Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Max Havoc: Guam Come On?

"The governor is standing next to me and we're behind Carmen Electra and he's looking down her bustier and he says to me, 'Wow, look at that. That's Hollywood!'"
-- John F.S. Laing, producer of Max Havoc: Curse of the Dragon

Watching Max Havoc: Curse of the Dragon, at first I thought it might turn out to be a soft porn flick. But it didn't. If the Olsen Twins made a kickboxing movie, it might look like this. I read somewhere the Twins made their fortune on super low-budget films shot at various resort locations, where they would meet nice boys and have adventures. Max Havoc is pretty much like that, except that Max is a nice 30ish boy who has adventures and meets nice twin girls. In between kickboxing various unconvincing villains. It's all very PG-13. I was surprised to see Albert Pyun (Heatseeker, Mean Guns) listed as the director. He's no Hitchcock, but he's better than this.

Still, the trailer is lots of fun ...

But the real deal story of Max Havoc is that the island of Guam got a $800,000 lesson in how not to get started in the film business.

Governments often work with producers to have films shot locally, but the producer of this film actually got Guam to put up an $800K loan guarantee, which is unheard of. Guam's expectations: some short-term local employment, a first-run film showcasing the beautiful island, and a few quickie PSAs starring Carmen Elecrtra. Oh, and more films shot there in the future, by the same production company.

What they got:
  • $800,000 gone
  • No ownership in the resultant Direct-to-DVD, shot on video kickboxing movie
  • Lawyers fees, for their suit against the producer
  • Lawyers fees, for the producer's suit against them

From the Los Angeles Times:

Guam officials contend that Laing snookered them into putting up $800,000 to guarantee a bank loan on which he later defaulted. Laing counters that they broke their promises of financial support and caused his company to lose $1.5 million.

Territorial Sen. Ben Pangelinan splits the blame, accusing the filmmakers of peddling "the glitz of Hollywood" to star-struck officials who were all too eager to buy it.

"If somebody on Guam wanted to meet Carmen Electra, there are a lot cheaper ways than backing a film in which she had a three-minute part," said Pangelinan, a lonely voice of dissent when the plan was hatched three years ago.

Here's the whole L.A Times story. You will have to scroll down like the wind till you hit June 17, 2007. Scroll for it!

Meanwhile, the lawyering continues ...

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