I was glad that I never discussed this matter with Tom and Sandra. They had been my friends since college, and even though I was feeling put-upon at the time and as if I had been forced to assume more than my share of the obligations of our business, it was only a few days after this letter that Tom broached the subject to me. He and Sandra had decided that any percentage ShadowHawk paid to him would go into the Lost Myths Ink account for our joint expenses. But that became of secondary importance, because shortly after we received the final, signed copy of our new contract with ShadowHawk, Anthony went ballistic again. This time his target was Scott Ferguson, who chose to withdraw the RIVER STREET project from ShadowHawk in order to continue working with Brian Eustace. He certainly had every right to do this – there was no written agreement in place regarding RIVER STREET with ShadowHawk. But Anthony Whelan didn’t see it that way; he believed he had a right to any script he wanted. His plan now became to separate us from Scott Ferguson, as he had from Brian Eustace. But we had been working with Scott a long time, and he had assisted us in becoming ready for the film industry.
On July 19th Anthony wrote this letter to Scott:
As requested, we have now cancelled the process of RIVER STREET through our company. However, you should be made aware that we were close to development with an investor regarding the project. Due to the terms of our cancellation, there will be a fee (one wonders what for???). Furthermore, should you wish us to return your scripts we would be grateful to receive the return postage. It is also our understanding that you are pulling this project in order to develop it with Realt Entertainment, and not as per your previous statement that ShadowHawk Films could not handle the project due to the large amount of work we are doing for Lost Myths Ink.
With this coming to light, the management has decided that you as our U.S. Business Manager are not performing for us or United Film Productions International. Therefore, we are discontinuing you from the position as of today (were these people really taught English as their first language?). We feel any such Manager should put all efforts to ensure a result and not part projects or information giving other parties the gain (again, huh???). In regards to Lost Myths Ink, you have been dismissed from project development. ShadowHawk Films will represent and produce all projects. Your only entitlement should be that of what you have already agreed with Ms. Hill and Ms. Brandenburg. Under the terms of this contract with Lost Myths Ink, we have grounds to do this. Therefore, we will contact you should a project you are attached to receive payment. Other than this no other business between our to (two) companies is necessary. We wish you the best for the future.
Kind Regards, Anthony Whelan
Managing Director, ShadowHawk Films
This was the beginning of our acrimonious relationship with ShadowHawk, as Anthony clearly believed he could keep us from communicating with a man who lived in the same state, within 30 miles of us, when ShadowHawk was 4,000 miles away. Scott responded to his letter thusly;
Sorry, But I did elect to pull the project because of my obligations under the original agreement with the owner of the project. And, the Lost Myths projects would have indeed impacted the performance of the other projects enough to warrant the pull-out. Those are the reasons. And yes, I have some planning to explore the RIVER STREET project with Brian.
Your message conveys that you had a development investor interested in this project – are you really serious with that, Anthony? You would have gone to the investor and returned to offer me an interim turn-around deal in order to keep the project on the table if you did have an interested investor – I would have tried that, at the minimum.
No, to my view the real issue here is that you are allowing the personnel (he might have meant personal here, not sure) conflicts you have with Brian to spill over into retaliatory actions against others driven by that emotional resentment – not very professional at all, Anthony.
I was seriously preparing to hit the ground running on the projects, so, you really lost on this, not me.
That was one of the best letters Scott ever wrote to Anthony; I believe he got to the core of the situation quite neatly. Of course Anthony and Cathal didn’t see it that way, and Scott wrote to me that same day about the potential problems caused by Anthony’s blow-up.
As you likely know from my message exchange with ShadowHawk, Anthony fired me as their U.S. Manager of Development over the RIVER STREET pull-out. I had considered he might do so, so no great surprise.
In any event, I am obligated to the four of us in all the Collaborations, and I fully intend to fulfill that obligation. However, Anthony banished me from any further communication with them. Well, ok but, what line of communication can we put in place to coordinate on my efforts on GO WEST, THE DANGER CLUB and POISON with you, Sandra and Frank without subjecting all of you to Anthony’s proclamation of ‘working with the enemy’. And, I represent and manage you on your projects – how will ShadowHawk accommodate that input now?
Anyway, in the face of my firing, these present new issues that we don’t want to blow-up on us and become problems.
Anthony’s take on the situation was, predictably, nothing like Scott’s or ours.
I have lost nothing in losing either RIVER STREET or yourself. You on the other hand have lost a lot of money. We had a very serious investor who was working with Cathal on a plan for RIVER STREET. Cathal was close to an agreement. However, you have removed the project and we have informed the investor of this. If you do not believe me, please speak with Debora, as Ms. Hill and myself had a conversation about this nearly two months ago. You lost, Scott, not me.
Anthony Whelan, Managing Director
Anthony and I did have a telephone conversation regarding their involvement with RIVER STREET, but since it didn’t involve Lost Myths Ink in any way, it was mostly a superficial telling about their investors, and their interest in the project. It would be another two years before we became involved in the development of RIVER STREET. But I had to agree with Scott that if there had really been a commitment from ShadowHawk’s European investors they wouldn’t have let RIVER STREET get away. Anthony was posturing after the milk was spilt, as was his habit.
Anthony’s response to losing another promising project was to once again expand his employee roster and give out more titles. Alyce received one on the 20th of July. He sent her this letter:
You are now our U.S. Business Manager. Congratulations. As the Business Manager you report and receive your information from Alan McNamara, Television and Motion Picture Group. As discussed, we can sk you to help develop contracts in the states for us. Your fee is ten percent of ShadowHawk’s transfer fee – e.g. 100,000 lbs is the transfer fee, and 10,000 are added for you. You’re also a part of the development group under Brian Tracy. Deb and the rest of the team are under this group also. In the development group you are a researcher. Any questions, please contact me.
Of course Amanda had no questions regarding this position, although she accepted it. None of us had any idea what Anthony was going to want from her, or from anyone – all his ideas were half-baked and about to fall, like an underdone souffle. It was then, during the summer of 2004, that we should have split with ShadowHawk. But we didn’t, because Frank Cmero was telling us weekly that our development money would arrive, and that kept us with those insane Irishmen much longer than it should have.
By this time we were living on the equity in my house. It therefore came as a shock to receive the following letter from Cathal Byrne on July 21st.
Hope all is well? I’m very busy these days between business and my wedding plans. Before I begin I would like to let you know that you are under no obligation. As you know, we produce three short films a year. For the good of advertisement and in order to build a name, we ask companies to sponsor a short film. At the moment we are waiting to hear from ‘Raynair’ and ‘Coca-Cola’ regarding sponsorship. I also plan to talk to entertainment stores ‘Xtra-Vision’ and ‘ChartBusters’. While we are capable of financing these films, we like to offer the advertisement. Therefore I am asking if Lost Myths Ink would like to sponsor one of these short films. The film will be shown in a cinema in Ireland and may be shown on national television. Should you sponsor, you receive as many copies as you like, plus the title of Executive Producer; also, your company presents the film. As I said, there is no obligation. It is simply an offer of which you can say yes or no to. Minimum sponsorship is 1,000 euro, and maximum asked for is 3,000 euro. Please let me know what you think.
Cathal Byrne, Chief Executive
This was some kind of a wake-up call for us; it pointed out that none of our colleagues in Ireland had any idea what was happening with our finances, in spite of the fact that we had told them numerous times how much we were counting on the development money for Go West. Because ShadowHawk Films was based and supported by a fortune left to Anthony Whelan by his grandfather, they didn’t need income as much as we did. And because they were a lot younger than we were and just starting out in their careers, they didn’t feel the lack as much, or the need to make progress as much as we did. We couldn’t wait while Anthony tried out his wings; ours were already fully fledged and only had so much time left on them.
In July of 2004, Anthony started to issue monthly newsletters. They didn’t contain much information that we didn’t already know, but it made them look good. According to the first newsletter, DEATH OF A SHINING STAR was in negotiation for financing with someone...we never found out who. The August newsletter was pretty much the same. That month it dawned on us that Frank Cmero was stalling about the development money; he’d had four months to produce it, but still all we had were excuses and strange developments. In August we agreed to do some side work for ShadowHawk, editing and rewriting an eight-part television series called ‘BOYZ’, for a one-time payment of 1600 u.s. dollars. We received a production order from Geraldine Whelan, with a finish date of August 25th and agreement of payment in check or bank transfer.
That series stunk. It needed a whole lot more than we could have done for it, but at least I can say that by the time we rewrote it and edited it, it was comprehensible, if not entertaining or in any way uplifting. We turned in the revised script on-time, and which point we were told that we could not be paid until the television station for which the series was supposedly written paid an advance on the series – we were, of course, never paid anything for this project or any of the others we worked on for ShadowHawk.
We were more than ready to end our waiting for Frank Cmero to get his development money. We had not only sunk everything we had into this stupid project and our alliance with ShadowHawk, Tom gave up his job to work with us, and I hired Amanda. Not that she wasn’t a great worker, but more and more she seemed to be working for Anthony rather than for me. Everything she did had to do in some way with our films and novels, naturally – and Anthony was a seemingly bottomless pit of need when it came to her services.
In October pulled another rabbit out of his hat, undoubtedly realizing we were about to dump him (again). I wrote to Anthony and Alan McNamara on October 24th to tell them of his new proposal.
As you know, Frank Cmero has indicated to us that there will be additional funding for production of his project and others, down the line. When we meet in Las Vegas in December, we will be giving him the expanded version of GO WEST, YOU IDIOT! (150 pages) and 100 pages of the novel.
In addition, we will present a proposal for three additional scripts which we feel will be in a position in 2005 to receive funding. We think the first two should be FRUIT OF THE POISON TREE and DEATH OF A SHINING STAR, and would like your input on what the third should be.
Please let us know your thoughts on this. When we meet, we will need you to bring reports on the scripts we will be presenting, so Frank and Milan can make an informed decision regarding funding.
Debora and the Lost Myths Ink team
p.s. Frank is in Germany now, so we should have news on the money transfer this week.
The Lost Myths Ink film conference was scheduled for the end of 2004 and into January of 2005, at the MonteLago Village Resort at Lake Los Vegas. I go into it in more detail in my chapter about GO WEST, YOU IDIOT! – the planning of it took over our lives for three or four months, and we lost even more money when it fell through.
I took on another commission for Anthony Whelan in October, a television pilot for a game show entitled “Murder Mystery Game Show”. It was a very good premise, and I edited the pilot and the three possible endings, and told him he could pay me $125.00 for the work, since it was a 30-minute pilot. Not even that minimal sum was ever realized.
Also in October Anthony did another shifting around and adding-to of titles, new divisions and more sand castles. We received this letter from him on October 26th.
ShadowHawk has started its’ Marketing Distribution under United Film Productions International. This includes ShadowHawk, Petkov Graphics and Lost Myths Ink. The purpose of this is to try and get/gain business for the areas we specialize in. Should any of you receive emails or phone calls/faxes from people looking for information or product/service of that which we provide, please refer them to the ShadowHawk Sales Department. While U.F.P.I. is a three-company operation managed by Peter Coffey, Debora Hill and myself, it is the agreement of all three that ShadowHawk manage the process of orders. Therefore, should you receive business through the advertisement of the marketing department, please follow this procedure. This is to ensure all records are kept right. If anyone has a question or idea regarding any of the above, please feel free to contact me. Thank you.
In November, the Las Vegas plan was still on, and on the third I sent a letter to all the parties involved regarding our ongoing plans.
Let us discuss our presentation to Frank and Milan while in Las Vegas. The first couple of meetings will probably be devoted to GO WEST, YOU IDIOT! The enlarged script will be ready, and at least 100 pages of the novel. Frank will of course want to read them and make changes before they will be ready for release.
How shall we present the other scripts? I can bring write-ups of the stories, and for SHINING STAR I will bring the costume sketches and other material I have. For POISON I can bring the documentary articles we have, including the one I wrote for Neighborhood America.
What can you put together at your end? Will you be able to present possible investors, and budgeting thusfar? Any other suggestions as to what we will need?
Also – have you checked into visas at your end? I understand they take longer to process for the states than they used to.
Debora and the Lost Myths Ink team
and a German producer named Andreas Gruenberg indicated that he wanted to become one of our producers. On November 23rd Alan McNamara wrote to him about the plans for our films.
In reference to your recent email to Anthony Whelan regarding your interest in co-production, please find a presentation of synopses attached. This presentation includes six titles we feel may be of interest to you, with aspects that would appeal to a European audience, and great potential for a successful international marketing strategy.
At the moment MURDER BY ECSTASY, THE CHOCOLATE SPY and PARADISE LOST do not have any sort of financial agreement, although possibilities are being reviewed. DEATH OF A SHINING STAR has a number of investors who have expressed an interest. These investors are interested in the casting we may be able to attach to the script. Anthony Whelan and I are investigating that opportunity. We are planning to send THE IMPOSTERS to MTV Productions, as it has a musical story-line we believe they may like. I will keep you updated on this.
Finally, we have GO WEST, YOU IDIOT! This is one of our bigger projects. Frank Cmero, our corporate finance director, has raised seven hundred and fifty thousand U.S. dollars ($750,000) with further amounts to be added within the next two years, perhaps for GO WEST, or maybe some other projects. The initial money is being used to develop both the script and an upcoming novel of the same title.
UFPI/Lost Myths Ink are holding a business conference in Las Vegas over the New Year. The main purpose of this conference is to discuss the development of GO WEST, YOU IDIOT! And the possible financing of our other projects. If you are interested in pursuing any of the above titles, or require any further information, please contact me. Thank you for your time and interest in United Film Productions International.
Alan McNamara, General Manager/Producer
The reason we didn’t go to Las Vegas and lost about $2,500 in nonrefundable deposits was undoubtedly due to Frank Cmero and his complete inability to bring whatever was going on his world to completion. That last six weeks of the year were a nightmare; recriminations and disappointment for everyone, but strangely enough it was Amanda who was the most bitter over the loss of the Las Vegas conference. She had plans for herself and Anthony Whelan, a spectacular pewter raw-silk evening gown with a neckline that plunged to the navel in the front (and would definitely require double-stick tape for her magnificent bosom) and reservations for the Ritz-Carlton New Year’s Eve Big Band Ball.
That New Year’s would have been one of the most spectacular in years; it would have rivaled those of my youth, when I was Amanda’s age and every year involved evening gowns, big hotels or parties in lofts. Amanda’s New Year’s Eve experiences had been mostly dismal, and at 22 she deserved a whole lot more.
On New Year’s Eve we had reservations at the Ritz-Carlton spa, then high tea, and finally that evening, the ball. The following day we were scheduled for New Year’s Day brunch at The Bellagio, then a visit to the art galleries of Las Vegas – or at least a couple of them. For a gambling city, Las Vegas has a huge amount of fine art on display.
Amanda wasn’t the only one with fabulous new clothes for that trip. The bronze stretch-satin evening gown I made myself from a vintage cocktail dress pattern from 1961 is still hanging in plastic in my attic, waiting for another big ball to come along. Sandra hasn’t worn her two-piece black satin embroidered with white vines black skirt and bodice yet, either...hopefully that big event will come along soon.
After the demise of the Las Vegas conference, Frank started back-pedaling as quickly as possible, but he wouldn’t let go. On the 21st of December Anthony wrote to tell him that if he was to keep his investors interested in the project, the development money would have to be received by the end of February, 2005.
Thank you for coming back to me regarding GO WEST, YOU IDIOT!. While I completely understand the situation, there are and always will be issues that need to be addressed on both ends. In regards to the delays in the funding process, I have discussed the matter with Cathal Byrne, the Chief Executive for Financial Management and Alan McNamara, the General Manager/Producer for Television & Motion Picture Production and Development. In order to keep the interested investors involved, we must keep them updated on funds available. All conversation regarding GO WEST has included the development funds, and therefore we need to have somewhat of a possible month if not date for release of funds, in order to keep talks going.
On the other hand, Lost Myths Ink has invested a great deal of time and money to ensure full and from my viewpoint outstanding support in moving not just GO WEST but all projects forward. The first quarter of 2005 would require an amount of $40,000 payable to Debora Hill and her team. Please come back to me a.s.a.p. as this matter is top priority. Thank you for your time and help with this matter. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Regards, Anthony Whelan, Managing Director
He had to write again on the 29th, and that day Frank responded with this strange explanation:
The banks start working again from mid-January, so give me time until the end of February. If there are further delays and the funds are not received until the end of February, I will look for other options. I have a couple of people in mind I would like to talk to. I will update you as soon as I hear something from Singapore or Germany respectively.
I wrote back to Anthony the same day. I didn’t believe in anything Frank was telling us anymore, but I didn’t know how to resolve the situation. So I tried to address the issue, and straighten out some of what was going on as well.
Banks that don’t work during the first two weeks of January? Does that sound right to you? We have enough funds to operate through the end of January – that is absolutely the end. Frank is wiggling again; he isn’t even giving you a definite on the end of February. Also, he needs to know, perhaps in stronger language, that you need the finished script of GO WEST and it cannot be released until we receive at least interim funds. He hasn’t even addressed the issue of interim funds, which he promised to do in his last communication to you. In that letter he said, “Can you please let me know what’s the minimum amount we need for the development?’
Now it looks as if he’s talking about the possibility of never receiving money that he said was arranged for last summer. I would like you to telephone him, or for Cathal to do so, and straighten this out – as you know, we will need a minimum of $15,000 for one month of delay, if that is what we’re looking at.
When you communicate with Frank, get a date for when he is next meeting with the funding people – he did give us the name of the investor. It is Robert Fischer, and his so n runs the Singapore office – his name is Rafi Muhammad. That’s all we know...perhaps you can get more.
Debora and the Lost Myths Ink team
That was how 2004 ended. And 2005? It didn’t exactly start on an upbeat.