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      Many of us in the old truck hobby have talked about how it would be cool to travel back in time. I think being on a movie set like this would be just the ticket ... or close to it! What a great story and great experience, and a reality check on what happens behind the scenes with making movies!

Movie-making in Baltimore

By Josie O'Donnell
The Chesapeake Region
(Baltimore, Maryland)
Antique Automobile Club of America

      It was such an innocent beginning to a wonderful and intense adventure. It all started like this ... "It was a dark and stormy night" ... ?! Ooops, wrong story!

      Actually, I was sitting right here at my computer when I received an email from one of our Ford club members, Jim Crawford, stating that there was a movie being filmed in the Baltimore area and would we be interested in driving/showing our cars? The film company was paying $300 per car, per day. Well, besides that sounding like fun, it also sounded like the cash register just went CHA CHING! Needless to say I contacted the antique car coordinators and offered our vehicles.

      The name of the film is "Something the Lord Made." It takes place during the late 1930's, thru the late 1960's. It's all been filmed in and around Baltimore. The lead actors are Alan Rickman, Mos Def, Mary Stuart Masterson, and Gabrielle Union. It is an HBO feature film, and is supposed to be shown sometime Spring 2005.

      Once we contacted the car coordinators, the only thing that we stipulated was that we would be the only ones to drive our cars. They needed nice looking vintage vehicles and they wanted us to bring both of ours. So bright and early on Saturday morning (December 20th), Bill and I set off for the old Johns Hopkins Hospital (above) which is right off Orleans Street (Rt 40) and Broadway. When we arrived, there must have been 30 or 40 vintage and antique cars parked in the parking lot! They had cars from the 60's and 70's, and from 1930 thru 1940. We stood around and chatted and froze. Did I mention that the temps were in the low teens?

      The scene was going to be shot in front of the old Hopkins Hospital. The cars were going to be background. We (the driver/owners) were bundled in warm clothes, but the poor extras were in period costumes. The women were in dresses, nylons, and sandals. And they had to stand around while the directors set up the cameras for the shots. We were there the entire day, and I don't think that the footage will add up to one minute.

      The next day we headed for the Johns Hopkins campus (picture on the left). The filming was going to be on the old campus but the only way that you could get to the location was to drive over sidewalks and grass. There is a portion of Hopkins campus that is still the original buildings, but it is now surrounded by newer buildings. Anyway, you can see by the pictures that there were a significant number of antique vehicles. This was not a driving scene so we all parked our cars in what was the original parking area. The movie crew are sticklers for details. The license plates on all vehicles were covered with plates that were correct for the year of the story. And again it was bitter cold.

      The next day of filming was Tuesday, January 6th. Where the previous days it had been merely freezing cold, the 6th started with arctic temps, and bitter, bitter cold weather. One day Gary Wilmer and I were standing in the parking lot, eating breakfast (did I tell you that they feed you constantly?). The milk in his cup and my plate of fresh fruit froze!

      BUT, the show must go on. So on our next work day, we bundled up warmer and once again headed into the center of town. Our destination was in Hampstead on 41st Street (photo above right). When we arrived, cars and film company vehicles were lined up and down the street. Hollywood has amazing tricks up their sleeves - if there is something on location that does not belong in the scene, they'll hide it with a bush. Our cars were now supposed to be old, neglected, work-worn heaps. So they painted the white walls black and sprayed the cars with Hollywood "dirt." I don't know what the "dirt" was, but it rinsed off with water, and the longer it set, the "dirtier" the cars looked.    

      Some of the other filming locations were in front of the old Belvedere Hotel, Streeper Street ( right off Orleans Street - photo ) and a mansion in Towson. For the Belvedere Hotel location, Bob Hanson provided his absolutely fabulous 1939 Lincoln Limousine. This was a night shoot. We didn't finish until about 3 a.m. The film company goes thru incredible effort to make a period movie. Some of us stood in front of the hotel and watched as BG&E completely disassembled, and removed four lamp posts that were sort of in front of the hotel - because they weren't period. Also, there was a "No Parking" sign right near the hotel's entrance. They removed that by simply cutting it down with a saw, and carrying it off!

      When we filmed at the mansion in Towson, (keep in mind that it's arctic temperatures), the director (obviously someone from southern California) decided that the parking turn-around in front of the mansion would look better wet! They spent a couple of hours trying to spray water from frozen hose nozzles!? We didn't finish until about 4 a.m. The sum total of the scene on the outside might be a minute.

      January 19th and 20th were the last two days that the movie would be using antique cars. That location was on Streeper Street ( photo ) which is about eight blocks from the old Hopkins hospital. One of the vehicles that was there, but I don't think was ever in any of the scenes, was a 1934 Ford school bus 1934 (photo left). The bus belongs to a company that does driving tours of the Gettysburg battle grounds. The body is completely original, it's been placed on a modern frame, engine, etc. The heater worked, so we drivers used the bus as our "lounge" (below right). We had the engine idling for most of the two days that we worked in that location. The little heater, and body heat, kept us warm and out of most mischief. Remember I told you that the movie company fed us constantly? While we were sitting in the bus waiting for our call to get to work, one of the caterers came around with a tray of covered cups with hot crab soup!

      Well the lights have dimmed, the action is now a warm memory. Yes, we were very cold, and yes it was long hours. But if we didn't have old cars, what were our chances of ever taking part in something like this.

      It was unique, interesting, and will remain a life-time memory. So folks, our cars are 'stars', and as soon as I can figure out a way to teach them how to sign autographs, I'll send you one.



CHESAPEAKE REGION Baltimore, Maryland ~~ Land of Pleasant Living!
Antique Automobile Club of America

Thanks for letting us use this story ~~ Editor

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