By Peggy Mackenzie
Joe B. Roles, author of “Mary Jane’s War,” outlined the benefits of publicity and film-induced tourism in a presentation on Capitol Hill on Feb. 3 as a profitable, non-polluting industry to increase revenues.
Speaking before the West Virginia State Society of Washington, DC, Roles told the fictionalized story of Mary Jane Arnott Smith, an actual heroic woman, who took a pair of mules and a wagon 120 miles over North Mountain and through enemy lines during the Civil War to recover her husband’s remains to bring them home to Monroe County for burial.
In attendance were Senators Joe Manchin III and Shelly Moore Capito, congressmen Evan Jenkins and Alex Moodney, plus Joy Lewis from Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s office. The presentation received positive support. His appeal to the gathering was based on jobs creation, since the average movie requires 55 employees, not including actors and extras, as well as retail sales in food service, hotel industry and related businesses, and tourism.
Roles, an Annandale, VA, resident and president of Mary Jane’s War Film, Inc., is raising funds to produce a 60-minute docu-drama about Mary Jane’s War to air on PBS, both locally and for national syndication. He and producer Stuart Margolin hope the broad exposure for a nationally televised program will attract a broad range of investors in order to produce a first-class feature-length movie based and filmed in Virginia and West Virginia.
The story is an intriguing one about the character and courage of a woman in the midst of tragedy and political upheaval, and a detailed account of the unique history and culture of Virginia and West Virginia mountains in the 19th century.