Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: May 23, 2019
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alena Yarmosky, Alena.Yarmosky@governor.virginia.gov | Virginia Film Office: Andy Edmunds, aedmunds@virginia.org, (804) 545-5534 | Virginia Tourism Corporation: Caroline Logan, clogan@virginia.org, (804) 545-5572

Governor Northam Announces New Limited Series “The Good Lord Bird” from Blumhouse Television and SHOWTIME® to Film in Virginia

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that the upcoming limited series The Good Lord Bird will film in Virginia this summer. The new SHOWTIME® limited series, produced by Blumhouse Television, is based on the National Book Award-winning novel, by the same name, from bestselling author James McBride.

Oscar®, Golden Globe® and Tony® nominee Ethan Hawke will star as 19th-century abolitionist John Brown and is co-writing and executive producing, along with McBride; award-winning author, producer and Virginia native Mark Richard (The Ice at the Bottom of the World and Hell on Wheels); Albert Hughes (Menace II Society, Dead Presidents), who will also direct multiple episodes; Jason Blum, Marci Wiseman and Jeremy Gold, for Blumhouse Television (Sharp Objects, The Loudest Voice, The Purge); Brian Taylor; Ryan Hawke (First Reformed); David Schiff (Southpaw); and Marshall Persinger (Rectify).

The Good Lord Bird is told from the point of view of Onion, an enslaved teenager who joins Brown during the time of Bleeding Kansas, eventually participating in the famous 1859 raid on the Army depot at Harpers Ferry. Brown’s raid failed to initiate the slave revolt he intended, but is often cited as the instigating event that started the Civil War.

Production of the eight-part limited series will begin in Central Virginia this summer. The Good Lord Bird marks another major project filming in Virginia in 2019, following an announcement regarding AMC’s popular The Walking Dead franchise.

The Good Lord Bird will be a fantastic showcase of all that our Commonwealth has to offer,” said Governor Northam. “Virginia has emerged as a popular destination for lucrative film and television productions, a hard-earned reflection of our film-friendly atmosphere, talented workers, and unparalleled scenery.”

“Virginia is the perfect production home for The Good Lord Bird,” said Marci Wiseman and Jeremy Gold, co-presidents of Blumhouse Television. “The state’s visual backdrop lends itself beautifully to what we are looking to bring to the screen, the talent in the state is top notch and of course, Virginia has a historical relevance to this story.”

“Virginia’s film, television, and new media industries continue to develop every year,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “We look forward to the significant benefit that this continued growth will have for the Virginia economy. The Commonwealth has become a leader in a variety of evolving, tech-based industries, and pursuing growth in the globally-expanding production arena offers a natural, lucrative complement to our existing economic strengths.”

“Blumhouse has become synonymous with high-quality content, with such recent successes as the critically-acclaimed BlacKkKlansman, Whiplash, Get Out and Us,” said Director of the Virginia Film Office Andy Edmunds. “We are grateful to Mark Richard, Ethan Hawke, Jason Blum and the entire Blumhouse team for choosing to produce this consequential project in Virginia. This truly solidifies the Commonwealth as a favored destination among filmmakers, and a rising competitor in this desirable industry.”

The Good Lord Bird will be eligible to receive a Virginia film tax credit or grant. The exact amount will be based on the number of Virginia workers hired, Virginia goods and services purchased, and deliverables including Virginia tourism promotions. 

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 2017, visitors spent $25 billion, supporting 232,000 jobs and contributing $1.73 billion in state and local taxes.

For information about Virginia’s film production industry, please visit the Virginia Film Office website at www.filmvirginia.org.

For information about Virginia tourism, please visit www.virginia.org.

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