Sent to me from the dark screen:

DPortM said on 4 Aug 2009 at 7:29 am:

Sudley and Westgate Updates – Recent Filming in the Neighborhood
Eric Byler was in the trunk of a car driving around filming Westgate and Sudley neighborhoods on Sunday afternoon
Univision was back on the 9600 block of Lafayette in Westgate yesterday early evening filming the “taser” house and requesting interviews from the neighbors

How sad. DportM probably should have talked to Eric rather than ‘her friend’ to get the real story.

I have no idea about Univision. Guess they were out doing their own thing.
What they were doing is not my problem.

However, I did know Eric and and Jeff were in the ‘hood. I contacted Eric for his response to this rumor:


Yes, Jeff and I had set up the tripod in the trunk of the car to get a more steady shot. We were shooting what is called B-roll for the feature length version of 9500 Liberty. Some shots need to be done over because a feature film requires a certain level of production value.

There were some shaky camera shots during a scene about MS-13 graffiti. One was of Sudley Elementary School and the other was of the church next door. Since it w as going well, we shot another street as well and passed by Patty from Help Save Manassas.

Then things really got interesting, apparently.

When the police officer approached us, he told us that a woman had called and said a “dark haired man” was scoping out the neighborhood. I just laughed and said, “Oh, that’s just Patty. She knows who we are. She’s just trying to harass us.” The officer seemed to understand immediately. He asked if she is the woman who is always calling them about all sorts of things. I said I didn’t know.

I gave the officer my card and told him about the film. I explained how I’ve known Patty for two years as one of the most devoted members of Help Save Manassas. We talked about the attack on Chief Deane. During this time I asked Jeff to set up the tripod and get a shot. We had actually been hoping to spot a police cruiser in order to get some B-roll for another scene.

Then another cruiser pulled up. I said, “Two cruisers?” And he said that he had shared the report over CB with a fellow officer in the area. The second officer did not seem pleased to learn the 911 call had essentially been a prank. Then the rain started and we said goodbye. In the meanwhile, Jeff got a really great shot that I have already added to the film.


Several of us knew Eric and Jeff were in the neighborhood and had told him where various landmarks were. What a shame that valuable county resources had to be wasted by involving the police when no wrong-doing was taking place. Is it now illegal to shoot film? Would that ban be on video footage or digital cameras? It is time for some folks to stop using county resources for their personal vendetta. We can’t just call the police on people we do not like.


I received the following from Eric yesterday.  I had decided not to post it.  On second thought, perhaps some clarification is needed since several readers want to overlook bad behavior of their friend and cast blame on Prince William County Police.  (Who could forget the trash talk about Chief Charlie Deane from the black velvets)


I really did not anticipate that anyone would be upset at the police officer for asking me what I knew about frequent calls from the area.

What happened was Jeff told me that Patty had reacted strongly to seeing us roll by. He said she had started following us on foot. I told him not to worry about it, but when a police cruiser approached me not five minutes later, I figured it had to be Patty that called.

After hearing the officer state the caller’s complaint, which did sound scary, I wanted the officer to know I was not a threat as quickly as possible. I said what came to my mind: that Patty must have called and that Patty knows who I am.

I interpreted the officer’s subsequent shift in demeanor, from mild concern to friendly professionalism, to mean that I had guessed correctly about the name of the caller. But another interpretation might be that he intuitively sensed I was not a threat. I think he probably asked me if the same person had also made other calls because I had seemed so certain about the identity of the latest call. I don’t know. But I can assure you that he meant no disrespect to Patty, Greg, or Help Save Manassas by asking.

The second officer did not characterize the call as a prank, just to be clear. That word choice was mine entirely, perhaps reflecting a recent experience where Patty was among a group of people who tried to disrupt me when I was filming. All of this is my interpretation, written in a hurry, and should not reflect poorly on anyone in the Prince William County Police Department. They were just doing their job.

114 Thoughts to “Dispelling Rumors in West Gate”

  1. Sigh. If you see something suspicious or out of place, call the police non-emergency number. Period. Let the police handle it. That’s what I learned in Neighborhood Watch training.

    Posting As Pinko :Does it strike anyone else here that some of this is so utterly middle school?
    Never mind. I’ve seen middle school kids behave more maturely.


    I want everyone to go to your room now and think about what it must feel like for someone to drag your real name through 100 posts on a blog.

    Don’t tell me “they did it first.”

    Just be glad I caught you doing this, not your father.

    No, I won’t tell him if you stop it now.


  2. Leila

    Anon-100, I am not clear who if anyone was in the trunk. Byler suggests that it was Jeff Mann who got the shot. Jeff Mann’s hair color is unknown to me.


    About it seeming suspicious as compared to a person “standing on the sidewalk.” Well, hum, I guess. But exactly how do you suppose moving shots are done for professional films/videos? I ain’t no Cecil B. DeMille, but I know about the dollies used for moving shots in big money productions, and if you don’t have one of those, you improvise as is ably explained on this webpage (among countless other sources on filmmaking). I just picked this one because I liked the frankness of the line:

    “The classic guerrilla dollies are wheelchairs and shopping carts. Shopping carts are usually no good, because, face it, you have to steal one to use it.”

    As I mentioned, I’m no filmmaker, so I could very well be totally wrong. But if I’m right, it’s only really suspicious because a low-budget doc crew just gerryrigs something and shoots, it doesn’t bring everyone and his brother down to a neighborhood to close off roads, run around sounding pretentious, etc., to make a simple shot. If the 9500 crew did that, y’all would have another complaint. Maybe Byler et al should have put a big sign on the car, FILMING, like a press vehicle in a war zone. Naah.

  3. Lafayette

    How very funny and true.

  4. Lafayette

    Long time, no see. I sure don’t want to see shopping carts used in the neighborhood. I see enough at vacant houses and just left on the sidewalk. I do think maybe, Eric and Jeff could’ve gotten their shots with the camera and operator in the back seat of a car. I’ve rode with a crew from PBS and CBS(local) they did their filming from the back seat. I’m no film maker myself, but I know what I’ve seen others do.

  5. Gainesville Resident

    There used to be a Giant shopping cart down by Stonewall Park, it was there for about a year until it finally went somewhere else I guess. I called Giant about it, and they had the nerve to ask me to bring it down there! Forget that. I called the Manassas city police non-emergency number, after it had been there for 2 weeks, and they said to call the Giant! After that I gave up. I wasn’t about to lug the thing 2 miles back to the Giant food store – when I wasn’t the one who brought it there in the first place. It’s not like it would have fit in my car. The thing that always puzzled me, it is about 2 miles from the Giant food store to Stonewall Park. Did someone really walk with their groceries that far??

  6. Lafayette

    The WestGate Giant has up signs in English and Spanish about removing shopping carts. There was a decline in stray shopping carts after the signs went up. I used to tell the manager at Giant everytime I was there about the carts. I suggested the locking wheels like Shoppers or signs.
    Or this shopping cart “grave yard” in Coverstone.

  7. Moon-howler

    I have some fairly decent camera equipment. I have won a couple awards for still photography taken in the west. That doesn’t make me Ansel Adams–not by a long shot. I’m with Leila on this one. Let’s let the professionals handle their art form as they choose to.

  8. Lafayette

    Moon, you still have time to get your stills entered in the PWC Fair. Perhaps, you could take the blue ribbon home. This is the fair’s 60th year. Anyone, 60 years old gets in for free this year. Please, visit the link below. The entry form is in there. 🙂

  9. Moon-howler

    Only if they declare me Ansel Adams. I wouldn’t go to that place if I knew I would win a gold Rolls Royce. It embodies everything I dislike.

  10. Lafayette

    Doubt that’ll happen.
    Even though I hate chickens in WG/Sudley, I do enjoy seeing them at the fair. 😉

  11. Moon-howler

    There are chickens in Gainesville also. Attack chickens. They do staredowns at dogs, right Gainesville Resident?

  12. Gainesville Resident

    Yes, MH – as I told you about a week ago, I took my dog out back and there was a chicken wandering around the backyard – and it and my dog stared at each other for a good minute or so, before it started to come closer and my dog started barking and the thing ran off into the woods. I have no idea where it came from. I’ve seen deer, rabbits, and even a red tailed fox around the neighborhood or in my backyard, but this is a first seeing a chicken in there.

  13. Moon-howler

    Are there farms nearby where you life, GR?

  14. Elena

    In France you have to put money in a machine to get a cart, the only way to retrieve your money is to “click” the cart back in with another cart. I think it’s only fifty cents or so, but you don’t see any stray carts!

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