The sign on the door of the Holiday House said it wouldn't be opening until 4 p.m., but the swarm of activity in and around one of the Hamilton neighborhood's favorite haunts suggested anything but a closed bar.
Rented trucks were parked outside the front entrance on Harford Road, people — often the same ones — kept walking in and out, motorcycles revved up and down the side streets surrounding it, and young men and women with headphones could be seen guarding the building's doors.
And if you took a gander at the parking lot on the rear, movie cameras could be seen faithfully recording it all.
Film director and Baltimore native Matt Porterfield was at the Holiday House this past week, filming scenes for his next feature film, "Sollers Point." Set mostly in Dundalk and the surrounding area, but also at other locations throughout Baltimore County and Baltimore City, "Sollers Point" marks the fourth movie Porterfield has set in his hometown. Like John Waters and Barry Levinson before him, Porterfield has made Baltimore an almost-equal filmmaking partner; all of his films — "Hamilton" (2006), "Putty Hill" (2011) and "I Used to be Darker" (2013) — have been set and filmed in Charm City and its environs.
So far, Porterfield and his crew, about 50 total, have shot at locations in Dundalk, Turners Station and Fort Howard. Wednesday's daylong shoot at the Holiday House, a location Waters used in 2004's "A Dirty Shame," was the film's first within the city limits — something of a departure for Porterfield, who shot the vast majority of his first three features inside Baltimore.
"I was always interested in shooting in Dundalk," Porterfield — who grew up in Hamilton — said during a break in filming during Wednesday's 90-plus-degree heat. "My grandfather worked at [Bethlehem] Steel. Although I didn't meet him — he died before I was born — I've always been interested in the story and the history there."
"Sollers Point" is the story of a small-time drug dealer under house arrest in his father's home, trying to work his way back into a community that isn't always welcoming, at least not in the right ways. Baltimore native McCaul Lombardi ("American Honey") plays the main character, Keith. Jim Belushi plays his father; all of his scenes were shot earlier this month, in Dundalk. The cast also includes local rapper Breezay (Brieyon Bell-el).
Porterfield will continue shooting "Sollers Point" through Thursday in Dundalk and Turners Station. He said he hopes to have the film ready sometime in the first half of 2017.