A Big House in the Woods
One day in late spring of 2012, Kathie Werhane was getting home from a quick run to Target and noticed an unfamiliar van lingering in front of her house. When the van pulled into her driveway and a man started walking up to her front door, she was a bit unsettled. Turns out the man was Eric Bannat, a location scout, looking for a “private, secluded mansion” for a movie that was to be filmed in Baltimore, starring rapper-turned-actor Common. And while Werhane didn’t necessarily think of her house as a “mansion” and didn’t know who Common was, she invited the scout inside to talk. Bannat briefly explained the premise of the movie and told her they would only need the house for two days.
Writer/Director and Baltimore native Sheldon Candis had always envisioned a house just like the Werhanes for the film, one that he had been writing in his mind since childhood. “We were looking for a big house in the woods,” Candis told us- yes, the Hollywood director answered our email and spoke with us for the blog. As a kid, he would drive around town with his parents on Sundays after they went to see a movie at the inner harbor, and he always remembered the big houses of Baltimore County surrounded by trees. So Candis knew that was the kind of house he was looking for to film the movie, and it was important that they filmed on location in Baltimore.
Fast forward six weeks later, when the production crew of Learning Uncle Vincent, or LUV, arrived to the Werhane’s home, along with trailers, camera equipment, lighting, boom cranes, actors, agents, directors, and entourages.
“We had one rule,” Werhane said. “No one was allowed to go upstairs. They were only filming on the main level and we didn’t want anyone in the bedrooms.” And for the most part, everyone was respectful of that rule; in fact, everyone was great during the entire experience. Kathie and her husband Charlie would stand in the kitchen and watch the scenes filmed in their family room, re-staged as a dining room for the movie. They would sit outside on the deck in the evening and drink wine with some of the crew and agents. They would gather with neighbors in the cul-de-sac where all the trailers were parked, having somewhat of a Hollywood-comes-to-Baltimore block party.
The Werhanes’ grandchildren were especially excited about a personal invite from Dennis Haysbert to tour his own personal trailer. “He’s exactly the same as he is in the Allstate commercials,” Charlie Werhane told us, "laid back and friendly."
The intense night scene in the woods took the longest to film. The scene required (fake) gunshots, complicated up-lighting, and boom cranes, and lasted until close to 3:00am. The Werhanes were amazed with Michael Rainey Jr, the actor who plays Woody, then only eleven years old, as he was the center of this scene.
“Michael Rainey Jr’s mother was always there, standing with us right behind the cameras," Kathie told us. "That little boy was so impressive.”
The Werhanes were amazed at how the movie was filmed, and said they loved watching the process.
They appreciated that the movie's writer and director was from Baltimore, along with some of the producers, crew, and actors. It's one of the main reasons they agreed to have the movie filmed in their home. And Sheldon Candis couldn't be more thankful. "The Werhanes are the nicest, most hospitable people you could ever meet." He wanted to make sure we knew that. "They are exactly the kind of people you hope to find as an independent film maker."
When the filming wrapped, Candis gave the Werhanes a copy of the script signed by the cast and crew, along with an invitation to movie's release at the Sundance Film Festival.
Charlie and Kathie Werhane said that they will always remember the unique experience of having a movie filmed in their home, and are eager for the new owners to start making their own memories.