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Posted at 11:45 AM ET, 11/30/2010

Virginia may land a whale

By Paige Winfield Cunningham

Virginia may land a whale with just a scrap of bait.

Steven Spielberg is considering Virginia as the filming location of his Abraham Lincoln movie slated for production next fall -- which would finally give the Virginia Film Office something new to brag about after six years of referencing HBO's John Adams miniseries as its biggest accomplishment.

Until last spring, the state lagged behind most others in the puny batch of incentives it offered to filmmakers. Now, Virginia is about the middle of the pack after lawmakers upped available tax credits from $1.5 million over the last 15 years to $5 million every two years.

Film office spokesperson Mary Nelson must be surprised by Spielberg's interest, considering she told a TBD reporter that the new incentives wouldn't be bringing any huge-budget films to Virginia. But if Spielberg does choose Virginia, Nelson and her colleagues will probably cover their shock with congratulatory pats on each others' backs for winning such fame and fortune for Virginia with a fairly average package of incentives.

One wonders, however, how much tax credits will play into Spielberg's decision -- considering he has the resources to choose basically any location that's right for his movie ("Schindler's List": Poland; "Saving Private Ryan": Ireland, France and England; "Jurassic Park": Hawaii). Seems like Virginia will have its history, not its film credits, to thank if it's picked.

It also wouldn't be the first time for Spielberg worked in Virginia. The 2002 movie "Minority Report" was filmed where the story takes place: in Northern Virginia, D.C. and Los Angeles.

So perhaps the film office should consider offering the limited credits available to smaller production companies that would also create jobs (at least temporary ones) in Virginia. Otherwise, we might be feeding worms to a whale.

Paige Winfield Cunningham is an investigative reporter and managing editor at Old Dominion Watchdog. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By Paige Winfield Cunningham  | November 30, 2010; 11:45 AM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Local blog network, Virginia, economy  
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