Filmmakers and producers are organizing workshops to support a potential filmmaking workforce statewide.
A grip and lighting workshop is scheduled for late February in Morgantown as part of a partnership between the state’s film office and the West Virginia Filmmakers Guild. It’s the first that the office is organizing, with plans to sponsor similar workforce development workshops in places around the north-central region and the Eastern Panhandle.
“They just passed the tax credit this past July, so there’s a need for more grips and electricians to start working on more independent films that are coming into the state,” said Justin Owcar, West Virginia Filmmakers Guild President. “So we want to be able to help more people that would be interested in the industry and train them and give them the opportunity when these productions do come into the state.”
The film industry in West Virginia generated $120 million in wages and around 5,800 jobs with eight television series like Underground Marvels and Mountain Monsters being produced in-state throughout 2020 and 2021, according to the Motion Picture Association.
West Virginia Development Office Apprenticeship Coordinator Dave Lavender said attracting film crews to West Virginia is great for economic development, supporting local towns’ economies and creating new jobs during the filmmaking process.
“We really believe in trying to create opportunities here, for everyone in West Virginia, so that if somebody wants to work in film, and work in the creative industry, they can do it here, they don’t have to always be traveling to Atlanta to work,” Lavender said. “We want people to be able to be able to work and live and play in West Virginia as much as possible.”
The workshop is scheduled for Feb. 25 and 26. The office is also planning to sponsor a make-up workshop, run by television and film make-up artist John Caglione, at the Berkeley Springs Film Festival in March.
Sign-ups for the Morgantown workshop are currently available on the West Virginia Filmmakers Guild’s website.