‘Harriet’ set to film in Cumberland

Published 10:58 am Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The director of the Virginia Film Office, which partners with film crews interested in shooting films in Virginia, confirmed that Cumberland County is set to be one of four locations that the highly-anticipated biopic, “Harriet” is expected to be filmed.

According to a description of the film included in a release from the Office of the Governor Thursday, “Harriet” will be the first feature-length film to tell Harriet Tubman’s story, particularly as a heroic abolitionist who led hundreds enslaved through the Underground Railroad to freedom.

“The film chronicles the life of abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who was born into slavery and later helped hundreds of people escape captivity via the network of safe houses and secret routes known as the Underground Railroad,” the release cited.

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Andy Edmunds, director of the Virginia Film Office, confirmed after an inquiry from The Herald that “Harriet” is expected to be filmed on location in Cumberland, Powhatan, Petersburg and Charles City.

As to when film crew are expected to be in the area, Edmunds said the film crew do not publicize film schedules. He said he estimates that up to 300 people could be working at these locations on some days. He said the film crew typically move around with a crew of at least 150.

Cumberland County Administrator Vivian Seay Giles said Monday the county has not been contacted about the project.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Kevin Ingle said he has not heard about filming or the project in the county.

Cumberland Planning and Zoning Director J.P. Duncan and Commissioner of the Revenue Julie Phillips also said their departments have not received word about potential filming in the area.

The film, according to the release, is set to star Cynthia Erivo, who won a Tony Award for her role in “The Color Purple” and Leslie Odom Jr., who won a Tony Award for his role in “Hamilton.”

The film is set to be directed by Kasi Lemmons, who directed “Eve’s Bayou” and played a role in “The Silence of the Lambs” with producer and screenplay writer Gregory Allen Howard, a Virginia native most known for writing the screenplays for “Ali” and “Remember the Titans.”