the directories. The process is a simple one with an online form. Visit www.wvfilm.wvcommerce.org. More information can also be found by contacting the local CVB office, the Jefferson County Development Authority or the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce. All of these agencies can assist with registration in the appropriate directory.
The Film Office will hold another production assistant training session in Jefferson County in August.