It’s liberating that the Internet, particularly YouTube, can make anyone a film maker.
Practically any person who wants to make a movie with a message can have their work seen by hundred of thousands—even millions of people—without the big production and promotional budgets that these things used to cost.
Overall, it’s great. It’s empowering. It’s not always a good thing, though, as in the case of 39 year-old Michael Turley of Phoenix, Arizona.
His heart might have been in the right place by wanting to highlight what he considers law enforcement’s lax response to terrorists threats with his short film “First Response.” Turley might have thought of a better way spread the word, however, than wrapping a teenager in a blue bed sheet, tying a black sweat shirt around his head and sending him into a busy intersection a fake grenade-launcher.
Even though the “actor—Turley’s nephew—tried to look as “threatening as possible,” the film-maker was alarmed that no one seemed to take the threat seriously. Go figure.
It was a full 15 minutes before a lone cop showed up to ask why the hell is a middle- aged man with a camera chasing a kid in a sheet and toy grenade-launcher down the street:
Turley explained to the police officer that Al-Qaeda wasn’t really running amuck in Arizona and that is was all part of a movie he was making. The cop, trying to be a nice guy, told Turley and his nephew to knock it off and let them go with a warning.
The story would have ended there, but it didn’t. The video was shot back in July, shortly after the Batman movie shootings in Colorado. Turley eventually released his movie on YouTube, which annoyed authorities enough that they arrested him earlier this week.
He was booked with creating a false impression of a terrorist act, endangerment, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and misconduct involving simulated explosives. The not-so anonymous movie maker posted a $5,000 bond and was released soon afterward.
The police are considering similarly charging his nephew with faking a terrorist attack. Our guess is that it will be a long time before the kid’s parents let him hang out with crazy Uncle Mike again.