Let me start this expose of Mr. Steven M. Berez by giving a little background on how I met and came to work for him for a time. Steven Berez had launched a company by the name of Monarch Productions. At the time, the vice president of the company was an individual by the name of Adam Tennenbaum who I had met several years prior while Adam was in the employ of convicted felon and reputed con man Gary Arnold. Gary Arnold and Adam Tennenbaum had approached me on a regular basis as we all attended the same Monday night meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. As they got to know me, they heard of my reputation as a sales person from a former employee of Gary Arnold's (who, thank God, had warned me in advance about Gary Arnold and his tactics for recruiting new "producers").
Anyway, this isn't about Gary Arnold, scum of the earth that he is...this is about Steven Berez. So, fastforward with me about a year after Gary and Adam had attempted to recruit me. Adam, still "clean and sober", called me about this fantastic opportunity to work on some real "a-list" movies. I was extremely wary of Adam due to his apparent lack of either conscience or common sense during his employ with Gary Arnold, so I took everything with a grain of salt. He was very excited about a movie called "Freaky Deaky" and proceeded to tell me about Charles Matthau and everybody else who was involved with this Elmore Leonard novel turned "soon-to-be-major motion picture". I went in and met with Steve and with Adam to hear them out. Adam assured me that he had long since learned his lesson about Gary Arnold and that he and Steve were really trying to put something spectacular together.
As not to create embarrasment for some very legitimate individuals in the industry, suffice it to say that the first thing that Steve and Adam did was introduce me to some of the "behind the scenes" individuals. These individuals had some extremely long and prestigious track records in the industry. As things would come to play out, they would also be duped by Steven Berez (it is only fair to Adam for me to say at this point that he also was duped and later ripped off by Steven which is why I only name Steven now).
I spent several months with Steve, believing the best, and working hard and diligently for him to assist them in their marketing campaign to raise executive production money to launch Freaky Deaky as well as some other films. A month or so after I started with the company, Steve forced Adam to resign due to some personal issues which Adam needed to deal with, but, in doing so, screwed Adam out a majority of his Producer's fee. Unless Adam has since gone back to working with Steve, Adam will confirm this. The problem with a guy like Steve is he makes making money easy. Adam and other's working there have had off and on again "habit's" which require money quickly. The reality is that Steve's strongpoint is selling air and that is exactly what he did to three parties.
1. The legit producers he was supposed to be getting budget money for.
2. The employees he hired to assist in obtaining that money.
3. The investors who were considering investing into the projects.
Steve played the legit producers to finance legit projects with legit investors under a legit company. Only one problem. Here is where the problem came in. I believe steve had good intentions to begin with. Problem is that he also had an expensive hooker/vegas/cocaine/crystal methamphetamine habit to suffice. For goodness sakes....he paid for a foreign wife and brought her entire family over from Georgia as well. The odd part is he seemed to afford that, his 180K mercedes, $100K trips to vegas, etc., and not a single movie had been made. Where did he get the money?
Steve began putting a line item in the budget which allowed him to take the very first 250K - 500K which came in to cover administrative expenses. This is where it may get confusing, so follow closely. THIS IS A LEGIT LINE ITEM. Normal small money raises operate the same way as they need seed capital to get the bigger seed capital to get everything going. I can get behind that. What I cannot get behind raising the money to suffice this line item and then moving on from film to film to film, doing the same thing.
The problem with raising money in entertainment which is not really prevalent in any other industry is the power to capitalize off of a name. Had steve done this in something like oil and gas, he likely would have had to engage a Ponzi scheme to provide credible evidence to give investors good reason to invest. Not in the film biz. You see, by Steve promising the world to the legit producers, he got their names in exchange. By getting their names, he was able to credibly convince small investors. And then, at the end of the day, Steve caught a lucky break. The global economy went to hell in a handbasket and gave him the perfect out as to why he was unable to obtain completion funds. On a sidenote, it appears that Freaky Deaky WAS in fact released. That should be a good thing, right?
So if the film was in fact released, why are Steve's investors still calling me, 3 years later, and asking where their K1's are, where Steve's office is, what his phone number is, and what is going on with the movies???
The answer is really simple. Cocaine is expensive. Foreign wife and family are expensive. Mercedes are expensive. Meth is actually pretty cheap but the money spent on hookers while tripping on Meth is expensive. Steve? Steve is a piece of crap who may have beaten the system, but has destroyed countless lives of countless retirees, and will undoubtedly answer to God on judgement day for what he has done. As for his "good intentions", I recall something about a road to hell... But with regards to Steven M. Berez, DO NOT INVEST WITH THIS CLOWN. WALK AWAY.
He will give you some cheap story about me. Part of it might be true. Most of it will probably be false. He likes to find one piece of credible fact and build a huge lie around it, as he did with me and many other employees. I walked away after walking in on him telling a client I had serviced that the client would be receiving his full investment back plus twenty percent in 6 weeks. I knew from a meeting that morning that it was supposed to be 3-4 months. That was 3 years ago. And no. Nobody has received any money back on Freaky Deaky that I am aware of. And if by chance, Steven happens to produce an investor who has in fact received money back, then I would urge every other investor to go after him under rules of Investor Fairness where every investor is entitled to the exact same treatment. And yes, to violate that is a crime.
Finally. Steve. I am sure you are probably reading this. You know who this is. If I continue to get calls from your investors, I just might press charges myself against you. How dare you and who the hell do you think you are that you can rip off an old man and his wife from Colorado for their last $460,000. May justice be served soon.