- Associated Press - Sunday, February 8, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - For aspiring actors, the West Virginia Film Office might not be the fastest, easiest way to launch their careers.

“Well, when we get a casting call from someone, we post that on our Facebook page,” said Jamie Cope, location services coordinator for the office. “I guess, if you check that often enough, you might see something.”

But if you’re looking to work behind the scenes or, even better, have the place you live become one of the scenes, the West Virginia Film Office can help. In fact, it would love to have you.

“We have a location library with properties and locations from around the state,” Cope said. “There’s (about) 5,200 and some locations.”

What are film and television producers looking for?

Just about everything.

Some of the most frequently used sites include the former Moundsville Penitentiary and the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.

“Prisons without inmates are just awesome,” Cope said. “Then you throw in the historic aspects, the legends, and that’s when you get ghost hunters and things like that.”

Cope said the office gets a lot of generic requests for Anytown, USA.

“They want towns where it could be the Midwest, could be the East Coast, could be now, could be 1940.”

Filmmakers want places where they can use the location to help create the canvas for their story or sell their product.

“Something we need most (that) people don’t think about are private homes,” he said. “People from commercials approach us and they’ll say, ‘We want a white farm house,’ and we have lots of those in West Virginia, but then you have to track them down and see who is available - it’s a lot of leg work.”

They’d like to have more homes for use available for potential filmmakers, and Cope said production companies are looking for all types.

“The tendency is, you want to only show your best, the nicest places,” he said.

In the movies, though, even the bad guys have to live someplace, and those places don’t have to be too nice.

Getting a particular property listed with the West Virginia Film Office isn’t difficult. Locations for consideration can be submitted through the office’s website wvfilm.wvcommerce.org.

There’s a form to fill out and pictures can be uploaded.

Cope offers some advice on submitting.

“You want to send all the details you can,” he said. “It’s not about looking for the perfect angle or trying to be artistic. They need the details of the place, warts and all.”

Cope compared it more to an insurance form than an art project, which doesn’t sound glamorous, but it does help the potential producer make an informed decision.

“Don’t edit the pictures,” he said. “Don’t take out the power lines or the fire hydrants. Just leave them.”

Locations that are submitted to the West Virginia Film Office are added to the state’s registry, as well as the national catalog.

Cope said when someone is approached about using their location, the film office does what it can to make the deal go as smoothly as possible.

“We have checklists for the property owner to go through before they sign anything with a production,” he said.

It’s not just about making the film industry happy for the sake of business. Cope said that, when the project is over, the production company will head back to California or wherever.

“But the property owners will still be here, in my backyard,” he said. “I’m going to hedge my bets in their favor.”


Information from: The Charleston Gazette, https://www.wvgazette.com

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