Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Frauds (I mean "Producers")

I'll admit, I kinda feel sorry for Bret Saxon. Well, maybe not really. Via William Martell, the life of an independent producer:
Saxon traveled by private jet, had a Mercedes and a Ferrari, and lived in a 10,900-square-foot Pacific Palisades estate with a movie theater, tennis court and swimming pool, according to interviews and court records.
Me? I travel by PATH, and I borrow my stepmom's Civic. I live in a jr 1-bedroom in Jersey City and have a really nice shower. I mean, according to interviews and court records.
Cash has flooded into movies from international tax deals, government subsidies, foreign banks, hedge funds and wealthy individuals.
Yes and yes. This. More please.
Some of those suing Saxon say that even as his explanations for where investors' money had gone became increasingly implausible, they nevertheless gave him more.
Tell me how to get this skill. All the movies I've made in the last 10 years have made their money back (with the exception of Solar Vengeance which only maybe just made its money back but now that I think about it more that's the only picture which had proper "investors" so maybe I better shut up now.) The short answer is that you should send me your money right now.
But wait a minute. Here's a weird sentence from the article:
A trio of investors — fledgling producers Kirkwood Drew, Jordan Udko and Ayman Kandeel — claim in their lawsuit that they gave Saxon $2.73 million in May 2006 to make "The Grand" and contend their contract promised a "guaranteed minimum" return of $2.97 million.
Uh. Really? A "guaranteed minimum"? That, to my non-law-degree'd ear, sound suspiciously like a loan rather than an investment. Now, this could be simply shoddy journalism from the LA Times. Or, we could be looking at a whole buncha fraud. And not just from the producer.
Doug Ames, who helped raise money for Saxon's productions, said he heard Saxon tell potential investors that he already had all the cash he needed. "His pitch was, 'I don't need your money. I could do it without you, but I am giving you an opportunity to make some money,'" said Ames, 49, who later fell out with Saxon.
As far as I know, that's the way to do it. Doesn't Bruce Campbell say that's how they raised money in If Chins Could Kill?
But really this sound to me like more of a morality tale of whom you should accept money from. This, then:
In Tennessee, Saxon met Dennis Sonnenschein, a 67-year-old equine enthusiast and former massage parlor owner who once had been jailed for failing to pay taxes. He had dreamed of making a movie about Paso Fino horses — a breed distinguished by its stamina and smooth gait — and had co-written a screenplay about them.
Lesson learned? Try to not do business with felons. Or, if you do, try to make sure it's just drug-dealers and murderers you work with. You know -- people who won't screw you.
I think that "Unlucky Producer or Hollywood Fraud?" is a false dichotomy. The word here shouldn't be "or". "And" -- "and" is the word you want there.
All producing is is lying. You lie to everyone. You tell them there's going to be a movie. Hell, you tell them there already is a movie. And let me make this clear: you absolutely have to lie. You have to say "We're shooting on September 3rd" or whatever and just keep saying it. Why? Because otherwise the movie just won't happen.


thomas said...

Yeah, I was born without the ask-people-for-money gene.

Andrew Bellware said...

See? I want Bret Saxton working for me -- raising money.