Scam-Baiting!

I recently did some scam-baiting. It’s basically when you fuck with a scammer. I’ve been looking for a new house to rent. I found one on Craigslist. It was the right price, the right size, but it seemed too good to be true. Still, I emailed the guy and got a response. I did a bit of research on the house and found out that it was actually for rent, albeit at about $1000 more than his advertised price. So… here’s how it went down…

From Me

Hi, I’m interested in this rental for myself and two colleagues. I’m also curious what the additional costs are (deposit, cleaning fee, etc).

Please contact me by email or phone/text.
Thank you,
Ryan Cloutier
From McBale
Thank you very much for your interest in renting my house. It is located at 3182 NE 72nd Ave, Portland, OR 97213, 3 bedrooms and 2 Baths home. Bathrooms with laundry includes washer and dryer, Water, Gas, internet and cable are both provided for at no cost to the tenant. 
 
The house is ready to move in home, so we are seeking for neat, decent, responsible and easygoing Individuals to occupy the house. The house belong to myself and my wife ( Mr & Mrs McBale ) and we are renting the house out by ourselves to anyone who is interested, We just relocated to Maryland to complete my late parents house and we are not planning to return anytime soon. We are very loving Family and i assure you will enjoy staying in our house with lots of comfort.
 
Rent: $1300 per Month
Security Deposit: $600 It will be returned back to you whenever you intend to move out.
Minimum Stay: As long as you wish
 
Hope to read from you soon if you are interested in renting the house, so we can move on to the next procedures.
Regards
Joseph McBale
From Me
Yes.. I am quite interested. What are the next steps??
Ryan
From McBale
Thanks for your response, you can only drive or walk by the location of the house for a view, since we can’t do a showing as a result of our absence, but the keys will be release as soon as you sign the lease agreement and pay the move in cost.
 Every issues that arises will be sort out from the monthly rent. you can come up with the security deposit as a commitment fee, depending on how soon your total move in cost will be ready, but i will advise you to pay the total move in cost, so we can send down the receipt and other necessary documents for you to pick up along with the keys,i believe this will be the best option, and also to avoid renting out the home to another person because we have a lots of applicant with same interest in renting the house. I hate being disappointed holding house for somebody without any commitment payment due to past experience with intending tenants and legal advice from my lawyer. if you are serious about renting the property you are advised to fill the RENTAL APPLICATION FORM below for effective correspondence.
 I will be looking to receive the information’s,  so i can forward it down to our lawyer to prepare your LEGAL LEASE TENANCY AGREEMENT.
 RENTAL APPLICATION FORM
 FIRST NAME: __________________
 MIDDLE NAME: __________________
 LAST NAME: __________________
 PROFESSION: ________________
 PHONE______________________
 AGE_____
 YOU HAVE A PET?__________________________ _ _
 DO YOU HAVE A CAR?__________________________ _ _
 OCCUPATION____________________ ________
 PRESENT ADDRESS: ___________________________
 WHY ARE YOU LEAVING?______________________ _____________________________
 HOW LONG DO YOU INTEND STAYING? ____________
 WHEN DO YOU INTEND MOVING IN? ______________
 HOW SOON IS YOUR MOVE IN COST READY? ___________________________
 REFERENCE ___________________________
 I will Like you to get back to me as soon as possible so that we can proceed on how you can get the house booked down for you. if you really want to rent/secure the house, we will reserve it for you until your move in date.
 Hope to read from you again soon
From Me
Here is the required information. Please hold for me. Thanks.
RENTAL APPLICATION FORM
 FIRST NAME:  Matthew
 MIDDLE NAME: Charles
 LAST NAME: Boulders
 PROFESSION: Accountant
 PHONE: 503-533-4002
 AGE 35
 YOU HAVE A PET? no
 DO YOU HAVE A CAR? yes
 OCCUPATION Accountant
 PRESENT ADDRESS: 9202 SE Foster Rd Portland
 WHY ARE YOU LEAVING? Landlady selling
 HOW LONG DO YOU INTEND STAYING?2 years min
 WHEN DO YOU INTEND MOVING IN? 2/15/15
 HOW SOON IS YOUR MOVE IN COST READY? now
 REFERENCE Brett Connoly 503-240-1019
From McBale
Thanks for the information, your approval has been granted by me and my wife as the new occupant of our home.  we have forwarded your details to our lawyer to prepare the legal lease agreement form, i will get back to you with the scan copy of the lease along with the payment details where the move in cost will be sent to. So we can send down the details to pick up the keys immediately we confirm the payment.
Have a nice day.
I have attached your lease agreement, Pls print it out and sign as the new occupant of the house, email me a copy and keep a copy to yourself. Pls text me the address were you want me to send the keys to at 410 996 4130. I want you to make payment today so that i can send the keys immdiately.
Below is my secretary details where the move in cost will be sent to via Western Union
(You are advise to walk or drive down to a nearby Western Union Store or wall-mart, Grocery store )
Receiver’s Name : Antwoine Demetrius Boyd
Address : 3601 Parkview Ave
City : Baltimore
State : MD
Zip Code : 21207
Country : United States
Get back to me immediately you are done with the Western Union, and also email me with DETAILS SUCH AS :
SENDER NAME
ADDRESS
CITY
POSTCODE
AMOUNT
MTCN
Now, at this point, he has sent a somewhat legitimate-looking lease agreement, save for the ridiculous logo and photo of his “lawyer” at the top, signed and approved by him. I decide to keep playing along… I enlist the help of my friend Montetré to play my attorney.

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 1.10.03 PM

From Me
Joseph,
I’ve forwarded this lease agreement to my attorney as well as your information. I also wrote him a check for $1900, which will be placed into an escrow account. Rest assured this money is safe and intended for you. My attorney will contact you with an address in which to send the keys, once received, he will release the funds to you from escrow. I assume you will be okay with this arrangement since it protects us both. I’m excited to move into my beautiful new home!
-Matt C Boulders.
From McBale
Thank you for your email. I can only recieve via western union or money transfer and i will be sending the keys once i confirm payment
From Me
Oh, no problem. I’ll advise my attorney to send the money via western union.
Thanks,
Matthew
From McBale
Thank you. Pls email me info asap so that i can send down the keys
From Me
Ok. My attorney should be in contact with you soon. He will provide an address to where you can send they keys, and then he’ll western union the money upon receipt. I told him this is time sensitive since I’ll need to move in by Jan 30th. It’ll take me a couple days to move, and I need to be out of my old place at the end of the month. So, he’s aware of the time constraint.
Let me know if you don’t hear from him by tomorrow.
Here’s what my attorney sent him:

Hello Mr. McBale,

I represent Matthew Boulders through my law offices located here in Downtown Portland, Oregon.  The lease agreement for the property at t “3182 NE 72nd Ave, Portland, OR 97213” looks valid.  I have received $1,900 from Mr. Boulders, to pay unto yourself, once we receive the keys to inspect the property.

Mr. Boulders has asked for the keys to be shipped to my offices at:

Jonathan Brown

              B,S &W Assoc.

              In Lieu of Matthew Boulders
1221 SW 10th Ave #713
Portland, OR 97205

Thank you for your time.  I look forward to doing business with you.

Sincerely,
Jonathan Brown, Attorney at Law
Brown, Schmidt & Weisenheimer Assoc.
1221 SW 10th Ave #713
Portland, OR 97205

From McBale
Here is the emaili got from your lawyer below.Pls instruct him to mail the payment out today via western union so thati can go and send the keys asap.Pls get back to me asap

  I represent Matthew Boulders through my law offices located here in Downtown Portland, Oregon.  The lease agreement for the property at t “3182 NE 72nd Ave, Portland, OR 97213” looks valid.  I have received $1,900 from Mr. Boulders, to pay unto yourself, once we receive the keys to inspect the property.

Mr. Boulders has asked for the keys to be shipped to my offices at:

Jonathan Brown

              B,S &W Assoc.

              In Lieu of Matthew Boulders
1221 SW 10th Ave #713
Portland, OR 97205 
From Me
Oh wow, that was fast 🙂
He’ll hold the money until the keys are received. Should I western union some cash to cover express mail for they keys? I could probably send $20 tonight, to speed up the process.
Oh, hi again.
I just got off the phone with my lawyer. I have good news, he will be sending you the western union information. He said normally he would wait for the keys before sending the money, but due to the time sensitive nature of this transaction, he’ll send the money once he receives from you confirmation that the keys have been sent (USPS tracking number or FedEx). Contact him if you have any other questions or issues with the payment.
Thanks again!
Hi again. Sorry to bother you so much about this process. I just returned from Walmart. It seems like there is a fee of $161 to send 1900 to Maryland. Wow! I had no idea it was that much! I was wondering if I could deduct this amount from the deposit? Also, what will be the method for rent payments month to month? I can send western union each time, but that might get too expensive unless we can lower the rent payments.
Thanks for answering my question. Talk to you soon.
From McBale
Yes you can remove it from the fee and send the rest of the money
I will send the keys immediately i confirm the payment. i give you my word. You won’t be disappointed. just email me the western union info once you send it and you will have details on the keys asap. You can remove the western union fee from the the money and send the rest. Pls get back to me asap with info
Pls speak to your lawyer direct. Thank you
 
At this point, he has started calling me on my cell phone. I don’t answer. 
From McBale
I have also tried to call but know response. 410 996 4130
From Me
Hello,

Oh, I did notice I had a missed call. Sorry for not being available to answer, I’ve been absolutely busy packing all of my stuff in anticipation of my big move! I also had to take my dog to the vet, and a dog of that size who’s sick like that is really hard to get into the van. I could have used an extra set of hands. Really, moving is such a headache… I can only hope that I’ll be able to be a tenant in your house for many years!
I have spoken to my attorney, and he has the money ready to send, so there is no worry about receiving the funds. I tried to get him to turn over the money to me so I could send it out through Western Union and expedite the process, but he says since it’s in escrow, his accountants have to handle the transaction. I’ll ask him again, there must be a way to get the money back from him so I can get it out to you tonight. If that doesn’t work, I can ask my dad to borrow the money up front and then pay him back with the money that my lawyer is holding in escrow.
That’s about it for now. Have you shipped the keys yet? I’m really looking forward to start moving my stuff over as soon as possible.
Many thanks,
Matthew

From McBale
Ok. Pls try and send the money by yourself tonight and email me the info ASAP. I will be going to send the keys immediately I confirm payment. Am looking forward to read from you
From Me
Cool. Let me know when they keys have been sent, and I’ll send over the money. I just got off the phone with my dad, and he’s probably able to put up the $1900, and I’ll send that minus the 161 once you let me know the keys are in the mail. I’m meeting him for dinner so I should have a check from him withina couple hours.

Thanks again!
Matthew
Oh, there’s one more thing.

My lawyer is asking if you have a copy of the deed or bill of sale to the house? He says you can scan it or just take a picture of it with your phone and send over a .jpg or .pdf ?? I hope this isn’t too much trouble.
Thanks,
Matthew
Hi Joseph.
I have good news and bad news. First, I had a nice dinner with my dad. He got the ribeye, I opted for a pasta dish. The crostini were delicious and the wine affordable. He was only able to give me $600 to cover the deposit. He doesn’t have the rest since he’s retired and on a fixed income. But I’ll be able to western union the 600 tonight and then advise my lawyer to send the rest of the money once we receive the keys. I have the money in cash so it’s ready to send once I receive the copy of the deed or bill of sale as requested by my lawyer.
Thanks!!
Matthew.
From McBale
I have sent you the lease agreement for the house which is to be given so what is needed to be done now is the exchange of keys with payment. You just send the payment. Email me the info and the keys will be sent ASAP. Thank you
From Me
Are you okay with the 600 for now? I was also planning to have a yard sale tomorrow, I should be able to raise the other 1300. I was going to have a yard sale at the new house, since I don’t have a yard at my old condo. I have the stuff to sell in a truck now, so I’ll head over and set up in the morning. Since I’m leasing the property now, I don’t see a problem, and it’ll help me get your money faster.
Thanks!
From McBale
Yes can you and send it now? Pls give me a number to call you
From Me
Yes, I’ll try to send it all tomorrow, after the yard sale so I don’t have to make 2 trips to Walmart.
You should expect payment tomorrow by 6pm if the yard sale succeeds.
From McBale
Ok, pls give a number to reach you direct.
From Me
One more question, I’m confident that our yard sale will be a success. I do have a couple of questions about the unit. The first question is does the unit have a dishwasher. The second question is what is the capacity of the hot water heater? Thanks for answering my questions I’ll talk to you soon.
Oh, my number is 5035474019 although I’m not always available to take calls, you can leave a msg.
Who do I make the western union to? Your name?
I’m at Walmart now, trying to send the western union, but I’m confused about the form. I don’t have a your account number or questions?? Take a look and tell me what I need to fill in. Thanks!
Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 1.25.41 PM
From McBale
Receiver’s Name : Antwoine Demetrius Boyd
Address : 3601 Parkview Ave
City : Baltimore
State : MD
Zip Code : 21207
Country : United States
Get back to me immediately you are done with the Western Union, and also email me with DETAILS SUCH AS :
SENDER NAME
ADDRESS
CITY
POSTCODE
AMOUNT
MTCN
I want you to pls try and make the payment this morning so that i can mail the keys out asap
From Me
Hello!
I will be going to Walmart soon to send the money to Mrs. Boyd. I’m still at the yard sale. I have a bite on this credenza, but the guy needs to go home and check with his wife first. It’ll be good though because that’ll bring in another $50, and I’m still hoping someone will want to buy my Rod Stewart vinyl record collection. They are collectors items, so I’m asking for $5 a piece.
I did have a couple unanswered questions, so if I could have answers before I send the money, that’d be great. It’s actually my girlfriend who wants to know.
1. Does the house have a dishwasher?
2. What is the capacity of the hot water heater?
3. Are we allowed to paint the interior? My girlfriend likes bright colors, we peeked through a window and all the walls appear to be light yellow, she wants to go bolder.
4. Is my dog allowed to stay inside the house, or just in the yard?
5. How soon after I send the money will you send the keys? And how many copies? I’ll need an extra set for my girlfriend and some other people, so 5 sets would be ideal.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, I’ll be heading to Walmart
once I sell this Credenza and record collection. Also, I almost forgot to sign the lease agreement and email you back. I’ll do this soon, I promise!!
Hope you’re having a blessed day!
From McBale
Yes the house has dishwasher and yes you are allowed to paint to your taste. Dogs are allowed as well inside but i hope yours dog is a trained dog. You will be having 6 pairs of the keys and i will be sending the keys immediately i confirm payment today. Hope to read from you soon with the payment info. I really cant remember the capacity of the heater.
From Me
Ok. I’ll send over the money once I finish up here at the yard sale.

I’m glad you’re sending extra keys. I have a couple friends who will be parking their camper trailers in front of the house and will need to access the bathroom, so I can give them each their own keys. I just wanted to be sure the water heater was high enough capacity to handle 5 or 6 showers each morning. Also I’ll need to run an extension cord from the house to their campers so that they can have electricity at night.
Good news! The guy came back with his wife to purchase the credenza, so that’s extra money in my pocket. The Rod Stewart records haven’t sold yet. I might have to lower the price. I imagine I’ll be finished up with the yard sale in 3 hours or so. Then I can make the trip out to Walmart. My truck broke down, and since I don’t have enough money to repair the transmission, I’ll have to take the bus.
Thanks again, and you’ll hear from me soon with the number to claim the Western Union transfer.
Matthew
From McBale
ok i will be waiting
From Me
Ok, I’ll head to Walmart momentarily. I’ll email you the info within the hour. It’s currently rush hour and the busses are running slow. I’ll wait at the stop until the bus comes, I’ll need to make one transfer to get
on the #72 bus that will take me to Walmart at Eastport Plaza. I’ll also pick up some gallons of bright green and purple paint for the living room and some extension cords for my friends to hook up their camper to the exterior outlet. I found it around the side of the house, so it’ll be most convenient.
The yard sale was a success and I managed to make $61, which will be put toward the rent for the first month.
thanks, I’m leaving now to wait for the bus to Walmart.
From McBale
Get back to me immediately you are done with the Western Union, and also email me with DETAILS SUCH AS :
SENDER NAME
ADDRESS
CITY
POSTCODE
AMOUNT
MTCN
From Me
Hello!

So, I have had a slight problem. I caught the bus successfully to Walmart in order to send off the payments for the house rental. It began to rain a bit on the way, but luckily there was a shelter at the bus stop on 82nd avenue where I had to catch a transfer. I had to wait for nearly 20 minutes. Once I got to Walmart, I was greeted by an elderly gentleman whom I asked where the money services counter was. After finding the counter, I waited in line for about 25 minutes. Unfortunately when I got to the desk, I was informed by an associate that their western union machine was down, and it probably would be back up running tomorrow.
So, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to send the money at this time. I also called my attorney, to see if he could transfer the money that I had previously given him, but he told me that his accountant doesn’t work on Saturday, and would be unable to transfer the funds until Monday.
I’ll try again tomorrow morning at Walmart, providing there is Sunday bus service.
Again, sorry about the delays. I am really looking forward to receiving the keys and moving into my new home!
Best,
Matthew
Oh, I had another question. Is there a basement in the house, and what is the condition? Is it a finished basement? I have a couple of buddies that need a place to stay for a few months. They offered to stay in tents in the back yard, but seeing as it’s cold in these winter months, it may be preferable to allow them to stay in the basement with a space heater and some travel cots.
I’m heading to Walmart at 8am tomorrow morning to complete the Western Union. I’ll send over those details as soon as possible.
Thanks, have a great night!
From McBale
Yes i included that in my previous email that the house has a finished basement. i will be waiting for the info
From Me
Ok, very good information, glad to hear. I am just waiting for the bus to take me to Walmart to complete the transaction. Once complete, please send the keys later today through US Postal Service and include a tracking number so that myself and my attorney can be assured of delivery of keys and release of funds from escrow to pay back my dad. I have several interested parties eager to receive their keys!
From McBale
Ok i will do just that, You need to get back tome asap with the info so that i can go and send the keys before its too late
At his point, I actually wire this Boyd guy money, but only $6. 
From Me
It will please you to know that the Western Union machine is back up at Walmart. Here is the requested information to supply to Mrs. Antwoine Boyd:

Senders name: Matthew Boyd

Address: 9202 SE 92nd Avenue
City: Portland
Post Code: 97266
Amount: 600
MTCN: 2079112025
 
Please send the tracking number to the packaging containing the keys as soon as possible.
 
Thanks again,
 
Matthew
From McBale
Am attending a family meeting, i will get back to you shortly pls
From Me
Okay. Be sure to send the keys out today.

Thanks,
Matthew
It turns out Western Union didn’t like me sending money with a fake name, so they cancelled the transaction. Saved me $11!

From McBale
Pls check the MTCN again and send it to me. seems you email me the wrong numbers or scan a copy of the western union slips to me pls
Pls scan a copy of the western union slips to me. The transaction is not found
From Me
Not a problem, I have enclosed a scan of the western union receipts.

I look forward to the tracking number and the receipt of the keys.
Thanks again,
Matthew
Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 1.31.58 PM
From McBale
Hello, Did you send western union? Can you pls call the western union store where you send it and tell them that the money is not available to receive by the receiver pls.
From Me
Yes, I sent through western union. I have sent you the receipt.
From McBale
Yes i got the receipt but the payment is not available for me to pick you. Here is what i get below: ( We could not find any records that match the information you provided. Please try again )  I want you to pls call them and tell them to make the payment available right now so that i can pick it up. Time is not on my side pls
From Me
I see, hm. Very strange. It might have something to do with the computer problems they were having atWalmart yesterday, when I took the bus to make the payment. I’m sure this is just a short delay, and the payment will be available shortly.

There is also something else I need to talk to you about, seeing as I’m an honest, loyal, and trustworthy tenant of yours. Last night, my friends came to the house to see where they would be staying. Since I do not yet have the keys, my girlfriend and myself have been sleeping in a large tent in the back yard, since we have already given up our last condominium. My buddies came over and set up some lawn chairs around a card table where we were intending to roast hot dogs and enjoy a celebration of moving into our new home. One of them set up a small charcoal grill in order to cook the hotdogs. As we sat sharing stories and waiting for the hot dogs to roast, my large dog Baxter, who is now fully recovered, noticed a squirrel and went after it, chasing it. In the commotion, it appears that Baxter knocked over the grill onto the bushes right behind the house. The embers from the grill sparked a small fire that spread between two bushes and ran up the side of the house. Luckily one of my buddies was able to locate a garden hose to extinguish the flames before the house became engulfed. There is, however, some damages to the exterior of the house as a result of the fire. Be assured that the fire was contained to the outside and only caused damage to the siding and the landscaping around the house. I’m just glad everyone was safe and without injury.

If you do not receive the funds within the next hour, I will call Western Union to find out how long the delay will be.

Thanks again,

Matthew
From McBale
Yes i do trust you. Can you just call the western union now. Thank you so much
From Me
Joseph, hello!

I am calling the Western Union right after this email. So, I had a repairman come to fix the damages caused by the fire in the back of the house. I’ll attach the invoice and forward a copy to my attorney. He’ll be able to use the payments intended for the first month’s rent to cover the costs of the repairs and then send you the balance. When we receive the keys, he will western union the sum of $195.02 for the first month’s rent. I’ll advise you to forward this invoice to your insurance provider for reimbursement. I assumed that it would be most convenient for you for us to take care of the repair costs, so you don’t need to bother with it. You’ll get the $195.02 plus the $600 already sent by Western Union.
Also, my girlfriend is getting impatient we haven’t received they keys. It’s quite cold outside, and she is tired of sleeping in a tent like a sleepaway camper, we look forward to moving our waterbed into the house.
Best regards,
Matthew
Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 1.34.05 PM
Hi again,

I’ve been trying to call the Western Union, their phones have been busy for the last 2 hours. They must have had a lot of problems with transactions after their computer system went down at Walmart. I’ll try to get through some more. PS> did you manage to mail out the keys today?
Thanks,
Matthew
From McBale
Yes i have sent the keys and you should have it today. Did you try to call the western union
From Me
Excellent. Can you send me USPS tracking number so I can ensure safe delivery of the keys. I’m going back to Walmart today to check up on the payment to you.
Thanks
Sent by by “Lawyer”
Hello Again Mr. McBale,

Please for confirmation, before I send Mr. Boulders’ payment from escrow to your western union, please send a copy of your USPS Tracking or FedEx Number of the package containing the property’s keys.  Send keys to:

Jonathan Brown
B,S &W Assoc.
In Lieu of Matthew Boulders
1221 SW 10th Ave #713
Portland, OR 97205

I will proceed with payment once the tracking number is sent.  Thank you for dealing with our legal assurances.

Sincerely,
Jonathan Brown, Attorney at Law
Brown, Schmidt & Weisenheimer Assoc.
1221 SW 10th Ave #713
Portland, OR 97205

From McBale
Did you check the walmart with western union. Are you sure you sent the payment because the lady at the western union told me nothing was sent and i should tell you to send the correct MTCN or go back to the walmart and complain to them
From Me
I don’t want to go back to Walmart. That place is a zoo and full of trash people. Since you sent they keys, I’ll just direct my lawyer to have his accountant send you 795.02 when we receive the keys. They didn’t come today, so I’ll expect them tomorrow. Did you get a tracking number so I can be sure?

Thanks!

From McBale
i have put a hold on the keys till i confirm payment
From Me
You said you had sent them already. The sooner I get the keys, the sooner my lawyer will release the full payment.
From McBale
which means you did not send the deposit in the first place?
From Me
I did, however there is a problem with Western Union apparently. I sent the deposit, from money loaned by my father, but my attorney has the full rent and deposit I gave to him in escrow that will be sent to you once we receive the keys. So, no problems here. Once we receive the keys the money will be sent to you!
From McBale
Likewise what i said before. I will not release the keys until payment is confirm. Am sorry
From Me
I see. Well, I’ve tried to get my attorney to release the payments early, but he refuses without receipt of his keys. This is to protect both of us. He is an honest man, and will release the payments once the keys are in his possession. I’m sure you understand the situation. The money is waiting to be sent. I’ll appreciate your quick response.
From McBale
AM SORRY I CAN’T DO ANYTHING. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME
From Me
Surely you can do something. I send money through Western Union on good faith that I’ll receive the keys. The easiest way is for you to send USPS tracking number of the keys, and I’ll advise my attorney to release the deposit and rent. I’ve been camping in the back yard, and the nights are cold. My girlfriend and my buddies would like to be able to move inside where it is warm, and there are facilities to cook hot dogs and other delights. I look forward to hearing from you!

Matthew

From McBale
can you just call westernunion regarding the 600
From Me
I have called, it got lost in their system. They had to open an investigation and it may take 2-3 weeks for them to track it down. There was a computer glitch apparently. The easiest course of action at this time would be for you to send the keys, and have my attorney send over the funds that are waiting currently in escrow.

Thanks,
Matthew
Sent by my “lawyer”
Sent this to him:

Hello Mr. Mcbale,
 
    As you recall I represent Matthew Boulders through my law offices located here in Downtown Portland, Oregon.  He is still looking to rent “3182 NE 72nd Ave, Portland, OR 97213”

Mr. Boulders told me that the keys have been shipped by yourself.  Excellent!  I have the deposit and rent ready for transfer as soon as keys arrive at our offices.

Please keep in mind that Mr. Boulders is not to be trusted with his money, as he is careless with his spending.  Ever since the automobile crash 7 years ago, he hasn’t quite been the same.  There was a time when he would spend $2,000 nightly at his father’s hotel and casino.  Matthew had grown himself a hump of a penchant for self-destruction, spending wantonly on drugs, booze and ladies of the night.  Luckily, he and I met a year after his crash.  I was staying in the hotel on what we will presume to be business, when I saw this sad soul in the casino sucking up his spilled vodka from an ashtray.  We were able to convince Mr. Boulders to seek regular psychiatric visitations with a woman who, inevitably, became his current girlfriend.  What she saw in him was the potential for greatness (like his father before him), or maybe it was the money.  I can’t be sure, I know nothing of love.  The two lovers also adopted a dog some time ago and, just as the tortoise in that famed race, Matthew has become more responsible, slowly but surely paving the way to success and (unlike the tortoise, or his father, both already wise), he has found much needed retribution.  Although Mr. Boulders has made great progress in these last 6 years, the long/ghastly scar along the left side of his face still troubles him and so he evades his inner resolve, occasionally staying true to his old convictions, vices and ways; still having his problems with his money.  Even if he is moving forward in helping himself, he makes what his father and I consider to be, “Unworthy Mistakes.”  For instance, after Matthew’s Sunday AA Meetings, he usually buys everyone in his group a late-night dinner at Denny’s… and while Denny’s is low in their cost, paying for 20 people a week can add up.  This is simply an example, and it can usually be for better than for worse for Mr. Boulders.  Thankfully, we are here to assure you that you obtain your money regularly.

 
      As soon as the 6 pairs of keys arrive, we will release the funds to you.
 
      Thank you.
 
          Sincerely,

Jonathan Brown, Attorney at Law
Brown, Schmidt & Weisenheimer Assoc.
1221 SW 10th Ave #713
Portland, OR 97205

From Me
Mr.McBale, I have heard from Western Union, they are currently investigating the claim. My lawyer has told me he hasn’t received they keys yet. Yesterday my girlfriend threatened to leave me because you are forcing us to sleep out in the cold in a tent. In order to save my relationship, we have booked into a motel to stay warm. It is the Del Rancho motel on 82nd avenue. It is very seedy, and full of cheap prostitutes and wayfarers, it’s infested with bedbugs, but it’s all I can afford. I fear for our safety there. Last night, my girlfriend was poked by a needle that was hidden in the sheets. I will be deducting the price of the motel stay from the rent, so the sooner you settle the issue with the keys, the sooner we’ll be able to send the payment and move into our new home.

Hope you’re having a great week!
I’m still waiting to hear back from Mr. McBale….

Also, support my new film Zombie Cats from Mars!

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A new feature film. More zombies, more cats.

Greetings!

I have written a new movie. Actually, it’s my first feature film script. It’s called Zombie Cats from Mars, and it’s currently in production. It’s also the craziest thing I’ve ever done. Here’s the timeline:

October 29th: Montetré and I are helping Rob Taylor move some giant trees for his film The Mad Scientist. We are talking about Glare. We discuss how hard it is funding art. I recall the premier of Holed-Up and how, after our premier there was a line around the block to see a collection of internet cat videos. I said “Why do we try so hard making a good movie? We could do Zombie Cats from Mars, and everyone would want to see it”. The idea was born.

October 30th: 3am – we had a plot outline, and Josh Mackey had drawn up a promo poster. We had an ad on Craigslist for actors. What?

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October 30th: 10am – work began on the script. It took about a week to write the initial script. Montetré made some good suggestions, adding some crucial plot elements to the story. The final script was complete by December 2nd.

November 5th: The initial castings were complete. Throughout November we worked on pre-production, securing a crew, finding locations and finalizing the cast. We also contact Marci Koski, feline behavior specialist and volunteer with Furry Friends – a no-kill cat rescue organization.

November 25th: We launch our Kickstarter.

December 2nd: We acquire fake cat paws from Toys “R” Us.

December 6th: We begin shooting the movie, and it looks awesome!

So, there you have it!

Check out our: Facebook, Twitter, and Kickstarter!

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Thank you, Goats

Greetings!

For those of you who know me, you know that a few years ago, I opened a coffeehouse called Lents Commons. A started it with a Craigslist-sourced business partner and a bunch of saved up Army bonus money. I had been inspired to open a creative-space/coffee house after working on Pickled, a film by Montetré. Having been a lifelong dream, I embarked on creating a space in which coffee would support art. I discovered a big, vacant corner store in a neighborhood that I had never stepped foot into. The rent was cheap, and the opportunity was there, so I went for it. A few months later I was the owner of an expansive coffeehouse wedged between a crumbing dive bar (and not the good kind of dive bar), a crumbing… whatever you want to call the New Copper Penny, and a gas station. Long story short, after two years, I found myself consumed with the minutiae of running a not-so-successful business with little time for anything else. But in the process, I had discovered a community existed in this oft-maligned part of Portland – a community who wanted good things to happen.

A recent article in the Willamette Week talks about the unrealized potential of Lents Town Center. This is the same potential I thought I was going to be a part of back in 2010 when I started work on the coffeehouse. We had the farmer’s market, art co-op, coffeehouse, MAX Greenline, and $96-million to throw at making Lents the next Belmont. Big projects would happen, so I thought – a New Seasons, a mixed use development in the old ballpark, maybe some new retailers and office space. The mayor even showed us a neat video with new 3 and 4 story buildings plopped on top of where (we all wish) the New Copper Penny used to be. But all I see are big holes – the PDC wiping the slate clean, preparing for the development that for sure will one day spring up. How I miss the Rapery… at least a physical standing structure made the intersection feel a little less like Ground Zero.

But while the pace of neighborhood development can, at best, be described as glacial, there are signs of life. The strip of storefronts to the north of Lents Commons did get a facelift. Riley’s did become the Eagle Eye, complete with a proprietor who cares about the neighborhood. At least there is somewhere to go. I see tiny libraries and a tool library. Lents Commons’ space is now a juice bar – maybe not ideal, but it’s better than nothing.

BUT THERE’S NO COFFEE. Ok, you can get coffee at Chevron, at El Pato Feliz, at Olivers, at the Eagle Eye. Heck, probably even at the Old Copper Penny. Sorry, New Copper Penny – at least in the parking lot. One of the things I loved about Portland was the ability to throw a rock and hit a coffee shop no matter what intersection you were standing at. I loved spending my morning, drinking excessive amounts of caffeine, reading the New Yorker, and interacting with the neighborhood people. For me, the neighborhood coffeehouse was the ground-zero of community, and my failure at maintaining a coffeeshop is probably why Lents is a series of vacant lots fronted by bio-swales.

So, I failed at catapulting Lents into becoming the next Belmont. But soon, Lents will have something that Belmont won’t have… GOATS! I see this as the first step in transforming Lents into the neighborhood we all want it to be. I must be a part of it.

After escaping from Lents Commons, I took some time to recover. Working 12-hours-a-day, 7 days a week tends to burn a person out. I went on road trips, went to national parks, I went to Burning Man. I finished college with two degrees (community development and geography), I produced a feature film and I realized… I needed to be able to pay the rent. I went to work at our lovely, local Fred Meyer, where I got to see many of my old LC customers. But even being a manager (or Person in Charge, as it were), I detest the fact that I’m working my ass off to enable the CEO of Kroger to make more in 4 hours than they pay me in a year. Granted, Freddy’s gave me the opportunity to not become homeless, and it is nice getting a meager paycheck every Friday, it’s not fulfilling. Enough time has passed that I can look back on the days of LC and think, maybe I wasn’t making a killing, but I was part of something more important. But I think the most valuable education I received in the last four years wasn’t from PSU, but from being a struggling small business owner.

As I move forward, it’s important to understand the past. What was wrong with Lents Commons? It didn’t start with the right focus. The ridiculous theatre concept never paid off (the one theatre tenant we did have stiffed us on a major portion of their fees), the lack of a proper HVAC system turned the space into a defacto oven in the summer (not good when your business was selling coffee), lack of parking, unreliable hours, personnel issues, low profit margins on food, and the sheer expansiveness of the space created a sparsely populated, unwelcoming environment. It was trying to be too many things: a music venue, a bar, a coffeeshop, a restaurant, a gallery, but it was never really set up to succeed at any one thing, but that’s not for lack of involvement from the community. It was wonderful to see people who cared set up improv nights, open mic nights, poetry nights, etc. But a business is a business and all of the community stuff happening doesn’t matter much when you can’t pay the gas bill.

So, now we have goats. Seeing everyone get excited about goats made me think that there is a shimmer of hope for this community. The goats are a sign of progress – of something happening. It makes me want to make something happen, to be part of the community again. The goats, the tool library, the farmers’ market, miniature libraries, the Eagle Eye, the grocery co-op, a community is an aggregate of all these things and more, but it’s lacking that coffeehouse in which to gather and share ideas, and that’s what I want, even if only for the purely selfish reason that I love coffee. Aside from waving at people at Freddy’s, I haven’t felt like part of the community. I consider getting involved, and going to meetings where people talk about the things they want to see, but for me, creating a place makes me feel included.

I have considered a location and concept for a coffeeshop. The focus is coffee and pie. I’ve talked to a baker. I want to create a much more intimate space, make it nice, capitalized, and consistent. Simple. Coffee and pie, a community bookshelf and a decent selection of magazines (the kind with more words than pictures). By the slice, or whole. Good pies, handmade. No cans of pumpkin puree, the real deal. I have begun work on a business plan, and will be seeking input of the community as to what they want to see in a neighborhood business. I want to apply the lessons that I learned with LC and apply them to a new venture that meets the needs of the community while paying my rent, and freeing myself from the shackles of big-corporate-grocery. I want to create jobs for the community, and I want to contribute to the success of Lents.

Call me crazy.

My Crew Worked Hard, and I Love Them

Holed-Up has finished filming. Almost. There are a couple of ‘breakaway’ shots to do at a goat farm. But other than that, the film is done. It’s edited. Music is being composed. It’s looking amazing. And none of it would have been possible without the faithful work of Travis, Ben, Esteban, Jim, Tabitha, Evan, Michael, Jenae, Bob, and of course Montetré and everyone else who manned cameras, sound recorders, boom poles, lights, dollies, make-up wedges… everyone who stood out in the rain, who worked overnight, who worked for tiny little paychecks. And also the amazing cast, extras, and everyone who believed in us enough to throw us a high-five, or in some cases, 100 high-fives.

It’s one thing to be a producer, or a director or writer, it’s another thing to be part of the well-oiled machine that allows the writer or director to put together his art. Film and Theatre are almost never one-man-shows. Maybe never-never. While as a producer, I’ve been given the credit publicly for a well-received performance-piece, it’s impossible for me to not realize that my achievement is merely my ability to organize a crew of people to achieve one common goal.

So, THANK YOU to everyone who was a part of Holed-Up. There aren’t enough pints of PBR in the world to repay them, but I hope that they are as proud of the film as Montetré and me.

A few weeks ago, I saw an ad on Craigslist looking for a marketing person for a film. I checked it out, since I’m curious about other local projects. I showed this to Montetré, and he told me that he had done some crew work for the film. Now I’m not one to shit-talk other people’s projects. At least not publicly, and since I have not seen anything more than the trailer, it would be unfair to give it a review. But what I saw today quite shocked me.

I was forwarded an email from Montetré from the filmmaker who made “The Cube”.

“I just wanted to give you heads up that I’m finishing up the movie, “The Cube” and I need to   market it as: “Portland filmmaker makes $500 feature film with no crew”. Obviously, I had the support of your talents for a few days, but in order to generalize and bring attention to it, I’ll be going with this sales line.”

…What? You need to market it as “filmmaker makes $500 feature film with no crew“? Ok. I’ll bring attention to it. First, good job for making a movie for nothing. I’m well aware of how expensive making even a no-budget film can be. Second, I know you worked with a crew. Maybe a small crew, but you weren’t the only person doing lights, makeup, sound, cameras, directing, casting, or whatever. I know people who were on the crew.. Even though I wasn’t involved in any way with the film, I find it personally insulting that a filmmaker would a) lie, and b) throw his crew under the bus like this. Since his budget was $500, I’m assuming he didn’t pay anyone… and what’s his thanks, pretend like no one donated hours of their time to help him realize his personal dream and ambitions? I don’t care if your gimmick is “no budget no crew”, it’s completely unethical to USE people and then deny them of any recognition. If your film is good enough, it will be recognized on the merits of its storytelling, and not from some fucked-up gimmick.

That’s my rant. I don’t like to pick fights. I’m not a confrontational person, so please excuse my passive agression by posting my feelings here, but this is a blog. It just sickens me that someone’s sales pitch is more important to them then thanking people who worked hard for them for no pay.

So, to my cast and crew, who worked incredibly hard for …some pay… YOU GUYS ROCK!

The second poster for Holed-Up.

The second poster for Holed-Up.

 

How to Not Make a Crappy Film

I can’t believe we’ve been at this for over a month. Thus far, we’ve shot at “Shitty Motel”, “Nice Hotel”, “Nicer Hotel”, “Hotel Pool”, “Bar”, “Restaurant”, “Taxi”. Within the next two weeks, we will have shot at “Exterior Bar”, “Exterior Shitty Motel”, “Trailers”, “Film Set”, “Car”, and “Goat Farm”.

Yesterday, Montetré and I got some of the footage from the opening scene from Travis, our DP. We edited it together, added the credit sequence, and spliced the footage into context with the scene we shot last month. We added some temp music, and took a look. We both looked at each other, someone stunned, thinking “what have we made?”. I can’t give away the plot details, but the scene is hauntingly disturbing, yet poetic and beautiful. If the first two minutes of this film doesn’t grab you by the junk, I don’t think you have a heartbeat.

Montetré editing the opening sequence.

Montetré editing the opening sequence.

I’ve been watching other examples of no-or-low-budget indie film. If anything, just to put what we’re doing into perspective. They tend to open with a 4-5 minute sequence of… absolutely nothing. One I saw opens with a couple riding a bike and laughing. For five minutes. Another opens with a lady walking down the street. For five minutes. Another opens with a guy running. For five minutes. I usually sit and wait, because I’m curious as to the train-wreck that will unfold after such a long, pointless waddle through mediocrity. I created a film trailer that makes fun of this pointless exposition:

I, by no means, wish to be critical of the desire to go out and make a film. It’s not easy, and everyone will hate you after a couple months of asking all your friends to give you money to support some dream of yours. And I’ve certainly seen low-budge indies that are pretty damn good. This isn’t hollywood, and we’re not out making multi-million-dollar blockbuster for-profit films. I imagine everyone making indie films is doing it out of love of storytelling, love of creativity, and love of …film.

I also believe everyone making a film believes that their film is truly good. I would venture to guess that most people making a film believe their film will get accepted into Sundance, they’ll get discovered by a reputable distributor, and millions will see their film. I suppose it’s easy to fall into this train of thought. I believe that Holed-Up will get accepted into festivals, and will be seen by, thousands. Probably not millions. I’m cautious. When you are so invested in a project, it helps to have a positive outlook. But this is why I don’t want to make a crappy film.

HOW TO NOT MAKE A CRAPPY FILM

-Know your budget: Don’t choose a script that requires exotic locations, special FX, stunts, expensive sets, elaborate costumes and makeup, animals, or anything fancy, unless you can afford to do it in a way that doesn’t make your film look cheap.

-Know how to spend your budget: Spend money on essential crew. This means hire a good sound guy. Hire a good sound guy. Hire a good sound guy. Cinematographers are a dime-a-dozen. Obviously you want one who knows what he’s doing, but without solid sound, your film will be shit. Borrow stuff, offer trades. The less you spend, the bigger the potential return. Pay only what you need, and maybe surprise everyone with a bonus if you make any money at the end.

-Hire a good sound guy.

-Cut the idiot speech: Don’t be an asshole about exposition. The audience you’re reaching is probably smarter than the average bear, so don’t dumb down your movie with pointless dialog. Anyone with any cognitive ability can figure out your characters’ backstories through dialog and action that is directly tied to the narrative, setting, and the forward momentum of the plot.

-Feed people: If you’re paying your cast and crew sub-minimum wage, feed them well. They will be happier. An unhappy cast and crew will ruin your movie.

-Roll with the punches: In the zero-budget film world, you’ll lose locations, you’ll lose crew, you’ll lose actors. People need to make money, and you’ll come in second place to a paying gig. Don’t freak out about this stuff. Figure it out, and move on. Sometimes, what you end up with is better than what you started out with. Be flexible.

-Plan ahead: Storyboard. Plan your shots. Plan the shoot day. Meet with essential crew (DP, Gaffer, Sound) prior to filming to sort out everything that is going to happen during the shoot. Scout locations, choreograph and rehearse. If you show up on set with no clue how to compose your shots, the cast will think you’re an unprofessional idiot, they’ll lose respect for you, and they’ll lose interest in the film. Planning also maximizes shooting time, and prevents you from going over schedule.

-Lighting isn’t all that important. If you can see the actors, then you’re fine. Don’t waste two hours lighting one scene while the cast and rest of the crew sits around. People will think you’re a dick. When you’re doing lighting, have a gaffer who knows a thing or two about how much juice your lights are sucking, and knows how much juice is available on any given circuit.

-Art department goes a long way: Blank white walls are boring. Scenery should also add to the narrative, and give clues as to who your characters are. It’s exposition without the idiot speech. This goes for extras too. Do you think your actors are going to eat at a fancy restaurant where there are no other patrons? There’s a lot to say in the little details.

-Be objective: Focus-group your film. Ask people who know a thing or two to watch your film and give you unbiased feedback. Be willing to cut material from your “final cut”. There will probably be a lot of stuff in your movie that looks cool, but adds nothing to the primary plot. Get rid of it.

We probably should have secured all funding before we began to film. It’s hard to find money. With everyone and their mom out there trying to produce the next Napoleon Dynamite, it’s a challenge to get people to give you money for a project they don’t know anything about. We have a good deal of amazing, rough-cut film at this point. High-Fives are coming in and we’re looking for equity investors to round out the funding. It’s impossible to guarantee a return on investment for an $8000 movie. It’s a lot easier to guarantee a zero-return on investment, actually. To avoid falling into the same starry-eyed optimism that befalls every other indie filmmaker, let’s just say that we’re making the most amazing film that we can make right now within the budget we’ve set. I have a lot of confidence that this film will get into festivals, just based on seeing what other films are commercially available, and which films have been accepted to various festivals. I know that everyone involved in Holed-Up is extremely excited and proud of what we’ve accomplished so far, and that this film is miles better than any other film I’ve worked on with Montetré or anyone else.

To give us High-Fives (that being financial donations), or to inquire about investing, visit our website www.holed-up.com/high-five.

 

Knee-Deep in Movie Making

We have shot three days so far. Here’s a recap of what’s happened since the first day:

Our Kickstarter was a horrible failure. We did achieve 57% of our goal, but since Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing type thing, we get nothing. As the Executive Producer, it’s my responsibility to find money. Montetré is also an Executive Producer, so at least we get to share this burden. As an additional fundraiser, we organized a party. We got donations of artwork, gift certificates, books, and DVDs to hand out as prizes in the raffle. We hoped that through selling drinks, raffle tickets, and the good-will of strangers and friends, we’d be able to raise enough to cover the gap in Kickstarter. Oh, how it would be nice not to worry about the money. While fun, the fundraiser didn’t meet our expectations, but we were able to show a rough-cut of the Day 1 shoot.

Wah-Wah. Just another of life's little challenges.

Wah-Wah. Just another of life’s little challenges.

The same day as the fundraiser, I determined that due to logistical and financial constraints, the location we had secured for Day 2 and 3, Oliver’s Café, was a no-go. I didn’t want to pass on this added stress to the rest of the crew during the party, so I waited until after to inform Montetré. As with any production, there are going to be challenges. Perhaps with a 5 or 6 digit production budget things would go more smoothly, but this is indie film-making… bordering on guerrilla filmmaking. At the end of the fundraiser, I was left with less cash on hand than I wanted, and no location for a shoot that was happening in less than four days.

With all challenges come opportunity. The Day 2 and 3 location is a restaurant. The shoot hours were 4pm until 2am. Oliver’s Café is a breakfast and lunch joint, so we wouldn’t have had to worry about interfering with normal business hours during our shoot. But finding the appropriate setting that’s not open during the evening is tough. I figured the best hope was to find an out-of-business restaurant that still had all the tables and chairs. I hit Craigslist and searched for restaurants for sale. I found one called Bravo Lounge. I called the owner, Stefan. I believe the place is still in business, but mainly does special events and music nights, and thankfully, was free for our two shoot days. I drove over to the location, and it looked way better than Oliver’s for our purposes. It was perfect. I headed over to Montetré’s to tell him the news and arrived just as the Kickstarter was counting down the seconds to our big failure. Seeing your major source of funding evaporate and knowing you are without a location is shitty, and Montetré was in low spirits. I saved the news about the Bravo Lounge until after the Kickstarter ended, and that instantly raised the mood. We celebrated with some drinks at Dean’s Scene, and I unveiled our new fundraising concept, High-Five.

What is $5? Not a lot really. It’s a drink, a pack of cigarettes, and less than 1/1000th of our production budget. It’s also the idea that if we can reach 1005 people (1005 being Montetré’s magic number), we can fund this project. It’s also a rejuvenation of our enthusiasm for this film. We set up a pay portal directly on the website, and offered similar prizes as the Kickstarter. $5 for a ticket to the premier, $25 for a DVD, etc. We contacted all of our backers on Kickstarter and asked them to give us a High-Five. Thus far, several have.

Day Two of shooting began at 4pm. Five principal actors, 11 extras, 9 crew. Lights, three cameras, sound, makeup.. an entire restaurant scene to dress. Montetré and I had a lot to do before the shoot. We needed to get plates, prop food, a wheelchair dolly, lights, catering, coffee, artwork, wine glasses, faux-wine… somehow we managed to get it all done and show up on set right on time. The added pre-pro work came thanks to one of the producers dropping out the night before. One of the additional charms of this style of filmmaking is the stress it puts on individuals. While we are paying the crew, we’re also asking a lot of them. Long shoots, rapid pace, not to be cliché, but it is a labor of love. Without the total dedication by everyone involved, the film won’t be the best it can be. I feel now, we have solidified the crew and they are all invested in the project and truly care about the final product. Everyone is working in complete sync, and the challenges of the ambitious shooting schedule are being met by the crew. They blow my mind, really. It’s amazing to see.

Evan Hays and the Cast and Crew

Evan Hays and the Cast and Crew

Day 3 went nearly as smoothly as day 2, although it did have its own challenges. Some of the crew had commitments that prevented them from showing up at the call-time, but Montetré used that time to rehearse shots, shoot some MOS stuff, and in the end, things were fine. I had to work, so I showed up to dress the set (which fortunately didn’t require much since we could leave the setup overnight). I went to work (which sucked), and returned for the end of the shoot. Pushing our midnight deadline, we still had to complete the pivotal scene in the film. It sucks to watch the clock without compromising the scene. As a producer, I hate to piss people off, and I was worried that Stefan would be pissed off. Shortly after midnight, Stefan showed up amongst the chaos of finishing the scene and tearing down. He disappeared again as Montetré set up for a couple of additional shots that needed to be done. I knew it would take at least an hour to break down the set and clean up, so we were already over an hour behind schedule, but not to compromise the film, I felt it would be best to finish the shoots and deal with a pissed off restaurant owner. Once everything was about cleared out, Stefan returned in a seemingly good mood. He asked for photos of the shoot and took a shot with Montetré. He really didn’t seem to mind we went over schedule, and was pretty interested in what we were doing.

Montetré with Stefan

Montetré with Stefan

The final exterior shots were filmed outside, which happens to be a lot full of concrete lawn statuettes. At 2am, with exactly 24 hours before the bar scene filming, we were done. A long two days, yes, but an amazing amount of work was accomplished. Can we get a High-Five?

Exterior scene

Exterior scene