Finding A Home
In a film rife with organizational challenges, perhaps the greatest was figuring out just where the majority of the film would be shot. What was necessary was nothing less than the need to inhabit one stadium--which would be the Sentinels' home stadium--for the better part of a three- month shoot. The city and stadium that rang through with flying colors was Baltimore, "Charm City," a perfect double for the movie's setting of Washington, D.C. (just
35 miles to the north). and PSINet Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens. What ensued was the first time in history that a football movie was shot in an NFL stadium during the actual season.
Through the remarkable coordination of the filmmakers with the owner and staff of the Ravens, and the Maryland Stadium Authority, "The Replacements" would shoot at the beautiful arena in historic Camden Yards when the Ravens were out-of-town, and elsewhere when the team returned to their home base.
Notes executive producer Chernov, "One of the advantages of shooting during the season is that, unlike baseball or basketball, there's only one game per week, and a lot of times they're on the road. There are only eight games played at home. so we realized that there would be a lot of time in between games when we could be shooting.
"We sat down early on with the Ravens and the Maryland Stadium Authority and worked out a fairly elaborate schedule that would permit us to shoot in between home games and exhibition games," Chemov recalls.
It was actually during one of the latter--a Ravens exhibition game held on the night of Saturday, August 28th (about two weeks after the start of principal photography) -- that provided the actors, filmmakers (and Ravens fans) with one of the most thrilling nights of their lives.
Explains Jeffrey Chernov, "We had heard about other football films that actually had the opportunity to shoot during halftime. It was done on both 'Heaven Can Wait' more than 20 years ago, and more recently on 'The Program.' We realized that it would be absolutely fantastic for our film if we could pull it off. We got Allan Graf, our football coordinator and second unit director, together with first unit. We all sat down and designed plays which we felt could be shot during halftime...only one take for each, of course."
Allan Graf continues the tale: "We rehearsed four complicated plays for a week in Annapolis -- the plays and the timing, with the key cast, 60 football players and 90 extras. But the real thing would be different -- during halftime of an NFL game with thousands of people watching every move we would make from the stands, and millions more at home staring at their TV sets."
To further complicate matters, the original 12 minutes the production was allotted was changed at the last minute to nine-and-a-half minutes.
The coordination was like something out of a military campaign. Some 500 members of "The Replacements" company: the stars, the director, the crew and the core football players, assembled in a staging area at the downtown Baltimore Arena. As the Ravens game approached halftime, buses shuttled the entire crowd over to PSINet Stadium--with cast in full costume, from Reeves and Hackman on down to the sideline personnel. The company stood by in the bowels of the giant arena for the two-minute warning that signaled that it was time to get ready.
When Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman ran onto the field at the head of the company, a cheer went up from the Ravens fans, which increased to deafening roars of approval over the next nine minutes. "It was the biggest high any of us have ever had," enthuses Graf. "Even Keanu said that it was one of his greatest moments, going out there with a crowd that big, shouting encouragement. There was such intensity from the company to the crowd, and then back again. And everything went off to a t
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