Hollywood hits Ocean City next month -- Gazette.Net


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Getting Academy Award-winner Susan Sarandon to act in your independent film can be a challenge.

Just ask George Rush, producer of “Ping Pong Summer,” which is set to start filming in Ocean City next month.

It helps to have some friends who know Sarandon. They passed the script to her.

“We met with her, and met with her again,” Rush said, speaking from California. “The script resonated with her, and she agreed to sign on.”

Turns out there was a bonus.

“She is a really good pingpong player,” Rush said of Sarandon, who has been busy lately, acting in three movies released this year. Another, “Cloud Atlas,” with Tom Hanks, Hugh Grant and Halle Berry, is slated for release in October.

“Ping Pong Summer,” written and directed by Maryland native Michael Tully, is set in 1985 in Ocean City, based on Tully’s actual vacations to the beach. Landmarks such as Trimper’s amusement park on the boardwalk will be used.

“For 20 years I have fantasized about making ‘Ping Pong Summer’ in Ocean City,” Tully said in a statement.

The film, which also stars Amy Sedaris and John Hannah, has a big element of nostalgia, Rush said.

“I went to Ocean City myself for the first time last year,” he said. “The city lends itself to that nostalgia billing.”

About 90 people for extras and crew production will be hired for the six weeks of filming, which is slated to begin Sept. 18, Rush said. The direct and indirect economic impact of the project for the state is estimated at $2 million, according to the Maryland Film Office.

The state’s film production employment tax credit helped secure the production, officials said. The fund provides a partial tax credit for production expenses while encouraging the use of local film crews.

Tully’s debut film was “Cocaine Angel,” a dark drama about drug addiction that helped him make Filmmaker Magazine’s list of 25 New Faces of Independent Film in 2006. He wrote, acted in and directed “Septien,” which was shown last year at the Sundance Film Festival. He also directed “Silver Jew,” a 2007 documentary on singer-songwriter David Berman, and the 2010 television movie “Superego.”

Other productions continue in Maryland. The Netflix series “House of Cards,” starring Kevin Spacey, finished some scenes this month in Baltimore after production was postponed by storms last month. The series is scheduled to have 13 hour-long episodes in its first season, with the production’s estimated economic impact to the state at $75 million.

The Emmy-nominated HBO series “VEEP,” starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, will return to Maryland this fall to shoot its second season, state officials said. That production had an estimated impact of $25 million for the first season.

Production of the independent film “Jamesy Boy,” starring James Woods and Mary-Louise Parker, wrapped up in Baltimore and Jessup in the spring. The economic impact of that film was estimated at $5 million.

kshay@gazette.net