RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Lights, camera, economic impact! Virginia's reputation as a great place to shoot TV programs and scenes for such major films as Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" is having a bigger impact on the state's bottom line, according to data released Thursday in concert with the screening of the new epic by the award-winning filmmaker.
Last year, Virginia became a living soundstage to several major films and television programs, driving the industry's total economic impact up 14.5 percent to more than $394 million in 2011. The industry also contributed nearly $60 million in state and local tax revenue. State figures also show more than 3,815 jobs were attributed to the industry in 2011, up from about 2,650 jobs in the previous year.
Virginia's allure as a filmmaking haven continues to grow due to the state's incentive programs for film production and its diverse backdrops, Gov. Bob McDonnell said in a statement Thursday. Production companies that film in Virginia may qualify for grants from the Governor's Motion Picture Opportunity Fund, tax credits, as well as other tax exemptions.
The incentives offered by Virginia helped attract filmmakers and television crews to the state, bringing with it big budgets and opportunities to hire local workers.
Crews filming in Virginia also frequent grocery stores, hardware stores, vehicle rental companies, dry cleaners, restaurants, and fabric and antique stores. And in addition to local actors, they hire carpenters, painters, craftspeople, tailors, drivers, film crew, caterers, camera operators and security guards.
For example, "Lincoln," which opens in limited release Friday and then nationwide on Nov. 16, had direct expenditures of $32.4 million and for a total economic impact of $64.1 million, the governor's office said. The film company also hired nearly 1,200 Virginia-based actors and extras and 380 crew members. It also used 23,580 room nights in local hotels and apartments.