RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced that the upcoming feature film Juanita, starring Academy Award-nominated actress Alfre Woodard (12 Years a Slave, Captain America: Civil War) and Petersburg native Blair Underwood (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., L.A. Law), will film in Virginia this spring. Juanita will be directed by Clark Johnson (Homeland, The Wire). Virginia native Mel Jones (Dear White People), Stephanie Allain (Hustle & Flow) and Jason Michael Berman (The Birth of a Nation) will produce the film. The trios’ last project, Burning Sands, filmed in Petersburg last spring, was an official selection at this year’s Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, and is now available on Netflix.
“We are thrilled to welcome this talented filmmaking team back to the Commonwealth to film this story of female empowerment,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe. “We are grateful for the good-paying jobs Juanita will bring to our film industry workers and look forward to showing our guests how extraordinary Virginia is for filmmaking.”
Juanita, based on the novel Dancing on the Edge of the Roof by Sheila Williams and adapted for the screen by Roderick Spencer, tells the story of Juanita, a hardworking nurse’s aide, mother and grandmother, who wants adventure and excitement but wonders if such things exist for an aging African-American woman stuck caring for her grown children. Tired of her impoverished surroundings, Juanita untethers herself from her exhausting life and sets out on a bus to an unknown destination and future.
“When a film of this caliber comes to Virginia, it generates revenue in the economy of each and every locality it touches, and it creates a wonderful domino effect, attracting future high-quality projects,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore. “For every dollar invested in Virginia’s film industry incentive programs, $11 is returned to the Commonwealth’s economy. We are pleased to continue utilizing these incentive programs to continue our efforts to build a new Virginia economy, furthering showcasing Virginia’s extensive film assets.”
Producer Stephanie Allain said, “We are thrilled to return to Virginia to shoot Juanita! We are ever thankful to the film office and Governor, and look forward to shooting a lovely film about female empowerment in the city and countryside.”
“When a talented production team brings their project to Virginia – it’s a win. When they do it twice, it’s a testament to our great Commonwealth, and the hard-working, welcoming Virginians that make filming here an experience worth repeating,” said Andy Edmunds, Director of the Virginia Film Office. “Projects like Juanita make it clear that Virginia has become a go-to destination for trailblazing independent film.”
Juanita will begin filming in early spring in Bedford and Central Virginia, including Petersburg. The film is eligible to receive up to a $550,000 grant from the Governor’s Motion Picture Opportunity Fund, in addition to a Virginia film tax credit. The exact amount of each is based on a number of factors including: the number of Virginia workers hired, Virginia goods and services purchased, and deliverables including Virginia tourism promotions. The economic impact of Virginia’s content manufacturing industry in 2015 was $615.6 million, providing $24.3 million in state and local tax revenue for the Commonwealth, as well as 3,883 full time jobs.
The Virginia Film Office is part of the Virginia Tourism Corporation, the state agency charged with marketing the state of Virginia. Tourism is an instant revenue generator in Virginia. In 2015, visitors spent $23 billion, supporting nearly 222,600 jobs and contributing $1.6 billion in state and local taxes.
For more information about the Virginia Film Office, please click here.
For more information on the Virginia Tourism Corporation, please click here.