‘Deceptive, Sneaky,’ Laura Hoeppner Looking to Get Rich Making ‘Truthy’ Film About Swami Chet

 A suspiciously sleazy woman is trying to make a documentary about Swami Chetanananda.

It is in the early stages – where she needs access to make a sizzle reel, a short trailer she can try to use to sell it to a financier.

If you get a phone call from a woman named Laura Hoeppner, there is a back story you may want to know.

We’ll tell more in our next post.

In the meantime, a word to the wise: If she asks you to appear on camera for a so-called documentary about Swami Chetanananda, that word is “be careful.”

This is not someone you can trust.

To take it one step further, she will want you to trust her. She will tell you you can trust her, for she wants. She will tell you to get the Swami as severely as you.

She will tell you that trusting her will help you regain your voice and power and help take down the Swami.

Be careful of her.

Even if the documentary comes off, and that seems unlikely, it will not air for a year or longer. By that time, Chet may be long gone, arrested, or successful in suing and stopping the project or leaving the country.

This documentary will not take the Swami down. It may help a grasping, low-level wannabe producer get a producer’s credit and maybe money.

Possibly at your expense.

But what do you get?

Be wary if Hoeppner doesn’t offer you serious money for your appearance. I’m talking a minimum of $25,000.

By the way, she will not offer you money. Or a pittance for materials to license. This is how Hoeppner gets around having to pay talent. She will say the streamer or network does not allow payment to people who appear. 

But she may need more money.

If she asks you to appear for free, she is conning you.

She will likely offer you nothing and want you to sign a release that gives her total control of your footage and likeness throughout the world and perpetually.

The release protects and benefits in writing. However, the parts that protect you, she will tell you, cannot be in writing – the network or the streamer won’t allow it.

“But trust me,” she will say. “I want the Swami as bad as you.”

Chetanananda said trust me too.

Another thing you must never surrender is the right to see your footage and approve it before it is shown.

If Hoeppner refuses to allow you to review your footage before it is aired, in writing, [her word is not sufficient] and with a provision that you have the unilateral right to APPROVE or REJECT, or alternatively have the option to have it edited for your approval, or it is NOT SHOWN, then run for the hills.

It is a bizarre feature of documentaries, hazardous with people like Hoeppner that they neither pay talent nor give them control over how they appear.

Don’t be stupid. You aren’t an actor being paid big bucks with a top-flight director, and where you know the script.

This is supposed to be a true crime and cult mayhem. Unscripted. And foolish little crying women and dumb ass men.

It would help if you insisted you control how you appear in front of an audience of indeterminate numbers since you can appear anywhere and forever.

Insist that she put in writing that you get a copy of your entire film interview for you to use anywhere and anytime. No exclusive.

I insisted on this and got it before I filmed for the Vow.

Don’t be a fool. You want all your footage, even if you do not plan to use it. Even if they film you for 10 hours, they might only use a minute. After that, they will use it in the context they need to tell their story.

You want to approve, and you want your footage. If she sandbags you and portrays you out of context or prompts you to cry [always big for predatory documentary makers], you will want the actual footage to show it was out of context.

There is no reason why you can’t control your footage – all of it. It is your footage. Don’t be used.

If she promises anonymity or blurs your face and changes your voice, you will want to control both the original footage and the edited version with the blurring and voice change.

You will need to have complete creative control over how you appear. You will need it in writing – an agreement covering you for context – not only when you appear and any time your name is mentioned, but also the scenes before and after you appear.

Or in between.

One of the tricks of truthy documentary makers like Laura Hoeppner is to intercut footage. As a result, you will be intercut with others, sometimes out of context.

You will want more than just the exact footage of scenes you appear in. You will want to see how you are intercut with others, and any scenes before and after you appear.

You must have the right to review the entire documentary and decide whether you want to appear. You should have the right to be excised. Don’t let her tell you it can’t be done. I did it, and so did another well-known person in a recently aired docuseries, who will have a few words to say about Hoeppner in an exclusive interview.

Remember, the key to these documentaries is not truth but truthiness. It does not have to be true. But, it needs to appear true.

And it would help if you appeared as a victim to fit the narrative, which, in many people’s minds, means a fool.

But remember, you will not be fooled for a day, but with documentaries, after they premiere, people stream them for years to come.

The documentary she hopes to make is about victims. Not just the villain, Chet. The victims must be showcased to an audience who thinks you are a fool.

They want most of the audience to say, “The guy is bad, but what stupid women. I would never be so stupid.”

Part of the appeal is to make people feel good because they are not as stupid as you. So don’t be fooled. That is not just part of the formula. It is the formula.

Some will have sympathy, and most will see you as a fool that they are smarter than. I suspect Hoeppner is also one of the latter.

When lower-level wannabe filmmakers like Laura Hoeppner are trying to get their break, they are not to be trusted.

I will explain later how she heard about Chet and who gave her her story idea, which she will doubt distort if she gets this film going, which I doubt.

If you want to be daring and put your likeness out there forever, in whatever light she cares to cast you, then refrain from an ironclad agreement.

I will share my agreement discretely with anyone contemplating appearing with this woman so that you won’t get fooled into “stardom” and then regret it later.

You want to avoid winding up like the sculpture, which the sculptor said would be Shiva, but came out like a monkey.

A couple more things you will need.

She has to repay you [not vice versa] and by indemnification, I don’t mean Laura Hoeppner, an aspiring producer. I mean someone with assets to stand behind a possible lawsuit, including all attorney’s fees.

That includes any possible litigation, not only for your appearance, but for any advertising where they use your likeness.

If you don’t, you are setting yourself up for long-time regret.

You now regret what happened with Chetanananda.

There are very few honest documentary makers – especially in this genre of true crime and sex cults. Laura Hoeppner is not one I am inclined to trust.

If this documentary is made, it will be low quality, but it may be successful – since lowbrow artificial truthiness sometimes is popular – you may become famous – but not in the way you hoped.

Even if you opt for anonymity, someone will out your name, maybe the Swami himself. Be careful.

In our next story, I will explain why I lack faith in her honesty. After that, you can decide for yourself.

But once you consent to be filmed and sign one of Hoeppner’s releases, you will have no recourse.

I will have more on Laura Hoeppner.

About the author

Frank Parlato


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  • “Part of the appeal is to make people feel good because they are not as stupid as you.”

    Personally, I disagree with this. The appeal to me is to try to gain understanding into how people got into these bad situations. If the answer was just “they’re all stupid” why bother to sit and listen to them tell their stories? To me they are cautionary tales that can teach people want to look out for and traps to avoid falling into based on their hard-earned experience. The appeal for me is to try to gain understanding Into how do these seemingly intelligent and well-meaning people end up in such a bad situation that outsiders can see is bad but insiders just can’t see it. What I have learned is that it really can happen to anyone if the conditions are right (or maybe “wrong” is the better word).

  • She’s a one seasoner– check out her IMDB– one season and then the ax. Not a great pattern; must be a reason.

  • Well red flag numero Uno is that Hoeppner has one eye covered. This is a known symbol that she is willing to turn a blind eye in order to advance her career.

  • What happened here? Why are you going after this, Frank? Is Shoemaker behind this? He has the kind of devious mind that he would hire someone like Laura Hoeppner and entrap her. If she is teamed up with someone that is the clue. She can’t do it herself. She is a shill for somebody. Look how the Leah Remini people covered for Mike Rinder when he had total knowledge of Scien tology crimes. There is cross and double cross there and could be something here. Truth detection is at work here. Frank is that why you put this up?

  • Have these “victims” made reports to the police? They have no credibility if they haven’t even made a report to the police, but then tell their “story” for the purposes of a documentary. They’ll have no credibility without notifying with law enforcement. And many of them have drug histories and questionable, unstable backgrounds. Telling their “story” can easily backfire. Once it’s put out to the public, the truth won’t matter.

    • Most are out of statute of limitations, criminally and civilly. You do understand that right? You do understand how difficult and retraumatizing it is for victims to come forward, especially in a case of coercive control. It doesn’t fit expected parameters for sexual assault. If there are no legal options, I can see why people want to go forward in a documentary to get their stories out. The greater issue is, why are certain characters in this story charging forward and not considering all victims and their safety.

        • If something can be done then I’m all for it. But information I’ve had from my lawyer is that it can’t be. If you want to actually help with valid and relevant information, do so. Your snarky irrelevant remarks do nothing.

      • Yes, I can see how they’d want to get their stories out, but going with the first person that comes along– especially Laura– is NOT a wise decision. They exploit victims and they are not protected. And while there may be a statute of limitations in some of the cases, there is not in others.

    • What the fuck do YOU know about it? I’m not weepy and I am not unstable. My statement is with law enforcement. Catch me outside.

    • We’re all hoping for a huge payday and offers to star in other movies… Like say Guardians of the Universe, perhaps.

  • Swami is the danger here. And she’s not up for the challenge. It’s one thing to investigate Restaurant: Impossible (2011)
    and Seeking Sister Wife (2018).

    Praying that Natasha, Dan, Ruth and Jess don’t go down this path. Especially Natasha– she’s too vulnerable.

  • Hoeppner approached me. She is a little too “I’m a woman your a woman” type of thing. Her empathy seems somewhat forced. like she is looking to cash in on my pain.

  • Thank you, Frank.
    I have been told she wants to speak with me.
    If it mean Michael Shoemaker being prosecuted for his crimes, I’d do it for NOTHING.

    • As a victim myself, I would do anything to have Chet prosecuted — and most of us would do it for NOTHING.
      But they play games and you are not protecting yourself or the truth. They can spin it however they want. And I’ve spoken with her and there are ZERO protections for any of us. This is divide and conquer. The opposite of what we need.

  • Dumb but harmless. Wouldn’t hit my star to her wagon though- Especially if you could be in any danger.

    She’s an idiot. Swami will have her living at gold beach and you’ll be the crazy one. But the footage will be entertaining.

  • A confidante and suggested I speak with her— that she was interested in my Scientology experience.

    She was never compassionate but I fthought she was legit bc of her credits. Turns out credits mean little. I wasn’t protected. My information was taken and my situation was made worse.

    I was the target of retaliation and most importantly- she didn’t protect me or others who agreed to speak with her.

    She got what she needed and I got just what I tried to avoid- the wrath of powerful people. Trauma all over again.

  • There are many victims that haven’t come forward, many that haven’t even been named in the articles, that people like Dan, Jess, Jessica, Jayne et al don’t even know exist as they left before their time. If someone wants to do a documentary on the longstanding abuse and decades of victims, shouldn’t those people have some idea of who the actual victims are? So far we have only Pinky and Jessica Becker who’ve spoken out (and Jessica’s recanted). Others have NDAs and won’t speak. Everyone else seems to be making innuendos and basing commentary on hearsay (not disputing it) but it doesn’t make for a story. How many actual victims have spoken out that are in a position to speak publicly? Who thinks a documentary with no actual victims is going to be successful? Am I mistaken?

    • I agree there is a lot of angry bullshit interspersed with victim statements here. But it is indicative of the attitude and bitterness of people who lived (or are still living) in that place. That alone gives creedence to the atmosphere of the MC.
      In addition, please take into consideration that Shoemaker and his devoted flying monkeys want to undermine this platform as much as possible.
      I’m addition, I don’t think all the victims want their names revealed here. Some are afraid for various reasons.
      Don’t base your judgement solely on this website. There are other places for victims to give their statements that are not public.

      Wheels are turning.

      • “But it is indicative of the attitude and bitterness of people who lived (or are still living) in that place. That alone gives credence to the atmosphere of the MC.”

    • Holding up the award is an advertisement that she is indoctrinated and willing to make the movie however the highest payer wants it.

    • I agree she’s really friendly and cares about people. Just because she is not smart doesn’t mean she is stupid.

  • Let’s see if you will allow this comment.

    I have to say frank I’m disappointed in this article and your behavior towards the producers and Richard Reed who is also involved in this. I’ve spoken with all of them and your article couldn’t be further from the truth.

    Your upset that they didn’t agree to your terms.

    This isn’t a sleezy up and coming filmmaker. These are Emmy award winning producers that have made many successful documentaries.

    Your not doing this for the victims. You’re doing this out of your own selfishness.

    What’s more, I know you’ve lied to the producers about victims. You told them that certain victims wouldn’t speak to them unless you were involved. Nothing could be further from the truth. And some of these victims have told you to stop writing about them.

    You had an opportunity to be apart of this project and you blew it with your unwillingness to negotiate with these people.

    You’ll lose all your support here with this behavior.

    As a side note, these people saying they were contacted and turned it down after talking to the producers is crap. I know everyone who is talking to them and everyone they’ve reached out to.

    • Dan, you’re a two-bit person looking for a payday and 15 minutes of fame by selling a sizzle reel to Hulu with Laura Hoeppner and crew, hoping to get some scraps from a T.V. network executives’ table. You have a vested interest in her getting a network “signed up” for her production of this story. Why don’t you disclose who you are?

      Frank has been involved in an investigation and helping victims of Swami Chet’s horrific actions. Moreover, Frank is actively communicating with those with access to victims who are still under Swami Chet’s control and want to escape. Frank is trying to get these women safe. And Frank isn’t doing that to get the OK on an Executive Producer credit from an L.A. bigwig.

      Frank, Hoeppner, and her crew were negotiating with Frank before Thanksgiving. In good faith, Frank discussed the project and his investigation extensively. Before proceeding any further and releasing any more information, Frank wanted to pin these producers down. Frank has seen fly-by-night hacks in the production business before. This isn’t his first rodeo. After proposing a contract to define their engagement, Hoeppner et al. went radio silent. They thought that they could cut Frank out to make more money if they ever had any intention of including Frank at all. They would go to Frank’s sources directly to make their production more profitable.

      These actions are textbook deceptive practices and bad faith. Laura Hoeppner has shown herself to be no different than the rest of the “industry whores” that give L.A. production companies a bad name. Emmys don’t mean much anymore, particularly when you already have no moral compass. Harvey Weinstein had a cabinet full of Oscars, awards, and accolades.

      For Frank, this is about storytelling. But it’s also about saving lives because Frank Parlato isn’t morally bankrupt. Frank has saved lives before. Talk to Kristin Keefe and her son.

      You would be very well advised to take precautions before you sign your engagement with these people. But suit yourself if you don’t know that parable of the frog and the scorpion.

      Laura Hoeppner didn’t know a thing about Swami Chet before she spoke with Frank Parlato. Now, she wants to put together a production with no knowledge or background, and no moral compass. She doesn’t want to maintain the high ethical standards of journalism. She wants to put together some schlock to sell to the highest bidder. If you sign a release with her, you’re a fool.

      • Dan, I hope you call me and we can talk about this because this is a shock to me.

        I have been talking with other cult resources not involved with Frank or Chet, and they also warn me about giving my story to someone who can do whatever they want with it and paint me as an unreliable witness, weak, addicted, mentally ill etc. all for the views and audience schadenfreude.

        Have you made any official report to the police? Because if you haven’t I’m warning you if you go to these producers first, they make a documentary, twisting your words or painting you as a foolish victim in any way (i.e. for the audience to feel like “I would never be that stupid”) then you go the police? At minimum you kneecap your testimony or give all of the documentary footage to the defense including anything that makes you look bad whatever they cut…then you have no control over how they used you forever….FOREVER…. at maximum they have proof you care more about HBO or Hulu then reporting crimes like a responsible citizen.

        You talk about how you did drugs to them, for example, they’ll intercut it with images of drug use, and that will follow you and this story for the rest of your life.

        Okay, so I’ve not yet made a decision on this. I told them I’d talk to them this week, but I have to go to the police first. But I will not give them the right to do anything with my footage. You need to consider how all this will be out of your control. I care more about justice and also protecting other survivors’ reputations and dignity.

        Consider talking to a lawyer Dan, about this. I can give you resources.

      • Idk man. On the one hand, I think it’s very valuable to have an extremely skilled negotiator like Frank on one’s side. On the other hand, I just can’t imagine any producer would agree to those terms outlined in his post above. But that’s also probably why if I could have someone with skill and nerve like Frank working on my behalf, I would. I would never have the gumption to ask for all of that on my own.

        I have no skin in this game, I swear, but I gotta say I think the ex-ashram members are foolish for not banding together, taking Frank’s advice, and insisting on terms like the ones above. Let Frank make the deal, even. Seriously. if they did, they would totally get their way.

        The natural inclination I’m sure is they want to be nice and “reasonable” with these producers. But It’s just like trying to be “nice “to an employer. It’s a one-way street. in the end you are just dollar signs to them and nothing more and they don’t give a shit about you, really. Even if the producer you interact with cares, their boss or whoever controls the purse strings most definitely does not. It pays to play a little hard ball.

      • Well if Frank had not been involved, there would most likely be no one interested in making a documentary and Richard Read would not have come forward to work with us again. Frank should be involved. Why can’t it be negotiated?

    • Dan, while I side with all victims, but prefer to see myself as survivor, not a victim, I’m very curious how you could possible know every single victim whom the producers have spoken to or whom have been contacted, unless your a producer as well?

      Why would you say this? How can anyone trust your on the victims side if your throwing shade like this? What is your motivation? I’m not surprised that Frank did a story on you now, but I also have questions for Frank. Did he really lie to the producers about victims?

      Did he really tell them that certain victims wouldn’t speak to them unless he was involved?

      I don’t believe for one minute that Frank is in this game to only help people. That’s a great cover, but we all know that ultimately, Frank is after a juicy story that can bring him more attention.

      He wants to present the story as contrived and convoluted as he can to get more followers and to game notoriety and fame.

      I don’t know how anyone can read these reports and not see that.

      And I regretfully can’t seem to look away… so Frank, what’s the truth? Are you an advocate for the victims or an adversary? What is your end game here?

  • Note: the butt hurt described here is standard for most documentaries which are rarely financial windfalls for anyone despite what is being suggested here. Always read the contracts and never sign over all control or anything that is in perpetuity. Am curious on what this lovely looking young lady did that was of an especially butt hurt nature for Frank.

    • That will be revealed in its entirety in an upcoming story. But the most important fact – and I saw it with the Vow and other documentaries – is that she does not prey on people who might be fooled by possible deception.

    • Frank preyed on people!

      In grade school he use steal the fat kids’ lunch money…….

      ……He was the worst school
      custodian(janitor) ever.

      • It wasn’t the fat kid but the fathead.

        I like fat. As Nice Guy used to say. “It’s an uncommonly dangerous thing for a woman to be left without any padding against the shafts of mineself.”

  • Don’t go with her!

    Ask yourself- did you sign for any protections before you speak with her? Or let me guess- it was purely an interview that she recorded and you don’t even have a copy of— and no guarantee if a copy or how your words will be used.

    You can be portrayed in any way that suits her needs. She didn’t guarantee you anything – not even that you might look like a crazy person and swami the innocent victim.

    She’s a player who wants to make money and a name at any cost.

  • I’ve read the stories of swami Chet. He needs to be exposed further but I too had the “opportunity” to work with Hoeppner.

    She comes across as enthusiastic – but she’s self- serving. I was one of the few that sensed her shallow understanding and lack of integrity.

    She will betray anyone at anytime.

    I refused to proceed because I got nothing— meaning little in writing and no protections.

    It was the best decision I ever made.

    Please- I know it’s imperative the story of swami gets out, but other offers will come. Please wait. Everyone needs to be valued and your safety and well being protected.

    • The shit is hitting the fan and it really stinks.

      I’m encouraged by the fact that offers are coming. I don’t care if everyone fights it out and for their own purpose. Of course my preference is to proceed with a person or group whose motive is the same as mine. The fact is, however, it’s just a matter of time before Michael Shoemaker is publicly outed and his cult leader crimes and deviant practices are made mainstream news, regardless of how it’s done and by whom.
      He and all the individuals who are complicit and have participated with him are going to face a judge and jury.

      Cult exposés are so mainstream these days that Netflix will soon designate a category for them. I can see why this situation would attract media people who want to boost their careers…they will be part of the bring-down of Chetanananda’s cult. Shoemaker’s life of deception, assault and theft will be his legacy and will be trending for years to come.

      Personally I am grateful to Frank for getting this ball rolling even if things are chaotic at this point. Frank has provided the platform for all of us to find each other and continue to work every fucking day toward our goal of getting Shoemaker and his crew behind bars.
      Hang on loosely but don’t let go, people.
      Not a day goes by without work being down toward this goal.

      We, the victims, will unite and make this a reality. People who are genuinely interested in making this happen are working with us. Everything is not on the Frank Report.

      • People like Laura Hoeppner are sharks. They are all over this business. She is a small shark. She won’t get this project off the ground. It smells. No major network wants the stink that is going to attach to it. Frank ain’t done. My guess is he’s has more. Just saying.

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083
Email: frankparlato@gmail.com