Written by on Sep 20, 2013. Posted in On Location

Emmys spotlight popular Washington DC setting but filming goes elsewhere

Five popular TV series set to dominate this weekend’s Emmy awards have Washington DC settings but were all filmed elsewhere in the US. Washington does not have a reputation as a particularly film-friendly city due to the lack of a filming incentive and obvious security concerns.

Domestic terrorism drama Homeland films in North Carolina, while House of Cards and satirical comedy Veep double Baltimore in Maryland for the capital. Political Animals shoots in Philadelphia and Scandal is based in Los Angeles. Between them, the five shows have 32 Emmy nominations.

“It’s a real challenge,” said Crystal Palmer, head of Washington’s Office of Motion Picture and Television Development, said in comments to news agency AFP: “People tend to think [a Washington-themed series] originated here, when in actuality it did not.”

Filmmakers braving Washington must navigate the city’s bureaucracy, which includes more than 30 separate police forces and different jurisdictions related to the various landmarks. Buildings such as the Capitol have tight restrictions on filming activities and news teams are generally the only crews to be allowed access.

In contrast, Maryland recently tripled the short-term funding for its state filming incentive to keep House of Cards and Veep in Baltimore, while North Carolina and Pennsylvania both offer generous 25% filming tax credits. These filming incentives are also contributing to California’s runaway production problem as television dramas seek tax credits and rebates that are more readily available.

Television audiences clearly have an appetite for political drama and intrigue but productions will likely continue having to recreate America’s central seat of government for the foreseeable future.

To read more about filming in Washington click here.

(Lincoln photo: John Latenser)

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