A Convicted Child Molestor Who Continues to Make Movies.
Victor Salva is an American filmmaker known for his work in horror movies like the Jeepers Creepers films, as well as the 1995 film Powder. What many people don’t know is that he was also convicted of sexually assaulting a 12 year old actor on the set of a movie in 1989.
Victor Salva was able to continue his career long after his conviction, even managing to work with Disney and creating the final Jeepers Creepers film in 2017.
*This is not an exact transcript, but rather an outline of my notes.
Victor Salva was born 3/29/58 in Martinez CA (about 20 miles outside of San Fran) to a religious catholic family. His mom was 18 when he was born. His father abandoned the family, and his mother remarried to a drunk, abusive man.
Salva developed an interest in horror and sci-fi at a young age. In 1975, the local newspaper reported that he saw Jaws 55 times.
By the time he graduated high school, he had written and directed more than 20 short feature films. He worked after school to afford these projects.
When he was 18, he came out to his parents as homosexual, and they kicked him out.
1981 was working at a daycare center where he met Rebecca Winters. He was making one of his little horror/sci-fi short films “The Goblins God”. Rebecca was helping him sculpt the goblin’s face, and according to her, Victor soon became a close family friend.
In 1986 he directed the 35 minute film Something in the Basement, which starred Rebecca’s 8 year old son, Nathan Forrest Winters.
According to Nathan, Victor spent the better part of a year grooming him and his parents. It was a calculated process of gaining their trust. Victor was like, if Nathan fell and scraped his knee, Victor was the guy he would run to.
It would be 2 years before Victor would do something to Nathan, when Nathan was 10. Nathan didn’t have a strong male influence and he loved Victor like a father, and Victor used that.
In 1986 when Salva was 28, Something in the basement won first place in some competition, and a few other awards. And that caught the eye of producer Francis Ford Coppola, who would end up producing Salva’s first theatrical feature, Clownhouse.
Salva cast now 12 year old Nathan Forrest Winters in this film. Clownhouse was pretty successful. It screened at Sundance and Coppola loaned the cameras from the George Lucas film American Graffiti (throwback to episode 1).
By this time, Victor had been getting away with this for a couple of years. He was getting ballsy about it, like almost cocky. Nathan says that on the set of Clownhouse, Victor became more and more open about his affection towards Nathan. Nathan would often sit on Victor’s lap in the director’s chair.
During the filming of Clownhouse, Nathan’s mom, Rebecca, started to suspect that something just wasn’t right. She was picking up on vibes and apparently, Salva told her that she could not go to the set, and that Nathan couldn’t work if she were there.
-that just reeks of Roman Polanski vibes.-
Victor also was asking Nathan to stay late for extra rehearsals. She asked and asked and he insisted nothing was happening, nobody was hurting him, nobody was hurting him.
But he had a really hard time lying to his mom.
People in the cast and crew actually went to Nathan’s mom, Rebecca, and told her that this was happening and it was increasingly inappropriate. So Rebecca, of course, kept pressing Nathan about it.
A couple of days after the finished shooting, Nathan told his mom “I have a secret that I need to tell you.”
He told her what was happening, but he also tried to protect Victor by telling her very little.
Nathan actually doesn’t remember his mom’s reaction when he told her, he thinks he blocked it from his memory. But he remembers her crying all the time back then.
Rebecca then called the police, and they then raided Salva’s home. it was actually a sting operation. In his house, they found a big ol’ stash of kiddie porn. There were videos, there were photo albums with like pictures of little boys modeling underwear-- like pictures from like a Macy’s catalogue or something, and they also found pictures and home movies of countless little boys.. And also a video of Nathan where the two performed oral sex on each other.
They found Victor just a couple miles from his home and arrested him and he admitted that the whole porn collection and the home movies of himself performing acts with children, and so he went down for like 11 counts, including lewd and lascivious conduct, oral sex with a person under 14, and procuring a child for pornography.
Coppola got Victor an expensive lawyer and Victor retracted his confession. Even though he’s IN some of the evidence. But the lawyers tried to keep him quiet.
Then, Coppola actually sued Nathan’s family for $5 million for some sort of “breach of contract”. Nathan’s attorney went with a plea bargain, which basically dropped 6 of the most severe charges, so Victor’s team agreed to it. He was sentenced to 3 years but served only 15 months (jail, not prison). And then as part of his sentence, he went to a treatment facility in Napa. He had movie deals waiting for him when he got out.
As part of the settlement, Nathan was required to see a therapist until the age of 18.
Nathan says this helped him a lot, as he had been suicidal since he was 7 years old.
Francis Ford Coppola was definitely present for a lot of the filming and some scenes were even filmed in his home. He said “I didn’t know of anything improper going on, although I witnessed some things that caused me to raise an eyebrow. Only in retrospect did things really add up. You have to remember, while this was a tragedy, the difference in age between Victor and the boy was very small. Victor was practically a child himself. ” Again, Nathan was 12 and Victor was 28.
Disney basically made a statement saying that what happened with Victor and Nathan was a one-time thing between an adult and a “consenting minor”.
Coppola also talked about Nathan like he was a little harlot slut-boy and talked about what he was wearing like, in little shorts. Like totally sexualizing the child.
Nathan still had work to do on the film even though they had finished shooting. So because they borrowed these old ass cameras from George Lucas, the cameras made a ton of noise. So they basically had to dub over the film after it was done shooting. Like they had to go back and add all the actor’s voices again.
Meaning throughout this whole investigation and trial and everything, Nathan still had to go to Coppola’s house to work -for months-.
This whole thing was really heavy on Nathan during his preteen-teen years. Nathan felt like he had lost his best friend. The local newspaper released an article about Nathan and they mentioned him by his full name 7 times. At school, the kids gave him a lot of shit for all of this. Plus, his acting career was over. He struggled with suicidal thoughts, drug abuse, hypersexuality..
In prison, people found out that Victor was a child molestor, and he was beaten beyond recognition. He told the news that he was terrified while there.
Clownhouse premiered at the Sundance Film Festival while he was in prison. He also wrote 5 scripts while incarcerated, including Powder.
After he completed his parole in 1992, he took a hiatus from filming. He worked as a telemarketer for a while. He spent this time going to producers and delivering his scripts while posing as a delivery man.
He made a direct-to-video film in 1995 called Nature of the Beast, and then later in 1995, Salva got the chance to film Powder.
If you’ve never seen Powder, it’s a weird film but it’s pretty good. I saw it when I was little but I’ll never forget it because it’s.. Weird. It was the first time I learned about albino people. It’s about an albino boy who has special powers. It’s like a very heartwarming Disney movie.
Yes, I said it’s a Disney movie. And this was a huge thing. Disney released Powder and when it was revealed that this was a Victor Salva film, the details of his conviction resurfaced.
Disney’s people denied that they had any knowledge of Victor’s history and said that they found out about it in the middle of the film’s production and approached him about it then, and then key production people were told to keep a close eye on him.
But according to Victor, everyone knew about his past already.
Which like, how is a company like Disney going to hire an established film maker and not know anything about him? I mean do they not look into the people they hire to work with children?
… I think we know the answer to that.
Either way, he was not removed from the project. Also, 2 crew members reported that Salva would hang around 2 extras who were minors. Victor allegedly would invite them to sit in the directors chairs and take them out to lunch.
After the whole scandal came out, Disney’s subsidiaries that were producing the film released a statement saying that Victor Salva served his time and what he did 8 years ago had nothing to do with this movie.
Powder opened in 1500 screens nationwide and was pretty successful.
Nathan was at work when he found out that Victor Salva was making another movie and with Disney, and it like broke him. He was at work, holding back tears, and that’s when he decided that people need to know what Victor did. He believed that Victor should never be allowed to work with children again. He showed up with a bunch of people at a premier or a showing of Powder to protest it. They had picket signs and brochures and were stopping important film executives and giving them leaflets and asking them not to help line the pockets of this child molestor.
In a statement at the time, Salva said: “I paid for my mistakes dearly. Now, nearly 10 years later, I am excited about my work as a filmmaker and look forward to continuing to make a positive contribution to our industry.”
He did some movie in 1999 that I’ve never heard of, it’s called Rites of Passage, and then in 2001, he wrote and directed the film Jeepers Creepers. It was a huge hit, and so he went on to make Jeepers Creepers 2 in 2003, and then Jeepers Creepers 3 in 2017.
Salva’s history rightfully caused numerous production delays on “Jeepers Creepers 3.” The Union of British Columbia Performers (UBCP) made an official warning against Silva and urged actors not to audition or accept a part in the movie after a casting call revealed Salva was looking for an 18-year-old to play a character whose stepfather made “overtures” at her when she was 13. Salva left this backstory in the film for the theatrical cut.
“Jeepers Creepers 3” also came under fire during its 2017 release: A final cut of the film, viewed via a screening link sent to critics, included a scene where two characters discussed why a young woman, Addison, no longer lives with her stepfather. One of the characters is romantically interested in Addison and seemed to understand why her stepfather would make “overtures” on her: “Can you blame him though? I mean, look at her,” the character says. “The heart wants what it wants, am I right?” The scene did not make it to the theatrical release.
I’ve never seen these films so I don’t know if this is true, but supposedly Victor Salva had a belly button fetish, and it’s said that in his movies (like the Jeepers Creepers films) that he has a lot of close-up shots of male actors’ bellybuttons.
I have noticed thought that in clips from Clownhouse, there are quite a few scenes where Nathan is shirtless, and in one of them he’s in a bathtub.
Throughout this, Coppola has been very supportive of Victor. When he got out of prison, Coppola gave him $5,000 to help him get a start. Coppola was apparently the one who vouched for Victor and helped him get Jeepr’s Creeper on its feet. He says that “Victor has talent and that talent in itself is good. We don’t have to embrace the person to believe that their art is a contribution to society.”
Victor says that he has served his time and he’s trying to make up for it and redeem himself. He says he’s apologized to Nathan and he’s paid his dues… But of course, Nathan and his mom, Rebecca, disagree. He hasn’t paid his dues, he served a 15 month sentence for fucking up this child’s life.
Nathan Forrest Winters no longer works as an actor. When his family initially came forward with the charges against Victor, Coppola told him he would “never work in this industry again.”
He continues to speak out and spread awareness about the prevention of sexual abuse.
Nathan now writes and performs music and has a band.
In the official release statement on Jeepers Creepers: Reborn, there’s no mention of Salva, nor is he listed as a producer, both of which suggest he wasn’t involved in any way in its production, and it’s most likely that the studio is attempting to distance themselves from the director and his revolting past.
However, they haven’t clarified this and Victor has rights to the franchise, so it’s not really known if he’ll be a part of it or not.
Other than that, he’s not working on anything noteworthy but he’s still out there.
“After thirty years of relative silence Nathan Forrest Winters is ready to tell his story on his own terms. For two weeks director Connar Frazier sat with Nathan in a motel room and documented his story on film, a both exhausting and rewarding experience. Since the beginning Winters and Frazier have sought to make a new kind of cinematic experience, and they believe they have done that with The Boy. Drawing from the story of Victor Salva’s secret tapes, this story of six years of abuse will be relayed on a series of tapes and other forms of media which will make the viewing of this work a unique experience for its audience. Individuals will be submersed in this never before told account in a new and original way.”
In some sources, the documentary was called The Babysitter but I’m pretty sure it’s the same film and they just changed the title.
Nathan has done several interviews about this. He’s very open about it. I saw an interview where he said that he didn’t really realize what was happening was wrong until Victor was arrested.
Nathan says that before he realized that it was wrong for an adult to have this kind of relationship with a child, he actually first noticed how big of a problem it was to be homosexual; this was the mid-80’s and there was a lot of fear surrounding AIDS and homosexuality, so Nathan first started hearing about that in school and stuff and that’s when he started thinking something was wrong, since everyone made it seem like homosexuality was a bad thing.
Btw from these interviews it doesn’t sound like he has a problem with gay people, he’s just describing the impression he had as a kid in the 80’s. But it does seem like Nathan’s always known he was heterosexual so I’m thinking maybe in part, that’s why the homosexual acts felt wrong too.
I’m gonna play this quick clip of Nathan real quick.
-you teach yourself not to listen to your instincts-
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