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.