Written by Shona Smith on Nov 22, 2019. Posted in On Location

Harriet Tubman feature doubled Virginia for Maryland

Based on the true story of heroic freedom fighter Harriet Tubman, the Focus Feature production is the first time that her story has been told on the big screen.

Directed by Kasi Lemmons (Black Nativity, The Caveman’s Valentine), British actor Cynthia Erivo (Mr Selfridge, Bad Times at the El Royale) took on the role of the iconic American freedom fighter Harriet Tubman.

The film follows Tubman’s journey as she escapes slavery in Maryland and going on to establish the Underground Railroad, which helped hundreds of slaves escape to freedom. While the original story saw Tubman travel from Maryland to Philadelphia, the production took place in Virginia, although still filmed the state’s locations linked with slavery.

Filming took place in autumn and winter 2018. A plantation where over one thousand slaves once worked was used in the production, as well as sites near the Delaware River, Chesapeke Bay and Choptank River.

Petersburg, Virginia doubled for Philadelphia in the mid-nineteenth century. The cobbled streets were dressed, and extras set the scene for the bustling city where African-Americans could live and work freely at the time.

Virginia has hosted many productions set during the Antebellum period, including Lincoln and Cold Mountain due to its range of plantation, revolutionary and small town and civil war locations.

Virginia operates the Virginia Motion Picture Tax Credit, which provides refundable tax credits to productions meeting the minimum USD250,000 spend. Feature films, documentaries and television series and commercial advertising, videos and music videos qualify. Projects must be fully funded, with a multi-market distribution contract to apply.

The state also operates a Sales and Use Tax Exemption that applies to the purchase of production related supplies. Hotel stays of ninety days or more are also exempt from state sales tax and some local lodging taxes.

Virginia Tourism Corporation will be attending FOCUS, the meeting place for international production on the 3 & 4th December at the Business Design Centre in London. Click here to receive your free delegate badge.

Image Credits: Glen Wilson / Focus Features

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