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Westminster Cafe Used As Backdrop For Online Soap Opera

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By BRANDON OLAND
Carroll County Times

WESTMINSTER, Md. (AP) — The director called for quiet on the set. At long last, it was time to start filming.

The cafe table was in the perfect position. The lighting was just right. The actors were in perfect position, both inside and outside. The boom microphone was in place.

Shooting could now start on a scene of ‘Milgram and the Fastwalkers’, an online soap opera that examines just how people would deal with unidentified flying object encounters.

Cast and crew filmed at Birdie’s Cafe in Westminster Tuesday for scenes in what will be the final of 12 episodes from season one posted online to YouTube. The first four episodes are already up.

Director Richard Cutting doubles as the lead actor for the series. He is Dr. Daniel Milgram, a prominent doctor who plunges into studying UFOs after a new client, Sally Lemm (Walker Hays), comes to him with concerns. The Hollywood-based Hays is a Finksburg native.

Cutting, who lives along Maryland’s Eastern Shore, is an actor/director who hopes to take “Milgram and the Fastwalkers” from online series to network production. He is funding the enterprise.

“I really wanted to write a soap opera, which is about the daily lives of people, not necessarily from the point of view of UFOs, but what happens if they infiltrate people’s lives,” Cutting said. “It totally freaks them out. It also freaks people out in different ways.”

The first season of “Milgram and the Fastwalkers” was filmed throughout the region, including at a medical office in Hampstead.

The Web series is decidedly shorter than the half-hour and hour-long network soap operas that air weekday afternoons. “Milgram” episodes are 6-9 minutes. Other than that, the familiar soap plot themes are there: Rocky relationships, tension-filled work conversations and long discussions at eateries.

That’s where Birdie’s came in. Cutting was looking for a small-town coffee house to film scenes in.

Even though it required shooting scenes during the busy lunch hour, Birdie’s owner Sherri Hosfeld Joseph agreed. Joseph has allowed artists to showcase their works at Birdie’s since she opened more than two years ago.

“When they asked if they could film here, I said, ‘absolutely,”‘ Joseph said. “After all, they are artists.”

Just to shoot one roughly minute-long scene took a few hours of prep Tuesday afternoon. The crew was positioning a walk-by of characters from past episodes. The characters strutted past a cafe window while Cutting and fellow “Milgram” actor Johnny Alonso exchanged dialogue.

Cutting, wearing a navy suit and red striped tie, was in constant motion, using a handheld transceiver to relay directions to actors standing along the Westminster Main Street sidewalk waiting to pass by.

“This one will be for real,” said cameraman and Carroll native Jim Ball.

It took three takes. Cutting didn’t react fast enough to the crowd walking by in the first. A group of youths in the cafe started talking in the background in the second. The third take went off without a hitch.

The actors walked by outside at the perfect time and the interior dialogue was to Cutting’s liking.

“And cut,” Cutting said before moving on to yet another scene.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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