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Civil War movie could be filmed in county

August 26, 1997

By GUY FLETCHER

Staff Writer

A major motion picture about the Civil War could be filmed in Washington County if local financing can be arranged, according to the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites.

The project could generate millions of dollars for the local economy, an APCWS official said.

Area officials have been working for the past year to make this area the shooting location for the movie "Gods and Generals," a prequel to the 1993 epic "Gettysburg," said Dennis Frye, president of the Hagerstown-based preservation organization.

A press conference about the movie deal is scheduled for this afternoon.

The $30 million-to-$40 million movie could have a large local economic impact - both in money spent in the area and in efforts to promote the area to Civil War tourists, Frye said.

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"It further reinforces that Hagerstown and Washington County are the crossroads of the Civil War in the mid-Atlantic states," he said.

Hagerstown has been competing with locations in Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and Connecticut since last September, when local officials made their first pitch to host the movie to actor Patrick Falci, who played Confederate Gen. A.P. Hill in actor in "Gettysburg," Frye said.

Falci has been acting as a production assistant for "Gettysburg" director Ronald F. Maxwell in scouting a location for "Gods and Generals," a novel that follows several key Civil War figures in the decade preceding the Battle of Gettysburg. Falci was given a tour of the county to see if the terrain and landscape were suitable for the movie, Frye said.

The movie includes a depiction of the Battle of Antietam, which was fought near Sharpsburg, as well as famous battles in Fredericksburg, Va., and Chancellorsville, Va.

"We believe Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville can be filmed here in Washington County," Frye said. Some parts of the movie might be filmed in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., and other nearby areas, he said.

Falci's September visit was followed by another in April, when he came to Hagerstown with Maxwell and "Gods and Generals" author Jeff Shaara for the preservation organization's convention here, Frye said.

"All were extremely impressed with the hospitality and enthusiasm of the local community," he said.

Frye said he and other local officials used the visit to make the "hard sell" to get Maxwell to film the movie in the county. It included a meeting with elected officials and a tour of possible filming sites.

"We asked Ron, `What would it take to bring you here?'" Frye said.

Maxwell said he would need to have $500,000 to cover preproduction costs, Frye said. That would pay for writing the script, securing locations, planning a budget and other issues that must be resolved before the first reel of film can be shot.

In trying to lure the movie's filming, local officials set a self-imposed deadline of having a deal in place before the much-publicized 135th commemoration of the Battle of Antietam, which will take place Sept. 12-14.

"We did not want this event to pass without sealing this (movie) deal up," Frye said.

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