Monday, November 30, 2015

Mayor Ballard's Son Able To Film Low-Budget Film With IMPD's Help

"Car 86" cast members from left to right, Reese Mishler, Sarah Davenport and Paul Woolfolk (Facebook Photo)
UPDATE: This year's near-record crime wave did not stop the City of Indianapolis and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, in particular, from rolling out the red carpet to aid Mayor Greg Ballard's son, Greg Ballard, Jr., in the filming of his first movie in the Circle City. In fact, several IMPD officers have speaking roles in the movie, including IMPD Public Information Officer Chris Wilburn, who landed a lead supporting role in the movie.

The mayor's son, who studied film at Indiana University and now works for Warner Bros. in Los Angeles, says he got the idea for writing the script of his new movie, "Car 86," after going on a ride-along with IMPD one night before he moved out to L.A., leaving his job with a local PR firm, Hirons & Co. You may recall that Hirons was awarded several large no-bid contracts by Mayor Ballard after the firm gave the younger Ballard a job.

The movie's plot takes place in Indianapolis and centers around a group of recent college graduates who go for a ride-along with an IMPD officer that turns into their worst nightmare. It features several little-known actors, including Reese Mishler, Paul Woolfolk and Sarah Davenport. The movie's title, according to Ballard, gets its name from the slang term "86" as the number is used in its pejorative form--to be cast out or expelled.

Ballard made numerous appearances on local TV news and radio programs while in town recently with the movie's cast and crew filming the movie, promoting it and the opportunity for locals seeking a role as an extra in the movie's filming, which took place over a two-week period earlier this month. Another fellow Hoosier, Justin Kornmann, is producing the movie, which has the backing of its high-profile executive producer, Jeffrey Reddick, best known for his "Final Destination" movie series. Ballard said the movie's low budget made Indianapolis an attractive place for its filming, especially since its theme revolves so closely around the city's police department. By all appearances, IMPD made human and other resources generously available to the filmmakers for a bargain price of just $756.

Advance Indiana submitted a public records request to the city's public access counselor on November 4 after seeing numerous local news reports about the movie's filming, noticing that IMPD cars and officers were being used to film the movie. We asked for any written agreements with the filmmakers, along with any correspondence between city officials and the filmmakers discussing the making of "Car 86." The public access counselor produced an 8-page contract dated October 30, 2015 between Car 86, LLC and IMPD detailing the terms of the city's agreement between the filmmakers and IMPD. IMPD Chief Deputy Brian Mahone signed on behalf of IMPD, while Justin Kornmann signed on behalf of Car 86, LLC, a company formed on August 3, 2015 in the state of California, and which conducts business at an apartment address on Venice Blvd. in LA. with Kornmann listed as the registered agent. The Indiana Secretary of State's online records database indicates the firm never registered to conduct business in the state of Indiana as a foreign company.

Under the terms of the contract, IMPD was required to furnish IMPD vehicles and other equipment (including non-functioning firearms) to be used in the filming of the movie. IMPD reserved the right to designate what vehicles and equipment the filmmakers could use. The company further agreed that "any use of the vehicles or equipment will be under the complete direction and control of IMPD personnel." IMPD also agreed to "allow its sworn employees an opportunity to audition for a role in the movie," and that "any IMPD employee taking part in the filming of the Movie will be doing so in an off-duty, non-law enforcement capacity." IMPD granted to Car 86 a "non-exclusive, nontransferable license" to use IMPD's trademarks, including its badge and seal "in connection with the filming, advertising, promotion, and marketing of the movie."

The contract required Car 86 to maintain insurance, including worker's compensation, damages for bodily injury and personal injury, claims for damages to property and a commercial general liability insurance policy of $1 million per occurrence with an aggregate limit of $2 million, auto liability coverage, excess umbrella liability coverage and employer's liability for bodily injury and disease. The contract also included a general indemnity clause holding the City harmless from any claims arising out of the use of IMPD personnel, vehicles and equipment, including attorney's fees.

As stated above, the compensation paid to IMPD for the use of its vehicles and equipment was just $756. This is the same police department for which Mayor Ballard repeatedly vetoed millions of dollars this year to purchase much-needed equipment, including new vehicles. Presumably, Screen Actors Guild rules governed the payment of any compensation paid to IMPD personnel like Officer Wilburn who had speaking roles or served as extras or supporting roles during the filming. The contract contains a few boilerplate clauses, but it has no restriction on the content of the movie or how IMPD and its officers are portrayed in the film, provisions that might have been prudent to ensure a favorable portrayal of the City's police department.

The agreement said nothing about any special permits the filmmakers were required to obtain while filming the movie, including the closing of city streets that were to have occurred at least at some locations in the city, including Kentucky, West, Henry and Merrill Streets adjacent to Lucas Oil Stadium. An employee of the City's Department of Code Enforcement, Dana Brill, who holds the title of Project Compliance Analyst Supervisor, e-mailed a representative of the filmmaker, Travis Berens, on November 2 inquiring if the movie filming had been completed after receiving an a-mail from Berens on Friday, October 30 at 5:45 p.m. in which Berens inquired about the process for closing off streets. "It states that you will be filming on 10/31 and 11/1," Brill wrote. "Permits are to be obtained prior to the start of any type of work and/or use of the public right-of-way," Brill added.

In Berens' October 30 e-mail, he first advised Brill of their need to close Kentucky, West, Henry and Merrill Streets for filming on 10/31 and 11/1. "We have the support and assistance of the IMPD with our film as it is an intricate part of our story," Berens said in making the belated request. "In addition to the support and help of the Mayor's office," Berens added. Berens said in his e-mail that he did not learn until the day before that he was required to contact the City's Department of Code Enforcement to obtain a right-of-way permit. Berens included a completed application with his e-mail, which he was uncertain how to complete since it didn't seem to apply to his requested use. "Our plan is to hire 2 police officers who are off duty to assist us in holding any vehicular traffic momentarily while we're filming for safety reasons," Berens stated.

On November 2 at 9:53 a.m., Officer Wilburn e-mailed Brill informing her that he was IMPD's liaison for the filming of "Car 86." "I spoke with the producers about securing authorization prior to completely shutting off vehicle traffic," Wilburn wrote. "I was advised by [Deputy] Chief [Michael] Bates regarding this issue and communicated this to the "Car 86" executive team." "Unfortunately, the email they submitted to you was too late for your authorization and approval," Wilburn continued. "As a result, I advised them that vehicular traffic could not be completely shut off." "The writer changed the script and the film crew intermediately (sic) shot video." So it appears no permits were acquired from the city for filming on city-owned property. The City of New York's film office, which is considered a very film-friendly city, requires filmmakers to obtain a $300 permit for filming in the City's right of ways. It also charges a fee of $3,200 to film inside any city-owned properties.

Other than those three e-mails and the contract, the City's public access counselor indicated no other records were found that were responsive to our request. That claim seems dubious in light of a similar response we received to a public records request made of IPS. That public records request was made after the city public records request and shortly after learning the Car 86 crew was filming at IPS' Coca-Cola Building property on Mass Avenue earlier this month. Unlike the nearly one month it took the City's public access counselor's office to produce responsive records, IPS took less than 48 hours to produce nearly two dozen responsive e-mails, along with an application and permit Ballard obtained to use the IPS-owned property for filming "Car 86." According to IPS' records, Ballard began communicating about potential property locations last June. If the City of Indianapolis' records response is to be believed, there was no prior city correspondence between the filmmakers and city officials prior to the execution of the October 30 contract after the film crew had already arrived in town and began preparing for the filming and promoting it through local media.

From e-mails produced by IPS, it appears Ballard first reached out to Bob Schultz at Downtown Indy for help in securing the Coca-Cola Building. Ballard had e-mailed Schultz on June 9 belatedly thanking him for meeting with him at the Happy Hour on Georgia Street. Schultz responded back the same day indicating his willingness "to help [Ballard] in any way you need when you come back to shoot your production here." Ballard followed up with another e-mail to Schultz on September 16 indicating he was a month away from starting production of his movie. Ballard indicated the filming crew fell in love with the Coca-Cola Building while scouting filming locations and wondered who he needed to contact to secure its use. Schultz referred Ballard to Abbe Hohmann, whom he indicated was the real estate consultant for IPS. Hohmann, incidentally, was hired by the City of Indianapolis for her assistance in determining space utilization for what turned into the costly Regional Operations Center Project. [Note: Hohmann indicates her contract with her former employer, Colliers Turley Martin Tucker, on that project was terminated by Public Safety before any final lease agreement was worked out for the ROC and she received no compensation from the City for that work as indicated in an earlier version of this story. We apologize for the error.]

Ballard followed up with an e-mail that same day to Hohmann asking about using the exterior of the property for one day's filming work for the movie. In an e-mail exchange, Ballard indicated the film crew was interested in using the property for a day or two around Halloween. Hohmann indicated that it would be okay to use the property at that time. Ballard indicated to Hohmann that the film crew would be accompanied by a police officer for security purposes. Hohmann put Ballard in touch with Scott Martin, IPS' Deputy Supt. of Operations to work out the logistics of using the property. Martin's assistant, Robyn McCray followed up with an e-mail to Ballard on October 15 providing him an application to complete for use of the property and requesting he return it, along with the required certificate of insurance. Ballard responded to McCray by e-mail on October 22 with an application and certificate of insurance attached to his e-mail.

The application for use of the Coca-Cola Building is signed by Ballard on August 22, 2015 seeking to use the property on September 1, 2015. I'm assuming the dates written on the application was an error on Ballard's part since he wasn't sent the application until October 15 and had originally inquired about using the property on October 31 or November 1. Ballard identified himself on the application as the applicant and affixed his signature to it, using his father's residential address in Pike Township. Ballard indicated on the application that IMPD would be providing security during the filming in responding "No" where the application inquired if security would be needed. IPS issued a permit to Ballard on October 22, 2015 authorizing him to use the Coca-Cola Building for filming on November 1. The permit contained a disclaimer that IPS was not endorsing, supporting or advancing the activities or goals of the organization using its facility. The permit further prohibited the use of tobacco or alcohol on the property. IPS did not require Car 86 to pay anything for the use of the property.

Wilburn has described his own role in the movie as Marcus Wilder during interviews with local media. "Marcus Wilder, he’s excited about being a police officer," Wilburn said. "He’s been a police officer for quite some time and he’s a season professional." "There’s a cocky arrogance about his personality, which I hope will play on camera," said Wilburn.

Advance Indiana, by chance, captured a couple of photos of the "Car 86" film crew filming a scene in the downtown area with Wilburn early on the morning of November 10, about the same time local Pastor Davey Blackburn reportedly returned to his northwest side home on Sunnyfield Court and discovered his wife, Amanda Blackburn, laying face down on the couple's living room floor in a pool of blood, dying from a head shot wound she suffered at the hands of a serial home invader, Larry Taylor. News reports would later indicate Blackburn's killing was the culmination of a months-long crime spree by Taylor and two accomplices during which the trio committed multiple home invasions without being apprehended.

On November 10, the "Car 86" crew was filming a scene with Officer Wilburn at the Indiana War Memorial. It's unclear what other IMPD officers had paid roles in the filming of the movie as the scant records produced by the department indicated only Wilburn's participation by name, in which he identified himself as the department's liaison to the filmmakers, in addition to having a paid role in the film. Advance Indiana is left wondering if the October 30 agreement between IMPD was backdated after our public records request was made on November 4. It wouldn't be the first time city officials under this administration have been caught backdating documents, particularly in response to public records requests. There's little doubt the City did not produce all records responsive to our request, which included any e-mails or other correspondence from the mayor's office concerning the filming of "Car 86," in addition to IMPD, the Parks Department or Department of Code Enforcement.
"Car 86" film crew filming scene outside Indiana War Memorial with Officer Wilburn in his role as Marcus Wilder

Greg Ballard, Jr. and Officer Chris Wilburn appeared on the Indiana State Police Road Show on November 1, 2015 to discuss their respective roles in the filming of "Car 86."


Flogger said...

There's a holdup in the Bronx,
Brooklyn's broken out in fights;
There's a traffic jam in Harlem
That's backed up to Jackson Heights;
There's a scout troop short a child,
Khrushchev's due at Idlewild!
Car 54, Where Are You??
Lead in song for Car 54 Where are you.
Sadly the Crime on Indy Streets is no Comedy. I guess this the way Mayor Blowhole sees the Police in Indy as props for his son's movie.

Anonymous said...

This is another concrete reason I am so thrilled to see Jennifer Hallowell Walker's boy Ballard leave office. I wish he'd take his entire family and leave the city. Go, Greg. Just go.

Anonymous said...

Can't this product of power, privilege, position, and excess sit up straight in a chair? What are the chances both Ballard males have no spines?

Eric Morris said...

I'm glad the Indiana State Police has a radio show yet they cannot help direct traffic around accidents, some caused by the perpetually poorly maintained roads and others by the idiotically low speed limits that cause bottlenecks (even most grandmas go faster than 55mph on 465).

Anonymous said...

Possible inappropriate use of public resources, probable sweetheart deals at Marion County taxpayer expense, seeming nepotistic/personal connection favoritism, use of public assets for personal gain and fame, an overconfident or smug demeanor when interviewed, the conveyance I saw as a "let me tell you how great I am attitude"... wow, this apple didn't fall far from the tree.

Anonymous said...

Eric Morris @ 9:46: That Is Priceless! Right on, bro!

Anonymous said...

Who the hell came up with the number 756?

Downtown Indy said...

Isn't something like $35/hr the going rate for hiring off duty cops around town?

Had Enough Indy? said...

too bad they didn't loan the electric cars...

Thanks for my yearly dose of entertainment news !

Anonymous said...

The officer in question, Wilburn, has been a talking head for the PD about 7 out of the 9 years he's been on. The year of training and one year on the street resulted in 2 separate deaths. One was an in-custody arrest and the other where the and another officer shot to death an unarmed wino who'd broken into a home and was asleep in a basement. The wino happened to be black. Wilburn got a pass in both cases. If the officer had been white, or not protected like he apparently is, there would have been riots. #Blacklivesmatterunlessitsblackonblack

Anonymous said...

Link please on Chris Wilborn's cases