Questions Over Police Involvement in Film
WILLIAMSPORT — A film crew in Williamsport is creating some controversy because of who is being used as characters.
The film crew from California has been in town since Monday working on publicity for a movie that will be called “Hotel 33.”
The crew was busy conducting interviews with people in Williamsport who might play a role in the film, and that includes a city police detective who spent part of Monday and Tuesday with the crew.
Inside the Clear Channel radio studio in Williamsport, a film crew along with its producer/director and city police detective Raymond Kontz were in the middle of an interview.
It was an early step in the movie-making process that Kontz told Newswatch 16 was approved.
“The department is behind the project completely. I’ve been assigned to be the liaison and do anything I can to assist her,” said Kontz.
That means Kontz was in full uniform, gun and badge, and even used a city police vehicle to help the film crew get access to whatever and whoever it needed.
All with the idea that if “Hotel 33″ was filmed in Williamsport, the city would benefit.
“Williamstown will experience a boon economically if this film becomes a great success. People are going to want to come and see where the legend took place,” said filmmaker Kellie Madison of Madison Films.
“I’ll use two words: economic development,” said Williamsport Mayor Gabe Campana.
Williamsport’s mayor hopes the movie could bring jobs and tourism to the city, but has the following response when asked if the police detective was on city time.
“I need to talk to him about that. I don’t know if he’s on city time or not.”
So Mayor Campana went inside City Hall and came back out minutes later.
“At no time did I authorize any city employee to travel with a film crew whatsoever,” said Campana. “I made it clear to [Kontz], he made it clear to me that was not his intention, he’s off the city clock.”
Williamsport police tell Newswatch 16 on Monday, Kontz requested to use personal time to work with the film crew and as for being in full uniform, driving a city vehicle the mayor says Kontz gets his approval.
“Yes, yes he’s allowed to do that, we’ve done that before, that’s part of economic development,” said Mayor Campana. “We’re promoting the city, this is supposed to be a movie about city of Williamsport. If you’re having a movie about city, do you expect someone to drive a Pinto? No.”
“I will make it my business to see if there are costs to the taxpayers and whether or not the city is being reimbursed for providing any of its resources to a private company,” said Williamsport City Council president Bill Hall.
According to Williamsport police, Detective Kontz was orginally on the duty schedule both Monday and Tuesday and when asked about his involvement with the film crew, then police changed his status to “off.”