January 08, 2013 7:43pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Arbitrator Rules Mayan Prophesy Filmmaker Breached Contract
This is the story of a fairly typical contract dispute, except for the inclusion of Mayan prophesies, extraterrestrials and a colorful filmmaker.
The main character in this story — and the subject of a recent arbitration decision — is Raul Julia-Levy, who professes to be the son of the actor most famous for playing Gomez in The Addams Family films of the 1990s. Over the years, Julia-Levy has been the subject of a long-running dispute over whether he is who says he is.
But this story isn't about that. Rather, it's about what happened when Julia-Levy wished to make a film entitled Revelations of the Mayans 2012 and Beyond, which reportedly would drop bombshells on the connections between the ancient civilization and extraterrestrials and reveal such prophesies as 75 percent of Earth's population dying in the next two decades.
One might assume that with the human species in peril, there would be no time to waste in wrapping up the film, but in April 2012, Julia-Levy suddenly stopped production of the documentary, firing the crew and terminating an agreement with a company that was hired to do postproduction. As a result of the action, he was taken to arbitration at the Independent Film & Television Alliance by his partner on the documentary, Elizabeth Theriot.
Theriot claimed that the operating agreement required that she approve such a dramatic decision as stopping production. She alleged that Julia-Levy had engineered a campaign to take control of the documentary even before it began production in Mexico.
She also asserted fraud on Julia-Levy's part. According to an arbitrator's decision, Julia-Levy had represented that he had the cooperation of the Mexican and Guatemalan governments, that the authorities were supporting the revelation of evidence about a contract between the Mayans and extraterrestrials and that when the production was stopped, the federal government had ordered that footage be delivered to him.
At the arbitration proceeding, Julia-Levy had his own counterclaims. He alleged that Levy had breached the contract first by refusing to forward his producer fee, that she had also sought creative control over the project and that she had withdrawn the balance of funds from a banking account when things started heading south. He said the shutdown was only a temporary one.
This fight to spin how a film about Mayan revelations ended up in disaster landed on the doorstep of arbitrator Gerald F. Phillips.
The resulting decision wasn't very kind to Julia-Levy. In his findings of fact, Phillips ruled that it was Julia-Levy -- not Theriot -- who was most to blame for the film's stoppage.
"Clearly and simply [Julia-Levy] was driven to gain control of the Documentary which he did not have under the Operating Agreement," wrote Phillips in a decision in late November, a copy of which was obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.
Phillips pointed to the testimony of someone else who had worked on the film, who said that Julia-Levy had told him that Theriot "was trying to take the movie from him."
Attempting to make sense of it, Phillips says that the statement "is what psychoanalysts refer to as 'projection' transferring ones own plans thoughts and conduct to others."
In any case, the arbitrator decided that when Julia-Levy ordered the production to be stopped in April, that it was not a "creative function" but rather a "managerial function which required the mutual agreement of both managers."
The arbitrator, who wrote that he was the subject of an intimidation attempt by Julia-Levy during the proceedings, also knocked down one-by-one all of Julia-Levy's assertions that he was getting government assistance on the documentary beyond a permit to film. There was no federal government order to deliver footage. There was no proof that the governments had promised to provide security and transportation. And certainly not last and least, there was no proof that the Mexican and Guatemalan governments were supporting the revelation of evidence about a contract between the Mayans and extraterrestrials.
As Phillips wrote, "[Julia-Levy] represented that he would produce actual artifacts, tangible proof of an agreement between the Mayans and extraterrestrials. He stated that he would produce archaeological papers, which he did. However [Theriot] testified that she later learned that they were falsified."
That's just the start of the representations for this film. No, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking was not going to be involved in the project. His office confirmed it.
In the end, the arbitrator found for Theriot on her claims of breach of contract and fraud in the inducement. The arbitrator also rejects Julia-Levy's claims against Theriot, saying that she deposited hundreds of thousands of dollars into bank accounts and was in her right when she withdrew money. Theriot, the arbitrator ruled, "had little choice but prevent [Julia-Levy] from depleting the account." As a result, she gets rights to all assets from the film.
There officially appears to be no agreement between Mayans and extraterrestrials, so thankfully, we won't be writing about any breach of contract dispute for the world not coming to an end.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @eriqgardner