OCEAN CITY — Production for the independent movie “Ping-Pong Summer” wrapped up in Ocean City last weekend, just days before Hurricane Sandy left its mark on the resort.
According to the crew, the filming this fall was fantastic and the atmosphere in Ocean City enviable for the producers of any film.
Starring Hollywood heavyweights like Susan Sarandon, Lea Thompson, John Hannah, Amy Sedaris, Judah Friedlander, and Robert Longstreet, “Ping Pong Summer” will be the second ever major film to be shot in Ocean City and the first to ever actually be based on the town. The story is a coming-of-age tale involving one boy’s love of hip-hop and ping pong during a summer in Ocean City in the 1980’s.
According to writer and director Michael Tully, being able to film the movie in the same place the story is set lent strength and sincerity to the final product.
“It was a dream come true to shoot this film in the town that inspired the script,” he said. “We are thrilled with what we shot here, and it is now our goal to make Ocean City proud with the finished film.”
“Ping-Pong Summer” drew heavily from the local experience and features famous Ocean City spots like the Boardwalk, Trimper’s, Paul Revere Smorgasbord, Anthony’s, Phillips Seafood, King’s Arms Motel, Old Pro Golf, the Greene Turtle and Hooper’s Crabhouse, among many others. Locals were also included in the film, many of whom played extras while native Ocean City resident and Worcester Prep student Emmi Shockley featured into the story more prominently as the main character’s love interest.
Local Jaime Millhoff, who grew up in Baltimore and currently keeps a house in Ocean City, worked on “Ping-Pong Summer” as the production supervisor and agreed with Tully that the experience and the atmosphere were perfect.
“It seems like we have a really great thing on our hands,” she said of the current rough cut of the movie.
Millhoff has been on-site since August preparing filming locations. She said local residents and business owners were accommodating of the project and the crew.
“Ocean City was really good to us … the locals really helped move things along smoothly,” she said.
Producer George Rush echoed Millhoff, calling the reception given by the town “truly remarkable.”
“We felt the support of the community every step of the way and there is simply no way that we could have done what we did here had this film been shot in a city or a state more typically associated with film production,” Rush said. “We can’t imagine a film-friendlier place than Ocean City, Md.”
Rush and the film’s other producers have also been quick to point out that “Ping-Pong Summer” is an “ambitious” project that was made with a production budget well below the industry standard. They credited efforts taken by Ocean City and Worcester County businesses, governments and individuals in helping to get the film rolling.
Last summer, both the county and Ocean City agreed to contribute $100,000 each towards the production in the belief that the movie would be a boon for attracting visitors to the area.
Besides featuring some established actors, “Ping-Pong Summer” will introduce several new to the screen like Shockley, lead character Marcello Conte, Myles Massey, Andy Riddle, and Joseph McCaughtery. With production wrapped, the film will now go into the editing stage and post-production.
Millhoff explained that the crew will be looking at the huge amount of raw footage and editing everything into a polished product.
“We’ll be editing the film and putting it all together,” she said.
Producers hope that a final cut will be finished by this spring and ready for premiere at a major film festival by late 2013.