Residents say movie will be a boon

August 29, 1997


Staff Writer

Whether they're Civil War buffs or not, several Washington County residents and tourists agreed Thursday that news of a major motion picture expected to be filmed in the area is cause for excitement.

Filmmakers announced Wednesday they could start shooting the film version of Jeff Shaara's novel, "Gods and Generals" in the area as early as next spring.

Marty Rogers said she's not a Civil War enthusiast, but was excited for the area.

"I think it's great. It'll bring more public notice to the town and probably add to the economy," said Rogers, 62, of Hagerstown.


Peggy Myers, owner of the Battleview Market near Sharpsburg, Md., is hoping her business will get a boost from the film's production.

Filmmakers plan to ask for permission to shoot on the nearby Antietam National Battlefield, which could bring more customers into the market.

"I'd be looking forward to helping them out in any way I can," said Myers.

The film could bring 10,000 re-enactors, a crew of up to 250 people and a cast of up to 200 people to the area, according to filmmakers.

Myers said she doesn't want the Hollywood crews coming into the area to change Sharpsburg's quiet reputation and doubts the film's production would have a lasting effect on the area.

Town resident Eleanora Poffenberger said it would be difficult for the film crew to disturb things in town anymore than the contractors renovating Main Street for the past year.

The film production should be good for the local economy since the cast and crew will need places to stay, said Poffenberger, who has lived in town since 1945.

According to the Maryland Film Office, the proposed 20-week film shoot could pump $12 million to $20 million into the local economy.

"If it'll bring jobs into Hagerstown I think that'll be good. And it might bring a little notoriety to Hagerstown, other than the drug situation," said Lorraine Peggues, 44, of East Franklin Street.

Charles Harris, 53, of Long Meadow Road, said the film could help get youths interested in history instead of drugs and violence.

Rochester, N.Y.-resident James Hall brought his son, Dana, 13, to Antietam National Battlefield on Thursday for an educational experience.

"Anything that will heighten Antietam in the public consciousness is very important and certainly movies do that," said Hall, 50.

"I think Antietam should be a more popular park than it is. Its importance to the war and criticality at the time was in some ways more important (than Gettysburg)," he said.

Pittsburgh-area residents Arthur and Peggy Holt said watching the future film will spur their interest to visit the battlefield again.

That's what the movie "Gettysburg" encouraged them to do, they said. They've been to Gettysburg's battlefield three or four times, including a visit after seeing the movie.

Those asked said they weren't concerned about the financial investment local government officials are planning to make to help secure the film's production in the area.

Farmers & Merchants Bank and Trust will loan a $500,000 line of credit to filmmakers for preproduction costs, including finishing the screenplay and preparing a $30 million to $40 million production budget.

To secure the loan, the Washington County Commissioners anticipate guaranteeing up to a $250,000 match and the City of Hagerstown is expected to provide $50,000.

"I think the reward is far going to outweigh the risk," said Alex Moyseenko, 40, of the East End of Hagerstown. The film will give the area exposure and is expected to have a favorable effect on the local economy, he said.

"It may be a good investment in the sense that it might put more money back in the city," said Lisa Johnson, 36, of Foxleigh Manor.

"It pulls in the trade. Anything to help the economy. We need it," said Fred Stouffer, 73, of East Irvin Avenue.

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