The Daily Times of Salisbury
OCEAN CITY, Md. - Filmmaker Michael Tully began envisioning a script in the early 1990s for a movie set during a 1985 family vacation.
It centers around a teenage boy obsessed with ping pong and the then-burgeoning hip-hop music genre, based loosely on his experiences and memories from summer vacations in Ocean City.
Even then, the Maryland native wanted to film it here.
Two decades later, he still thinks it's the perfect location, and he's hopeful his cast and crew will be in town come mid-September to film the entire project during a six-week period.
To do so, however, about $1.1 million needs to be raised for the project, according to lead producer George Rush.
Attached to star in the film are Susan Sarandon of "Thelma & Louise," James Nesbitt of "Bloody Sunday," Judah Friedlander of "30 Rock" and Amy Sedaris of "Strangers With Candy."
Initially, producers were relying on a Maryland Film Office rebate that would have totaled about $300,000, but the rebate program _ which was proposed legislatively to bring filmmakers to Maryland -- did not come up during the state government's special session earlier this year.
For Tully and his three sisters, the annual trip to Ocean City was "the thing to look forward to."
His admiration for the resort has led him to continue his efforts to persuade potential funders the project can be pulled off in Ocean City, and that it would be "absolutely worthwhile" to shoot within city limits.
About $1.5 million is the total estimated budget for "Ping Pong Summer," which Rush said is low for a film like his.
"Not getting the rebate is kind of a major bummer, but I was still able to convince the producer the community would be supportive and that we could still make a movie with budgetary ambition while still being low in a budgetary sense," Tully said.
Tully and Rush are hoping the town will contribute some money to their cause to make up for the state money they're missing out on.
If they don't raise enough by mid-August, they'll have to push back the shooting schedule and may have to turn loose the slated cast.
"We are a low-budget film, but the whole production will be shot in Ocean City, and thus there will be a positive economic impact on the town as low season begins," Rush wrote in an email to Mayor Rick Meehan and Ocean City Town Council members. "This film is a postcard of Ocean City that will get out there in the world in a very meaningful and positive way."
On Thursday, Rush and Tully hosted a reception in Ocean City to garner community support. The mayor and council members were invited to attend. It was Rush's second trip to the resort; he came out last summer to scout the location and was enamored by it.
"It just seemed like a very idyllic, timeless resort community," he said.
The 1986 film "Violets are Blue" was shot in Ocean City, according to resort spokeswoman Donna Abbott. It starred Sissy Spacek and Kevin Kline.
"I think having a movie filmed in Ocean City is very exciting," she said.
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