Movie director leases house in area

October 10, 1997


Staff Writer

Filmmaker Ronald F. Maxwell has leased a house in southern Washington County and may open an office in Hagerstown's Public Square by January, officials said Friday.

"This is not a fanciful dream. This is reality. Hollywood is coming here," said Dennis E. Frye, who helped recruit the movie as president of the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites.

Maxwell is still looking for $30 million to $40 million to make "Gods and Generals," his second Civil War movie. He plans to start filming in the county next year, Frye said.


Farmers and Merchants Bank and Trust of Hagerstown has agreed to loan the movie $500,000 for pre-production costs.

A formal agreement between Maxwell and the bank is expected to be signed later this month, said Michael Callas, who has landed pledges from local governments and businesses to cover the loan if the movie is not made.

Callas still needs more pledges, he said.

The filming is estimated to bring $12 million to $15 million to the county in hotel room rentals, food, transportation and construction.

Maxwell is interested in renting office space on the fourth floor of the Clock Building, now being built in the northeast corner of Public Square, Frye said.

The Hagerstown mayor and city council members have agreed to pay at least part of the rent for the space, said City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman.

The money, which has not been voted on, would come out of the city's budget for economic development incentives.

"Gods and Generals," based on Jeff Shaara's novel of the same name, follows Gen. Stonewall Jackson through the early years of the Civil War. It will also show how civilians coped with the war's death and destruction.

Maxwell wrote and directed the 1993 movie "Gettysburg," a four-hour epic about that battle produced by Ted Turner.

The house Maxwell is renting is in southern Washington County, but Frye would not reveal the exact location to protect his privacy.

Maxwell will not be living there all the time because he is also planning a movie about Joan of Arc, to be filmed in Europe.

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