Friday, March 10, 2006

"Earth's Original Sin"

Someone on a message board somewhere (I think it was Mike Jamieson) posted my "Paul on the Road to Laughlin" column with the title "Paul Kimball Mellows", or words to that effect. Remember, folks, I said that one should never mock believers for their belief . I never said that one shouldn't mock them for crazy ideas they may put forward, or kooky schemes they may come up with, especially when those kooky schemes appear to be scams.

Exhibit A, from the 15th Annual International UFO Congress Convention and Film Festival:

Earth's Original Sin.

What, you ask, is Earth's Original Sin?

Well, it's an idea cooked up by alien-implant guru Dr. Roger Leir (who was milling about the convention pretty much the whole week) to... well, I always find it's best to let people like Dr. Leir speak for themselves. The following is the full text of a little brochure that he and his colleagues left on each table in the main conference hall one night, during some film festival screenings. Any grammatical errors are from the original.

"Earth's Original Sin

Produced by Un-Named Productions

Roger Leir
Tom Michels

Written by Joy Mattingly

Earth's Original Sin, a large-screen production has been designed to be a low to medium budget film project. The film is an entertainment production based on the Alien Abduction research of Dr. Roger Leir.

The film will encompass all aspects of the subject of UFO's such as Alien Abductions, Sightings of UFO's, Crop Circles, Cattle Mutilations, Intergalactic and Dimensional Travel and delve deeply into the secrets held by the privileged few. It will portray the roles of the Religion, Secret Societies, World Governments, and the Military Aspects of the subject. As with all major motion pictures, it will include a hero, heroine and a complex adversarial plot. The intent is not only to entertain, but also to tantalize the viewer with a plot involving intrigue, complex relationships among the main characters, including a powerful love relationship which develops between two of them.

This all takes place in a setting of mystery and with the use of special effects will draw the audience deeply and emotionally into the film. The two heroes depicted will be the Catholic Church and N.A.S.A. The antagonist will be portrayed as a non-descript group or cabal who will go to any length to keep the facts from the public - that indeed the earth is being visited and has interacted with non-terrestrial intelligences."


N.A.S.A. as a good guy? This project is obviously not endorsed by Richard Hoagland!

The Catholic Church? Hmm... nothing against the Church, but it isn't exactly the poster-group for good behaviour these days, at least in North America.

Now, I thought the little pamphlet Leir et al left on the table was amusing enough, but then out popped the good foot doctor, in between film festival screenings, to plug the project, and show a trailer that had been cut to promote it and help raise money.

We all watched it, and I was among the majority that spent much of the time (4 minutes) laughing our heads off - and remember, this was a crowd that was generally pre-disposed to buy into much, if not all of the stuff, outlined in the plot synopsis above. Yes, folks, it was that bad. Forget "B movie" quality - there isn't a letter low enough in the alphabet to describe how bad it was. It was so bad, it made Ed Wood Jr. look like Steven Spielberg.

Still, as I said, harmless and amusing. Until Dr. Leir got to the purpose for all of this.

Again, from Dr. Leir's promotional pamphlet:

"Purpose For Production Of This Film

The purpose of this film is only one: Simply, to raise money for legitimate scientific research in the Ufology Phenomena. It is the intent of theproducers to establish a West Coast facility for this research. This will result in the purchase of property as well as construction of the buildings which will house all the equipment and personnel necessary to carry out the intent of the research. We have had a number of pledges not only from the scientific community, but also respected researchers within the field of Ufology to cooperate in this joint research effort."

I have an FYI for Dr. Leir - the LAST way you go about raising money for a research center, if that is your true goal, is to raise the money, and then make a lousy, low budget film, which will almost certainly never turn a profit, and will in all probability LOSE money, as most films do these days. If you're really serious about raising money for this so-called research center, why don't you just raise the money for the research center?

I remember when I was working for the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation, and there was talk of establishing a film school in the province. Government and business leaders got together and discussed how the school would be financed. A number of options were raised, but it was always about how they would directly raise capital for the school. No-one ever suggested that we should make a feature film in the hopes that it would create a profit that could then be used to build the school. Anyone who would have raised such a suggestion would have politely been asked to leave (and I'm not all that sure about the "politely" part).

No, the kindest spin I can put on this is that it is some sort of ego trip by the good foot doctor, or perhaps he's just an incredibly lousy businessman with not a scintilla of common sense. The less kind spins? Well, for that we have to consider from whom he's looking to raise the money to make the film (which is what his pitch to the convention delegates was really all about).

Again, from Dr. Leir's promotional pamphlet:

"State of Present Development

Our script is three-fourths finished. The corresponding teaser has all been shot and is now with the editor and graphic artist for his primary edit. We expect these to be simultaneously completed within the next 90 days. Once this has been done there will be a series of production meetings which will result in both the script and teaser being carefully scrutinized, corrected, and finalized in a form that is absolutely 'Madison Avenue' for formal presentation to investors. A budget and distribution plan will be presented as well.

Current Offering

The producers have decided to offer potential financial participants the following at this time:

We will accept donations of $500.00 each to our 501(c)3 non-profit research organization, A & S Research. For each such donation, Un-Named Productions will gift the donor 1/8th of a point based on the gross profit of the film over a 20 year period.

If you need a legitimate tax deduction and would like profit from financial participation in this film project, please contact Roger Leir at:

or write to us"

This is the kind of thing that makes my skin crawl, and that really does give ufology a bad name. Dr. Leir was there looking for some poor suckers to put $500 in a project that - assuming it even gets off the ground - is NEVER going to make money. EVER! And by the way - just how are you going to be raising money for the "research center" when you're giving away the profit to investors?

Here's another question - when the budget is finished (and who goes around looking for investors when they don't even have a budget yet??), how much is Dr. Leir going to take in producer fees? Other fees? Corporate overhead? Etc.

Despite the fact that most of us had a good laugh at this at the time, there was probably some nice, well-meaning (but naive) people in the crowd that night, or will be down the road somewhere, who will actually cough up the $500 (or more) for this baloney.

That's the REAL sin here.

It was a BIG mistake for the organizers of the convention to allow Dr. Leir to present this "proposal" to the attendees.

Paul Kimball


The Odd Emperor said...

I’ve seen this happen a couple of times before. People with the best intentions attempt to air their particular agenda in a medium which they only partially understand, do a terrible job of it and end up hurting their case much more than helping it.

Roger Leir. could locally produce the film with free distribution over the Internet but, if he thinks that he’s going to do something even to the extent of the Left Behind movies he’s kidding himself. He’s going to need some pretty hefty backers and who’s going to hook in to a clear loss like that?

Besides, this movie has already been made, in the 1970s – by Spielberg no less.

You said;
“It was a BIG mistake for the organizers of the convention to allow Dr. Leir to present this "proposal" to the attendees.”

Naa, the convention organizers don’t need to start screening stuff, then they would expose themselves to cries of censorship and all that rot. Leir needed to be a little more circumspect and realistic with a project like that. He should know better but I usually think that whenever I read his stuff.

BTW I do agree with your stance on respecting belief etc. I’ve had far more nice conversations with believers in the ETH than otherwise, each time I’ve come out feeling good about the other person even though I disagreed with their conclusions. Respect breeds respect and to go after a person’s beliefs in a harsh way is like physically assaulting them.

But kooky scams or people who think being rude is a good way to win an argument? Liars and frauds? Bigotry and unfairness? Hateful spewing and attempts to hurt people? All fair game (for mocking) in my book.

Mac said...

What's funny -- or, more accurately, tragic -- is that even though Leir is most certainly a fruitcake extraordinaire, he's actually eclipsed by other "notables" like Sims.

Ufological insanity is nothing if not relative.

Anonymous said...

what the f,,were you doing at this place ?