Dirt bike movie from Will Smith, 'Moonlight' director Barry Jenkins to film in Baltimore

It appears that Hollywood is about to come calling on Baltimore yet again, this time for a drama centering on the city’s dirt bikers, co-written by Barry Jenkins (director of the Oscar-winning “Moonlight”) and executive-produced by Will Smith.

The project, titled “Charm City” or, alternately, “12 O’Clock Boys,” will be shot in Baltimore beginning Oct. 1, according to a casting notice that was posted recently on backstage.com. The film is credited to Sony Pictures and Smith’s production company, Overbrook Entertainment.

“Mouse wants nothing more than to be a part of the Midnight Clique, a tough group of Baltimore bike riders, who rule the summertime streets,” reads a description of the project included with the notice. “As he navigates the challenges of coming of age in a complicated world, he learns the hard way that the choices you make early on can change your life forever.”

A representative for the film’s casting agent, Charlottesville, Va.-based Erica Arvold, confirmed the project, referring further questions to Arvold. The company also cast the fourth and fifth seasons of “House of Cards,” the Netflix series shot in the Baltimore area.

The casting notice lists several speaking parts that are up for grabs, including a veterinarian who works with Mouse, Mouse’s little sister and the Korean owner of a local convenience store. Other roles include a cop and a reporter.

The notice lists Jenkins and Sherman Payne as writers, and Angel Manuel Soto as director. Soto’s last project was the 3D short “Dinner Party,” co-written and co-created by Baltimore’s Laura Wexler, a founder of the Stoop Storytelling series.

Both of the proposed titles for the upcoming film have been attached to recent documentaries. “Charm City,” which had its local premiere at May’s Maryland Film Festival, looks at police-community relations in the months leading up to and following the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. The documentary is scheduled for wide release, including an engagement in Baltimore, next month.

The documentary “12 O’Clock Boys,” which premiered in March 2013 and was directed by Maryland Institute College of Art alum Lotfy Nathan, is a look at West Baltimore dirt-bikers. Several plot points mirror parts of the upcoming film, including a central character interested in animals but enthralled with the dirt-bike culture.

ckaltenbach@baltsun.com

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