Contraland: The First $2 Million YouTube Video?

When we reported on Craig “Sawman” Sawyer’s charity Vets4ChildRescue’s 2018 IRS Form 990, we gave him the benefit of the doubt that he really was going to release a documentary. Well, he’s come through. Contraland is finally available…on YouTube, not Netflix.

At the time of writing, the video has been out for 3 days and has 13,806 views and Veterans For Child Rescue’s YouTube channel has 724 subscribers.

We estimate V4CR has raised about $2 million so far around their mission to create this documentary, which must make it one of the most expensive YouTube videos ever made. It appears there is not a great relationship between NASCAR sponsorship and YouTube subs.

By contrast, the documentary Out of Shadows has been out for about a month and has received more than 12 million views just on their official channel.

This free movie has become the subject of a lawsuit between Tiffany Fitzhenry and Mike “The Stuntman” Smith. TL;DR: he claims she libeled him by text messaging his wife.

The Out of Shadows movie has also been viciously attacked by LARPer Jason Goodman, who accused one of the producers, his former frequent guest Kevin Shipp, of buying fake subscriptions. Goodman has had Craig Sawyer on his show several times; will he now promote this movie, as a rival to Shipp’s?

Although I still have my doubts about Craig Sawyer, I commend him for doing the right thing and releasing his documentary for free. Let’s hope it has some positive benefit in stopping the scourge of child sex trafficking. So far they’ve only helped bust a few low-level pedos.

(h/t Cathy Fox for giving me the heads up on this release).

#SDNY Update – Dave Acton v Jason Goodman

A lot has been happening in this so-called Fake Lawsuit, which is in fact very real. The Magistrate Judge recently made a recommendation to the presiding Judge about how the case should proceed. Dave Acton is objecting to Jason Goodman’s counter-claim, and highlighting the “Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress” precedent set by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in the Rich v Butowsky lawsuit. Join me as we dive into all this and more.

Latest filing – Plaintiff’s Objection to Magistrate’s Recommendations

2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in Rich v Fox News, Butowsky et al

Jason Goodman’s counter-claim

Jason Goodman’s Third-Party claim

Dave Acton’s Second Amended Complaint


UPDATE

Further evidence that Tyroan Simpson, aka Frank Bacon, is a liar. He claims “I have NEVER been named in any Lawsuit“; here is proof that he has been named in both the Eastern District of Virginia suit (Steele v Goodman) and the Southern District of New York (Sweigert v Goodman):

Burning Man 2018 Financial Analysis

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017

2018 Burning Man Project IRS Form 990

The Burning Man juggernaut smashes on. Since they declared the business a “non-profit”, it sure has become profitable.

Commodification Camps are running rampant, and Black Rock City has become one of the world’s most sought-after selfie destinations. BMorg even has its own private airline now to bring in the “high” rollers.

Sales were $46.6 million, up $2.1m from 2017. A cash surplus after expenses of $2.6m was generated.

A record of $2.2m in grants was given out; offset by $1.75m in donations and government grants received. About a third of the grants went outside the United States.

The Org ended the year with net assets of $26.26 million. Cash at bank was $8,981,108 with additional savings and temporary cash investments of $5,468,564 – call it $14.5 million.

It’s not enough, of course: ticket prices must still be increased every year.

We predicted that top-tier tickets would be above $2000 by 2020. We’re pretty close – adding in vehicle pass, handling fees and taxes, VIP tickets that were $390 when we started this blog in 2012 are now going for $1760.86.


Financial Comparison – 2018 to 2014

The organization employed 946 people and approximately 10,000 volunteers.

They have 16 directors; 11 of those are “independent”.

In 2018 Dennis Bartels was appointed Chairman of the Board. He was formerly the director of the SF Exploratorium.

One thing that I was highly skeptical of has now come to pass, and I’m pleased to report that BMorg did the right thing:

Finally, in 2018 we completed the transfer of Burning Man’s trademarks from Decommodification LLC to Burning Man Project. These marks include “the Man” logo and the names “Burning Man” and ‘“Black Rock City,” among others. The LLC was established to temporarily protect these words and symbols of Burning Man culture, in order to limit their commercial use and comport with our Decommodification Principle, while our new nonprofit got off the ground (more info here). With the Project well-established by 2018, the trademarks transferred on schedule in April.

Source: burningman.org

Perhaps the intense scrutiny from this site helped to keep everyone honest.

BMorg are grumbling about a 2-cent per gallon water increase which would see the local town of Gerlach making $25,000 from water sales instead of $18,000.

“Unnecessarily increasing the price to consumers will drive business away,” said Burning Man Associate Director Chris Neary in a statement at a Dec. 5 meeting with the Gerlach General Improvement District, an 8-person board.

The money earned from Burning Man for water would help to pay off the loan that the town had to take out for the federally mandated water treatment facility, which cost about $1 million to construct, Jackson said. It costs another $40,000 or so each year to maintain the treatment facility, not including labor, Jackson said. 

“I thought maybe Burning Man could add $1 per ticket for Gerlach. That would be great,” said Jackson, who suggested the dollar could go toward infrastructural improvements. “But they said no.” Burning Man representatives at the December meeting said that they were grateful for Gerlach’s resources, but it seemed unfair for the expense of a municipal water system to fall on Burning Man’s nonprofit. 

Source: Reno Gazette-Journal

The hypocrisy of these people knows no bounds. “An increase in ticket price of $1 will drive consumers away”, when it comes to the local town of Gerlach that they invade every year. Yet an increase in price of hundreds of dollars over the last few years has only led to record population counts in Black Rock City, and record revenues for BMorg. $1 per ticket would be 0.17% of revenues – less than a tenth of what they spend sending their staff around the world.

The Org are also suing the Federal Government in an attempt to reduce their permit fees.

They still haven’t figured out what to do with Fly Ranch, which they acquired in 2016 for $7 million of Other Peoples’ Money. There’s a new contest for Burners to come up with ideas.


Other Statistics

Thanks very much to our Pershing County source who provided these graphs. Some of the information is available thanks to their FOIA requests.

Note: there is 2019 and even 2020 data included here. The financials above are from 2018.

Maybe a tiny slice of those bumper profits could be shared with the local communities that have to deal with the year-round consequences of this rave in the desert. You know…to make the world a better place.

[Featured image: Rene Smith]