Hollywood comes to Sudbrook Park Adana Road stirred by movie magic

October 06, 1991|By Audrey Haar | Audrey Haar,California Film Commission

This summer, Madelynne Kinsley stood by as workmen enlarged her porch -- five feet longer than she would have liked -- and obliterated a rock garden she had tended for 40 years.

Joan and Lawrence Schuster had just finished renovating their home. But workmen enlarged two upstairs windows and altered the slate roof, while designers ordered new wallpaper in the recently papered dining room.

And Elizabeth Anton, who had lived in her house for 51 years and never considered installing a bomb shelter, suddenly had one in her basement.

It all happened in August and September, when the feature film "That Night" set up shop in the homes and front yards of Sudbrook Park in Baltimore County. Adana Road homeowners who had agreed to let the film production company use their property quickly got a taste of Hollywood glamour -- and headaches.

Consider the Schusters. It wasn't until late August, just before filming for "That Night" started, that they found out that most of the interior filming in the neighborhood would take place in their house.

With just two days' notice, they were banished from their home for two months. "Tough isn't the word, it was very difficult," Mrs. ,, Schuster recalled.

In a frenzy, they packed up clothes and food before the movers cleared out most of their clothing and furniture. Planning a wardrobe two months in advance isn't easy. "We walked around in white shoes until the end of September," Mrs. Schuster said.

The Schusters just started moving back home last week. During filming they stayed with Mr. Schuster's mother.

Watching all the changes a film company can make to a home was painful for the Schusters.

In the past year, they had just completed installing a new kitchen. And they had put up new wallpaper in the dining room a month before filming started. They didn't allow the workers to touch anything in the kitchen, but set designers put temporary wallpaper in the dining room and put holes in the walls to hang pictures.

"My house was like a showplace" before filming started, Mrs. Schuster said. "It was better not coming back during filming."

Adana Road residents agreed to let the film company use their homes because they looked forward to watching the filming.

Filming fees also can be very lucrative for homeowners.

Typical filming fees range from $100 per day or less for a low-budget independent production to $200 or $300 per day, plus a hotel room for the family if necessary, for a more established company, said Stuart B. Cooper, president of Cooper Productions in Columbia.

Adana Road homeowners declined to say exactly what they were paid for "That Night," based on an Alice McDermott novel about a 10-year-old girl, set in Long Island, N.Y., in the early 1960s. But they did say they were paid a few thousand dollars per week for interior filming, and less during the preparation time.

And some of the changes on Adana Road were positive. At the Schusters' home, two upstairs windows were enlarged and part of the slate roof had to be repositioned to accommodate the change. Lush shrubs and flowers and a 10-foot tree were planted in the yard.

"The landscaping has been terrific," said Mrs. Kinsley, whose house was cast in a supporting role. And workers promised to put back her rock garden.

Elizabeth Anton, who enjoyed watching workers build a cinder block bomb shelter in her basement, also is thrilled about the landscaping. "They gave me a beautiful lawn. It never looked better. And they put a row of flowers down the brick walk. We are going to miss them when they're gone."

Getting your house in a film is really just the luck of the draw in Maryland. Jay Schlossberg-Cohen, director of the Maryland Film Commission, said his office does not keep a library file of locations, "because we have infinite possibilities."

The commission helps film companies find key locations. In 12 years of operation, the commission helped bring three dozen films to the area. If a location scout knocks on your door and wants to use your house or property, Mr. Schlossberg-Cohen said homeowners can call his office at 333-6633 to see if the company is legitimate.

Another option is to contact Holly Lanahan, who operates her own private library of film locations through her business, Locations, Etc. Ltd. in Riderwood. She has 220 homes cross-referenced in binders that she shows to directors.

Although her fee is paid by the production company, she is often on site during filming and makes sure that the house is well cared for. Her company can be reached at P.O. Box 612, Riderwood, Md. 21139.

Even though there are fewer large-budget feature films being made in the area this year, there is a larger thriving business in the less-visible independent and industrial films, videos and commercials.

Mr. Cooper said that when he knocks on a door and asks about using a house, that the owners are usually very receptive.

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