Realism is the mark of a good crime film, since recreating the tension between criminals and cops on the big screen is a challenge that only the most skilled filmmakers can overcome. This, however, proved to be detrimental to an independent movie that was shooting in Crawfordsville, Indiana when local authorities mistook one of the movie's actors – who portrays a gun-wielding bank robber – for the real thing.
When Movie Bank Robbing Became Too Real
Indiana police recently responded to a call claiming that an armed robbery was going on in Crawfordsville's Backstep Brewery. Upon arriving on the scene, the cops saw a man wearing a ski mask exit the bar while holding a firearm - visually similar to the thieves in Micheal Mann's critically acclaimed heist drama, Heat. Indiana police then told the masked man to drop the gun, but he instead turned around – understandably alarming the authorities. They then fired a warning shot, to which the masked man responded by quickly dropping his weapon and removing his mask.
[The masked man] was the only person that backed out, the only one that came out and he was in a ski mask and holding a weapon. Whether it’s real or not, you don’t know that at the time... When you’re told to do something, the one thing you don’t do is turn towards police while you’re holding a gun.
What the policemen didn't know was that the supposed robber was actually an actor named Jim Duff, who plays an armed thief in the independent movie he was working on. After the warning shot was fired, Duff quickly dropped his prop while yelling "It's a movie!"
"As I came out of the brewery and saw the officers, I quickly complied and threw off the mask and dropped the gun. The next thing I know I heard a gun shot and something buzz by my head."
While no one was injured, Duff was still brought into custody, where his side of the story awaited authentication. After confirming that he was indeed an actor who was playing a part in an armed robbery scene, he was released.
As it turns out, Montgomery County Movies (MCM) failed to notify local authorities about their latest production's shoot. There were no signs outside the brewery indicating that a shoot was going on, nor were there cameras outside the set, as the scenes being filmed all took place indoors.
The bad part is all the cameras and everything were inside the bar. So there was nothing outside telling people that this was a film set.
MCM owner Philip Demoret, however, has stated that he and his crew were given full permission to shoot at the brewery. The production company has issued a statement regarding the matter, promising to coordinate with authorities to make sure that a similar incident doesn't happen in the near future. They acknowledged their mistake and thanked the Indiana police department for its quick response to a concerned citizen's call.
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