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Film producer gives materials to school

February 01, 2002

Film producer gives materials to school



By SCOTT BUTKI
scottb@herald-mail.com


A producer of the Civil War movie "Gods and Generals" has donated a movie prop, pieces of the Berlin Wall and other material to Fountaindale Elementary School to thank the school for educating his two children during the filming of the movie.

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The producer, Ronald Smith, met with the school principal Thursday to hand over about $500 in office supplies, 20 books and other items.

The supplies were left over from the local office where moviemakers worked while making "Gods and Generals," Smith said.

"I would rather you guys have it. Put it to good use," he said.

The material will be a great resource for the school and its students, Principal Elaine Semler said.

"They have been very good to the school," Semler said.

Smith's son, Austin, a first-grader, and his daughter, Allia, who is in fifth grade, attended the school for about six weeks.

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Smith said his donations, with a total value of about $1,000, were an appropriate gesture.

"It is a small token. The school was terrific to my family," he said.

This was not the first time Smith has done something nice for the school, Semler said.

He previously gave the school a collection of 20 videos, including Disney movies, as well as a period blanket that was used in some of the Confederate camp scenes of the movie.

The blanket and a donated piece of the Berlin Wall will be placed in a school trophy case, Semler said.

Smith also gave pieces of the wall to Austin's teacher, June Testa, and to Allia's teacher, Laura Kelley.

In mid-December, Smith gave a gift to the students in his children's classes. They were taken on a field trip to see filming of "Gods and Generals."

"It was a great experience," Semler said, who noted that some of the students had never been close to a horse before the trip.

About 40 students watched the filming and talked with actors who explained their roles. Some were allowed to yell "roll!" at the start of filming for a scene, Smith said.

Students interviewed Thursday said they enjoyed the experience.

"I thought it was cool," said fifth-grader Yolanda Fulton. Her favorite parts of the field trip were seeing how the movie was made and seeing the horses, she said.

Fifth-grader Jasper Barnett said seeing filming of a Civil War movie reminded him of comments his father has made about what it was like serving in Vietnam.

First-grader Akelah Taylor said she liked watching the actors riding the horses.

The movie, filmed partially in Washington County, is scheduled to be released in 2002. Filming was completed in mid-December.

The movie is scheduled to hit most theaters in November after a week-long series of premieres, one of which is to be in Hagerstown.

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