STOCKTON (CBS13) — Stockton filmmaker Keith Lea said a group of police officers swarming his crew in an area market parking lot isn’t a scene from his upcoming Amazon Prime TV series. It was in response to a report of people with guns in the area.

“All we could hear was ‘Get down, get down, get down on the ground,’ ” Lea said. “So we just obliged. We know what police voices sound like so we just got down on the ground.”

Lea told CBS13 that he got permission from the market’s owner to do the scene in front of the store using airsoft guns.

(credit: Keith Lea)

“(I’ve) been going to that store for over 15 years. So I know the whole family at the store. So it wasn’t a problem with us filming there,” Lea said.

CBS13 was told by a spokesperson with Stockton police that, “We encourage anyone who plans on making a video that includes displaying replica firearms in public to notify and coordinate with us in advance. Fortunately, we had a sergeant who quickly took charge and de-escalated this situation to ensure everyone was safe.”

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Lea told CBS13 he’s glad that the sergeant was there to help de-escalate the situation.

“The rest of them should follow his example because he was calm,” Lea said. “You know he felt out the situation and asked the right questions. He wasn’t aggressive at all.”

Lea said he tried to go to the police and the city to secure a permit and have a police presence at the film location as he had done in previous cities.

But, he told CBS13 that Stockton didn’t have permits.

CBS13 contacted Wes Rhea, the film commissioner recognized by the California Film Commission for Stockton/San Joaquin area about the film permitting process.

The commissioner told CBS13 that there’s a big gray area because there isn’t a city ordinance that, “address the particulars of filming within the city limits.”

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He told us private properties don’t require permits for filming. A filmmaker does need permission from the property owner to film at that location. The city could ask for a special events permit if needed but there are no rules governing that process according to the commissioner.

Public properties do require a fee and a permit to film.

“We do not issue permits. We advise filmmakers on the proper path for their filming project, based on their needs and particulars.  Weapons use is always part of our conversation, and again, a common-sense procedure to prevent exactly what seems to have happened,” Rhea told CBS13 said. “We have worked with many legitimate filmmakers over the years; location scouts and production companies know to notify local LEOs if they plan to use firearms — fake or not.”

Lea feels there still could still be miscommunication when it comes to alerting authorities.

“Then they call into the police that you’re using fake guns and one of the police officers missed…rides, by…and he thinks that it’s something and it can be an accident that way.”

This hungry filmmaker hopes there can be better dialogue to make sure they can capture their vision.

“I just think we need better communication within the people in the community here, and the community of arts, of how can we hire the police…to protect us while we are doing this type of art,” Lea said.

Lea said he’ll have signs or different measures to alert people and work with police if he does have future fake or replica firearms.

Comments (14)
  1. Digital R3x says:

    Idiots. No one thought to tell the police?

    1. Mark Armistead says:

      He did, this is a process problem in Stockton.

      “Lea said he tried to go to the police and the city to secure a permit and have a police presence at the film location as he had done in previous cities.”

      1. RDPence says:

        Still, you go to the local police precinct and tell the desk sergeant what you have going on. Give him/her a one-page description of location, date, and time of the activity. You don’t need a permit to exercise such common sense precautions.

        There are a few cops in every department who are “shoot first and ask questions later,” and you don’t want them showing up at your film shoot with guns drawn. These guys sound like amateurs who just got damn lucky this time.

    2. Planet Clownfish Brain says:

      Boot licker

  2. Barry Lynne says:

    People of California, I beg you (if you are a Patriot,gun owners, and still believe in law and Order and the FOUNDING DOCS)……………Get out of that state before you’re TRAPPED or worse.
    The prison is run by the INSANE.
    You Patriots are living under a totalitarian government Right now.
    Get out before you’re DEAD.

    1. Steve Hollar says:

      I’ll second this. I escaped after 62 years, 8 years ago. Never looked back and never regretted it. I would never move back there. Or even visit for that matter.

  3. Robert Zeurunkl says:

    Anyone else think that maybe they conveniently “forgot” to tell the city of the filming in order to get a little “exposure” and free publicity? heh. Glad it turned out well for the crew.

  4. Steve Hollar says:

    The only question to ask is, didn’t the ultra paranoid gun haters who complained see the cameras, sound equipment, lighting equipment, and everything else that screams, “This is just a movie”? It’s pathetic.

  5. Chuck Zellers says:

    The sky is falling the sky is falling!

    1. MortyB says:

      California, run by idiots, for idiots.

  6. FiftycalTX says:

    Obviously there is a need for more and bigger government. If there had been travel permits so the bureaucrats knew the destination of the filmmakers and “checkpoints” every few miles, then none of this would have happened. And of course if the neighbors had reported to the STASI the presence of gunz, they could have been tracked down before they could assemble and cause the problem. Yep, all wrongthink. Time for sanctions.

  7. G Mann says:

    With the current crop of trigger happy police the crew is lucky they didn’t all die. We must not forget that most cops like to shoot first and ask questions later.

  8. luismartinez1953 says:

    Don’t look now, Lea, but you are an irresponsible idiot. The most ignorant rookie producer knows to inform the local police in advance of these types of projects, to prevent this circus.

  9. Dan says:

    The police escalated the situation then praised themselves for de-escalating the situation. Maybe I’m wrong.

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