For the last few weeks, Henricus Historical Park has been closed to film segments of “To Have and To Hold” – a feature film depicting life in the Virginia Colony during 1619 – but this week, however, marks an end to filming at the site. The motion picture is the third filmed at the location in three years and will be released for theaters sometime in 2012.
Charles Grant, executive director of Henricus, said the film really “shines a spotlight on Henricus,” and could lead to other filming opportunities in the future. According to Grant, Henricus’ authentic look and its availability played a major role in the film producers’ decision to have the film shot in Virginia.
“We were told by the film folks that Henricus was selected because of its authentic look – the authenticity of the site,” he said. “It didn’t look like a theme park; it looked like a site from 1619.”
Henricus Historical Park, an outdoor living history museum in Chester, is a re-created site to resemble the Citie of Henricus – the second permanent English settlement in North America, behind Jamestown. It represents various military, trades, and farming elements from the original site, which is in close proximity to the present-day park, during the early colonial period from 1611-1622.
According to the film’s location manager Tom Trigo, “To Have and To Hold,” which is an adaptation of a book published by the same name in 1900 by Virginian author Mary Johnston, is a family-based romance story – with a twist of action and adventure – set in the Virginia Colony as it expands westward. Though much of the film is shot in Henricus, its setting takes place mostly in Jamestown; however, scenes will be shot along the James River, as well as in or near various historical plantations and farms in the region.
Trigo, a native of Virginia, had been scouting Henricus for several years in his search for the perfect location to shoot the film. When he first read the script he knew Henricus was the ideal place to shoot.
“Actually, I can’t claim any great stroke of genius here on my part,” he said, “because this is tailor-made as a setting gets for any 1600’s movie … This is a fantastic recreation of a 1600 settlement; the period architecture is absolutely spot-on for what was there at the time, and the overall setting here is fantastic as well. You walk in and it’s like ready to film almost.”
Trigo said the production team had not tried to contact Jamestown to film on their site because of scheduling conflicts among the two of them; nonetheless, he did say that Jamestown had been both a great resource and very supportive during the filming process.
Casting in “To Have and To Hold” are several veteran television and film actors: Kelly Greyson – the leading lady; John Rhys-Davies; Christopher Judge; Mark Dacascos, Aiden Turner; Rusty Joiner, as John Rolfe; Travis Willingham; and Laura Bailey. Numerous local actors were also used in the filming.
Like the rest of the filming crew, Executive Producer Barbara Divisek agreed Henricus was the perfect location to shoot key scenes in the film.
“We’re here because Henricus is romantic; there’s a wonderful romance feel,” she said. “And with all the greenery that’s in Henricus, that’s what drew us here. We had considered going to other states [to film], but we kept coming back to Virginia.”