I've broached the subject of Jeepers Creepers 3 and Victor Salva here before, first with an op-ed shortly after the project was announced and most recently during a discussion with filmmaker, author and Dread Central West Coast contributor Staci Layne Wilson once production on the film was rumored to be imminent (you can watch our convo above or below). The crux of the issue involves Salva's 1988 criminal conviction on charges of sexually molesting the 12-year-old star of his 1989 debut feature Clownhouse — for which he served 15 months of a 3 year sentence — and his continued Hollywood career in spite of that horrendous act. (Salva has directed eight feature films since Clownhouse, including the first two installments of the Jeepers Creepers series.)
While Salva has not re-offended, he is still rightly viewed with suspicion when it comes to working with underage actors; still others feel he should never be allowed to direct again. Today, his past caught up with him when the Union of British Columbia Performers sent out an alert to talent agencies in the Canadian province that flagged a casting notice for Jeepers Creepers 3 posted to Breakdown Services:
“It has recently come to our attention that a casting breakdown has gone out for a feature film entitled Jeepers Creepers III, and that the director of the film, Victor Salva, was convicted of sexual misconduct in 1988. The conviction allegedly resulted from misconduct involving a minor whom Mr. Salva was directing at the time. At this time we would like to remind our members and their agents that, under Article A2702 (Safety & Welfare of a Minor) of the BC Master Production Agreement, a performer has the right to refuse work if they believe that the nature of the work is unsafe.”
In response to the union's warning, Breakdown Services later removed the notice, which sought an 18-year-old actress to, ironically, play a 13-year-old girl who flees her sexually-inappropriate stepfather, before issuing its own statement: “Upon learning of this notice and our own verification of the facts surrounding Salva”s conviction,” it read, “Breakdown Services has removed this project from its files. All submissions made by any agent on this project are no longer available to the casting director nor any member of the production staff.”
It's unclear what the removal of the casting notice and the attendant public statements will mean for Jeepers Creepers 3, which was obviously counting on local actors to fill roles in the production. In addition to putting up a roadblock in terms of casting, today's news certainly won't help the public image for the film, which is reportedly scheduled to begin shooting in the province this spring. And in the age of social media, there's no telling how far the ramifications of Salva's past actions will spread, given that platforms like Twitter and Facebook didn't even exist when Jeepers Creepers 2 — his last major studio feature — hit theaters. Despite Salva's public penance and time served, it's clear that many are simply unwilling to forgive him for his nearly three-decade-old crime. With the benefit of social media, I expect those voices will only grow louder as the film gets closer to release.