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Tangier gets a star turn in movie
September 5, 2017

Tangier gets a star turn in movie

Deborah Gates, dgates@delmarvanow.comPublished 11:00 a.m. ET Sept. 5, 2017 | Updated 12:54 p.m. ET Sept. 5, 2017

In 1986, "Violets are Blue," a movie about high school sweethearts rekindling their lost love, was filmed on location in Ocean City.

Then came "The Runaway Bride" in 1999 starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, with scenes shot in Berlin and Snow Hill.

After that, Matthew McConaughey went to Easton to film scenes for "Failure to Launch," released in 2006, which also starred Sarah Jessica Parker.

The list goes on — towns on the Eastern Shore caught in the bright lights and in front of the camera of Hollywood filmmakers. 

Now tapped to get in on the motion picture action are the Lower Shore towns of Pocomoke City, Princess Anne, Salisbury and Tangier, where close to half of a political thriller about Washington movers and shakers will be filmed.

Despite the title, as many scenes in the star-studded "Tangier" will be filmed across Maryland's Eastern Shore as on the offshore Virginia hamlet that shares the name.

"One major character, a female, comes from Tangier and the Eastern Shore," said the movie's producer, Andrea Sims. "The setting for much of the film is Washington, one of the most powerful cities in the entire world and 160 miles from the Lower Shore. But the people in D.C. want to get away, and naturally, they will be getting out of Washington and coming to the Eastern Shore." 

The region can expect an economic boost from the film, said Jack Gerbes, director of the Maryland Film Office that works to attract film-making to the state.

"When a film or television product, be it large or small, comes to a community, it brings revenues for local businesses, instills excitement and pride in the community and can stimulate film-induced tourism," said Gerbes, citing an average of 2,200 Maryland businesses that benefited over five seasons from the production of television series "House of Cards." Some 440 of the local vendors were in Harford County, where the production set up offices and a sound stage, he said.

Sims lives part-time in Princess Anne, and is responsible for a long list of motion picture and television stars coming to the Lower Shore in recent years as special guests at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore's "Hollywood on the Shore" series.

Sims grew up in Southern California and says she has been involved in film and television production for more than 20 years.

Throughout the mid 2000s, Sims curated "Hollywood on the Shore," hosting big-name actresses Sharon Stone, Tyne Daly and Pam Grier; singers B.B. King and Dionne Warwick and broadcast journalist Larry King at UMES annual galas that raised funds for student scholarships.

"The Eastern Shore has beautiful and photogenic places," said Sims, who lives in northern Virginia and heads Lion's Share Communications Inc.. "I've had a getaway home in Princess Anne since 2005, and in 2008 I went to Tangier — it is exciting, like in another era. It takes you back 50 to 100 years." 

In the 1990s, Sims directed cooking shows on the Cooking Channel. "Tangier," she said, is her first outing as the producer of a major feature film.

The fictitious story is packed with sex, power and murder, and involves a court case that likely will be staged at the circuit courthouse in the Somerset County seat of Princess Anne.

A main character with roots on Tangier Island takes the film to the offshore haven where watermen and other locals have a chance to audition to be extras, Sims said. Casting calls for extras also are likely in Princess Anne, Salisbury and Pocomoke, she said.

"We want the story to start at Tangier," said Faith DeVeaux, communications coordinator at Double R Productions in Washington. "There's an affair, trysts, secret affairs. The main character is from Tangier and works her way to D.C. and becomes a lobbyist attached to the halls of power." 

The independent film's writer and director is veteran moviemaker Rosemary Reed, president and owner at Double R Productions. She led a crew to Tangier last week to film a trailer.

Getting to and from Tangier by ferry can be tricky, DeVeaux said. The island inhabits nearly 450 people.

"We were there on grocery day; there was a traffic jam," she said jokingly. 

"We were discussing how to bring people over, where people would stay," DeVeaux said. "We learned about emergency care and how things work, like shipping and transportation — you can even put equipment on a ferry to get it there."

The crew dined with Tangier Mayor James "Ooker" Eskridge, who showed off the island and convinced Reed to take up the issue of erosion, DeVeaux said.

"We had lunch with the mayor, and he showed us where he wants a wall to stop erosion," she said.

Eskridge got President Donald Trump's attention in June after a CNN report on sea levels rising. The president telephoned him to discuss coastal erosion and rising seas that threaten to swallow the 1.3 square-mile island.

"We are environmentally conscious, and we are a green company," DeVeaux said. Erosion, she also said, "is going to play a piece in the film."

The film is in development, and actors are to be selected. Sims said "Tangier" should be released in 2019.


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