Despite ‘Buckwild’ troubles, WV hopes to attract others to ‘Hollerwood’ U.S.A.
Long before MTV’s “Buckwild” reality blitz turned Sissonville into a rural destination peppered by the antics of college-aged kids, the state had a desire to display its natural beauty and Hometown, U.S.A. store fronts on the big screen.
The legislature established an incentive for filmmakers who bring jobs and positive publicity to the Mountain State.
During the lensing of “We Are Marshall” on location in 2006 local filmmaker Joe Murphy told director McG that “you have turned our quaint little town into ‘Hollerwood.'”
Huntington’s new Mayor, Steve Williams, has placed the arts of the city and state on a front burner. During his State of the City address, “Mayor Steve” announced the creation of the Mayor’s Office for Film, Theatre and Broadcasting, acknowledging opportunities for Huntington’s assembly of artists – visual, musical, theatrical, and film – to become an emerging “Hollerwood” in the southeast.
Speaking of the importance of the arts in creating community quality of life vibrancy, Williams stressed, “Huntington is becoming a location for those who are producing commercials and films. Instead of people going to Hollywood, they might consider coming to West Virginia. There are some who might grimace [at the Hollerwood expression], but why not embrace who we are.”
He added, people working with the West Virginia Film Office are “now coming to Huntington more and more often.”
Joe Murphy, now president of Trifecta Productions, collaborated with Darryl Fetty in the production of the two hour History Channel documentary, “America’s Greatest Feud: The History of the Hatfields and McCoys,” which was directed by the late Mark Cowen. Fetty, a West Virginia native, also co-produced the six hour mini series, “Hatfields and the McCoys,” who along with fellow co-producers and cast members like Kevin Costner have been honored with multiple award nominations and wins.
“We are set up ready to serve the world stage, and give the world the best of what we have,” explained Murphy in a 2012 interview. “Huntington has become a much more progressive city now. It’s a matter of getting it out to everyone else and letting them enjoy what we have here.”
Williams in the State of the City emphasized that we communicate with each other through the arts. “One of the hallmarks of a vibrant community is a vibrant arts section. We have so many [separate] artistic voices, we need to do is coordinate and unify into a beautiful harmony that moves our city forward.”
Not surprisingly, the producers of “Buckwild” were refused a “tax credit” due to their depictions of young hooligans that would plod intoxicated over barren fields riding ATV’s, spontaneous skinny dipping (implied) from railroad trestles, and occasional road trips to the party capitol, Morgantown, where dancing past dawn provides ultimate cardio workouts.
Despite its “renewal” for a second season, the successor to ” Jersey Shore” has been the state’s worst kept little screen secret. Two of “Buckwild’s” youthful stars – Michael “Bluefoot” Burford and Salwa Amin – have, like some A-listers in Hollywood, found themselves not smiling for regional jail mugshot photographers. Burford has been charged with aggravated driving under the influence in Charleston, while Ms. Amin found hiding in a shed at Summerville was charged with possession of oxycodone with intent to deliver.