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WV Film Office aims to prep Eastern Panhandle

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By CHRISTINE SNYDER

For The State Journal

West Virginia Film Office director Pam Haynes is expecting a big turnout for a workforce training workshop coming to Harpers Ferry in mid-August.

Haynes recently traveled to the Eastern Panhandle to scout out a location for the two-day, hands-on session aimed at training productions assistants for future Hollywood projects. A similar workshop in Huntington last year drew a capacity crowd.

She called the two-day seminar set for Aug. 23 and 24 at Quality Inn and Conference Center in Harpers Ferry “a key component” to building the state’s film industry workforce.

“It’s important for West Virginia to have a skilled labor pool with a strong understanding of the unique needs of the film industry,” she said.

The Los Angeles-based company Production Assistant Training Seminar LLC will train production assistants on basics such as set etiquette and terminology, Haynes said.

“Working on a film or TV productions involves some specialized know-how,” she explained during her recent visit to Jefferson County. “For instance, a production assistant has to know what’s part of his or her job and what is the job of someone else.

“The workshop goes over production paperwork, script breakdown, scheduling, walkie-talkie protocol, film set ‘speak’ — all the basics they’d otherwise have to learn on the job.”

The state’s first Production Assistant Training Seminar workshop held in Huntington in June of 2013 was initially supposed to be limited to 50 participants, but the number was later increased to 70.

The upcoming workshop in Jefferson County is important for the region, Haynes said.

“The Eastern Panhandle is prime for this type of training program, particularly because of the increase in production activity anticipated in the months to come,” Haynes said.

She said that two miniseries will be filmed in the region this fall and her office — part of the Department of Commerce, established in 1992 by then-Gov. Gaston Caperton — is working to recruit two television programs as well.

Haynes said West Virginia is getting national exposure thanks to recent Emmy nominations for the TV miniseries, “The Men Who Built America” and “The World Wars,” both of which filmed in the Eastern Panhandle.

Next month’s seminar is open to anyone from high school seniors to senior citizens, according to Haynes. West Virginia residents who complete the training can earn spots in the film office’s online crew directory, she said.