Before the idea for a television series showcasing the rescue of real children and the actual arrest of traffickers, there was a narrative feature film. This was the FletChet Entertainment plan; to inform the world about the horrors of child sex crimes. Let’s use the silver screen to shout from the rooftops about what people can do to stop this problem
To begin the story, Tim, Chet, and I, along with our families, retired to im’s cabin deep in the California woods. It was as relaxing as teaching elementary school on Valentine’s day after the kids are all hopped up on sugar. Anytime you go anywhere with kids your life gets more difficult and there were seemingly dozens running around all week. It didn’t help that I was running a fever, and my wife was 7 months pregnant in the July California sun. However, is was still fun, and we all enjoyed the company.
Late one night, when the kids had all gone to bed and it was just Chet, Tim and myself, we sat outside talking. We were still in the process of figuring things out, and Tim hadn’t been able to pick up and leave his government job. He had a scheduled call with a female pimp in Guatemala who was trafficking children, and he asked us to sit with him as he put her on speaker phone. I’ll never forget the excitement I felt as he dialed through the various security levels in the government to make that call. I felt like James Bond just took me back to the workshop to show me all of his cool spy toys… we were on the inside! Tim made the call, and we sat there and listened to him work a deal this evil woman for a child sex party he was trying to set up. It’s hard to describe the kind of disgust we felt after the call… like we would never again be fully clean.
After that night, Chet and I found a secluded area near the cabin where we discussed our fears and anxiety about what we might see during the process of making this film. Would the residue of these stories come home with us to our families? Would we have to watch these horrible videos Tim talked about? When writing a script, you pour yourself entirely into your work…would that affect us in any way? We were excited but nervous about stepping foot into that world. Keep in mind, at this point the plan was still a narrative that we would write and cast from Hollywood. It was never intended to be us dropping into the middle of actual operations. Had we fully understood what we would eventually be involved with, I’m not certain we would have signed on so quickly.
Before we left, we needed a little background information, so we sat down with Tim to talk through some of his cases. This audio recording was to be the groundwork for a feature film that we would then write. We talked for hours about how he felt when arresting people, rescuing kids, and even what it was like working for the United States government. It was insightful and heartfelt and a moment in time that the three of us will never forget.
As we wrapped up that session, I remember Tim saying, “I’ve never told anyone those stories… not even my wife.” We were shocked. Tim and his wife have an obvious and genuine sweet bond that anyone who knows them can see.
After hearing these stories, it’s easy to see why they would be too hard to talk about, too heavy to put on someone else’s shoulders.
I can only imagine what the Ballard family has had to endure while Tim was neck deep in these horrible cases. Would our families be able to weather the storm as Tim’s had, and come out clean? Well, no worries, right? I mean… this is just a film, exactly like the hundred films we had done before that. We write it, cast it, shoot it and cut it together… our journey through this muck wouldn’t be anything like Tim’s… right?