Editor’s Note: We don’t typically post personal attack pieces, especially if based on speculation. However, I felt that Michael’s original piece highlighted the very real aspect of psy-ops in art and film. Michael’s article also contained an inquisitive tone (case in point: the question mark at the end of his title). This was also the first article that Michael has written wherein he does speculate about a specific individual’s motivation, as opposed to general issues and trends. We are happy that the film’s director, David Crowley, immediately came forward to clarify his position and engage in a dialogue with Michael and our readers. In retrospect, perhaps it would have been far better for Michael to have sought out this interview as part of his research into this specific film (and perhaps I should have requested that). In the spirit of interrupting our regularly scheduled programming, we are happy to present David Crowley’s reaction to the original article, as well as some of the personal lessons that Michael Winter wants to share after speaking with him. Ultimately, readers should always do their own research and realize that no one has a monopoly on truth, and one never should feel threatened by new information as it comes to light. Lastly, this interview is fascinating far beyond the initial debate – it gives insight into how independent films are made in the modern era and the low-cost tools available to aspiring film creators. – Michael Edwards
Michael T. Winter, Contributor
This author recently posted an article titled “Is Gray State a Psy-Op?” It quickly went, if not viral, then at least reposted on dozens of alt-news sites. The comments ran from (condensed) “Those evil globalist bastards! Hollywood is evil!” to “Your article is a joke and poorly written, not researched and a slam on a legitimate endeavor”.
David Crowley, the director, contacted me and he graciously agreed to a phone interview. Given the initial medium of the article itself, I felt the best format would be this one. There were numerous points in the initial piece that upon my own reflection I deemed too trivial to address. My questions posed were culled from two sources: my own questions to validity, and points brought out by comment posters. I will say that I feel I have been taught a personal lesson in journalism, and I will not forget it. I also wish to point out that not everything that seems evil is evil. There are people out there that have the vision and fortitude to not only think about the problems we face, but actually endeavor to change the dynamic of that in which we find ourselves. After speaking with David Crowley and reading his replies to my questions (below), I am convinced he is indeed genuine in his efforts to wake up the populace as much as his vehicle can accomplish.
I’ve been struggling with how best to approach you on questions. It makes me uncomfortable to view you in any sort of ‘us v. them’ paradigm. It occurred to me to just keep it simple. With that in mind, I will only address what I consider to be valid questions. I thought this format would allow you to digest and answer with greater clarity any questions posed.
OPENING STATEMENT FOR A.
I want to be clear that I don’t consider this response a defense – it’s an opportunity to address questions a lot of our fans also have. People have discovered the project at various stages in its two-year (so far) production, so everyone has questions, preconceived notions, and reservations. And while I do conduct periodic Q&A sessions on our Facebook page, 90% of our fans may never see them.
This is obviously contentious material and scrutiny as to its intent is not remiss – however, the Gray State team has never feared questioning, since we have nothing to hide. We feel very strongly about the exercise of free will, and if our fans are not questioning their reality by now, then they’re probably just here for the action. But, at the end of the day, we are simply making a movie, not proving anything, crafting an exposé of the system, or trying to batter down the horrors we’ll be facing. This is a fictional film, with fake people, places and situations. This is exactly why it’s unique – because now our message, our intent, and the visuals can be layered in without being overt, obvious, or preachy. This is NOT propaganda. While we care deeply about the message of the film – it will not be a blunt tool to batter the viewer over the head. After all – Jurassic Park did not attempt to make you believe that dinosaurs exist. It’s a story, and if it’s a good story, it’ll stick with you, stay in the loop longer, and make a larger overall impact.
Q. As many in the comments and on other comment posts have noted, your quote of $6000.00 seems ludicrously low. Please explain the reality of that figure as it relates to real-life costs such as food, fuel, rentals, blowing up glass, CG effects, editing, acting, wardrobe, insurance, fees, permits, licenses, etc. etc. It’s not my intent to put you on the defensive, please understand. In today’s high-priced (and soon to be hyper-inflation!) world, you have to admit that is a stretch. Perhaps you misquoted in the interview, for all I know. Maybe you meant $60,000 and didn’t want to correct yourself, not knowing there would be nitpicky pricks like me calling you on it. So what gives with that? While many say this is a sure sign of collusion, I am not convinced.
A. While I never expected to be audited, the budget for the trailer is a point of pride for us. For those who claim definitively that it must be a lie is either ignorant or out of touch with modern independent filmmaking, since the individual (and broke) filmmaker still has immense capability with applied patience, planning, and technology. Understand it took us a year to plan the trailer, and a year to edit it. And by us, I mean myself and my partner Mitch Heil. When we began the project we were both still students (we have subsequently graduated), but being a student put a few resources on our side, to include donated studio time where we spent three days shooting composite elements with around 40 volunteer actors. Production was done as cheaply as possible – we paid our makeup personnel and our three lead actors, but the rest were all volunteers who got wind of the project and wanted to be involved. The trailer was shot between March and July of 2011 – basically, knocking down extensive shot lists and planning around the schedules of our talent. The school also provided us with the use of a smaller studio in which Mitch built a set that was used for the bedroom wakeup and arrest scene.
A big aspect of your question likely involves the military equipment. As you know, Mitch and I are both former military. We have been running The Bullet Exchange, a military prop rental house/actor training service since 2009. The gear has been slowly gathered literally since we were in high school and decided to make movies after the Army, and now it has expanded to include police gear as well. So, the weapons and uniforms were “in house” assets. And, since the bad guys in most cases are faceless in the trailer, the bad guys in the battle shots you see are simply permutations of the same three dudes with subtle gear/weapon changeouts (me, Mitch, and Danny, our lead actor). In the riot scene we actually did have 10 riot personnel that we outfitted (many of them were 18-year-old volunteer actors), but for the ominous riot shots with a dozen riot cops or more – those are all Danny. In fact, Danny is in the trailer probably 150 times.
All of the digital material, editing, matte painting, color, music, sound, etc, were all done by Mitch and I (with the 3D CGI elements of two shots being handled by Mark Kasper, an editor/colorist at Broadview Media in Edina, MN – he helped us as we were learning Maya software, and laughed mightily after he read your article). The tank and helicopter models were purchased for about $100 each, and then we would add the components we wanted, like the turrets, antennas, different skin textures, C-wire, etc. Mitch handled most of the 3D work and rotoscoping, while I did things like matte painting and compositing. I also did the edit and score. We produced almost 90 visual effects shots, and about half of them didn’t even make the cut – but they will be used in the documentary or BTS featurettes.
Naturally, if we hired people to handle all of these things over the solid 14 months it took to finish the trailer in post, it WOULD have cost a fortune.
We documented the entire production process, and it’s our intention to begin putting it to use in the form of behind the scenes featurettes and VFX breakdowns. If you watch our current videos at http://www.youtube.com/graystatemovie, you’ll see a lot of this behind-the-scenes material in use already. In fact, the sizzler intro to these videos (with the burning city streets spelling “gray state”) was our first Maya project, and shows a lot of behind-the-scenes processes – that shot alone took 3 weeks. That’s the kind of patience and planning I’m talking about.
www.Graystatemovie.com is my first website, made entirely in photoshop and TextEdit for an “intro to html” class. We also did our own marketing, we edit our own promo videos, and do our own graphics. This also cuts costs. I just wish someone paid us to do it all, since it’s been pretty much a full-time job since November of 2010.
Q. CG – How much of the tanks, helicopters and explosions were real vs. CG? It sure as hell looked real to me on the trailer. CG is not so good yet that one cannot distinguish the difference. This leads into the cost, both in programming (if it is CG) and in real cost as relates to explosions, etc.
A. Mitch and I were both pleased about this when we read your article. As I said, we were students when we worked the trailer, and much of what we had to do was our first time doing it. So it’s nice to hear that they look convincing. Anyway, literally none of the humvees, tanks, helicopters, or explosions are real. We are excited to begin releasing breakdowns that reveal the step-by-step process behind each VFX shot.
Q. If the tanks and exploding windows were CG, skip this question. If they were real, then please explain the cooperation you must undoubtedly (I would think – and if I’m wrong here, let me know) have been rendered by the military. As stated in the article, why would the military help on a movie of this topic/nature?
A. I’ll answer the question because it’s important that we address that we have had NO cooperation from the military, nor have we asked for any. The movie Memorial Day was shot here, and the inherently pro-military message garnered it huge support from the military, to include free access to blackhawks, humvees, and a battalion of national guard infantry. Gray State does not share this luxury.
We’ve had outstanding support from veterans, though. I guess they “get” it.
Q. I wish to ask about the overall content as relates to violence. Am I correct in thinking that the storyline (as with most trailers) is packing an ass-load of action into it with the viewer’s understanding the movie itself will not be one long roller coaster of machine gunning goons? I bring this up because the trailer does not dredge up anything but anxiety and fear. You must admit (being awake as you claim) that the globalists want us full of fear and anxiety. Your movie, by the trailer, seems to be a tailor-made vehicle to engender those feelings in the viewer, thus aiding (if not purposefully) the globalists. How do you answer this?
(It is my thought that you are doing this to warn people, and that is an admirable gesture. A personal observation only; I am torn on this. On one hand, I know that if sheeple are not ‘shaken awake’, then they will remain slaves and zombies – I get that. I really feel the vast majority will be like “Wow, that was fuckin cool!” As if it will happen in some other country… too much fluoride. On the other hand, if the focus in on negative shit like this, then that’s the world we paint. Sounds idyllic, but if people quit making movies about death and rape and genocide, etc. and focused on peaceful images and loving environments, then that is what we would be about. A pipe dream, I know – Homo Sapiens Sapiens are shit. But the question is; at what point do we start on the path to non-violence? Who becomes the man to start?)
A. We’ve been accused a hundred times of being fearmongers, CIA shills, zionists, and even reptilians. But the fear question is legitimate. My response is that just because it’s scary doesn’t mean it’s fear porn, or a psy-op. If we were to frame the film in any context less horrifying, brutal, and impossible than our modern world today, then it would simply not be honest or faithful. And the trailer is nothing – the film’s script is truly terrifying. It is several degrees more brutal than anything I’ve seen on film before. Yes, the globalists want us afraid. But really, who IS afraid? Your neighbors? They don’t know what’s going on. If this is a film to “wake people up,” they’ll have to be jarred. But again, that’s not my intention – we are not prophets, and our filmmaker/artist status precludes us from being propagandists. However, we are still going to make a film that will faithfully render a possible scenario of an American insurgency, in all its brutal, violent, and tragic glory. But that is not the point of the film either – the thematic elements in play with the story are those of non-aggression, free will, love, and confidence in victory – even if they take your life and liberty.
In any film, by the climax we arrive at the core of the protagonist – his essence of character, deeply imbued with human truth – by burning away his shields to reveal who he is. In Gray State, our protagonist has a long way to go, so there will be a lot of burning. If you’re scared, good – this shit is scary. But I’m not going to scare you and dump you off at the curb – there is meaning that you’ll have to unravel in your mind for days. I have no obligation to show you a “Patriot” victory to get to the truth of character, and if the viewer chooses to shut himself off from this truth by becoming fixated on the scary images, that is simply his loss.
Braveheart. The Patriot. Gladiator. Why is Gray State to be held to a different violence standard than these beautiful films?
On a personal level, I do care about “waking people up.” But that will never be a vehicle for a successful film that actually makes it to theaters. It is my intention to reach a human truth through character development – and do so in a world construct that HAPPENS to involve modern trends. Whether or not these trends are perceived by the audience as “real world” should be irrelevant – but by then the seed has been planted. Trojan Horse, not battle axe.
Your question is really speaking to the heart of the Gray State Controlling Idea, or theme. Currently, as it stands, it is identified as “victory is possible because defeat is voluntary,” but I am trying to shift it to include more of an internal evolution flavor. The external world is what it is, and you may not be able to fix it – ESPECIALLY through the same violence and coercion that are used against you. But through collective non-participation, non-aggression, comfort/confidence in “what comes next,” and most of all, the suspension of fear, the enemy is stripped of his power. But hey, you tell me – how are you going to tell a story like that without showing some scary shit? You make a flowery hippie peace movie, and see if it pulls any weight with the audience who doesn’t already think that way.
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Q. Regarding Google and YouTube and the inordinate number of articles linked to your movie site trailer. In this I am a bit of a stick in the mud (sorry to say), but of course I am willing to listen or read your reply, because I am very interested and non-partial in that interest. It is well known and documented that Google and YouTube are globalist entities – all mega communication platform are these days – this is undeniable. You have enjoyed immense space on these two engines. Is it ALL buzz, or is there help in pushing it from them? It’s quite possible you have no way to answer me on that, and I understand. You simply would not know. It is a well-known fact that globalists are masters at using people unawares. I certainly hope your project, created for all the right reasons in your mind, has not been promoted by the globalists in furtherance of their goal of universal spiritual disharmony. It just seems like a hell of a lot of help from entities owned by the globalists, given the fact that the movie paints them (the US Govt., the UK, Germany, etc. ad nauseam) in such a harsh and accurate light.
A. This is another point of pride – our effective marketing. During production and post production (up until early summer of 2012), we had built up our Facebook presence to around 3k fans – even before the trailer was released. Those 3k fans came from our primary demographics – the people who would support and promote our efforts. We attended the Bilderberg protests and met a lot of key “leaders” of the movement. With a consistently ominous marketing “voice,” we layered clues about the film, pointed at real-world crossovers, and spread the net – then just hyped the trailer’s release by degree until the day it went live. 1,000 views every hour for the first few days, 150k by the end of the first week. People were waiting and watching. The Google hits you’re talking about are mostly forum posts by curious people interested in the trailer – and come on, the trailer is interesting, isn’t it? It causes debate like this. It went viral. If you want to believe WE made all those forum and blog posts, or enemy agents did it – that’s your business, and we can’t account for it. And we have enough to do without making shill posts on thousands of obscure forums.
The strength of the trailer is what made it viral – and naturally since it is in Google’s nature to yield search results – when you type in “Gray State” you’ll get the pages that have Gray State in them. If we named the film Cat Picture, you’d get a lot more. It is silly to imply there is more Google “coverage” than actually exists online, or that we are being helped by them. In fact, the Google ads we tried to run using those $100 free Google ad space cards we get in the mail are STILL pending approval, and never ran. Google will tell you all about Gray State – but you have to ask it first. I do not think we’re nearly big-time enough to register the attention needed to become censored (like any real project would be, right?).
As for YouTube – I don’t see how we’ve enjoyed “space” there, apart from creating an account and uploading our videos to it, like everyone else. We’ve received no preferential treatment, and our view counts aren’t even that high. YouTube will also yield a lot of Gray State hits because a lot of people have ripped the trailer to upload to their own accounts, created video playlists, or remixed to different music, or whatever – again, I presume, from the strength of the trailer.
Nothing in marketing came easy – we spent the year we were working on the trailer slowly building our name recognition among the groups, forums, bloggers, Facebook pages, etc. who would find it interesting. We just made sure when the trailer came out, people were actually looking for it. We now have about 3k YouTube subscribers and 12k Facebook fans – hardly anything comparable to someone who posts one kitten dubstep video or autotune remix.
I think if we were being helped along by the system, they’d have – I dunno – given us some of their globalist Hollywood douchebag actors, some expensive production value, or a website that wasn’t made in TextEdit by me. We’ve fought for every inch we’ve gained, and it has been a slow and steady success. If Google and YouTube are helping us, I don’t know about it – and they could be doing a far better job!
Q. What’s up with the phone number? It goes to a locksmith. I checked it twice for accuracy. I would imagine there is a logical reason, but in light of my investigative fervor you can imagine how the wheels in my mind were spinning. This is not terribly important of course, but I only mention in light of this being one question among a number. What say you?
A. The phone number on our HHP website is my phone number I’ve been using since 2007 or so, when I was stationed in Fort Hood. If you’re having trouble reaching me, I would suggest the error is on your end – my friends, family, and clients reach me with that number every day.
I imagine I’m going to get spammed after this, but I will add that I rarely answer an unrecognized number. I’ll listen to any messages left to see if they’re real people calling.
STATEMENT FROM A.
I imagine you want to know about my name. I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about my family bloodline, but as far as I know I have no connection to Aleister. But Crowley is not an uncommon name either. Neither is Mason. I think anything other than perfunctory dwelling on the coincidence of our names in relation to our association with Satan or Freemasonry SHOULD lead to the next step in logic – are all satanists named Crowley? Are any masons named Mason? Has any Nazi ever been named Heil? C’mon. My name could be Fred Smith and people would still think I’m an imaginary front man for a new satanic Hollywood psy-op film. This criticism is unavoidable, but our detractors could do better.
STATEMENT FROM Q.
As I wrote these questions (and answered some of them), I have become more convinced you are genuine on this. But then I have to remember the grieving father of Sandy Hook (smiling and laughing before going on camera to cry). See “Sandy Hook Hoax” on YouTube if you haven’t checked it- here. I have to remember there is great deception afoot, and your movie would by all appearances ‘fit the bill’ for a globalist psy-op, whether you are aware of the fact or not.
STATEMENT FROM Q.
I’m sorry to say that. You seem like a very intelligent man, so you too must admit the feasibility, knowing the globalist agenda. That being said, you can’t blame me for asking you these questions.
STATEMENT FROM A.
Nope, but I would have appreciated the email questionnaire BEFORE the last article you ran with! It’s your responsibility as an independent journalist to ask questions, and I would encourage you and your cohorts to dig deeper before running with a series of coincidences. It’s not like we’ve been hiding – in fact, you had emailed us and gotten a response before your article was published. It just makes it seem like you mistrust your own movement so much that anything of quality coming from it must be some kind of conspiracy. It’s self-defeating.
I don’t expect my answers to convince anyone of our innocence, if that is not what they want to believe, but what I’ve said is the truth about us, so take it or leave it. We honestly don’t care, because the controversy is important, and we will toil on unaffected. If the mistrust intimidated us, we would have given up after the first YouTube comment.
Do your research and believe what you like! Free will is important. In the end, we’re a couple of broke independent filmmakers making a movie that’s timely and terrifying, and struggling to pay rent in the meantime. If we’re on a CIA payroll, we’re still waiting for the check.
STATEMENT FROM Q.
Thanks for your time and consideration. I am flattered, honestly, that you are conversing with me. If you operate under a question-and-answer format, we can just post this and let it ride. If you are standing in the light of truth, then you should welcome the opportunity to address the questions that not just I, but many people, have posed.
Note: If you missed the trailer from the first article, it can be seen below:
Your comments about this debate are most welcome, please include them below.