Addition to Chapter 19
Hubbard’s Movie Company, stories not included in print book:
- Brief sketch of LRH’s film crew from LaQuinta, from print page 178
- Researching Films, Location Scouting & Scary Adversaries
- Secretive LRH Photos, Annie Tidman Broeker, and more
- An Unforgettable Leave of Absence
ARRIVING IN CINE was also stepping onto a significant timeline in Hubbard’s history covering more than a decade prior to our arrival, although it wasn’t always easy to learn about it. While there was rarely anytime for idle chit-chat, Cine crew would find times like shot set-ups or all-night white-gloving to ramble about “working with the boss” or tell funny stories about ridiculous things they had done with LRH on different sets or desert locations.
LRH had the vision for shooting films in the 1970s, when he set up his original shoot crew in LaQuinta, California, the “Winter Headquarters” or “W” not far from where the Golden Era Productions studio eventually landed near Hemet, CA. David Miscavige, Marc Yager and many other Int base staff had started out as a Commodore’s Messenger there. Miscavige had worked directly with LRH on camera for a while. Some of the saltier dogs in the Sea Org had lived at the obscure “W” while “the boss” lived in his hacienda, known as Rifle. The boss’s appearance, I’m told, hung pretty loose. His red hair had greyed, hanging to his shoulders in disarray that he topped with a cowboy hat and he usually wore scuffed boots with baggy pants that his gut overlapped.
One of my first questions to Olga was, why would we need a scriptwriter when we were supposed to be shooting LRH scripted films? Olga was able to answer that question better than anyone. Hubbard had gone into seclusion more than once and in varying locations so he wouldn’t be detected by the FBI or other governmental authorities trying to find him. On one of his sojourns, he hid out in Sparks, Nevada, for about six months or so. During this time, he wrote about half of the scripts for the training films he wanted to produce, such as “How to Operate the E-Meter,” “Dianetics: Evolution of a Science,” “Dynamics of Life,” “TRs,” “Orientation,” “What is Scientology?”, about fifteen as I recall. But he had outlined at least 30 film titles that he never finished scripting.
Hubbard left Nevada to come back to LaQuinta in 1977 so he could start turning his film scripts into realities but didn’t finish up those other scripts. He bought some additional ranch land around Indio, which they called “Silver” to house the Commodore’s Messenger crew, who were supposed to shoot these new technical films. They built a big barn to obscure the film studio. Olga was on that team. When I asked her what it was like to work with LRH, she would at first talk about his affinity level that was unlike anyone else’s, but then she would start to clamp up after mentioning that he would go on tirades and was an extremely impatient man who had a vile temper and could yell louder than anyone.
RESEARCHING FILMS, LOCATION SCOUTING & SCARY ADVERSARIES
I was to develop a film binder for every Cine staff member that contained copies of everything under the sun, moon and stars relating to the particular film we were about to shoot. This included a copy of the film script, all LRH references relating to the script, and anything LRH ever said about each of the films, his specific requirements for lighting a mood or designing a set, etc. Any Cine staff member could request that I find specific research that would help them to do their jobs, such as “Art Series 8” research for the Art Department, finding pictures of the way things should look so they could design sets, props, and costumes according to a particular theme or design style.
I especially liked my location scout role. The Art Director would ask me to go look for specific settings that fit the film design. While this was only possible during the limited times I was on the “okay to drive list,” it gave me the opportunity to get off the base and visit anywhere I needed to go within reason to find the best location. Jennifer once asked me to find an air landing strip surrounded by trees—a difficult task, since airstrips are purposely cleared of trees for safe landings. I found one on Coronado Island near San Diego—a great excuse for a fun day trip.
The Cine research office held a new copy machine, available to all Cine staff, and accessible to any base staff member who walked into our offices when we weren’t there. One morning when I came into post, I discovered that the glass plate inside the copy machine had been broken since we had left the night before. After I sent a report to the ethics office, Jason Bennick stormed into my office and slammed his clipboard on my desk. He demanded to know how the copy machine glass had been broken. As if I was supposed to have mind-reading abilities and tell him who did it, when, and how, I disappointed him by having no explanation. He was convinced that I had broken the glass and was hiding other crimes, too. He assigned me a lower condition for not being responsible for the copy machine. Then the ethics officer interrogated me.
The groupthink within the Sea Org is that a Sea Org member is responsible for, and in control over, all of life, thought, matter, energy, space, time, and form. So, my senior had to find a way to make me responsible for this broken glass. Ethics officers investigated all the Cine crew, but no one else fessed up, which in Jason’s eyes pointed the finger at me. Guilty until proven innocent. I wondered why he hadn’t considered the fact that the doors in the Lower Lodges remain unlocked throughout the day and night, and anyone from the base could walk in and use the machine. Instead, it was much easier for him to make me culpable.
They interrogated me on the e-meter to see what kind of needle reaction they got in response to the question, who broke the glass? Did you break the glass? Since I hadn’t done it, there were no adverse needle reactions in response. But afterwards, Jason Bennick got in my face, about two inches from my nose and with jaws clenched, and swore that he would “find my crimes” one day.
Even more vivid in my memory than Bennick are my encounters with a security officer named Karsten Mathias. He was either Swedish or German, whose behavior fit a stereotypical demeanor as a cruel, Nazi-type policy enforcer, or at best, someone like Colonel Klink from Hogan’s Heroes. Karsten used to walk through the Cine lodges doing inspections, looking for outpoints and other out-ethics indicators. When he walked in my research office, instead of saying hello or greeting me in a friendly manner, he’d slam his clipboard on my desk and call my name in a high-pitched shriek. At first, I used to jump when he did that, but eventually acted bored by his predictable drama. He’d ruffle through my baskets holding my in, pending and out documents, looking for stale communication. He’d look at my stat graphs and if my stats were up the previous week, there would be no praise or acknowledgement; if the graph was down, he’d order me to ethics for a meter check, but first would shriek at me and demand that I tell him what my out-ethics situation was.
He once came into my office with a copy of a knowledge report that had been written on me a year prior while I was the CO CCNW, and screamed at me about how out-PR it was that someone from a lower org wrote a KR on me. He demanded that I confess to crimes he believed I committed while doing a “squirrel visit” at CC Chicago. I got so fed up with his control-freak drama that I began writing knowledge reports about Karsten’s behavior. His Nazi drama was not supported by any LRH policy I had ever read. Karsten was eventually assigned to a project working on the base perimeter fence, adding sensors and cameras, and replacing some of the barbed wire with sections of black iron spiked fencing. Karsten’s new post gave him minimal connection with other staff.
SECRETIVE LRH PHOTOS, ANNIE TIDMAN BROEKER, AND MORE
Since my job required providing a lot of pictures of LRH in different settings and time periods to Cine crew who requested them, I made frequent visits to LRH’s Film & Equipment (F&E) Unit to browse his historical photo albums. We needed to see how he dressed at different periods of his life, what his homes looked like, etc. so we could design costumes and sets correctly for the films. In the process, I became friends with Roberta, and also got to know Annie Tidman Broeker who worked there.
F&E, a CMO unit, was located between the Lodges and the Gym, where a team of five staff took care of L. Ron Hubbard’s camera equipment, and ran a secretive photo studio that processed prints of Hubbard for marketing and promotion. Within F & E was a darkroom where Annie Broeker and Roberta processed photos. Since this was a CMO unit, they were senior to me so I felt that I couldn’t ask a lot of questions. Annie, who constantly looked sullen and miserable, barely said a word to me until months after I met her.
Roberta once told me she had created one of the pictures I had seen of Hubbard in the early 1950s on stage during a Dianetics event, a famous shot recognizable by most Scientologists. She had manipulated the photo to make it look like the woman in the picture had actually been there lying on the couch while Hubbard audited her when, in fact, Roberta had photoshopped her in. Never in a million years as a Scientologist did I ever imagine that anything I saw in books, magazines, or brochures about L. Ron Hubbard was not true, or was manufactured through PhotoShop. When I asked her why she had to create such a photo, she said matter-of-factly, “We needed it for some promotional materials,” thinking nothing of the photoshopping.
I asked few questions about Annie Broeker, because she seemed extremely fragile emotionally. Annie had been on the ship with LRH as a Commodore’s Messenger since she was about 10 years old. I learned that Annie and her husband Pat Broeker had lived with Hubbard for about six year at his Creston, CA ranch as trusted friends, until LRH died. Pat and Annie had been named by LRH in an issue released after his death to be appointed Loyal Officers. When I read this issue while at Celebrity Center, clueless about Scientology power games and hierarchies, I didn’t understand that being a Loyal Officer meant that she and Pat were supposed to take over Scientology from LRH.
Later, after David Miscavige had seized control of Scientology, he cancelled that LRH issue by claiming that Pat had forged it, and he abolished the Loyal Officer appointment. The reports I read about this in later years, as written by Robert Vaughn Young and others, have become public knowledge. In essence, Pat Broeker disappeared, Annie was banished to the RPF to keep her from escaping, and David Miscavige became the self-appointed head of Scientology. Miscavige’s team that included Marty Rathbun spied on Pat Broeker since 1989. Annie had been released from the RPF after about two years. Her later marriage to Jim Logan was short-lived. Jim blew the Int base, and Annie attempted to join him, but she failed her escape when she was apprehended by an RTC henchman at a Boston airport and brought back. While some Int base staff may have known all this, it was not common knowledge.
I was always sadly curious about Annie, wondering how she could weather the trauma after losing her husbands and being held captive ever since. She was never allowed to leave the base again after she had been apprehended. I didn’t see her often, but when I did, her story was expressed through her anxious pacing outside the F & E building, chain-smoking cigarettes. I later learned that Annie died of lung cancer.
The use of vicious communication, heavy force, anger, threats, physical violence, humiliation and emotional dramatizations were common elements of Int base culture that emanated from the top down. Some people got “thrown overboard,” thrown into our lake in full uniform, regardless of cold weather, if they had failed at a task or upset an executive. As I sank deeper into the Int base culture, after I became an officer and encountered staff whose refusal to do their jobs resulted in trouble for other people, self included, I succumbed to using various forms of treatment that I despised, such as I issued orders to have offenders thrown overboard.
AN UNFORGETTABLE LEAVE OF ABSENCE
Working on projects outside of Cine brought me some reprieve from the regular grind, but especially reprieve from the highly temperamental Art Director. Jennifer once told me she had practiced white witchcraft before she came to work at the Int base, so I often wondered how she got through clearance lines. She had very little knowledge of Scientology. Within the Art Department, she cracked little jokes alluding to white witches here and there. She used a very dominating leadership style over Art Department staff, which I found demeaning. So to avoid her otherwise dominating tactics, I’d appear to play along with her little witchcraft jokes. I hated myself whenever I appeased her like that. My personal compromises with her got me nowhere with her, and actually got me into trouble.
I once applied to take an LOA (leave of absence) to attend my husband’s family reunion in upstate New York. The family’s summer camp was at Lincoln Pond, nestled in the Adirondacks. Peter and I had been at the Int base for several years with no time off, so we felt it fair to request a leave, also covered in LRH policy. We added on a weekend in Mexico to the family reunion trip, since this was our first vacation in years.
I had to get approval from my senior, Jennifer, before I could go, but she kept rejecting my request. She said that the Art Department had too much work to do, and I had no right to leave in the middle of it. I questioned when there would ever be a time when we had no work to do. I even arranged with another staff member to agree to do my job for a few days while I was gone, but Jennifer refused this plan. Frustrated, I took my request directly to the ethics officer, who approved it. I informed Jennifer that my post was covered, and would be back in a few days. She blew up and tried to prevent me from leaving. I left behind a trail of phone numbers, places I would be, so she could call me if needed, and left without her good graces.
Peter and I took our two days in Mexico, and then flew to upstate NY. Upon my arrival at Lincoln Pond, not to my surprise, there was a phone message from Jennifer ordering me to return to Gold immediately. But my tickets were booked to return in two more days, and a flight change would have cost us a lot of extra money. I also knew she was simply exerting power to manipulate me, and I wasn’t going to let that to happen.
I returned according to my original promise. Jennifer called me a liar, swearing that I had not gone to any of the places I had said I would be. She insisted that I was treasonous to Cine, and lambasted me with a lower condition. Being called a blatant liar and a treasonous criminal didn’t sit right with me, nor did her efforts to control me with her power games. By trying to claim a privilege afforded to all staff in the annual leave policy, I had only managed to stir a hornet’s nest that led to another series of interrogations. Such was life in at the Int base. But this was the least of it.