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Lincoln documentary filmed in W.Va.

July 26, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - There are many Civil War-era buildings across the country, but there is something special about the ones in East Coast towns such as Charles Town, film producer John Copeland said.

"They don't have this kind of expansive look to them," said Copeland, comparing a property at 515 E. Washington St. to Civil War-era buildings in the West.

It was the building's architecture that convinced a film crew working on a documentary about Abraham Lincoln and his Gettysburg Address to produce part of the film in Charles Town.

A film crew of about 18 people descended on the property Wednesday afternoon and night to produce parts of the documentary. Other parts of the documentary are expected to be filmed in Shepherdstown, Middleway and Leetown the rest of the week.

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The film is being produced for the Discovery Channel and is expected to air in 2008, project officials said.

The documentary picks up after the Battle of Gettysburg, and focuses on Lincoln's crafting of the Gettysburg Address, a unique document that is credited with reuniting the war-torn country, members of the film crew said.

Production of the documentary has begun, including recently filming a scene in Gettysburg, Pa., film crew members said.

The scene being shot Wednesday at the East Washington Street home was a re-creation of a scene at the White House on July 7, 1863, in which Lincoln delivers a rough version of his famous speech.

Lincoln was portrayed in the segment by Jim Getty, a preeminent Lincoln "presenter," Copeland said.

The Charles Town home was picked for the film with the help of the West Virginia Film Office, an arm of the West Virginia Division of Tourism.

The West Virginia Film Office helps crews such as the one working on the documentary find sites for films, said Jamie Cope, location services manager for the film office.

Cope said he was driving along East Washington Street about two weeks ago and spotted the house. The house is on the market, and is being listed by Snyder Bailey and Associates Inc.

The home owned by Chuck Mazarius once was used as a seminary, real estate broker Carolyn Snyder said. It was built about 1862.

The Gettysburg Address is Lincoln's most famous speech, and is one of the most quoted speeches in the country's history. It was delivered at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery in Gettysburg on the afternoon of Thursday, Nov. 19, 1863, during the Civil War, after the Union armies defeated the Confederates at the decisive Battle of Gettysburg.

The documentary combines great history with impressive modern technology.

Because the brick on the home at 515 E. Washington St. is red, the building had to be made white to make it appear like the president's home, film crew members said.

To accomplish that, film crews shot an image of the home, then used computer software to color it white, said Charles DeGagne, one of the experts working on the film.

The white image of the building then was used as a background for the film, DeGagne said.

Other high-tech approaches in the documentary include animated images of Lincoln, Copeland said. The animated images, drawn from actual photographs of Lincoln, were used to produce an image of Lincoln that resembled his true character, Copeland said.

The working film crew attracted an audience Wednesday.

Owner Donn Davis was doing yard work outside The Carriage Inn bed and breakfast as film crews worked.

The inn is a short distance from the filming spot.

"We're glad Charles Town has got something like this going on," Davis said.

The filming scheduled for today near Shepherdstown will be conducted at the Bellvue home along Shepherd Grade Road, and will re-create a White House scene, said Sarah Olson of Evergreen Films LLC.

On Friday, a scene will be filmed inside a house on Queen Street in Middleway that is designed to re-create a telegraph office where Lincoln learns details about the war, Olson said.

On Saturday and Sunday, filming is expected to move to a field in Leetown, where Lincoln will deliver his Gettysburg Address, Olson said.

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