Pretty Boy Floyd biopic halted after wage issues, COVID and SAG announcement |

Following reports last week that a COVID-19 outbreak was delaying production of the Pretty Boy Floyd biopic shoot in and around Santa Fe, crew members told SFR the behind-the-scenes issues ran much deeper than the virus, and the Producers use Sickness as the reason Smoke Screen.

Although several workers tested positive for COVID-19 while working on production for The good side of a bad man About 1930s bank robber Charles Arthur Floyd, who caused a shooting delay, the film’s second assistant director, Jessamyn Land, says he hardly portrays the full story, as many workers leave the film to seek work elsewhere and are unwilling are to return when or if production resumes.

Land says that after production started, managers cut the budget, summarily fired at least one employee and failed to pay workers on time. They and others also say that director/producer K. Asher Levin and producer Gabrielle Almagor fostered an unprofessional work environment that lacked basic necessities and decency. Land says the production managed to get through six days of shooting before several crew members tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 10. Although this actually prompted a five-day hiatus, she said the film resumed filming on November 15 and may have continued further. However, by Nov. 16, producers told the Santa Fe Film Office that they were “on hiatus, effective immediately,” according to the Santa Fe New Mexicans.

“It’s not a break,” Land told SFR. “Everyone is ready, everyone is unpacking. [The producers] may have the idea that they will come back later, but if they do it will probably be with a very different crew. That’s typical when something closes – people will find other jobs.”

Neither Levin nor Almagor returned voicemails from SFR asking for comment; Santa Fe Film Office director Jennifer LaBar Tapia also did not respond.

Land says that in her 17 years on film, she’s never experienced anything quite like what she experienced while working on The good side of a bad man. Mirroring Land’s frustration, other crew members, who chose to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation within the industry, say they have also faced an ongoing onslaught of problems, from shifting teams of accountants tasked with processing payments through an online portal, to a decided lack of on-set amenities, like drinking water, and producers failing to pay a mandatory bail to the Screen Actors Guild. The Guild issued a Do Not Work Notice on November 10th against production company Good Side Films, LLC.

“Please note that Good Side Films, LLC, the producer of the titled project The good side of a bad man, failed to complete the signing process,” the statement said. “As such, SAG-AFTRA members are hereby directed to withhold until further notice from the union any acting services or performance of covered work for this production.”

In addition, Land said, she and numerous other crew members were not paid on time, in full, or in some cases not at all.

“I was paid to work four days, and even that paycheck was delayed a week,” she says. “I was told I didn’t turn in my paperwork on time even though I submitted it a full day before it was due.”

The film’s first assistant director, Jenifer Ellis, says she negotiated her price within the parameters of the production’s original budget, which she says was later halved, after which she received a text message from the producers advising them of a new, lower price Budget was informed rate – without an offer to discuss. Ellis also waived a per diem and paid for her own accommodation “to be a team player” but so far she hasn’t been paid, although she tells SFR current accountants have confirmed her time cards have been filed. Ellis also says she was replaced by producers without notice prior to the COVID outbreak – noting she was neither fired nor terminated. Instead, she says, the head of the costume department informed her after hearing that, according to Ellis, they had hired another worker to fill the position.

This client, Gina Ruiz, tells SFR that like Land and Ellis, she has never encountered such levels of unprofessionalism in her more than ten years of film work.

“That wasn’t my job [to tell Ellis she had been replaced], but it was the right thing to do,” she explains. “I think really just the producers – and it’s not a production team, really, it’s two people; Gabrielle and Asher – are so naive and Asher is so arrogant. This combination is devastating. They performed it like a high school musical.”

Ruiz tells SFR that she wasn’t paid either, counting four time cards that were ignored. She is considering filling out a mechanic’s lien on the film, which if approved would mean that even if production is completed and the film picks up a distributor, it cannot be released until she is paid for.

“I did my job,” she says. “I owe the money to myself.”

Land, meanwhile, remains in New Mexico and tells SFR that she won’t be leaving until she and the rest of the crew have been paid. However, with Thanksgiving this week, that might prove difficult, she says.

“I think three different accounting teams worked on it,” she says. “I don’t know who the first humans were.”

“This is the most shameful and embarrassing film I’ve ever worked on,” adds Ellis, “and I’ve turned down other projects.”

Ruiz also turned down work to take the job in New Mexico and has since moved on to a project in Louisiana.

Also, it’s unclear if the production was officially sanctioned by IATSE 480, the New Mexico Film Union. Crew members tell SFR they believe a union agreement was signed after production had already begun, although a representative would neither confirm nor deny the deal and declined to comment.

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