By Michael Balderston
“House of Cards” may deal with the sinister workings of politician Frank Underwood, but in the real world politics have played a part in the show’s production.
The upcoming season of Netflix’s premiere show nearly left Maryland, where it shot its first two seasons, because the state planned to cut their tax incentives; they stayed because of a last-minute deal with the governor. North Carolina, once considered the premiere production hub on the East Coast, has also cut back significantly on its state incentives and has seen a number of shows move elsewhere. But while these states pull back from film and TV, Virginia seeks to push forward.
The Virginia film industry and a number of state legislators, including 35th District Delegate Mark Keam, are supporting a new bill that will increase the tax incentive allotted for film and TV productions.
“It allows us to have funds so we can keep on marketing and bringing films in,” says Terry Stroud, who deals with legislative affairs for the Virginia Production Alliance.
Ever since the state started issuing incentives a few years ago, there has been consistent growth in the industry. The total impact of the film industry in the state for 2014, according to the Virginia Film Office, was $382.5 million, a 16 percent increase from 2013. The film office also claims the incentives created over 2,000 jobs. Recent productions include the first two seasons of AMC’s “Turn” and a new Meg Ryan movie.
“Our particular paybacks on incentives are a hair better than around the rest of the country because we’re a little more moderate in what we give away, and we offer other items to get people to come here,” says Stroud.
Stroud will have the opportunity to convince legislators to support the bill Thursday, Jan. 29, when Film Day is held in Richmond. Film Day allows for members of the film industry to meet with state legislators and express their interests and concerns on the state of the film industry in Virginia.
“It’s all about the jobs,” says Stroud, “and it’s all about the Virginians working on these things. It’s not about giving Hollywood a ton of money. It’s about utilizing people that live here, on the ground, working every day.”
Jan. 29, 7:30 a.m.-noon
Virginia State Assembly
1000 Bank Street
Richmond, VA 23218