Sweet Virginia wrapped up its production in Hope on Sept. 22.
The movie was entirely filmed in Hope and features stars such as Imogen Poots, Jon Bernthal, Christopher Abbott, Rosemary DeWitt and Odessa Young. It started its first day filming in Hope on Aug. 22.
According to its synopsis, the film features a former rodeo champ befriending a young man with a propensity for violence. Film company Oddfellows Entertainment spokesperson Phillip Thomas said no other details could be released at this time.
Thomas did suggest that the film was supposed to feature Virgina, but that idea was scrapped.
“Through rewrites and that sort of thing, the script took a different turn and they actually set it in a fictional town in Alaska,” said Thomas. “And needing to shoot in B.C., we figured Hope actually doubled very well as Alaska. Looks very similar.”
Thomas added that Hope had an “epic mountain range” and a river going through town that added to the authenticity.
Logistically, Hope’s proximity to the Vancouver film company also helped.
“We’re close to our resources, we’re able to get all our film gear. It’s easy to move the crew out here,” said Thomas. “It’s a small town, so we wanted to go shoot in the real thing rather than have to fake a small town in Vancouver.
In the month they filmed, they filmed in various houses, the Skagit Motel and on town streets. Residents who were willing to vacate their houses for the film crew’s accommodations on short notice also received generous short-term rental rates.
Businesses also benefited from the film production.
“The catering crew for the newest film shopped here about twice a day, orders being quite substantial,” said Buy-Low Foods manager Pauline Svensrud. “I couldn’t really tell you if the other crew members shopped here or not, there were quite a few new faces but that could be the tail end of the tourist season.
“Overall though, I do believe that any film being shot in town is a benefit to our small town, we need all the exposure we can get.”
Silver Creek’s Owl Street Cafe, also saw patronage.
“We had the pleasure of having one of the leading actresses and her family patronize our business on a daily basis as well as quite a few of the support and technical crew,” said the Cafe’s Sonia Herregods. “It was such a great honour for us to have them on a regular basis the whole time they were here, considering they had their own catering company and food was provided for them.
“We got to know them all on a personal level and really enjoyed their company.”
AdvantageHOPE executive director Tammy Shields noted that the provincial government plays a key role in attracting the film industry through attraction and policy such as tax credits.
Shields noted that the Province has recently created Creative BC to spur the industry. AdvantageHOPE works closely with Destination BC, who is working on building a relationship with Creative BC, “which will help ensure that filming locations in Hope are marketed and made even more accessible to location scouts in the future.”
“As far as what brings them to Hope specifically, I would say that it is the magnificent setting more than anything,” said Shields. “Plus, we have great film history in Hope; even nearly 35 years after the filming of First Blood, Rambo is still the number two hot topic at the Visitor Centre today and over the years, dozens of movies and commercials have been shot at least partially in Hope.”
Sweet Virginia will be released in 2017. Thomas said they do not have an exact date yet.
“It will have a really great premiere at a festival somewhere, and then it will do a theatre run,” said Thomas.
Thomas enjoyed his time in Hope, saying that Hope residents received the film crew “with open arms” and helped them whenever possible.