Friday, January 01, 2016

City Produces More Records For "Car 86"

"Car 86" cast members from left to right, Reese Mishler, Sarah Davenport and Paul Woolfolk (Facebook Photo)
Advance Indiana exclusively told you in November about substantial IMPD resources and personnel being made available to the makers of "Car 86," a low-budget film written by former Mayor Greg Ballard's son, Greg Ballard, Jr. An initial public records request made by Advance Indiana generated just a handful of e-mails and an 8-page contract that Car 86, LLC signed with IMPD governing its use of IMPD personnel, vehicles and equipment and its trademarks and images for the movie. This week, the City's Public Access Counselor generated dozens of more e-mails and documents that were generated after the initial response to our request was made in late November.

One of the oddities Advance Indiana uncovered was the fact that IMPD had not signed a contract with the filmmakers until October 30, 2015, days after the film crew arrived in town to begin filming the movie. The newly-discovered documents indicate that any formalities followed by city officials to ensure the city's dealings with Mayor Ballard's son's film-making company were undertaken as an after thought as opposed to following a transparent, arms-length transaction intended to avoid running afoul of the state's conflict of interest and official misconduct laws. While no documents were produced showing the direct involvement of Mayor Ballard's office, allusions were made by the persons directly involved in the filming of the movie that left no doubt they were acting at the direction of the Mayor's Office, and that the Mayor expected IMPD to fully cooperate in any way possible for the filming of his son's movie.

Under the terms of the 8-page contract IMPD entered into with the film-maker, 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. Remarkably, the contract compensated IMPD a mere $756 for the unprecedented assistance it provided to the private filmmaker while it filmed the movie in Indianapolis.

Advance Indiana previously discussed the prominent role IMPD's Public Information Officer Christopher Wilburn played in the movie in his role as "Marcus Wilder." Wilburn described his character in the movie during recent 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 [sic] professional." "There’s a cocky arrogance about his personality, which I hope will play on camera," said Wilburn. The first hint of Wilburn's involvement in the movie is found in a September 9, 2015 e-mail sent by the young Ballard to Officer Wilburn. "Screenplay attached, and our investors' business plan (just to get a sense of how we're approaching this," Ballard wrote. "Let me know what day works best for you--September 12, 13, or 14th--to get together."

The Public Access Counselor, April Schultheis, had copies of the screenplay and the business plan that Ballard included as e-mail attachments to his September 9 e-mail to Wilburn, which she has initially determined should be withheld due to confidentiality/copyright concerns. Advance Indiana has not pressed for the release of those documents, although we were allowed to see Daily Crew sheets for the approximately ten days of filming, which described scene locations, cast members involved in the scenes, props needed for each scene and brief summaries of the scenes. It's not clear from the e-mails and other documents Advance Indiana received that anyone reviewed the screenplay for content on behalf of IMPD, which was one of the concerns raised in our earlier report. Ballard's September 9 e-mail was also the earliest of any communication documented between the filmmakers and IMPD or other city officials.

E-mails Advance Indiana earlier obtained from IPS showed Ballard had communicated at least as early as June 9 with Indy Downtown, Inc.'s Bob Schultz to discuss potential sites for filming the movie in the city, including the Coca-Cola Building on Mass Avenue owned by IPS. Interestingly, within a month of the wrap on filming "Car 86," Mayor Ballard announced a new initiative  undertaken by Visit Indy with $300,000 in new funding, including at least $100,000 he found somewhere in the 2014 city budget despite the fact that he repeatedly vetoed and blocked efforts earlier in the year by the City-County Council to provide millions more in funding for badly-needed equipment needs for IMPD. Remarkably, neither Mayor Ballard nor Visit Indy officials made any reference to the very visible filming of his son's movie in the city not more than a month earlier. Whether any of the $300,000 in funding for the Film Indy initiative wound up in the hands of the son's film-making company is unclear. Regardless, it's quite apparent the City indirectly under-wrote costs the filmmaker would have ordinarily been responsible for paying had city resources not been made available essentially free-of-charge.

Among the newly-obtained e-mails Advance Indiana received in response to the original public records request made two months ago, was an October 20, 2015 e-mail from Greg Ballard, Jr. to Justin Kormann, the movie's producer, discussing the agenda for a meeting with Officer Wilburn. On the agenda were 13 listed items, including: vans, police cars, prop guns, street closures, Alisha, other actors, communications building usage, dispatcher role, ammunition, ammunition belt, helicopter, body cams and balloon light. In addition to being a paid cast member and the department's liaison to the film crew, the film crew relied upon Wilburn for other duties as well, such as procuring props for scenes. In one e-mail from a crew member to Wilburn, he is asked: "Can you make sure we have shot gun shells and ammo belt for tomorrow? . . . They will be just in the trunk for one scene (then again for the final showdown)." The documents indicate other public facilities were used for the filming of the movie, in addition to the IPS Coca-Cola Building on Mass Avenue, including Lucas Oil Stadium, the old IFD fire station at 515 N. New Jersey, IMPD's communications center and district command offices.

An e-mail sent to Commander Taylor by Officer Wilburn confirmed his request to allow the movie crew to use the department's PAL vans. Why the movie company wouldn't just lease vans it needed for the film crew while it was in town filming is anyone's guess. E-mails exchanged that same day between Officer Wilburn and Lt. McClary confirmed the department would be providing the film crew two IMPD 2015 marked Ford Taurus cruisers and 2 vans to transport props and people. Chief Hite, Lt. Richard Riddle, Public Safety Director David Wantz and Deputy Corporation Counsel Ted Nolting were copied on the e-mail communications between Lt. McClary and Officer Wilburn. According to one e-mail, Officer Wilburn waited until October 21 to sign his time cards and submit paperwork to his boss for permission to work on the movie. He accepted responsibility for the care of the police vehicles used to film the movie.

When IMPD signed a contract with Car 86, LLC, one of the focuses of the contract was to ensure that the filmmaker would provide its own insurance, worker's comp and other liability insurance necessary to hold the department harmless from any liabilities that might arise during the shooting of the film. Yet on October 21, 2015, nearly ten days before the filmmaker signed a formal contract with IMPD, the filmmaker's producer, Justin Kornmann, completed an "Employer Liability Statement" on behalf regarding the employment of police officers by the filmmaker. On that form, Kornmann replied "no" to questions asking if it would be providing worker's compensation coverage to the officers it hired for use in the film or salary compensation in the event of long-term injury, which was in conflict with the contract the filmmaker later signed requiring it to have worker's compensation coverage.

As Advance Indiana previously reported, the film company was only formed on August 3, 2015 in the state of California, listing 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. Typically, government contracts cannot be entered into with businesses unless they certify they are registered with the Secretary of State to do business in the state.

The latest documents obtained by Advance Indiana also revealed the identities of other officers who had roles in the movie, including Sgt. Ty Van Wagner and Officers Pamela Lee, Jeffrey Stagg, Andrew Hashley and a probationary police officer in her first year on the job, Alisha Bernhardt. Van Wagner was an unsuccessful Republican candidate for Hendricks Co. Sheriff in 2014. Officer Lee and her spouse, Candace Batten-Lee, sued Gov. Mike Pence in 2014 to force the state of Indiana to recognize her same-sex marriage. I don't suppose that had anything to do with her being offered a role in the movie. An October 21, 2015 e-mail from Kornmann described their roles. "Your name is now actually, "Colfax," instead of "Whitfield," Kornmann tells Officer Hashley. "Jeff Stagg you will be our officer we see at the beginning of the movie who walks Brandie into the drunk tank." Kornmann continued, "Ty and Pam, you will be Mariano and Thompson,"

An Inter-Department Communication dated October 21, 2015 sent by Officer Bernhardt to Sgt. Scott Rodriguez indicated that a department e-mail had been sent a month earlier "asking officers to respond if they would like to audition for a move that was going to be filmed here in Indianapolis." The department e-mail sent in September was not among those documents produced to Advance Indiana. "I responded, auditioned and just recently found out that I got a part in that movie which was written by Mayor Greg Ballard's son," Bernhardt wrote. "After speaking with one of the crew members of the movie, I was made aware that this is going to be a very low paid gig," she continued.

Bernhardt had to seek permission to accept the temporary off duty employment since department rules states as she wrote "that officers on their probationary year are not permitted to work off duty employment, but I am asking permission for this original opportunity." Bernhardt explained that she believed the movie presented "a great marketing tool for our department and that my part in it will help to show the community that there is more to the officers of IMPD than just the uniform." It was not until October 27 that someone formally granted Officer Bernhardt permission to perform off duty work on the movie in violation of the department's general order prohibiting probationary officers from performing off duty employment. An e-mail sent by Officer Wilburn to Bernhardt stated that Chief Hite had given her permission to work on the movie from October 29-November 9, 2015 only.

In a separate Inter-Department Communication also dated October 21, 2015, Officer Wilburn wrote to Sgt. Kendale Adams about the movie and the role he would be playing in it. "I was recently contacted by the Office of the Mayor to assist a movie crew scheduled to film here in Indianapolis," Wilburn wrote. There were no communications produced by the Public Access Counselor showing any communications from anyone in the mayor's office to Officer Wilburn or anyone else regarding the making of "Car 86." Wilburn explained that the filming had started on October 19 and would continue until November 9. "The shooting involves IMPD police vehicles, IMPD uniforms and some roll call facilities," Wilburn said. "Lt. Robert McClary has requested utilization from you prior to the release of the IMPD vehicles. Additionally, I spoke with Commander Randal Taylor who has authorized the use of the PAL vans during the production." This is the first communication in which Wilburn informs the department of his role. "Additionally, I was offered the role of Marcus in the film," Wilburn said. "The role is that of the antagonist during this science fiction thriller. I am being compensated for the role. My presence in the movie is strictly showcasing the IMPD and the City of Indianapolis." Wilburn concluded, "Again, I ask for a detail from October 19th-November 9th so I may assist with logistical planning/execution and to assist with the character Marcus."

So it appears Officer Wilburn never sought formal permission to take time off to film the movie and assist with its production until two days into the filming. Wilburn, despite portraying the role of an IMPD officer in the movie, describes his character as a protagonist. Notes from the Daily Crew Call sheets describing the scenes suggests he goes rogue at some point during the movie after the gang, the three lead characters in the movie, decide to go on a ride-along with him. Spoiler alert. Wilburn's character, Marcus, gets shot and killed by one of the lead characters in the end if that's any saving. It remains to be seen how IMPD's image is overall portrayed in the film.

In Advance Indiana's earlier report, e-mails exchanged between the film crew, Officer Wilburn and the Department of Code Enforcement showed that the film crew had failed to obtain the right-of-way permits needed to close off several city streets during the filming of the movie. A member of the film crew waited until late on a Friday to obtain a right-of-way permit to close off streets around Lucas Oil Stadium for filming. On November 2 at 9:53 a.m., Officer Wilburn e-mailed a Code Enforcement staff member the following week 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."

With respect to the vehicles used by the filmmakers, the documents reveal just one mishap during the filming. According to what is reported in an e-mail dated November 11, 2015 from Lt. McClary to Rhonda Reynolds, Officer Wilburn had requested a supervisor on the scene of the filming to one of the police cars. "When I arrived on the scene I learned that police vehicle 15-0598 was being used in a movie production which was approved by the Mayor's Office," Lt. McClary wrote. "The front windshield of this vehicle had been damaged while doing a stunt. The movie production personnel wanted to pay out of their funds to have the window repaired immediately, so that they could continue with production." Lt. McClary went on to explain that he gave the crew permission to repair the IMPD car at their own expense, which he said was $256.00.

Several private property owners in the Indianapolis area made their property available to the filmmaker. A home at 4936 N. Meridian Street owned by Robert and Jennifer Sloan was used in one scene. Two other homes, one on the north side and one in Speedway, were used, as was a Zionsville home owned by Elisa Whitaker. Pam's Pit Stop Liquors in Speedway was used to film another scene. A final shoot-out scene takes place at Peaper Bros. Farm on South Bluff Road.

One evening near the end of the filming, Ice Miller partner Melissa Proffitt Reese and her husband, Tom Schmidt, hosted a social gathering for the entire crew at their estate on Dean Road on the city's north side. In an e-mail to his "LA friends" Greg Ballard, Jr, wrote, "So you guys don't have to spend all your time in the hotel tomorrow night, someone was kind enough to host a little cocktail get-together box social shindig for us tomorrow in their gigantic estate just for us to unwind with beer and wine." Proffitt Reese accompanied Mayor Ballard and his wife on virtually every junket he took outside the country during his two terms as Indianapolis mayor. Her law firm was awarded millions of dollars in no-bid legal contracts by his administration. The film crew held its wrap party following the conclusion of filming at Sun King Brewery.

The Indianapolis news media has shown no interest in learning whether city resources were improperly used to aid Mayor Ballard's son in the filming of this movie. Local news reports throughout his two terms in office have ignored multiple transgressions he committed while in office, including some that clearly crossed legal boundaries, and a number of which cost Indianapolis taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Today's news coverage of his last day in office was no different. Multiple media reports talked about Ballard performing a same-sex wedding ceremony as one of his last official acts, and, no, it wasn't his son's wedding.


Anonymous said...

Indy local air and print media haven't the brains, talent, nor inclination to work as diligently as do you, Gary, to provide Hoosiers with the truth.

Your latest news report is another sad commentary on the Circle City ex-mayor's malfeasance in office. "Nepotism" is another dishonor we can hang on the Ballard's thick neck.

To delude oneself that fake Republican ex-mayor Greg Ballard's performance at officiating a same-sex marriage was anything but a grand stand ploy for social relevance for a planned future political run is to willingly suspend disbelief.

What are the City County Councilors intentions regarding this blatant nepotism and the dubious adherence to law and government ethics?

Or has common sense prevailed and the Indianapolis City County Council is at last disbanded due to lack of potent political will (other than to vote itself pay raises)?

Anonymous said...

Ballard didn't give a damn about gay rights until he found out his only son was gay. Why doesn't he talk about his gay son if he feels so strongly about the issue now?

Anonymous said...

Is it true Visit Indy picked up the cost of the film crew's hotel and food tab?

Anonymous said...

This whole project smells. It would be original to request an injunction on the film until the tax payers are made whole, reimbursed for all costs.

Dear God man this is worse than Lake County.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Anon. 8:07, I strongly suspect Visit Indy paid at least some of the costs, although I don't have actual proof of it.

Anonymous said...

Just a point of clarification - Bob Schultz works for Downtown Indy. Although he used to work for the ICVA years ago.

Anonymous said...

People like Ballard are nothing more than pirates. Like pirates, they take whatever they want without regard to those they take from. One hopes that there is karmic retribution waiting for our former mayor (and for that matter our new mayor) and all the little Hoosier wannabes who enable them. One wonders what these people will do when the well runs dry, as it inevitably will.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:44 asks: What are the City County Councilors intentions regarding this blatant nepotism and the dubious adherence to law and government ethics?

LOL. That's all. Just LOL.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Thanks for the correction, anon. 2:57.

Anonymous said...

How is IMPD's image helped by having one of its cops play a rogue cop in a movie who winds up getting shot and killed? Am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

That same cop, 11:30, shot and killed an unarmed wino a few years ago. The fact that this "cop" and the victim shared the same pigmentation undoubtedly had much to do with media choosing not to sensationalize the incident, so therefore the black community had no righteous anger to be aware of.

As for Ballard, I think he'll have a long-overdue awakening, when he seeks assistance from those he helped enrich, and they absolutely ignore his ass.

Anonymous said...

The "unarmed wino" was a burglar who had broken into a home that had a lot of guns and ammunition in it. He was found hiding in the basement under a pile of clothing. He refused to show his hands and when the officers uncovered him, he quickly reached for his waistband. Can't blame the officers for doing what they did.

Anonymous said...

Facts are irrelevant, 10:24.
If Wilburn was Caucasian, the brothers in this city would be rioting, egged on by the chicanerous media who creates that feeding frenzy. Deny That if you will.

Wilbur also was involved in an in-custody death right before Ballard was elected his 1st term. He spent a little over a year employed before going inside permanently except for a brief hiccup, when he along with other REMF positions were spewed back onto the street, which shortly led to a death that could have been prevented with SWAT, if your situation is as you described, "house with guns and ammo" and a non responsive to commands".

But no. This latest fuckery on Wilburns fault was buried..again..and he was put back inside to become one of the public faces of IMPD, apparently one who had carte blanche to misappropriate taxpayer monies and resources.

Gary, I think Wilburn is one who should be investigated. Poor excuse for a street cop yet takes a salary for one, and acted as some sort of black Teflon cut out for Ballards son to give thievery a cloak of legitimacy.

He sure can sang, tho!