OCEAN CITY — With the independent film “Ping-Pong Summer” now filling out its cast and hiring extras in Ocean City and production set to begin in about two weeks, the producer this week briefed resort business leaders on what they can expect from the movie in terms of exposure for the resort and the potential economic benefit.
Ping-Pong Summer producer Michael Gottwald on Wednesday briefed the Ocean City Economic Development Committee (EDC) on plans for the production and marketing of the independent film set to start shooting in the resort area in about two weeks. Gottwald told EDC members the film set in mid-1980s Ocean City, is semi-autobiographical because the writer and director is from Mt. Airy and spent summers in the resort as a youth.
Gottwald told EDC members Ocean City will be a central character in the movie and with that will bring a lot of exposure and potential economic development to the resort.
“This is a film being made in Ocean City about Ocean City,” he said. “We want and need the involvement of the city and its residents. We want Ocean City people in the film because it’s about Ocean City.”
Gottwald said independent filmmakers often feature their shooting locales in the productions, unlike the big studios that create fictional locations for their often blockbuster films.
“We’re making movies in areas about those areas,” he said. “Runaway Bride was not about Berlin. Big studios come into a location and make it look like and sound like somewhere else.”
Because the major studios have concentrated in recent years on producing big budget blockbusters, independent films such as Ping Pong Summer are getting more exposure in the theaters around the country, according to Gottwald.
“The big studios make all of their money on blockbusters and only make a few big movies each year,” he said. “As a result, there is a lot more space in movies theaters around the country for independent films.”
To cite an example, Gottwald pointed out the latest independent film he produced, Beast of the Southern Wild, shot entirely in the swamps and marshes of southern Louisiana, has been highly successful since its release in June and was honored at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival this year.
“Our last film cost about $1 million and has made around $10 million since its release in June,” he said. “And that’s without any recognizable stars. Ping Pong Summer has a few big stars and faces people recognize, so we’re hoping for and expecting even greater success.”