How Virginia became filming location for highly-anticipated movie ‘Harriet’

Local News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The highly-anticipated movie ‘Harriet’ — filmed in Central Virginia — hits theaters next week. The feature film depicts abolitionist Harriet Tubman’s journey of freeing hundreds of slaves through the Underground Railroad and becoming an American freedom fighter.

‘Harriet’ wouldn’t be on the big screen without Andy Edmunds, Director of the Virginia Film Office. He says it all started with a phone call.

“’Hey, did you know they’re scouting for a Harriet Tubman movie in upstate New York.’ I said, ‘Wait, what? That’s our movie — we should have that movie in Virginia,’” Edmunds said.

After sending pictures of Virginia to the director, it was a done deal.

“Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’ took nine years to bring here,” Edmunds explained. “We worked on that for nine years and ‘Harriet’ was amazing because it came together in nine days.”

Edmunds says the team fell in love with Virginia’s historic buildings and rustic scenery.

RELATED: WATCH: Locally filmed movie ‘Harriet’ releases first trailer

The movie was filmed last year in parts of Petersburg, Dinwiddie County, Cumberland County, and Charles City County, specifically the Berkeley Plantation.

“It’s an amazing story of faith and courage,” Edmunds added. “What an inspiration she is for women, women of color to pursue their dream and be courageous.”

Actor Brian Landis, who was born and raised in Virginia, says he couldn’t pass up the opportunity of being in the movie.

“I am the mean marshall. I’m the marshall that questions her when she is coming off the train,” Landis explained.

“It’s exciting and there is people running all over the place, but I think once you get over the initial wow factor, you just have to be prepared,” Landis said about working on the movie set.

‘Harriet’ isn’t just a win for Hollywood — it’s a win for Virginia, bringing in $30 million for the Commonwealth and creating more than 800 jobs.

Central Virginia is becoming a major hub for movie and television production. The list of movies and TV shows that have been filmed or are currently filming in the Commonwealth include ‘John Adams,’ ‘Evan Almighty,’ ‘Lincoln,’ ‘The Walking Dead,’ and ‘Swagger.’

‘Harriet’ hits theaters on November 1. In the meantime, there’s a special showing of the film at the Virginia Film Festival and The Byrd Theatre on Saturday.

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