An attempt to make a right-wing superhero movie ended in disaster, with $1 million lost in China and a participant facing federal indictment.
Theodore Bell, the far-right blogger known as “Vox Day,” admitted to his fans and investors in a video last week: “I wouldn’t count on a refund for us.”
This wasn’t how Bell’s followers thought their investment would go in 2019 when they began co-financing a movie based on the Confederate-themed superhero comic book character Bell created. A promotional advertisement for the proposed film, Rebel runfeatured Rebel battling a global police force that hunts free-thinking conservatives.
Tucker Carlson’s frequent collaborator, Scooter Downey, signed the directive. Bill supporters quickly blew up the initial funding goal of $750,000, ultimately raising more than $1 million.
This money was supposed to be held in an escrow account to secure millions of dollars in additional financing. Three years later, though, the money is gone, and with it Bill’s hopes of a movie.
The Rebel run The meltdown is a cautionary tale for conservatives who dream of seeing their ideas turn into movies, and it comes as the right-wing media increasingly engages in motion pictures.. Commentator Ben Shapiro’s company owns a live streaming site that features films with a conservative overtone, including a thriller about a school shooting and Western “cancelled” actress Gina Carano. Earlier this year, Breitbart News distributed a Hunter Biden biography. But Rebel run The Meltdown is a cautionary tale for conservatives that shows the transition to movies is not a risk-free endeavour.
There was reason to believe that Bell and his fans could fulfill their dream of making the transition from comic books to cinema, even if only through sheer fanaticism. His loyal followers call him the “Supreme Dark Lord of the Evil Legion” and describe themselves as “his followers”. Bell supporters, who frequently complain about the supposed progressive influence of a “social justice warrior” creeping into fields such as video games and science fiction, have already funded quite a few comic book editions and fueled controversy over the sci-fi premiere awards.
Bell’s history of racism could have made it difficult for him Rebel run, which stars a character sometimes depicted in a Confederate flag bust, to find traditional financing. He has claimed that certain races are more prone to committing violent acts and has described one of his enemies in a science fiction feud, a black author, as “half savage.” Bell joined the Gamergate movement, opposed women’s suffrage, and once described homosexuality as a “congenital defect”.
Given that track record, he turned instead to Utah-based Ohana Capital Financial, a company targeting clients who would struggle to get money elsewhere.
As Ohana’s promotional materials put it, according to prosecutors, the company offered to “bank business.” [to] Unacceptable to the bank. On November 5, 2020, Bill transferred the $1 million to Ohana to be held as security in advance of future funding for the film.
Ohana was created by James Wolfgramm, a self-described crypto billionaire who posted pictures of sports cars purportedly his own on social media. But in reality, according to a federal indictment filed last month, Wolfgram’s fortune was fictitious. Pictures of sports cars, for example, have been pulled from other sites. Wolfgramm has also sold what has been described as high-tech mining rigs for cryptocurrency — but this, too, was a hoax, according to prosecutors, with their screens running in a loop to create the illusion of miners.
The indictment alleges, unbeknownst to Bell and his supporters, that Wolfgram was deeply indebted to one of his company’s other clients. That customer paid Ohana more than $4 million in September 2020, several months after the COVID-19 pandemic, as part of what was supposed to be a payment to a Chinese manufacturer of personal protective equipment. Instead of executing the deal, prosecutors allege that Wolfram spent millions on unrelated business issues.
Now seven characters in the hole and without PPE to show it, Wolfgramm allegedly used Rebel run Money to buy Chinese medical equipment. Shortly thereafter, according to a video Bill posted to his fans, the blogger and his collaborators became suspicious and contacted the FBI, which led to an investigation into Wolfgram.
Wolfgram’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment. Bell declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.
Wolfgramm now faces four counts of wire fraud Rebel run Money and other aspects of his business. While the movie’s investors may one day get a portion of their money back through the legal system, Bell has given up funding for his superhero movie.
Bell claims, without evidence, that the alleged hoax was carried out to disrupt his right-wing fan base.
“I strongly suspect this whole thing was a targeted operation designed to break our society,” Bell said in the video he posted last week.
However, Belle is not finished with the movies yet. In a video directed at his fans, he told them he’s working on a script starring his former anti-Semitic comedian Owen Benjamin. In this new movie, Bell plans to choose Benjamin – who believes the moon landing was fake – as head of NASA.
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