5 Movies That Got Their Filmmakers Arrested
By Jake Rossen
While some audiences would like to have filmmakers brought up on charges for a truly bad movie, no such law currently exists. (Write your Congressman—we’ll happily sign the petition.) It takes more than creative misdemeanors to put cast or crew in the back of a police car. These five films managed to do just that.
1. Lost River Gets Ryan Gosling in Trouble
Gosling had designs on directing his first feature at least as far back as 2011, when he was filming The Ides of March in Detroit with George Clooney. The then-30-year-old actor finished principal photography on that film and proceeded to wander around the city with a camera to get ideas for what would become his 2015 drama Lost River. At one point, Detroit police found Gosling in an abandoned building and thought he was trying to steal copper. Apparently unfamiliar with either Gosling’s work or his Internet memes, they hauled him in. Though he told the Los Angeles Times he was “not proud that I got arrested,” he said the experience gave him some ideas for the project.
2. The Minnesota Delivery And A Too-Real Robbery
When other locations fell through, producer Tim Christian decided to shoot the climax of his independent feature, 2013’s Minnesota Delivery, on a public block in St. Paul, Minnesota. As actors with guns stormed around, took cover behind a car, and generally did their best to look suspicious, 10 St. Paul police cruisers surrounded the scene, drew their (real) weapons, and ordered the men to the ground. Christian had failed to secure a shooting permit from the city; he and three performers were arrested and held until authorities checked out their story. “That was some bad producing on my part,” Christian told the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
3. The Wizard of Oz Revisited
Gigapix Studios may not sound familiar, but that could change if you happen to work for the FBI: The film company enlisted over 750 investors beginning in 2011 to finance a 3-D animated version of The Wizard of Oz. Over $22 million was raised for that film and other projects—but none of the films were ever made. After receiving several complaints, Federal agents arrested several Gigapix employees in 2014 and handed down a 36-count indictment. Quoting the charges, the Los Angeles Times reported that instead of investing in the picture, Gigapix honchos “spent investor money on salaries for themselves … and to pay their personal expenses, employee salaries, and commissions.” In February 2015, two were sentenced to eight and five years in prison, respectively.
4. Gasland And The Fracking Controversy
The practice of fracking as a means to obtain natural gas has become a controversial issue—one that certainly lends itself to a documentary-length examination. Perhaps director Josh Fox thought the gravity of such a film, a sequel to his own Gasland, would invite cooperation. In the case of an interrupted congressional hearing, it did not. In 2012, Fox was told Gasland would be discussed during an Environmental Protection Agency report meeting; when he was denied attendance after a short-notice request, he decided to go anyway. After he refused to put away his camera, Capitol Hill police arrested him, citing unlawful entry. Fox later told Huffington Post that he felt “my [press] credentials are my American citizenship.”
5. Midnight Rider
Shooting on train tracks can be a perilous situation. In 2014, director Randall Miller set up a scene for Midnight Rider, a biopic about musician Gregg Allman, that was intended to show Allman (played by William Hurt) in a dream sequence. But as a train loomed, several crew members were unable to get out of its path in time. As it smashed into set props, seven people were injured; one, Sarah Jones, died as a result of her injuries. Miller and three others were charged with involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass; Miller pled guilty to the charges and, according to an ABC News report, was sentenced to 2 years in prison and is prohibited from directing or assistant directing a film for 10 years. It’s believed to be the first time a director has ever been held responsible for the death of a crew member.