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Sheldon Candis returned to his hometown of Baltimore to shoot his first feature
film. With a wealth of local connections to call on, the filmmakers used the city to its full
Producer Jason Michael Berman's family also hails from Baltimore, and the
filmmakers used his father's offices as the production office. "I shot an earlier film there as
well, so we had a lot of the same crew, including the same line producer," he says. "A lot of
incredible people worked on the movie. We had the full support of the community because
it's a Baltimore story. In some ways, it's almost a love letter to Baltimore. That support really
helped us stretch our dollars."
Justin Wilson grew up in nearby Virginia and his family spent many summers on the
Maryland shore. Though he had visited Baltimore often, accompanying Candis there several
times during the writing process gave him a more intimate understanding of the city and its
unique culture. "By the time we started writing, I had researched the city carefully."
The film offers viewers a broad range of Baltimore's diverse landmarks, from the
city's famed waterfront to working-class Cherry Hill, Pimlico Racetrack, the Inner Harbor
and the 250-year-old Lexington Market. "There are so many different neighborhoods," says
Wilson. "There's also the City versus the County, as they call it in Baltimore. The County is
the more upscale suburban area where Mr. Fish's house is. If you spend time around
Baltimore, you learn that's a distinction they use. We also made sure to include some of the
local dialect in the way Woody and Vincent say certain words."
The writers also included one of Baltimore's most beloved rituals -- the crab dinner.
"In the dinner scene, everyone is cracking crabs and demonstrating their particular
techniques," Wilson says. "That is a huge part of the social atmosphere, getting a bunch of
people together, spreading newspaper out and getting those mallets. That's something my
family used to do."
Those details were important for Common as he built his character. "Being there
helped me as an actor to become more of a Baltimore boy," says Common. "This is a movie
about truth and heart, and that came from Sheldon, based on his own experiences, so
Baltimore was the right place to shoot it. The city has its own unique character, and we tried
to stay true to it." Candis says he is grateful for the opportunity to have made this very personal movie
and he credits a determined and talented team for helping make his vision a reality. "For all
our good fortune, we faced a lot of challenges getting LUV made," he adds. "Not only were
there the everyday run-and-gun decisions that go with making any independent film, we were
also working with a minor in a leading role on a very short shooting schedule.
"I heard a thousand 'no's for every 'yes,'" he says. "People sacrificed a lot to get this
movie made. They called in favors and really believed in me as a first-time filmmaker.
Producers Jason Berman and Michael Jenson in particular have been with LUV for the past
seven years. Jason is the kind of guy who, if he says he'll get it done, he'll get it done,
whatever it takes. They all had to be fearless and passionate. They were on the ground every
day actively working with the team to make sure the film would make it across the finish
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