Nick Mead, the British documentarian who spent more than four years and a small fortune making a film about former Hells Angel George Christie, has killed the project because he came to doubt Christie’s credibility.
The film, titled The Last American Outlaw, had secured two distribution deals for all formats including theatrical, DVD, television and downloads. A year ago Mead called the documentary “the film the government doesn’t want you to see.”
The movie was last screened at the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts is Pilton, England in May 2014.
Most of the film was shot while Christie was under indictment for conspiring to firebomb two Ventura, California tattoo shops named “Scratch the Surface” and “Twisted Ink” in July 2007. Christie was one of the founders of the Angels’ Ventura charter and he was voted out in bad standing from the club in 2011. Throughout the production, Christie maintained that he had “retired” from the club.
In the course of a tape recorded, multi-day interview in October 2013, Christie told The Aging Rebel he had been expelled from the Angels. And, he explained his estrangement from his old club like this:
“They asked me to think about it. I came back on Friday. I went to the meeting and they were confused because they thought I was just stepping down as president. I told them I was leaving the club. I said my mind is made up. I had my stuff waiting at the house. I said anybody who has anything to say to me say it to me now. Okay, out in good standing. We love you brother. You’re going to stop by aren’t you? You know you’re always welcome. The door is always open.”
“Two weeks later I get the phone call…. ‘Your status has changed to out bad no contact….. Well there’s people who think you might influence the club. The club got raided last Friday night and we think you had something to do with the raid.’”
“So that’s it. After forty years. That’s it? A phone call. I don’t even get to come and defend myself. He says, ‘No, that’s it. It’s a done deal all over the world.’ I go, ‘Okay. Let me tell you now. If any of you guys approach me I’m gonna assume it’s on. Because I know what out bad no contact means.’”
During his most recent legal trouble, Christie faced two charges that carried minimum sentences of 30 years each and another charge that carried a mandatory sentence of life. He went on trial in January 2013. According to a knowledgeable source speaking on condition of anonymity, most of Christie’s defense would have examined the means and methods used to entrap and bully members of motorcycle clubs. Both former Mongol Al Cavazos and former Bandido President George Wegers were prepared to testify on Christie’s behalf. The judge in the case, George H. Wu, practically begged the adversaries to reach a plea deal. The two sides agreed to a deal on February 1, 2013.
The next day Christie issued a written statement that read:
“The man that law enforcement is pursuing no longer exists. Like the Western outlaws of old he walked into a new century and vanished. He is gone, and I ask you to let him rest in peace.
“It’s true, for forty years I rode with the Hells Angels. Thirty-five of those as one of its leaders and spokesmen. Although I am no longer a member or participant in that lifestyle, it is hard to separate my past from the present for many people, as well as the man from the myth, and that includes myself at times.
“Over time I have tried to become smarter, wiser and more tempered. I’ve not always taken the correct turns in life but when I have realized I was off course I have always tried my best to once again find true north.
“Several years ago I made a decision to not just relinquish my office, but to end my tenure as a club member: A difficult personal decision I knew would arouse suspicion in many. Through providence, I found myself on a road down which I was no longer willing to take my wife and young son.
“As a leader, you can either fish each day for your men or teach them to fish for themselves. I thought I had taught them the art of fishing. I made a mistake in judgment as their leader. And, as I slowly let go of power it created a vacuum. That set off a power struggle that created a series of events that brings me before the court.
“Although I did not personally direct anyone, I accept that if I am truly guilty of anything it is a lack of leadership. So I stand here before you ready to accept the punishment for the crimes I’ve pled guilty to and once again find true north.”
Christie was sentenced by Wu in August 2013 to serve a year in prison. Since then, virtually every document filed in the case has been sealed including all the motions to seal.
Mead decided to spike the film after he was unable to verify details of Christie’s plea agreement.
In a written statement this morning, Mead said:
“I wanted this to be a film based on hard facts and truths. Unfortunately I no longer believe in this film nor it’s subject matter. As a filmmaker you only have so many films in you and each one is sacred. Making films for me has never been about the money, but about the truth of the moment. This has become a film I can no longer stand by and be proud of .
I always have been and remain very respectful of, as well as inspired by, the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, and this continues.”
Christie was released from federal prison last fall.
Since his release, he has been negotiating to appear in a six part reality television series about his life to be produced by a New York production company named Eastern TV. The series would be cablecast on The History Channel.
Eastern TV has previously produced the television series Crazy Hearts Nashville, Love and Hip Hop Atlanta, When Robots Rule, Apocalypse Island and Cocaine: History Between The Lines.
In a casting notice last year for the as yet untitled show, Eastern wrote:
“Are you a man with miles of hard road behind you, ready to ride toward a bold new horizon? Read on…
“We’re looking for a family man who has spent years in loyal service to his motorcycle club and wants to kick start a new life starring in a brave new series commissioned by a major cable network. If you’re an outlaw with a heart of gold your greatest adventure might be about to begin…by sending us an email.”
“You need to be hard and uncompromising, with a personality big enough to fill the screen. Your family is as important as you are. If you’ve got a little girl you can’t say ‘no’ to and a wife who knows exactly how to tell you ‘no,’ we’re off to a great start. You need to be ready to put the outlaw years behind you and make a new start at something totally different. It’s great if you know what you want to do next, but if not, having the desire is enough: we can help with the rest.”
For George Christie, what is next will not include Mead’s documentary.