Hundreds watch film premiere based on Battle of Monocacy

March 11, 2006|By ANDREW SCHOTZ


Four days of filming on a $20,000 budget turned into 22 days and $400,000, Russ Richards said Friday, minutes before his new movie on DVD was shown publicly for the first time.

Richards is the executive producer of "No Retreat From Destiny: The Battle That Rescued Washington," about the Confederates' attempt to capture Washington, D.C., during the Civil War.

The "battle" is the Battle of Monocacy on July 9, 1864.

Director Kevin R. Hershberger said Washington County was used for 10 of the 22 days of filming.

More than 300 people, many in Civil War-era clothing, filled the former Colonial Theater on South Potomac Street on Friday for the movie's premiere.


"We literally got 31 boxes of DVDs from UPS yesterday ..." Hershberger told the audience. "Today is the official release day."

There were about 2,500 advance orders of the DVD, Richards said.

"It's not a perfect movie," Hershberger said to the crowd, but it's as close as he could get on a relatively small budget.

"It's about the generals. It's about the politics," he said. "It's about the soldiers on the ground ... It's pretty graphic. It's pretty realistic. It's loud and exciting."

As clean-shaven Jared Smith of Arlington, Va., approached the front door of the theater, which now is used by Faith Chapel, someone called out that the "poster boy" had arrived.

Smith looked at the picture of himself in the movie poster, which shows him with a beard.

Smith is listed a few times in the production staff credits, including as "Young Fort Stevens Officer."

In the lobby, Hershberger - who lives in Richmond, Va., but grew up near Bel Air, Md. - confided that he would rather be outside the theater, and not watch, once the film began.

Sure enough, a few minutes into the show, he gladly stepped out in the lobby to talk about his work.

He said the crew shot 85 hours of footage, which was edited down to 106 minutes.

Hershberger filmed "Fields of Freedom," about the Battle of Gettysburg, last year in Washington County.

He said he is thinking of coming back to shoot a "winter story," about the Battle of Fredericksburg, later this year.

He also is working on a 225th anniversary documentary about the American Revolution.

Washington County was the scene of many parts of the 2003 Civil War movie "Gods and Generals."

Tom Riford, president and chief executive officer of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, told the audience that, as the "Hollywood of the East," Hagerstown could be renamed "Hagerwood."

As part of a premiere weekend, a convention for re-enactors and movie extras is scheduled for today at the Grand Venice Hotel on Dual Highway. A "live-fire" demonstration will be held Sunday at the North American Rod and Gun Club.

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