MY INDIE FILMMAKING POSSE WAS ARRESTED (part 3)

In November of 1999 we had finished a good part of principal photography and cut a trailer for the film. I had some friends out in LA who said they could get it seen by their agents so my “co-producers” and I headed out West to show the trailer around. I think more money was spent on that one-week trip than on all the film stock for “King Midas.” Jimmy was, at the time, making money off of ecstasy and cocaine faster than he could spend it, and he was spending it pretty fast. We rented two Benzes, got a suite at the Beverly Hills hotel, and took a bunch of my LA friends out for an expensive night of dinner, drinks and strippers. Another night, we had a Disney executive blowing lines out by the pool at Sky Bar, worrying about an 8 a.m. meeting with his boss. Oh yeah, I managed to show the film to a few agents, too. We were three kids from a blue-collar shithole in Connecticut out in LA playing Joe Hollywood for a week. It was pretty much a high-point in our lives, but one that would soon come to an end.
A week after we got back from LA, I had just finished another long day of shooting more scenes for “King Midas” when the phone rang at 3a.m. It was Jimmy’s girlfriend calling from jail. The Connecticut Statewide Narcotics Task Force, who had been watching him for quite some time, just picked him while he was leaving his house. They caught him with over 5,000 pills of ecstasy, 6 ounces of coke, a digital scale and a stolen firearm. He was pretty much fucked. To top it all off, when the bail commissioner asked him what he did for a living, he stated that he was a “film producer” and that he worked for “Shooting Spree Films” (my production company name). As far as I’m concerned, Jimmy never did anything but line up locations and props for the film but when they printed in the paper that he basically worked for me, it looked pretty bad and I decided to duck out of town for a while. I moved back out to LA where I took a job as an assistant at a production company and edited “King Midas” on my Macintosh at night.
I returned to Hartford in the Summer of 2000 with a rough cut of the film and started shooting scenes I never got to and ones that I wanted to add. I shot stuff over the weekends until December of that year. All the wile Jimmy was going to court for his arrest and, little did we know, some of the cast was being watched by the Statewide Narcotics Task Force and the FBI. In January of 2001, Kevin and Jimmy were stopped at and searched at the airport on their way back from Miami because the cops suspected them to be “body carrying” ecstasy pills. The cops didn’t find anything. But in February of 2001, a week before Jimmy was supposed to be sentenced and locked up, Kevin and I printed up cards for his going away party. The cops got their hands on one and decided to spoil Jimmy’s fun. They set him up the night before his party and busted him again for cocaine possession and threw him right into jail without getting to say goodbye to his friends.
Now I had production completed on “King Midas” and once again felt it was time to get out of town. I moved back to New York where I would screen the film for NYU friends, then re-edit the film based on all the feedback. During this time, I would take odd-jobs in film production or make a few bucks doing a low-budget music videos. In May of 2001, I went out to the Cannes Film Market where I showed some clips of the film to distributors and started to try and figure out how to sell this thing. I was moving along with the film, Jimmy was serving his time and everything seemed to be going okay.
About this same time, the cops started heavy surveillance on one of the actors from King Midas named Miguel (“Slick Mick”) Rivera. Micky was under suspicion for running a cocaine ring and the FBI had his phone tapped. Also, one of the other actors, whose name I can’t mention until he is arrested, was under suspicion of running a marijuana enterprise. His activity was being investigated by the State Police, who had his phone tapped and were following him with a fixed-wing plane for several weeks. This all came to a head on August 1st, when the State Police, along with the FBI, busted down the doors to at least 8 different homes associated with Micky’s and the other actors investigation. 4 of those were the homes of “King Midas” actors. Among the items seized that day was a suitcase containing $96,0000, a brand-new Toyota Sequoia, the arms cache of the actor who plays “Sarge” in “King Midas,” and a copy of “King Midas” itself. Supposedly, the prosecutor in the case has watched the movie, but I’ve yet to hear her review. I have since gotten a call from the State Police, telling me that due to the investigation, some of my conversations had been wiretapped.
Get the rest of the story in the final part of MY INDIE FILMMAKING POSSE WAS ARRESTED>>>




Posted on January 6, 2002 in Features by
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