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Ahoy! Pirates invade the Harbor Film crew boards Constellation


Four-year-old Brittany Slattery packed everything a pirate-hunter would need in her red bag for the trip to the Inner Harbor: a compass, a (toy) pistol, a treasure of loose change, a sword, a video of Disney's "Treasure Island" and a bottle of rum (water, really).

It did the trick. Brittany found gun-wielding, sword-flashing, rum-toting pirates at the Inner Harbor yesterday, but she couldn't muster up the courage to have her picture taken with a group of actors portraying the swashbucklers. Dad stepped in instead.

By coincidence, Brittany and her family bumped into Todd Crespi and his crew, who came to Baltimore to pose for still shots aboard the Constellation. Mr. Crespi is directing an independent feature film about time-traveling pirates.

"We wanted to take advantage of the authenticity of the frigate," said Mr. Crespi, who in addition to being director also is author, star and producer of "Blackbeard & Bonnet."

In the movie, a group of notorious 18th-century pirates travels through a time warp in the Bermuda Triangle to modern America. Although the pirates initially experience culture shock, they adapt to the chaotic 20th century and resort to their criminal ways.

"I'd say it's a movie the public will get into," said Casey Bozeman, an 18-year-old actor from Annandale, Va., who portrays a pirate named Rattle. "These types of movies are in style, but I don't think anything quite like this has been done before."

Characters like Mr. Bozeman's are based on real pirates. Mr. Crespi culled the names from a transcript of Blackbeard's trial, stemming from a 1718 attack on Charleston, S.C.

Mr. Crespi, a former TV actor from Falls Church, Va., said production on the film began last summer. Filming has largely taken place in Washington and Northern Virginia.

The actors spent several hours in Baltimore yesterday, shooting publicity stills and shots for music videos to promote the film.

"We may return to Baltimore to shoot some actual movie scenes," Mr. Crespi said.

Among the scenes photographed aboard the Constellation was one in which Mr. Bozeman posed as a woman to lure the crew of a passing vessel. Other pirates hid behind the ship's rail, ready to pounce on unsuspecting victims.

Standing in as a girl was 9-year-old Spencer Hollon of Seabrook.

"He's really thrown himself into the part," said his mother, Jennifer Hollon. "He's shown some acting ability and hasn't minded doing things like dressing up like a girl."

Also shot were scenes in which rifle-bearing, toothless pirates peered over the rails toward the crowded Light Street Pavilion. Modern technology will work a rainbow and tornado into those shots, Mr. Crespi said.

"We'll block out any remnants of the 20th century," he said.

But visitors to the Constellation yesterday couldn't help but notice the costumed actors.

"They look raunchy," said Ben Tashjian, an engineer from Wilmington, Del., who initially thought the pirates were part of the Constellation's program.

"I thought they were either tourists or some gimmick," said his wife, Shirley. "They look pretty real. They blend in with the ship."

Brittany bought the act.

"She's scared," said her mother, Sheri. "This is really funny because she plays pirates every day. She's crazy about pirates -- ever since she saw 'Peter Pan.' "

"They remind me of modern corporate executives," added her father, Kevin, an auditor from Adelphi. "They used to hang [pirates]. Now they're on the cover of Business Week."

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