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Movie's funding remains 'the big deal'

February 24, 1998|By LAURA ERNDE

Movie's funding remains 'the big deal'

Filmmaker Ronald F. Maxwell has started spending a line of credit underwritten by Washington County taxpayers and businesses to start early work on the movie "Gods and Generals," local sources said."

Filming could start next year.

But Maxwell is still working on the biggest piece of the puzzle - getting $30 million to $40 million to cover production costs.

"That's the big deal. Money's going to control the whole thing," said Del. D. Bruce Poole, D-Washington.

Poole said Maxwell remains confident that he can get major backing for the movie, his second about the Civil War.

Maxwell, who was in Europe working on another historical film about Joan of Arc, could not be reached for comment.

He has started pre-production work on "Gods and Generals" using $47,000 of a loan from Farmers and Merchants Bank and Trust in Hagerstown, said Robert E. Ernst II, vice president for commercial lending.

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The Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau has guaranteed $25,000 and local businesses have pledged the rest, he said.

The bank is waiting for lawyers to sign off on $300,000 in pledges from city and county governments, Ernst said.

Last month, the Hagerstown City Council voted for $50,000 in guarantees. The Washington County Commissioners followed suit with $250,000.

"Things are going pretty much as planned," said Hagerstown City Councilwoman Susan K. Saum-Wicklein, who has been talking twice a week to Jeff Shaara, author of the book on which the movie will be based.

Maxwell has hired a production assistant, Pam Gleason, who is expected to move into her office any day.

The office, on the fourth floor of the Clock Building in Public Square, has been ready for about a week, said landlord Kurt Cushwa.

The Hagerstown City Council has agreed to pay the rent there for 18 months.

Maxwell has been leasing a house in southern Washington County since last fall.

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

"Gods and Generals" follows Gen. Stonewall Jackson through the early years of the Civil War. It also will 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.

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