A scourge of hellish vanity film production-destruction descended on our fair city a couple of years ago. Enter and sign-in, please: Mark David Ross, dba Mpressive Films.
I was, admittedly, suckered in. After 26 years of production mixing, I thought I’d learned to spot the occasional con-artist. I’ve also learned to be wary of last minute, day-before production calls. But somehow, as I was in the midst of a separate, 70-day job that kept pushing its start date, I failed to spot these beggars among thieves: A con-artist, represented by a bench-warmer producer, supposedly referred to me by a friend, for a last-minute, day-before call, who BEGGED me to take the job, calling me back even after I first turned it down. The producer was Franklin Delano Bryant.
Bryant seems to be perpetually pitching low-budget projects, or shooting wedding video, or real estate video listings on a Canon 5D. Virtually everybody I’ve asked in the DFW film production crew base has never heard of him, or his internet placeholder Gibraltar Pacific Productions.
Well, as most normal folks tend to chalk these things up to bad Karma or whatever, I pursued the pair in court, if nothing else, just to see what would happen next. As a sole-provider of a family of 4, I admittedly get a little hot-under-the-collar when I’m not paid for a completed gig.
True story: about 20 years ago, a producer was about a year late in paying our crew. On an impulse, I took a mechanics lien of sorts, using his camera as collateral. This produced terrific results. I was immediately escorted by his accountant to the nearest ATM. At the time, little did I (or he) know, that I was committing a felony. Ah, the impertinence of youth!
I easily obtained a judgment on both Del and Ross in small claims court, to the tune of about $2500, (including court and process server costs, and a 5% per- year increase). Of course, a judgment doesn’t mean you should expect to be paid. But, there are various remedies to be pursued: writs of execution and garnishment, liberal use of collection agencies, credit reporting on the debtor, and generally being a pain-in-the-ass to the poor fellows, which I like to do between gigs, or whenever I feel like it. Like now, for instance.
Ross was particularly hard to find, as he does his fly-by-night act pretty well. The last judgment I found on him, for over $10000, shows that he uses at least four home addresses.
He has over 30 dba’s in Dallas county, and even uses his 23 year-old son (facebook link) as a signee on some of them. Since he did this with Mpressive Films, I had to sue his son, as much as I would have liked to leave the poor boy out of the picture.
Delano Bryant was very easy to find, as this man, in his 50’s, still lived at home with his Mom & Dad. I served a writ of execution on him at the house, (which really pissed off his 84 year old Dad- they share the same name. It turned out that Del has no real assets in his own name. Despite the house having 3 or 4 vehicles and a Harley and a pimped-out pickup truck, they were all owned in title by his parents or his siblings. He told the Constable that he was unemployed, and had no personal assets of any kind. But his family is willing to tote-the-note on his shiny truck and motorcycle. Hard times, Del? Not great marriage material.
Anyway the story is not nearly over, as I have several more surprises for this pair of malcontents. My real work as a sound mixer keeps me a little too busy to turn the screws on these two on a regular basis. But, a judgment lasts 10 years in Texas, and is renewable. Maybe I’ll take it up as my hobby when I retire.
We eventually found Ross living with his son and a momfriend (as opposed to a girlfriend) in a hovel, nestled in a sketchy south Dallas neighborhood. It’s actually not his Official Address; for that, he uses his real Mom’s house. Notice a pattern?
This was kind of funny, since he is fond of telling folks he lives in affluent Highland Park, Texas. Like he does here on the Stage 32 website:
Anyway, as Ross is now easily found, It’s hard not to pay the guy a visit now and then. David calls the police pretty quickly when confronted. He also tends to spin some tall tales when backed into a corner. So after my visit a couple of months ago, and David’s inevitable 911 call, I couldn’t help but create a little mash-up video of my visit and the 911 call. So here it is. Enjoy, and look for the next episode, coming whenever I feel like it! Of course, they could just pay the bill, and I’ll hit the delete key. But I think David and Del must be gluttons for punishment.