Charlottesville & The Movie Industry

By: Autria Godfrey
By: Autria Godfrey

February 28, 2007

The glitzy Hollywood Hills are where movies are made, and the big money that comes with them.
But these days, the lesser known Shenandoah Valley is trying to steal some of the spotlight and doing a good job of it.

When directors for the motion picture Evan Almighty, starring Steve Carrell, called for action last fall, they did so, in Crozet.

"It was awesome, awesome, it was so much fun," Justin Weiss said.

Fifth-grader Justin Weiss spent 58 days as a stand-in and learned from the director, "why here?"

"He was searching for a location around here with an upper class neighborhood and he found Old Trails," Justin said.

Big brother Jeremy Weiss was an extra.

"Virginia's a pretty place, and it's very diverse place you've got cities, you've got real desolate country," Jeremy said.

Movies like this are bringing in big bucks, 5 million in economic impact to be exact. In all of Virginia in 2005, the impact from films: $221million.

Rob and Susan Decker also got their 15 minutes of fame in Evan Almighty.

"Look at the scenery we have here, we have mountains in the background, they can probably manipulate the shots with the city to make it look larger, so I think it'd be an attractive place to shoot a city," Susan Decker said.

And while it may not be the LA of the East, the valley is certainly on directors radar, and giving everyone from college students to community actors a chance to strike it big.

"I think everybody in the drama world in Charlottesville was an extra, ha ha ha," Susan said.


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