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Saturday, 22 December 2012
INT Base 1997 Cine Shoot Crew - BFG PDF Print E-mail
After hours and hours of sec checking, it was around 1 AM at night. It was now that we would realize that up until now we had never experienced anything that would compare to what was to come. We were told to muster outside on the road that was next to the dining room. We were told that where ever we went, we were to run, that we would not speak unless spoken to, we would be on a strict military schedule and that we would not be leaving the property to return to our own berthing until all of us had admitted to all the crimes we were involved in.

The 6 of us lined up on the road. There were 4 guys and 2 girls. We were all tired and had not really got more than a few hours of sleep in at least one month. It was July and we were not only skinny from not eating much, but the heat and lack of sleep had really taken its toll on our overall energy level. It was now about 1AM. Most staff on the property had long since gone home. Most of the lights on property had been turned off and it was very dark out. Here we were, just having spent hours being grilled about what crimes we had been committing and all we wanted to do was get some sleep.

It was at that moment when 3 off road motorcycles pulled up. Jon Stumbke, IG MAA RTC was on one and the others were driven by Gold Security guards. “Run” they said. “Stay in the headlights and run until we say stop!” We started to run.

Where were we going? What the hell was this?

I had heard of some crazy shit going on at the Int base but this was beyond anything I have ever seen or heard. Motorcycles driving behind us in the pitch black while we were made to run ahead of them like dogs. With them yelling out at us every few seconds to keep going or scolding us for slowing down. They kept driving and would yell out to go left or right at certain points and we were just running all over the property.

The property at the Int Base is over 500 acres and some parts were fairly undeveloped. We ran all over the property and kept on running. When one of us would slow down or stop. The others were ordered to grab that person and force them to keep going. No matter what, we were not allowed to stop for any reason. We ran across grassy areas, dirt, pavement, through trees, and anywhere else the guys on the motorcycles decide to drive. It was almost as though we were not anywhere in specific, but that we were just going to run until someone had decided we had run enough.

Finally one of the girls just collapsed. She could not run any more. She was tired and was crying. The rest of us were made to do push–ups while she was yelled at and made to get up and get running again. She cried and ran at the same time. It was horrible to watch. It was horrible to experience. It was just plain horrible. That sick felling you get when seeing something awful and wrong.

This moment would be burned into my existence forever.

I knew then, that I would never forget this for the rest of my life.
2:30 AM comes and we were told that we were now going to run where we would be sleeping. Thank you. Finally the torture was over.

We were told to run out to the Southside of the property. This did not make sense, as there was NOTHING out there. No buildings, no shelters, nothing. Just some trees and grass fields. But as the motorcycles roared behind us, we ran and ran until we reached the Southside. Finally, we were told to stop.

We were told to stand at attention in the dark. Most of us used this time to catch our breath. The one girl was still weeping and would sniffle from time to time amidst her crying. About 10 minutes would pass before we all saw a pair of headlights coming towards us. It was a pick-up truck. It pulled up, someone got out and climbed into the bed of the truck.

They proceeded to kick a large bundle out of the back of the truck and throw some poles down on the ground. The person got back into the truck and drove off. It was pitch black out and if there was any moon out it was a sliver. We could barely see each other a few feet away. The only light was from the stars themselves and a faint glow from the nearby town of Hemet. Jon Stumbke told us that we would be sleeping out here tonight. Two tents were provided for us and that was all we got.

We were told that we would be marched back to our next assignment at Sunrise and that by that time, we had better have our tents packed up and ready to go by the time the sun was up over the mountain. He got onto his motorcycle as did the two security guards that so happily drove after us with him for the last 2 hours. They drove off and with them left the only light we would see for the rest of the night.

Until this moment in my life, I had never appreciated the Coleman camping tent that I had enjoyed as a child. You put two poles into a fabric sleeve and poof you have a tent! The tents we were given on this night, were no Coleman tents. That were what appeared to be very old musty canvas tents from the army. They could not have been less than 30 years old, and the poles that went with them were very old and worn down. It took us at least 45 minutes to even figure out how the tent and poles went together.

It was pitch black and we have never even seen these tents much less set one up previously. By about 3:30 AM we had the tent set-up. Turns out that old style tents did not have bottoms like the new nifty Coleman tents either. We had tents, but no blankets, or tent bottom to sleep on. The grass was still a bit wet from earlier that night. Most of the grounds at Gold have sprinklers that are timed to go off around 11PM. 4 hours later and there was still a bit moisture left. Most of had to just rest our head on our hands or just sleep directly on the grass.
Luckily it was summer and it was not too cold outside.

That was about as lucky as we would get. At 4:30 AM the sprinklers went off. Not all of the sprinklers on the Southside went off. ONLY the ones where we were sleeping.

Most of us jumped up and ran out of the area where the sprinklers went off. It was a dirt area not fifty yards from where we were sleeping. Now our clothes were most definitely soaking wet and we had nothing to dry off with. A few of us managed to just lay down in the dirt and go back to sleep, while one or two would just sit there until the sun came up an hour later. After dragging the wet tent out of the grass and packing it up, we were greeted by another security guard on a motorcycle. Of course, Jon Stumbke and the other two guards were sleeping in their warm beds somewhere and would not be here to rouse us this early in the morning.

I am sure each of us was thinking that exact same thought as we saw the new guard pull up. Anyway, he told us to run over to the garage, and we could take showers there. We were given 10 minutes to take a shower and be back outside ready for our breakfast. Most of us just, washed our hands and face and went back outside. The water in the garage was freezing and by the time the water got hot enough, it would be time to go.

We were told to run over to the galley and see the cleaner in the kitchen. She would give us breakfast and tell us what was next. We got over to the galley and there was the cleaner. It seems everybody loves it when they are the lowest person on the totem pole and they get to boss someone around. The cleaner tells us that she has some bread and water for us.

We are supposed to eat in 5 minutes and then get to work. It seems no sooner than we see her leave, she is back telling us that breakfast is over and hands each one of us a toothbrush. She informs us that she and the rest of the galley staff are taking the day off as it is Sea Org day. We are supposed to spend the entire day scrubbing the galley floor tiles with our newly acquired toothbrushes. You have never felt pain until you have spent 16 hours on your hands and knees scrubbing floor tiles with a tiny toothbrush. Lucky for us, we got a 10 minute meal breaks for Lunch and Dinner. Luckily for us as most of the Int Base crew were off for the day and not that many people were around to see us scrubbing the floors. It was humiliating enough that we had the cleaners bossing us around. We looked like utter shit, from not having slept or showered.

By the end of the day, we were all nearly physically incapable of doing anything besides sleeping. We were made to run out to the area where we had slept the night before. Knowing full well that the sprinklers had been reprogrammed to coincide with our sleep time. We moved our location out of their range and all of us had smuggled large plastic trash bags out of the galley to use as sheets to sleep on.

We at least knew how the tents went together, so setting them up did not take as long. We were able to get to sleep around midnight. For the first night in many nights we would get a full night of sleep, so we thought. At around 3AM, we awoken by another security guard. We were told that we were not allowed to sleep on the grass as we were supposed to be being punished and making amends and did not deserve such luxury. We were told that we had to break down the tents, carry them over to OGH and rebuild them there. It took 20 minutes to walk to OGH from where we were with no tents in tow. Getting over there with the tents took a good 45 minutes.

Everything around OGH was dirt. There was no grass anywhere around. We looked at the bright side, no grass = no sprinklers. By the time we got over there, we opted to just lay the tents on the ground and sleep on top of them. This would give us a little more time to sleep as we would not have to break it back down in the morning either. Day after day, week after week. We would do the same routine. Not allowed to talk with other staff, not allowed to go back to our own homes or berthing. Not allowed to see our spouses. Out of the six of us, four were married and had spouses that also worked at the Base.

2 weeks in, we did get a surprise; the entire rest of the shoot crew would join us. Another 20 or so people sleeping in the dirt. None of them even knew why they had joined us out in the tents, scrubbing dumpsters all day, or toilets, or floors again with toothbrushes. They just ended up out there and who know how long they would stay. It would be about two months before we were allowed to return to our normal duties or return to our own beds to sleep.

Not one of ever did admit to any crimes and nothing ever came of anything. The TR#1 film was completed and Dave Miscavige himself sat in the editing bay with the Chief Editor and used all of the shots we shot from all four times we shot that last sequence and managed to do what we had suggested before any of the bullshit mental and physical torture would take place.

We were given no explanation as to why we were allowed to go back to post, no nothing, just go back to your life as if nothing had happened. Oh but something had definitely happened. Several individuals had been emotionally scarred for life. To this day I think that the night we were being chased around the Int Base by motorcycles in the dark is the only time that I have even entertained the idea of suicide in this lifetime.

Years later, after I myself had become one of the highest executives at the Int Base, would I find out what had happened and why we were eventually allowed to return to our normal lives. It turns out that after Dave Miscavige had ordered us out into the tents and for the guards to run us all over the property and so forth, he got involved in some big legal suit and totally forgot about us. He went off to LA and was working on other matters.

As he never ordered us to go back to post, we never went back. Some weeks later, the subject of the shoot crew came up in some meeting and to his “supposed” amazement; we were still out in the tents and scrubbing toilets all day. We were then ordered back into production like nothing had ever happened. The story above is one of hundreds. The amount of staff that have been through a similar experience would fill volumes and volumes.

Out of the Cine Shoot Crew that were there in 1997, at least 18 of the 25 staff are no longer there today. Blown, offloaded, RPF’d or just plain disappeared without explanation, they have moved on.

There is no happy ending to this story. It happened. I wish it hadn’t, but it did and I cannot change that. I can however, make an attempt to make it so it does not happen to someone else in the future. It is for that reason that I have chosen to post these and other incidents that occurred during my 15 years at the Int Base. Ultimately all of these years will be fully documented in book form.

Until next time…

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