History Channel doubles West Virginia for global locations filming The World Wars
History Channel filmed in West Virginia for its new docudrama The World Wars, doubling the eastern-US state for global locations. Shooting focussed on West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle and recreated a host of countries including Germany, Mexico, Italy and France.
Production company Stephen David Entertainment had filmed in West Virginia before for the History Channel’s 2011 docudrama The Men Who Built America and Executive Producer Stephen David decided to return for The World Wars.
“This time we were staging not one, but two World Wars – tanks, explosions, trenches and more,” says David: “It’s not easy to pull off that sort of epic scale production, and there’s no question - we couldn’t have done it without the co-operation of the West Virginia Film Office and the support of the state’s tax incentives.
“The World Wars takes place across 30 years, with key scenes set all over the globe, from the White House to Winter Palace, and just about everywhere in between. Shooting in West Virginia, we were able to find these incredible, well-preserved locations that doubled for such a diverse selection of countries.”
“The Eastern Panhandle has a wide range of historic buildings and well-preserved period homes that can easily double for offices and military headquarters around the world,” explains Jamie Cope, Locations Services Co-ordinator for the West Virginia Film Office.
“The most extensive work involved recreating the French and German trenches at the Peacemaker National Training Center (in Gerrardstown). As evidenced by the broadcast, the results were amazing.”
A former Roundhouse in Martinsburg was adapted into studio space for scenes set in locations including aircraft, battleships and a hospital.
“It’s a very film-friendly community [in West Virginia],” adds David: “The people and businesses are genuinely excited to have us. When you’re greeted with that sort of positive attitude, it really helps set the right tone for your production.”
History Channel has made the shift to international location filming since moving into fully scripted drama production. Its Hatfields & McCoys Western miniseries, set during the mid-19th Century, largely doubled Romania for the eastern US and was a huge ratings hit. Vikings is entering its third season of location filming in Ireland.
The channel is also working on a drama miniseries called Texas Rising, telling the story of the Texas Revolution of 1836.
The World Wars will be broadcast over three nights from 26 May 2014.
(Photos: West Virginia Film Office / Michael Hosenfeld / Karolina Wojtasik)
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