Bill Wilson and Dr. Robert Smith recently met again for the first time in Akron.
The 1935 encounter of the two men, which led to the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous a month later, was re-created as New York actors filmed a scene for a movie to be titled Bill W.
Filming was done at the Gate Lodge of Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, where Henrietta Seiberling, daughter-in-law of Goodyear co-founder F.A. Seiberling, had set up the meeting between the Akron physician known as Dr. Bob and New York stockbroker Wilson, who was in Akron on a business trip.
Kevin Hanlon and Dan Carracino, the two men making the movie, have known each other since they were classmates at LaSalle Military Academy in New York. They had vowed that someday they would make a movie together, even though they had no film-making experience before this project.
In 2003, the two decided to make a full-length documentary about the life of Wilson, who died in 1971 at the age of 75.
Hanlon, the movie's director, is a New York City resident who worked as a project manager and consultant. He said Wilson's life captured his imagination.
''First and foremost, it's a fascinating story,'' he said.
Wilson, a Vermont native, was trying to stay sober during his business trip to Akron on Mother's Day weekend in 1935.
Henrietta Seiberling, who was involved in a spiritual organization called the Oxford Group, arranged a meeting between Wilson and Smith in a small study in the Gate Lodge at Stan Hywet on Mother's Day.
Smith was still drinking at the time. The meeting, which he vowed would go no longer than 15 minutes, lasted more than five hours.
About a month later, on June 10, 1935, Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in Akron. The group now has more than 2.1 million members worldwide.
At the meeting, Wilson told Smith the story of his alcoholism and his drinking life. Then Smith told Wilson his story.
Carracino, the film's producer, lives in Laguna Beach, Calif., and has worked in the electronics business. When Hanlon suggested making a documentary about Wilson, the first thing Carracino wondered was, ''This has never been done?''
Researching the subject, he found there are no full-length documentaries about Wilson. Then he realized why.
''They are anonymous,'' he said, referring to a basic tenet of A.A.
Hanlon and Carracino found old film footage and photographs of early A.A. history, but it was sound recordings they found that really helped their research.
''As poor as A.A. is in visual history, it is incredibly rich in audio history,'' Carracino said.
The two men have listened to hundreds of hours of recorded talks given by Wilson and other A.A. members.
The film will use the voice of Wilson to help tell his story, Carracino said.
He said he and Hanlon were moved emotionally when they walked into the Gate Lodge room where the A.A. founders first met.
''This is where it happened,'' he said.
Hanlon said he is intrigued by the mystery of the meeting and what came of the hours of talking.
''You had one man [Wilson] who knew if he didn't speak to someone else he was going to drink, and another man [Smith] who was in a desperate condition because he couldn't stop drinking,'' Hanlon said.
''There is no way on earth those two men could have possibly known the consequence of this conversation the day it happened.''
Actors from New York City playing the roles of Wilson, Smith and Smith's wife, Anne, were flown in for the filming.
Hanlon said the film, which is being made by their company, Page 124 Productions a name that refers to a page in the A.A. Big Book will be finished this spring.
It is not known how the movie will be released, but Hanlon and Carracino will pitch it to various film festivals this year.
The film is expected to be screened in Akron later this year, Hanlon said.
Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or email@example.com.