Directed by Ram Denison, 77 min, 2020
"Reveals a web of corruption and cover-ups that make the Vegas of yesteryear, when it was still run by the mob, seem positively quaint."- David Alm, Forbes
On October 1, 2017, Stephen Paddock opened fire on a crowd of more than 22,000 concertgoers from his hotel room at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. In a matter of minutes, Paddock killed 58 people and wounded more than 400. It was the largest mass shooting in the history of the United States. Yet, just a couple of years later, Vegas seems to have forgotten it completely. Needless to say, mass shootings are not good for business, and it didn’t take long for the Vegas money machine to get to work making this one disappear. In the aftermath of remarketing Las Vegas as a safe destination for tourists, many questionable practices were put into place—one of the most shocking being filing a lawsuit against the victims of this devastating tragedy. On top of that, despite the popular #VegasStrong movement and nationwide fundraising, there’s still a huge question of where all that money went. An enthralling documentary about the dark side of the Las Vegas economy, Money Machine exposes Sin City’s darkest secrets... including its culpability in this country’s deadliest shooting.
My first feature film What Happened In Vegas was a harrowing portrait of police corruption in Sin City that lead me to form some unlikely allies that would end up being crucial to the making of Money Machine. I never expected that the film the Village Voice called “a damning takedown” would lead me to becoming friends with numerous retired Las Vegas police officers from the department my film had brutally exposed, but that’s what ended up happening. After What Happened In Vegas came out, many retired LVMPD cops reached out to me to basically say “good job” and as I began talking with them, I realized these were good cops who wanted the same thing I did: an accountable police department run by a sheriff with solid morals. Almost immediately after the 1 October tragedy occurred, these former officers who still had close contacts in the LVMPD reached out to me to let me know that LVMPD Sheriff Joe Lombardo was misleading the public on several key issues related to the Vegas mass shooting. Money Machine exposes a rigged game of corrupt policing and corporate cover-ups that I never would have been able to expose without the cooperation of the retired cops who provided it.