This morning our own Jeffrey Gurian brought our attention to the plight of stand-up comic Carlo Bellario, who is facing 5 years in prison for using a BB gun while filming an independent film. According to Jeffrey Gurian’s column this morning, Bellario got in touch with him to share the story. Bellario was filming a low budget indie film called Vendetta Games in New Jersey last November and was playing a drug dealer’s bodyguard. On Bellario says he had found the gig through a Facebook group that posts casting calls, and although the job didn’t pay, it would mean a IMDB credit.
During the filming, Bellario was pretending to fire an unloaded airsoft gun out the window of a car for a scene, but the problem was they were in a residential neighborhood, and someone called the cops. Police charged him with weapons possession, because the filmmaker hadn’t secured the necessary permits. Carlo was the only person arrested, and spent four days in jail because he couldn’t make bail. He could now face up to five years in prison because of New Jersey’s strict gun laws. Under New Jersey’s Graves Act, a gun, is a gun, is a gun. An Airsoft gun, or BB gun is treated exactly the same as any other gun and there isn’t an exception for acting unless the filmmaker procures a permit and complies with certain requirements.
Bellario cannot afford a lawyer, and has been forced to take his cause to a GoFundMe campaign and to the media to help raise money to pay his legal bills. Thanks to the GoFundMe he was able to satisfy his Bail Bondsman which he said “will give me a little breathing room” and says he has found attorneys willing to work with him. His GoFundMe campaign has raised $5,000 so far. Bellario is asking those in the entertainment industry (or anyone sympathetic to his situation) to please contribute even as little as a dollar.
Bellario’s story was picked up on Help Me Howard earlier this month on PIX 11.