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Gordon: Opportunity knocking for more films like ‘Union Bridge’ to be made in Carroll County

When thinking of the town of Union Bridge, one envisions the historic town with its rural landscape of rolling hills and open farmland surrounding the town that was chartered in 1872 by the Maryland General Assembly.

Before the Revolutionary War, the area was a farming community that was settled by the Farquhar family of Pennsylvania. The town features notables including William Lloyd Oakley and William Henry Rinehart. Oakley, who while born in Westminster grew up in Union Bridge, is known for his work as the former co-executive producer and head writer for the television show “The Simpsons.” Sculptor William Henry Rinehart was born near Union Bridge. Reinhart’s work in the classical style caused many to consider him the last important American sculptor in that manner. Examples of his works are found in a wide range of museum collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Walter’s Art Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Carnegie Museum, the Historical Society of Carroll County, and numerous others.

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Union Bridge can now add another artistic mention to its history as the town was recently featured in the film titled “Union Bridge,” by filmmaker Brian Levin.

Levin is a Westminster native who returned to Maryland in 2018 to produce the film. His career in the entertainment industry spans more than a decade in both Los Angeles and New York. He has produced and written for film including the film Flock of Dudes, his writing for television has included Spike TV, and Comedy Central.

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Levin, the director and writer, described the film as an arthouse thriller, combining a cinematic approach with a horror/thriller genre feel. The plot summary for the film on IMDB.com notes, “After burning out in the city, Will Shipe is summoned back home where he uncovers dark truths about his family and the town he grew up in.”

I had the opportunity to talk to Levin about his latest film and his thoughts on the opportunity to film in Carroll County. He noted that he always felt that the county was cinematic. A decade ago, he drove through Union Bridge looking for inspiration and found it with the town and the factory in the middle of it. Levin thought the whole vibe of the area was intriguing. Looking at the rich variety of locations and landscape, Levin indicated that he would like to shoot more films in Carroll County and that he has many scripts that could utilize our county for locations.

On Tuesday, October 29, the film “Union Bridge” was featured in New York at Anthology Film Archives. Levin has plans to screen the film in Carroll County and Baltimore in the near future and is working on distribution and exhibition. The film will be playing at festivals and he is currently in talks with buyers.

In the past, when film productions occurred in Carroll County, individuals and organizations have assisted from local municipalities to the county government.

“Mayor Perry Jones was very instrumental in helping me bring the film shoot to Union Bridge. He was very welcoming and made sure that we found what we needed in town, from locations to people to resources. That is very important with films to have someone helping in that way, as there are endless logistics that the production team is dealing with,” Levin said.

During our conversation, Levin noted that he felt that the county is beautiful and has many different looks, depending on what one needs as the filmmaker. He believes more films should be shot here as the people are friendly and excited about movies and that environment makes it fun for the cast and crew to be working here. To support local filming, he thinks members of the business community could help create opportunities and secure financing for artists who want to put the county on the big screen. All the elements are here for a great filmmaking scene in our county.

Opportunities abound here for locations, talent, crew, tourism, and furthering the arts. Levin feels that “It’s easy to make films here and everyone involved benefits, from the filmmakers as well as the residents of the area."

“The county is a special place,” Levin continued, "and I am happy that I was able to capture its beauty on film for people to see.”

When opportunity knocks we need to open the door.

Tom Gordon writes from Westminster. He writes every other Saturday. Email him at tgordonwrites@gmail.com

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