More than a dozen District police and firefighters stood along Adams-Morgan's 18th Street yesterday, hoping for the best but prepared for the worst, as a black Ford rocketed over two parked cars, flipped in midair and crash landed -- hood first -- on a taxi and nearby auto.
No injuries; just one less stunt to film in a low-budget movie called "Good to Go" scheduled for late summer release.
The movie centers on Washington's black street music scene, called "go-go." Chris Blackwell, the film's associate producer, said it was only logical to shoot the music-action film in the District.
But yesterday's first session in a five-week shooting schedule got off on the wrong foot with area business owners, who said no one bothered to tell them that Hollywood was coming to block traffic in and out of the area for about eight hours.
And worse, merchants said, no one has offered to compensate them for the day's lost revenues.
"On a day like this we usually have about 35 to 40 people for lunch," said Jackie Chauvet, owner of La Fourchette restaurant. "Today we had 12 customers."
She estimated the day's loss at about $600. She said the film even prevented some of her employes from reporting to work. "What [do] you do?" she asked. "Stop them?"
Adams-Morgan business people said the "Good to Go" film is the fourth to be shot in the area in the past 12 months. But it is the first one in which they think film makers have abused them.
"I got here about 9 this morning and found out they were doing this," said Len Weiss, owner of Vintage Furniture, whose antique store sat almost directly in front of the car-crash scene. "Someone told me if they misjudged the impact the car was coming in my store."
Staring out into the afternoon streetscape of police, firefighters, actors, passersby, film equipment and smoldering stunt cars that centered on 18th Street and Kalorama Road, Weiss said the filming "pretty much closed my doors . . . . I'd say I lost about $1,000. I'm miffed because I wasn't told about this."
At the Negril Bakery, a popular Jamaican eatery at 2437 18th St. NW, manager Paul Chinn said the movie making virtually put him out of business for a day. He explained that most of his business comes from walk-in traffic, and with the street blocked from about 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., his shop was about as lively as the city morgue.
"The point is that they never made any notice or anything," Chinn complained. "Usually when [movie crews come] they tell you something like a month in advance."
Island Pictures' Blackwell, tanned and silver-haired, seemed surprised that businesses never received the word. "I would have hoped that someone told them there would be a car crash," he said as his crew got ready for the next shot.
But John Orcino, an Adams-Morgan businessman and president of the 18th and Columbia Business Association, said the filming was good for business.
"So we lost business today, but I think in the long run it will pay off," he said, explaining it will ultimately better the area's reputation. "The movie is about Washington, right?"
For Nunigo Rocco, manager of Peoples Hardware near 18th Street and Columbia Road, the movie business is already paying off.
"They came in here and bought two sledgehammers and some steel tape," he said. "Overall, it was a pretty good day."