Local historian Dennis Frye, who helped steer Maxwell to Hagerstown, said the filmmaker periodically called to reassure him plans for the $30 million to $40 million movie were on track.
Maxwell has been drawing on a line of credit at Farmers & Merchants Bank and Trust in Hagerstown to pay his preproduction bills. Hagerstown and Washington County governments are backing $300,000 of the loan.
Maxwell has been making timely interest payments on the loan, said Washington County Administrator Rodney Shoop.
County Commissioner William J. Wivell, who was elected after the loan offer, thinks it was a mistake to risk the county's money. As collateral, the governments have the rights to Maxwell's screenplay of "Gods and Generals," Shoop said.
The screenplay is based on a historical novel by Jeff Shaara and will tell the story of the days leading up to the Battle of Gettysburg.
"We really want to see the movie go into production as soon as possible," Shoop said.
It took Maxwell 13 years to bring the 1993 movie "Gettysburg" to the screen. That movie was based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "The Killer Angels," written by Shaara's father, Michael Shaara.
Delays are common in the entertainment business, said Jack Gerbes, deputy director of the Maryland Film Office.
"It takes a long time for projects to get out of development," he said.
The Maryland Film Office recruits Hollywood to the state, although it has not been involved with "Gods and Generals," Gerbes said.
Maxwell has put another project on hold while he works on "Gods and Generals."
His movie about Joan of Arc was supposed to be finished by now, but its development was stalled because another movie about the famous martyr is being released in November, Maxwell said. "Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc" casts Milla Jovovich in the lead role and John Malkovich as King Charles VII.
Next year's filming of "Gods and Generals" will have to be scheduled around several major Civil War re-enactments, said Don Warlick, who organized the re-enactors at the 135th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam in Hagerstown two years ago.
The thousands of re-enactors who will be needed for the battle scenes are already making plans for the 140th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, Warlick said.
There are two events in March, and the anniversary culminates at Appomatox in April, he said.