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Airport a set in new film

December 13, 2003|by TAMELA BAKER

Hagerstown Regional Airport got a moment in the spotlight Friday afternoon when it became the backdrop for an upcoming independent feature film.

The filming was for "Soulmates," described in a news release as "an inspiring true story of love, courage and fulfillment about a daring woman who risks everything to accomplish her life's goal." In the scene, one of the lead actresses boards a plane on her way to have an operation.

The airport never had been used as a feature film site, according to Airport Business Development Manager Greg Larsen. But it was a natural choice for the film's producers, Gemini Pictures.

"Our office is in Silver Spring, so we wanted something close," said producer Joan Sugerman, who wrote and is directing "Soulmates." Sugerman said the airport staff had been "unbelievably accommodating." Commuter planes that fly into the airport were just the right size for the scene, she said, and the size of the airport itself made shooting there more practical. Smaller airports were too small, she said, and large airports wouldn't consider it because of security concerns.

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"This was perfect," Sugerman said.

Airport employee Tammy Whitmore had a little camera time, too. She was drafted to play an airport employee.

And she did it with little need for direction.

"Tammy, don't look at us or at the camera, just do your job," Sugerman said as shooting began.

Though screen time in the finished product will be short, the crew shot several takes to get just the right one. They endured frigid temperatures and bone-chilling December wind to get the scene, which actually is supposed to take place in August.

Sugerman and Executive Producer Ralph Groemping declined to name cast members until official releases have been signed. Though there aren't any household names among them, Sugerman said one actor had a previous feature film role and another had performed on Broadway. Two 11-year-olds from the Baltimore-Washington region also star in the film, she said.

There's another local connection for "Soulmates" - musician Jason Teach, a Washington County native, is producing the film's soundtrack.

Gemini Pictures is committed to using regional cast and crew members, Sugerman said.

"The actors in Washington are amazing," she said. "We have one actor who's so good he's gonna get snapped up."

There's a bright future for independent films, she added.

"Filming has gotten more international and because of the technology it's gotten more accessible," she said. "Soulmates" is being produced with state-of-the-art equipment, she said.

Larsen said he hopes Gemini's connections in the film industry will lead to more interest in the airport as a film site.

"We've been working with (Gemini) for about a year," he said. "And they called us on Monday and said they were coming."

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