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On Location

Getting Virginia on the big screen.

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"The New World" isn't the only project demanding Edmunds' attention. And shuffling between them is a dance he enjoys.

"Once we land a project, I want to move to the next project but still nurture the relationships with the producer and director," he says. "It's all about relationships."

In his multifaceted job, Edmunds works to bolster Virginia's film production industry and bring in work and dollars from outside the state, helping create jobs and economic opportunities. He serves as a clearinghouse of location and resource information, minimizing the red tape that can bog down production. He coordinates with a wide-ranging group: major motion picture producers and directors, producers and directors of regional and national commercials, low-budget films and catalog shoots, state officials and homeowners.

On a typical day, Edmunds may be reading scripts to evaluate the needs of a producer or director, scouting locations or spending hours on the phone finalizing plans.

"My adrenaline gets pumping when we are in the chase for a project," Edmunds says. "Sometimes it comes down to the timing of a single critical phone call or the impact of a short conversation. I enjoy the challenges of finding locations that work, closing the deal and solving problems with creative solutions."

Edmunds also provides a link to local businesspeople, like Mark Remes, executive producer of BES, a teleproduction services company, who has worked on several projects with Edmunds.

"Andy keeps in close contact with people like me," Remes says. "He speaks highly of the resident film and video production community. He flies our flag when he talks with the directors and producers that come through."

Edmunds was introduced to the film industry when he met Charley Baxter, a freelance location manager, who asked him if he wanted to help build wardrobe racks for a film. For the next few years, Edmunds worked in different departments of movies coming to the area, while pursuing other entrepreneurial endeavors.

He then offered his services to the Virginia Film Office, helping it create a digital database for locations. It wasn't long before Edmunds was tapped for the newly created position of location manager.

Edmunds will tell you that bringing filmmakers into Virginia isn't an easy task. The state's main competition — more than 300 film commissions compete worldwide — comes from North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Georgia.

And the competition is increasing, he says.

"Now other states — Louisiana, Florida, Illinois, New Mexico — are offering financial incentives," Edmunds says. Georgia and North and South Carolina are slated to get their own financial incentives too, he says.

Virginia is striking back, he says. "We are developing an attractive incentive package that we want to move forward," he says. "These incentive packages have a proven record of providing great return on investment."

Internationally released films like "The New World" not only affect Virginia's economy but also create an increase in interest in the region, bringing in more tourism dollars.

Some may think that bringing a film about Jamestown to Virginia would be a sure bet. But that's not the case, according to Edmunds.

"Movies of this scale are often filmed outside of the U.S.," he says. "Filmmaking is an expensive endeavor, and there is extensive pressure for them to film outside of the country where significant financial incentives are brought to the table by various government entities such as Canada. Labor is cheaper, and the exchange rate makes the dollar cheaper."

So the film office, led by Rita McClenny, vice president of industry relations and film, along with other state agencies, played up the filmmakers' desire to be authentic, convincing them that Virginia was the place to shoot.

And sure, there are brushes with movie stars. But Edmunds doesn't get starry-eyed. "I am more interested in developing a relationship with producers and directors," he says. "They are the ones who make the decisions as to where a film will ultimately be made. My wife, Andrea, on the other hand, was pretty thrilled to meet Jude Law and Tom Cruise." S

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