locked until 02.08.10
Entry #1002
4:15 PM - January 10th, 2010...
I know not everyone can be a smart businessman, but I'm fairly certain I haven't seen one this nearsighted in my lifetime. Here's the unbiased truth, and thankfully I have 1001 entries as a testament to me trying desperately to weed out all of my bias when I tell a story.
As you may remember, I found out about using The Continent from Peter John Ross (actually one person - heh) a guy who was helping me load footage when my camera broke in Columbus. I called the manager, Ravi, and met with him the following evening to go over everything. He gave me a great rate, and we set up a time the following week for me to test everything. The film portion of the show was fine, but my father and I decided in order to do the live portion (me singing and playing keyboard) we would need to bring our own sound equipment. Kind of a pain, since filling a room that size meant bringing my father's BIG ASS speakers, but we just couldn't trust the wireless set-up the theater had. It would just mean some extra set-up time, but not really a big deal. The theater isn't being used except for rentals because the film projector doesn't work, so we weren't costing Ravi any money.
Personally, I was extremely excited about this theater. Hell, I wanted to work for the guy and help him advertise it. Since it was an isolated theater JUST for rentals? If he got in with the film community in Columbus, even the college film community, he could make a FORTUNE. The Continent is a dead area, but something like this could really work. I knew I'd be back in April to premiere the full movie, and PJR also had a film in April... it was nearly all profit for this guy, 'cause he gets the rental money AND the concessions, etc. for a theater that's dead anyway. I was pretty pumped.
We got there several hours early, to make sure everything was working right and it was fuh-reezing in the theater. Ravi explained that he had to really watch his pennies and couldn't turn on the heat until just before showtime (which was 7:30), but he assured me it would be warm by then. I knew he was giving me a great rate, and it wasn't endangering the equipment (the way a really hot day with no AC would) so it was totally cool. Finally got everything set up and working, took about 90 minutes, and then I just babysat all the equipment as my dad, brother and his friend went and got some food. I was far too anxious to eat. Throughout the set-up Ravi poked his head in to make sure everything was going good, and he turned on the heat right when he said he would - and the theater was comfortable by showtime. Perfect.
Everything went off without a hitch and when the show ended around 9:30, we all hung out and talked for a bit (had some cake as you remember from the video) and Ravi pulled me aside and handed me a NEW contract in which he had crossed out the previous amount, DOUBLED IT, and asked me to sign. I handed the paperwork back to him and said "what are you doing?". He said that we only agreed to rent the space for 2 hours, and we were there longer than 2 hours. An absolute fabrication, this was never an hourly thing, he knew the show itself was 2 hours, of course we would have to set-up and teardown since we were bringing all of our own equipment. And obviously, he let us in, checked in throughout the set-up -- and never said one word about it. All smiles throughout. I said I'd talk with him after everything was loaded, and when I came back it was more of the same. He had "done me a favor" with the price of the rental, etc. etc. He also made that clear the week before, and I appreciated the favor. He even asked me to NOT say the price he was renting the theater for me, when talking about it - and I understood. It was a "friend of Peter's" price, but you could tell he seemed a little aggrivated when I first signed the contract. But he printed it, he signed it, so I'm not sure what he had to be aggrivated about. He could've easily said a different price.
The most bizarre part of all of this, was that the snowstorm that hit 30 minutes before showtime, KILLED my attendees, knocking me from over 120 committed to about 40 people (nearly 10 of whom were comped since they helped set-up, etc.). So he knew I made no money off the thing. I've dealt with theater owners before that got angry when you make more money than they do - and they try to pull some shit, but never the opposite. So I told him I would not sign off on the new amount, I was offended he would act like everything was fine the entire time we set-up and tore down and then throw this at me. Nowhere in the original contract does it say ANYTHING about overages, etc. The contract is literally a word document as vague as could be. We even specifically talked about people hanging out afterwards and he was completely cool with it since the theater wasn't being used for anything else. There's just no other way to put it - he was scammin' me. So I told him if he charged anything more than we agreed on, I'd dispute it. In fact, I got that one on tape. LOL. You know me:
And as you can see, getting left behind because everyone thought I was riding with the OTHER person. Hahahaha. So funny to feel all badass for "telling off the manager" then walking out into the cold, completely alone, at the back of the theater. Good times.
Part of me thought he wouldn't have the balls to actually run my card at twice the amount without my signature, but he did. So I of course, disputed the charges and faxed the contract and a letter summarizing what happened to my credit card company, and I'm still waiting to see what happens. In the end however, the money is an asterik. I'm still just amazed at how remarkably poor this guy's business decisions are. The only rational explanation I can muster is the place is going out of business relatively soon, and the guy is grabbing every dime he can before it goes - 'cause he would've made FARRR more in the longrun had he not pulled this. 'Cause he not only soured my opinion of him, Peter John Ross is heavily involved in the film community in Columbus and you can kiss ALL of that business goodbye. And seriously, what he did is simply illegal. He crossed out the agreed upon amount, doubled it, and ran my credit card anyway. <shakes head>. Baffling.
Oh well, that's The Journey. I'll let ya know what happens next...
PS - how funny is Jess in the 2nd half of that video? She looks scared as hell. Love it. We got the shot though!
PPS - Happy 20th, Kenny. Jesus.