John Kiesewetter reports:
Actor Emilio Estevez won’t waste any time preparing to play a harness race driver in his new “Johnny Longshot” film.
Estevez, 50, will ride a two-wheel sulky at Lebanon Raceway today as he did a year ago in anticipation of filming here.
“It will take a lot of training in the sulky,” said Estevez, who will star and direct from his screenplay about a retired Cincinnati jockey making a comeback through harness racing.
“But I’ll also have a stunt double,” he said during a press conference at the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum on Thursday.
- Video: Estevez talks up Cincinnati
At the event, Estevez handed a check to the Ohio Film Commission to accept a $3.8 million Ohio filmmakers tax credit for the family-friendly feature, similar to the “Mighty Ducks” movies he has made.
“Johnny Longshot” will hire 1,500 actors, extras and crew during the 37-day shoot next spring. That’s “the longest time any film of this size has spent in Cincinnati,” said Kristen Erwin, Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Film Commission executive director.
No other casting was announced. Most of the jobs will be filled by area residents, said producer Lisa Niedenthal, who grew up in Brookville, Ind., and attended Oldenburg Academy.
“We will bring in less than a handful of people from Los Angeles. We want to take advantage of the talent pool here,” she said.
Estevez – son of Cincinnati native Janet Templeton Sheen and Dayton native Martin Sheen – wrote the script seven years ago after watching harness racing with his father at a sports betting parlor. Production was delayed for Estevez to write and direct “The Way” for his father.
The horse-racing movie “was always going to be in Cincinnati,” he said. “We weren’t going to shoot it anywhere else.”
Sheen, Erwin and Niedenthal on Wednesday scouted Turfway Park and River Downs, but they will not be used for harness-racing scenes. Sulky races will be shot in Lebanon and possibly Scioto Downs near Columbus because the wheels dig ruts in the track, Estevez explained.
Estevez also toured Great American Ball Park, which could be used for a scene with main character John West throwing out a ceremonial first pitch – pending approval of the city, Reds, Hamilton County and Major League Baseball, Erwin said.
Estevez said he will return in January to prepare for filming in spring. The movie should be released late next year or in early 2014.
“You’ll be seeing a whole lot of me over the next few months, into May,” he said. “I wish we could get started (filming) tomorrow.”