AMC will begin airing its 8-part premiere event “The American West” on June 11 at 10 p.m. EST. Predominantly filmed in West Virginia’s Berkeley and Jefferson counties, as well as Prickett’s Fort State Park in Marion County, the 8-part series spans the years 1865 to 1890 and will show how, in the aftermath of the Civil War, the United States transforms into the ‘land of opportunity.’ It will also chronicle the personal, little-known stories of Western legends such as Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, Crazy Horse, and Sitting Bull. The series features exclusive interviews with notable names from classic Western films, including Robert Redford, James Caan, Burt Reynolds, Tom Selleck, Kiefer Sutherland, Mark Harmon, Ed Harris and more.
The series is produced by Academy Award winner Robert Redford and Laura Michalchyshyn, through their Sundance Productions, and Emmy Award-winning producer Stephen David of Stephen David Entertainment. Since fall of 2012, in addition to “The American West,” Stephen David has filmed five other miniseries in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle, namely, “NASCAR: The Rise of American Speed” for CMT; “The Men Who Built America” for History, which was nominated for five Emmy Awards and won two for Outstanding Documentary and Outstanding Cinematography; “The World Wars” for History, which was nominated for three Emmys; “American Genius” for National Geographic; and “The Making of the Mob: New York” for AMC Networks.
“For the past four years, the film office has had the distinct honor of working with Stephen David and his talented team. It is a testament to not only the diversity of West Virginia locations, but also the value of having a skilled workforce,” said Pam Haynes, Director of the West Virginia Film Office. “Hundreds of business service providers in the state, and particularly the Eastern Panhandle, have benefited from the economic impact generated by such high profile productions.”
“We are fortunate to play host to another Stephen David Entertainment production, which will undoubtedly be a ratings success based on a long fascination with these historical characters and notable actors who tell the story,” said Annette Gavin, Executive Director of the Jefferson County Convention and Visitors Bureau. ” Jefferson County has vast resources spanning hundreds of years of history, amazing landscapes, and friendly people, making it a producer’s dream.”
“We loved hosting Stephen David Entertainment in Berkeley County. Film production is a form of economic development not usually prevalent in this area, and we would love to see more,” said Laura Gassler, Executive Director of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The hotels, restaurants, and residents benefited from having the production headquarters in Martinsburg. Plus, I never thought Berkeley County could double for New York City, the West, an auto racing circuit, the Wright brothers shop, and numerous other states and countries.”
Debbie McClure, the Executive Director of the Ranson Convention and Visitors Bureau, also worked with members of the production team in their search for miscellaneous locations. “It was a pleasure to be a host for the ‘The American West’. Stephen David Entertainment did an amazing job of highlighting the Eastern Panhandle, and we hope this miniseries will create more filming opportunities for the City of Ranson.”
The Executive Director of the Marion County Convention and Visitors Bureau echoed similar sentiments. “Prickett’s Fort is a perfect place to bring the 18th Century to life on screen, because that’s what it does every day. It’s like stepping back into the wild frontier,” said Leisha Elliott. “Marion County is honored to be represented in this miniseries, and we welcome more production to highlight the county’s great attributes.”
The Film Office is able to recruit these types of high-profile productions because of a film tax credit program unanimously enacted by the legislature in 2007. The program contains a provision that encourages the hiring of West Virginia’s workforce. It is a positive economic tool designed to help build a sustainable industry, which is one of the primary goals of the legislation.
More information about “The American West” is available at http://www.amc.com/shows/the-american-west.
PHOTO CAPTION: David H. Stevens as Jesse James, on location at Peacemaker National Training Center, Gerrardstown, West Virginia