LOS ANGELES (CN) - A filmmaker lied about her experience and "preyed upon" a wealthy family to fund her documentary, "Los Wild Ones," then tried to take sole credit for the film, an investor claims in court.
Richard Golden and Wild Ride Investments sued Elise Salomon in Superior Court, seeking punitive damages for fraud, breach of contract, misrepresentation, conversion and breach of fiduciary duty.
"Los Wild Ones," a documentary about the creation of the indie music label Wild Records by Irishman Reb Kennedy, was shown at the "South by Southwest Film Festival" in Austin, Texas on March 10 and again at Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles on Sept. 27.
Salomon, seeking financing for the film in 2012, asked Jessica Golden, Richard Golden's daughter, to produce the film, though Jessica had no experience producing movies, according to the complaint. Jessica Golden is not a party to the lawsuit.
Salomon "knew that Ms. Golden had a wealthy family and that she had relationships in the music business. Defendant sought to exploit Ms. Golden's family and relationships to produce the picture," according to the complaint.
Jessica Golden arranged for conference calls with Salomon and her father to discuss financing. During those calls, Salomon told Richard Golden that "she was an award-winning, critically acclaimed writer/producer in the movie industry," that she "had high-level relationships at television networks and distribution companies," that "she had produced two prior projects entitled 'Smashed' and 'Paper Heart'," which were "film festival 'darlings' and had won awards at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival," and that "Sundance was eagerly awaiting her next submission," according to the complaint.
Salomon also claimed that the documentary's soundtrack could be "hugely lucrative," that a "built in audience" for the movie already existed, and that her former films had "produced substantial profits for their investors," Golden says in the lawsuit.
Salomon told Golden she needed half a million dollars to produce the picture, and that the investment would be recouped in the Japan and European markets, according to the complaint.
But in fact, Golden claims, Salomon "was a novice filmmaker, with minimal experience, and no prospects for distribution. The budget for the picture was grossly excessive for the material and defendant was incompetent to produce or direct the picture for an appropriate budget. Defendant's claims that she produced 'Paper Heart' and 'Smashed' (or had any material involvement in the films), were false. Defendant's claims that 'Paper Heart' or 'Smashed' were financially successful were also false. Defendant's claim that the Sundance Festival eagerly awaited her next film for their festival was false[;] in fact the picture was rejected by Sundance."
But Golden says he believed Salomon's misrepresentations, so he agreed to finance the film, and advanced $20,000 to Salomon for pre-production costs.
Golden formed co-plaintiff Wild Ride Investments to fund the film, and Salomon incorporated Let's Get Wilder Productions, of which Salomon and Jessica Golden were the sole members, to produce it and receive the funding.
Wild Ride Investments agreed to raise $500,000 and provide cash flow in exchange for all ownership rights to the film, Golden says. Salomon was given control over creative decisions, while Richard Golden was to take care of business decisions. Profits were to be split 79 percent to Richard Golden and his investors, and 21 percent to Salomon and Jessica Golden, according to the complaint.
Before the debut of the film at the "South By Southwest Film Festival" in Austin on March 10, Salomon "attempted to delete plaintiff Golden's executive producer credit from the movie poster and advertising, attempted to exclude him from press interviews and festival functions, and otherwise sought to exert complete control over the picture despite the fact that plaintiff had paid for it," Richard Golden says in the complaint.
Golden says he sent Salomon an email describing the ways she had breached their contract, after which Salomon refused to communicate with him.
Salomon's attorney told Golden that Salomon would assign him title to the film only if he assumed all obligations of the production company and paid for production costs above the $500,000 investment cap, according to the complaint.
When the film did not immediately sell, Salomon abandoned it and did not even show up at the Los Angeles debut on Sept. 27, Golden says in the lawsuit.
He claims she continues to refuse to deliver the film to him and his company.
Golden is represented by Clark L. McCutchen.
Industry website IMDb lists Elise Salomon as producer of "Meter Maids" and "Paper Heart," co-producer of "Smashed," director and writer of "Los Wild Ones," and director of the 2001 film, "Saving Face."