Documentary - Pre-Production 2018

    • Year of production
    • 2018
    • Genres
    • Documentary, True Story, Social issues
    • Countries
    • USA
    • Languages
    • Director(s)
    • Olivier HERMITANT
    • Writer(s)
    • Olivier HERMITANT, Michael DIGREGORIO
    • Producer(s)
    • Olivier HERMITANT (Route 07 Productions)
    • Synopsis
    • The New Outlaw West

      From what Baudrillard called, “the only primitive society of the future”—ours—comes a story as old as the Old West itself.
      Compelled as much by desperation as an easy score, two men, as gaunt as the raw desert that lends them camouflage lay in wait. They’re hunkered down in a sandy wash, a dry river channel about 240-miles southeast of Los Angeles.
      One cradles an iron crowbar, the other, a pair of heavy bolt cutters. Their shared anxiety, wrought by smoking methamphetamine and the chance of arrest, is only compounded by 40C desert heat that refuses to wane even at 1:00 a.m.
      A Southern Pacific freight train, etched with all manner of graffiti and urban tags dominates the saltpan flats before them. Its idle, stretching three quarters of a mile, and points east to give a westbound passenger train the right of way.
      Direction is key to the shadowy figures: eastbound trains depart the busy Port of Long Beach laden with easily fenced electronic goods. After a quick scan of both sides of the freight train with surplus military binoculars the men strike.
      Before the freight train begins to noisily grind and lurch forward two-dozen 42-inch liquid-plasma TVs are pitched into the wash that burrows about 15-ft. beneath the railroad grade. Five minutes later 50 or Dell laptop computers are flung hastily into the wash.
      Less than eight hours later, in nearby Niland (pop. 1500) the high-end Korean-made TV can be had for $100. The laptops bring about $25. They are also bartered for crystal meth and Mexican chiva (heroin.)

      With unemployment in California’s southeast, specifically rural Imperial County reaching between 30-60% history has begun to repeat itself. “Yes, they’re hitting the trains all over again,” says Fire Chief Mike Aleksick.
      Before becoming Niland’s fire chief Aleksick served as a motorman (engineer) for Southern Pacific for 20-years. “In these great open expanses of desert it’s easy for them to hit a freight car, dump it where no one will find the cargo; then return with a four-by-four truck.”
      From Chief Aleksick—the only law in Niland, a scruffy shantytown--we meet Tracey, a foxy 30ish bull (security agent). The latter uses infrared binoculars and lasers to detect robbers laying in wait. She also leans on Aleksick for criminal intelligence on who’s hitting her trains. We also meet, in shadow, the men who pulled the heist.

      From California’s poorest corner we transition north into the more remote East Mojave National Preserve. Approximately 250-miles north of Los Angeles, train robbers use 1800-miles of dirt roads to both set upon the mile long, double-stacked freight trains that crawl through the long grades, then haul out with whatever good they’ve stolen.
      Fifteen years ago the railroad estimated losses here alone in the East Mojave National Preserve stood at $1-million a month due to robbers. So profound is the problem now they’re not offering figures.
    • Partners & financing
    • Looking for partners & Financing
    • Beginning of shooting
    • Jan 15, 2018
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