James (or Jay) Lowther has approached several film students at UC Santa Barbara requesting that they be part of a documentary he claims will be on Oprah's new TV network. He has offered no form of compensation for the work he wants done on the project aside from the promise of a credit on the work. While this promise, on its own, does not constitute a scam, the overall lack of information available on him or his company, and his insistence on equipment rented by others, appears to be a very shady operation.
Mr. Lowther's alleged company, Encore International Film Group, yields results from Xing.com (http://www.xing.com/profile/JAMES_LOWTHER), claiming that the business is looking for funding for an "International feature Documentary film and 11 film slate motion picture Hollywood deal package represented by the WILLIAM MORRIS AGENCY and PRODUCERS GUILD OF AMERICA."
Results also include several listings regarding the casting of SAG and non-SAG actresses and models, including a Blogspot which appears to be devoted to this cause (http://internationaltalentforhollywoodmovies.blogspot.com/), and which blatantly reposts a 7-page article by TheWrap.com's Ted Hope, entitled "38 More Ways the Film Industry Is Failing Today".
What's more, contact information regarding Encore International Film Group is practically never consistent.
On Mr. Lowther's Blogspot (address above), his email is given as firstname.lastname@example.org, and at GermanyJobs77.com it appears as email@example.com.
Phone numbers range from (206) 600-2933, to (805) 300-8717, and (805) 884-9863 on his Blogspot. In a posting at ipetitions.com: (805) 688-1115 or (310) 359-8446.
Skype IDs range from 'james.lowther2', to 'efigroup1', to 'ther2'.
In an October 24, 2010 posting on Santa Barbara Craigslist entitled "SERIOUS INVESTORS OF A HOLLYWOOD FEATURE MOVIE", Mr. Lowther writes:
"The upcoming Hollywood movie project, 'HOTEL CALIFORNIA.' according to the Writers Guild of America experts and film critics have said this the movie is on the same magnitude or higher than 'CITIZEN KANE' and the 'ENGLISH PATIENT' which was produced by Miramax Films that won nine (9) Oscar awards during 1996. "
Excessive grammatical errors aside, the film "Hotel California: Diaries, Secrets, and Scandals" appears nowhere on IMDb.com. Nor does James Lowther--for anything. A Google search of the film, as titled, yields just 2 results--Mr. Lowther's Blogspot and Craigslist post. So how exactly does a "film critic" write a review of an "upcoming Hollywood movie project" when it hasn't even been made yet?!
And even if this film is made (which I fully believe will never happen), who would EVER write something so horribly worded to entice people to invest in such an endeavor?! An excerpt, for instance, from Mr. Lowther's Craigslist post describes the film as such:
"Upon arrival in New York, the Russian family, the Gawzners had finally arrived to work and finally traveled to California to seek the American Dream in which the family purchased their family fortune, the Miramar Hotel known as Hotel California. Years later terrible tragedies occurred for the Gawzner family which still haunts the family today historically. James P. Gawzner is the only living Russian family member whom has gave account of a true, accurate and historical story to the Hollywood movie industry in which he has accomplished that at this moment. During the golden years of the hotel’s existence as racial tensions sweeping across the nation the Russian family hired an unique employee, Grover Cleveland Barnes whom an African-American revived the hotel in a major way as head bell man for 35 years. Mr. Barnes at 104 years old whom received an acknowledgement letter from President Obama for the Congressional Record of Honor."
Scam or not, Mr. Lowther's degree of professionalism is so low that it would truly make me rethink the film and media industry itself if somebody like Oprah would actually consider supporting this "project".
I can only hope that those who come in contact with Mr. Lowther on a professional level do a quick Google search of his name, find this article, and then use the information that I have gathered here to better assess whatever plans they intend on making with him.