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'Gods and Generals' director mulls shooting next film in county

March 28, 2002|BY SCOTT BUTKI

The director of "Gods and Generals" said Wednesday he would like to make another Civil War movie in Washington County and a financial incentive being considered by the Washington County Board of Commissioners might do the trick.

"I have a predilection and preference to working in the county," director Ron Maxwell said.

The Washington County Commissioners have been talking to Maxwell in an attempt to convince him to film "Last Full Measure" here, Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said Wednesday.

On the table is a proposal to give Maxwell's film company, Antietam Filmworks, a loan of at least $150,000 from hotel tax proceeds as an incentive to film the movie in Washington County, Snook said.

The proposal would involve $150,000 in hotel tax money from next year's budget and an undetermined amount from the following year's budget, he said.

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The money would be a loan that would be converted to a grant if Maxwell films in the county, Snook said.

Maxwell said he is "seriously considering" the proposal.

"It is a positive gesture on the part of the county to reaffirm their desire to have us come back," he said.

While he would vote to film again in Washington County, the companies financing and distributing the movie would have a say in the decision, he said.

Maxwell would not say whether he has been offered financial incentives to film the movie elsewhere.

The county has not yet made a firm offer, but has run ideas past Maxwell, Snook said. The County Commissioners have not voted on the matter, he said.

The County Commissioners and the Hagerstown City Council in 1997 agreed to back $300,000 of a bank loan made to Antietam Filmworks. In return for the financial help during pre-production, Maxwell agreed to film most of "Gods and Generals" in Washington County. Filming was completed in December.

Snook said he would expect that in exchange for funds, the county would expect Maxwell to film about 50 percent to 60 percent of "Last Full Measure" here.

The county's offer would enable Antietam Filmworks to begin pre-production work on "Last Full Measure" while working to obtain financing for the project, Snook said. The pre-production work would include writing the movie's script, he said.

Media giant Ted Turner optioned the film rights to the novel "Last Full Measure" in November 2001.

The novel is the sequel to Michael Shaara's "The Killer Angels," which was the basis for the 1993 film "Gettysburg."

"Gods and Generals" is a prequel to "Gettysburg."

Companies owned by Turner financed "Gettysburg" and "Gods and Generals."

Ted Turner Pictures has not decided whether to finance "Last Full Measure," and Maxwell said he did not know when that decision would be made.

How "Gods and Generals" fares at the box office probably will be a major factor in Turner's decision, Maxwell said.

The movie is to be out in early December with premieres planned for Hagerstown and Washington, D.C.

Maxwell said he screened a six-hour director's cut of "Gods and Generals" for Turner earlier this month and Turner liked it.

Maxwell said once the movie has been cut, it likely will run about four hours, the approximate length of "Gettysburg."

Snook said he does not expect a site for "Last Full Measure" to be chosen until after "Gods and Generals" is out.

Movie producer Ronald Smith has estimated Antietam Filmworks spent $10 million to $12 million in Washington County, including almost $2 million in hotel expenses.

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