Why filmmakers face challenges shooting in Vermont
MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont serves as the picture-perfect backdrop in many Christmas movies -- and even some spooky shows -- but very few have actually been shot in the Green Mountain State.
There are a lot of reasons the film industry in Vermont isn’t taking off. Creators say lack of connections, crew, infrastructure, and state incentives are all reasons filmmakers look elsewhere. Efforts from individuals and the Legislature are underway in hopes of putting the real Green Mountain State on the silver screen.
“It’s not that it’s impossible, but it is difficult,” said Jay Craven with Kingdom County Productions. He’s been making films and TV shows in Vermont since the 1980′s. He makes every effort to keep production in the state, but it’s not always possible.
Craven and his team most recently produced “The Lost Nation.” The film about Ethan Allen, one of the most notable Green Mountain Boys, was partially shot in Massachusetts.
“At the end of the day, the State of Massachusetts was going to put up $300,000 to shoot it there, so what we did was decide to shoot part of it in Vermont,” Craven explained.
He isn’t the only one shooting films set in Vermont elsewhere. Other hits like Netflix’s “Wednesday,” and the 1954 hit “White Christmas,” were also shot elsewhere.
Vermont offers no film incentives, but it’s something creators and legislators hope to see change. Senator Randy Brock, R-Franklin County, is leading a state film task force and says that if the state were to consider financial incentives, it would prioritize those with permanent roots in the Green Mountain State. “Vermont is only one of four states that doesn’t have a film office or commission at this point,” Brock said. “Right now, we have lots of kids in college or technical schools with no place to practice it in Vermont.”
Chad Ervin, the co-founder of the Vermont Production Collective, says having a central point of communication for filmmakers would help the industry in Vermont exponentially. The collective is already making an effort to boost networking opportunities rather than wait for the state to solve the problem. “We have social media and Facebook groups where you can find crew, where you can network with other people in the business, and when you have work you’ve done, we promote it.”
“While Vermont still has a ways to go when it comes to filmmaking, Craven says it adds something irreplaceable to the final product. “Small towns are small towns. The woods and the hills and dirt roads and all of that bring a lot of texture to the film,” he said.
While there are definitely some challenges for creators in Vermont to overcome, filmmakers we spoke with say there are some areas where Vermont excels. They say it’s a great place for people to get experience in the industry and the permitting process is a lot easier.
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