Police May Sue Over "Reel" Life Drama

Filmmaker dodged a tragedy but may not escape a fine

By Greg Cergol
|  Thursday, May 6, 2010  |  Updated 6:33 AM EDT
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Police May Sue Over "Reel" Life Drama

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Independent filmmakers always operate on a tight budget; but director Fred Carpenter may soon be hit with some unexpected costs for his new film, "Jesse.".

Nassau police are considering suing Carpenter to recoup the cost of sending close to two dozen officers to a phony hold-up at a Bellmore convenience store, according to department spokesman Det. Lt. Kevin Smith.

The officers responded to 911 calls Tuesday, after passers-by reported seeing several armed gunmen inside the locked store on Merrick Road.

However, the robbery/hostage situation was not real.  It was a scene from Carpenter's latest production.

Store surveillance video captured officers entering the store to confront the movie gunman.

"They didn't see any cameras at first," said Lt. Smith. "Just think of what could have happened.  If an actor had turned the wrong way, the officers would have had no choice but to open fire."

Fortunately, the officers showed restraint.  No shots were fired and no one was hurt.

"The cops did a great job," said Carpenter. "It was a happy ending."

Still, it's an ending that might end up costing Carpenter. 

"I will have to take it like a man," the director said Wednesday as filming continued in an alley alongside a Bellmore movie theatre. "The police were one hundred percent in the right."

Police acknowledge that Carpenter did not need a permit to film inside the convenience store; but say it's protocol for filmmakers to notify law enforcement if they are working in the area.

Police have ruled out that someone on the production team called 911 to generate publicity for the film.

"The crew is expected to return to the convenience store over the next couple of weeks; but store manager Sanjay Patel, himself an actor in the movie, says, this time, he will put a sign on the door alerting customers that a movie is being shot.

"Jesse" is due to be released in the fall.

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