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Lights, camera, action coming to Tri-Cities
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Nov 8, 2013, 13:42

JAMES PEACEMAKER JR./HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Shirley Plantation in Charles City, pictured above, served as the location for the pilot episode of the new AMC series “Turn.”

Cameras could soon be rolling in the city of Hopewell. In the first few weeks of October, J. Andrew Hagy, economic development director for Hopewell, received a phone call that a film crew wanted river views for an upcoming television series and Hagy knew exactly where to find them.

On Oct. 11 the television network, AMC announced it will be filming a new colonial-era spy series in the Richmond area and the network has already ordered 10 episodes. The show, which is tentatively called “Turn,” is based on the nonfiction book, “Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring,” by Alexander Rose, according to the press release.

While the crew, which included the writer and producer of the show, was in Hopewell Hagy took them to Appomattox Manor, City Point and Weston Manor. Though the show has already begun filming, with the pilot being shot at Shirley Plantation in Charles City, there is still a possibility scenes could be shot in the city.

Hagy said the writer of the show, which according to the press release is Craig Silverstein, spent time walking the grounds of Weston Manor and came back with positive things to say.

“They liked it, especially that a lot of river views were unobstructed,” Hagy said. “I noticed the writer, after we had our lunch, he went off on his own and walking around the Weston Manor property. I was taking that as a positive sign.”

Dave Harless, president of the Historic Hopewell Foundation, was on hand during the tours in Oct. and said Weston Manor, built in 1789, was a great location to film for a colonial-era show.

“It seemed promising,” Harless said. “There are very few structures like that around…a lot of work and effort has gone into making, even the furnishings and stuff, period correct, so when you walk in we try to have it as much as it would have been then as we can.”

Even though the locations are set for the first two months of filming, Hagy said the crew has seen what the city has to offer and could incorporate the locations into future episodes of the series.

“It’s a series, it’s not like one film…a film, they come in and shoot it and leave,” Hagy said. “With a series, it continues. They said they will make 10 episodes.”

With a stay in town that long comes a large economic impact on the area. According to the press release, the series is expected to have an impact of $45 million per season. The total economic impact of the film and television industry in Virginia for 2011 was $394.4 million; this was a 14 percent increase from 2010.

“They will be a permeant fixture in the region,” Hagy said. “That means they will be stopping in, eating food and other types of services, so they can leave some of that $45 million in the Hopewell area somewhere.”

Besides spending money in the city, there could be upcoming employment opportunities. Hagy said there could be the possibility of hiring outside help, such as contractors, for the television series.

“I think it would be a tremendous opportunity for the city and for the people, the businesses,” Hagy said.

Hollywood is no stranger to the Tri-Cities area. In Dec. of 2011, the city of Petersburg played location to Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” starting Daniel Day-Lewis, winner of the 2013 Oscar for best actor. More recently, Petersburg was the location for the National Geographic Channel movie, “Killing Kennedy.” The movie, which stars Rob Lowe, premiers on Sunday and is based on Bill O’Reilly’s book of the same name, according to an article in USA Today.
JAMES PEACEMAKER JR./HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Weston Manor in Hopewell was one of the sites visited by the AMC film crew when they stopped by the city in October to scout locations for the new AMC series “Turn.”

Hagy hopes that one day, Hopewell, like Petersburg, will be chosen as the location for movies and television series. He said the city has a lot to offer in terms of location and historical structures and very soon another one will be added to the list come the first of the year.

“Once the Beacon [Theatre] has been completed it will have that potential,” Hagy said. “…We have to make sure the Beacon’s photograph, especially the interior, is on file in the film office so when they have inquires, other new films coming up or television series, that want a 1920s theatre, that would be an excellent opportunity.”

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