Vermont Filmmakers Contribute to CNBC Doc on Mac Parker

Posted by Ethan de Seife on Tue, Jul 15, 2014 at 7:13 AM

Mac Parker - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Mac Parker

Followers of the Mac Parker saga, which Seven Days and other local news outlets have covered extensively for the last several years, have come to expect curveballs. The most recent development is less of a headline-grabber, but one that will likely lend some context to the fascinating story of this man's alleged criminal activities. Two Vermont filmmakers have contributed to a new, soon-to-be-broadcast documentary that details the tale's strange twists and turns.

Rob Koier, the director of the 2012 documentary Strength of the Storm, and Mark Covino, co-director of the music doc A Band Called Death, are developing a full-length film about Parker. For now, some of the footage they've shot will appear in an episode of the long-running CNBC series "American Greed." The deal to license the footage was struck in January, and the episode will air later this week.

Parker, an Addison County-based storyteller, was convicted of defrauding investors of $28 million to fund a putative film project called Birth of Innocence. Most of the money was reportedly funneled to Parker's "silent partner" and former spiritual guru, a Connecticut man named Louis Soteriou. Soteriou has been sentenced to seven years in prison; a judge recently upheld Parker's own 55-month sentence for his part in the fraud scheme.

The footage that Covino and Koier licensed to CNBC originates from three lengthy interviews that Covino shot with Parker in October 2013. In the first, Parker told the filmmakers about his background; the second, clocking in at seven hours, finds Parker discussing Birth of Innocence and his ensuing legal troubles. The third interview, says Covino, wasn't even intended to be an interview — just some shots of Parker arriving at prison in upstate New York.

Just hours before Parker left for prison, he knocked on Covino's hotel door, saying, "'I want to do an interview before we go in,'" says Covino. "So we went down to this little pond next to his hotel ... For an hour, he talked about ... how he feels really bad for what he did. A lot of philosophical talk. It was a pretty intense interview."

CNBC, unable to interview Parker in prison, contacted the filmmakers, and Covino was happy to strike a licensing deal with the network. He and Koier, who made an undisclosed amount of money from the arrangement, retain rights to the yet-incomplete, feature-length documentary on Parker.

Covino is currently wrapping up work on a documentary called The Crest, about a man who surfs the waters of remote islands off the coast of Ireland. He has temporarily put the Parker doc aside because it was taking an emotional toll on him. "I started putting things into perspective," Covino says. "I thought about A Band Called Death, thought about how I put four years of my life into that movie ... and have yet to receive a penny from it. [In making a film about the Parker story], I knew we were going to be hearing a lot of heartache and sorrow, [and] I just knew it was unhealthy for me to move forward, at least at that point in my life."

Covino and Koier's film project about Mac Parker is officially on hiatus, but some of its footage will soon see the light of day, via the CNBC program.

Asked for his own take on Parker, Covino finds the question difficult to answer. "Doing any documentary is rough," he says. "Even though you try not to, you become part of [the subjects'] lives, in a way. I have so many different feelings about Mac Parker and they're so confusing."

Viewers intrigued by this still-unfolding story can tune in on Wednesday night to form their own opinions.

Birth of Innocence, reputed to have cost only one twenty-eighth of the amount raised to fund it, is still unfinished. To date, the only part of this metaphysically themed doc to surface is a three-minute trailer, which you can watch below.


"Lights! Camera! Fraud!," a documentary about the Mac Parker case, premieres on CNBC's "American Greed" on Wednesday, July 16, at 10 p.m. EST.

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