Filmmaker Will Harris loses camera equipment during attempted robbery

Will Harris, a Bloomington-based filmmaker, is seeking donations online after having lost an expensive Sony camera, body mic, and some lenses. The items disappeared during what appears to have been a robbery attempt along the West River Parkway, and now belongs to nobody except the Mississippi River.

Harris tends to produce short features and documentaries, but on the night of May 22 he was shooting a music video for a local rapper (who vouched for Harris's story but asked not to be named in this article). The crew began shooting downtown, then headed north toward the Hennepin Avenue Bridge.

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Around midnight, Harris, the rapper, and an actor had just wrapped up the last shot of the night, outside the Federal Reserve Bank building, when an old gold or possibly silver Taurus crept up. It passed but circled back around before parking.

Out of the car came two men carrying black pistols. Harris took off running west along the parkway, the weight of the camera equipment taking a backseat to his fear. A step ahead of the others, he stopped to set the camera down in the grass. He then ducked behind some bushes and peeled off his white shirt and red shorts so that he wouldn't flag down his would-be muggers.

"I was like Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Predator," Harris says, laughing -- but takes it down a peg when finishing his tale.

The actor, who had been trailing behind, came across the camera and tossed it into another set of bushes, unaware of the drop to the Mississippi River below. A Minneapolis police officer jotted down Harris's story -- the filmmaker now fully dressed -- but was unable to find the gunmen. At sunrise, Harris came back to search for the camera rig, and his heart sank as he realized it wasn't going to be found.

Within days, a friend of his had set up a gofundme page seeking $10,000. As of Sunday night, it had received 55 donations totaling $4,200.

Harris doesn't know who the gunmen were, but remembers seeing them linger on the downtown set of the music video. Whoever they were, their actions extended beyond that night. Cameraless, Harris had no choice but to give back the deposit on another music video that he was supposed to shoot the following day.

"It stings," he says, but chalks it up as a lesson learned, as the equipment was uninsured. "I am trying to move past it by getting support."

-- Follow Jesse Marx on Twitter @marxjesse or send tips to [email protected]