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Volume 26, Number 7 — July 2019

Big Stone Gap movie location sparks controversy

January 19, 2007

A plan to film the upcoming movie, Big Stone Gap, in South Carolina has created a controversy not only with regional residents, but with Virginia's lawmakers as well. The movie is based on a novel by the same name written by well-known author Adriana Trigiani, who grew up in Big Stone Gap. Two recent Bristol Herald Courier articles clearly support bringing the movie home to its namesake.

BHC Editorial: Make the movie in Big Stone Gap
Wednesday, Jan 17, 2007 — 12:32 AM

Big Stone Gap is not in South Carolina.

The movie version ought not be filmed there either. Efforts by Virginia lawmakers and area residents to bring this movie home are well founded.

It's a matter of community pride, but that isn't all there is to it. Filming the movie-adaptation of Adriana Trigiani's eponymous novel in Big Stone Gap would boost the local economy and draw tourists to this furthest corner of Virginia.

Trigiani, for her part, wants to film the movie in the hometown of her youth. However, the production company, Storefront Pictures, isn't likely to be swayed by sentimentality ? especially not when South Carolina is offering a heady package of incentives to lure the filmmakers there.

As in industrial and retail recruitment, the incentive package is now king in the movie industry. Productions head to the state, or even country, that offers the lushest mix of tax deferrals, rebates and cash. A faux version of Virginia can be concocted on a Hollywood backlot, in the Canadian countryside, or in the foothills of South Carolina. Yet, such recreations lack the ring of truth.

By filming in Big Stone Gap, the producers can be ensured that everything from the extras' accents to the breathtaking scenery will be real. Such authenticity is priceless.

The first steps to bring the movie home are under way. The Virginia Tobacco Commission approved a $300,000 grant for the project — money that will flow through the Virginia Film Commission. And Delegate Brian Moran, a Northern Virginia Democrat, and local lawmakers plan to introduce a $3 million budget amendment that would provide additional state incentives for the film.

It isn't clear, now, if the $3 million is upfront cash to cover production costs or some type of tax deferral. The details will become clearer as the legislation is vetted and debated. Obviously, $3 million is a large sum that shouldn't be pledged without due deliberation. But it is also true that it is an investment that could pay dividends for the region now and in the future.

"Incentive packages are important for states to attract movie production," said Delegate Terry Kilgore, R-Gate City. "We are proud that our region ... has been showcased in her books, and I know that filming this movie here will increase tourism and create new jobs."

The film-it-here campaign isn't entirely a top-down effort. The Wise County Board of Supervisors has offered its official support, and a grassroots Web site,, has sprung up. On the Web site, locals are encouraged to offer their homes, offices and expertise to the production company and to write letters of support for the incentives package now percolating in the legislature.

Locals hope the movie will create a buzz around Big Stone Gap that draws tourists. Attractions like The Trail of the Lonesome Pine, the state's longest-running outdoor drama, could benefit.

Big Stone Gap, the movie, belongs in Big Stone Gap, the town. South Carolina is a poor substitute. State lawmakers should sweeten the deal, then Storefront Pictures should accept the offer.

Bring this movie home.


Big Stone Gap wants to star in 'Big Stone Gap' movie
Kathy Still
BHC Staff Writer
Thursday, Jan 11, 2007 — 12:00 AM

It just makes sense for a movie titled "Big Stone Gap"? to be filmed in the small Wise County town, two state lawmakers said Wednesday.

So the Virginia Tobacco Commission is willing to hand over $300,000 in incentive money to entice a production company, Storefront Pictures, to film locally rather than in another state, Virginia Sen. William Wampler and Delegate Terry Kilgore announced. The money would have to be matched with local or state funds.

South Carolina is also in the running to be the locale for the movie based on Adriana Trigiani's best-selling novel of the same name.

The money would come through the Virginia Film Office to the production company, said Wampler, a Republican from Bristol.

"It would provide an incentive to make sure 'Big Stone Gap' is filmed in Big Stone Gap, where it is only appropriate to film,"? the senator said in a phone interview from Richmond.

Trigiani has been working on the film project for several years. The original novel was followed by three more books featuring the Wise County town and a group of fictional residents. Trigiani, who grew up in Big Stone Gap, also has been involved in various television productions over the years.

Tourism developers in the region hope the movie creates a buzz that lures visitors and their tourism dollars to Southwest Virginia and Wise County, in particular.

"The production of a movie in Big Stone will show the beauty of Southwest Virginia and will help attract tourists from all over the nation and the world," Kilgore, a Republican from Gate City, said in a written statement.

The lawmakers and the Southwest Virginia delegation also back a budget proposal to provide $3 million in state money as an additional incentive. Some of the state money, if approved by the General Assembly, could be used as matching money for the Tobacco Commission grant.

"We recognize that incentive packages are important for states to attract movie productions," Kilgore said. "We are proud that our region of the commonwealth has been showcased in her books, and I know that filming this movie here will increase tourism and create new jobs."

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