2006-11-09 / Front Page

'American General'

Actor Chris O'Meara portrays heroic Benedict Arnold in the documentary film "American General" being shot this week at Ft. Getty. O'Meara is aboard the historic replica sloop Providence, which was used for many of the local scenes. Photo by Jeff McDonough

Benedict Arnold "American General"Another movie now filming in JamestownBy Sam Bari

Producer Tom Mercer of Talon Films, New York, brought his principle crewmembers and cast from Los Angeles to Fort Getty in Jamestown to film "American General" on Narragansett Bay. The movie is about the heroic deeds of Benedict Arnold.

"We wanted the most experienced cast and crew we could get to make this historic film," Mercer said. "So we went to Los Angeles, where we could choose from the largest pool of production specialists and actors available anywhere. These people will give us the feature film quality we are striving to achieve. We also wanted a look of authenticity, and what could be better than shooting a film about the Revolutionary War in Narragansett Bay, where so much of it happened?"

Jamestown provided the settings we needed and a lot more, Mercer said. "We love the area and the people. We have been very well received, and I must thank Chuck Masso, owner of Chopmist Charlie's, for the excellent food and catering. He kept us well-fed," Mercer added.

This film is more than a business venture. It is a labor of love, Mercer said. "I love historic films, and the three producers of this film, Anthony Vertucci, myself, and Chris Stearns, who is also the director, feel it is time to right some wrongs.

"We believe that despite the focus on the treason committed by Benedict Arnold, he saved the country from losing the Revolutionary War. He was indeed a hero, particularly at the battle of Valcour Island, the first naval battle in U. S. history, which is what this film is about," he said. The story is a re-enactment of how Benedict Arnold built the American Navy and stopped the British fleet from advancing down Lake Champlain.

Mercer also said they were very fortunate to get the sailboat Providence, a historically accurate replica, gaff-rigged sloop that was used to play the part of a number of different ships in the movie.

The lead role of Benedict Arnold is played by veteran television actor Chris O'Meara, who has starred in episodes of "Without a Trace," "Alias," "Band of Brothers," and "CSI: NY," to name a few of his many credits.

The film is an independent production that is four years in the making, Mercer said. "We began in 2003, and this is our third shoot. When we finish filming in Jamestown, we will be 70 percent complete. The production should be ready for national broadcast in about a year if all goes as planned, he said.

For absolute accuracy, 12 different historians worked on the

research for the film. The script was based on "American General," a book written by James Kirby Martin, the main historian. The book and film depict Benedict Arnold as the hero that he was.

The production filmed in Jamestown for five days, with most of the principle photography taking place in the bay off Fort Getty and in the park.

The film has been sponsored by the state of New York Education Department promoting tourism, and by funding and loans from private benefactors interested in the project. Mercer said they are seeking three additional sponsors to complete the film.

Mercer's other production company, Mercer Films, is releasing "Uncivil Liberties," at the beginning of the New Year. The movie is a terrorist thriller written and directed by Mercer.

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