‘Rust’ Tragedy Raises Questions About Indie Producers’ Lack of Experience, Oversight

In 2016, Kelly Grimsley was vacationing in Los Angeles when she was invited to lunch with a family friend.

The lunch turned out to be a pitch meeting for an investment in an independent film, and Grimsley ended up putting in $250,000 to get it made.Grimsley would later sue the producers — Ryan Smith and Allen Cheney — claiming they had improperly embezzled $40,000, some of which went to pay a personal credit card bill and health insurance premiums.The suit portrays Smith, 36, and Cheney, 33, as being in well over their heads, ultimately having to be rescued by Cheney’s father, the CEO of a local bank.

The complaint describes the pair as “fledgling film producers with virtually no creative or business achievements in the film industry.”Smith and Cheney are in the spotlight because they were also a producer and executive producer, respectively, on “Rust,” the Alec Baldwin film that shut down production after the cinematographer,

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