DIRTY = Rampart = C.R.A.S.H = Hansel and Gretel

Notes from the co-writers of Dirty, directed by Chris Fisher

November 2005.
GIL: Do you remember our first spit-ball sessions on Dirty? You always told me that in the land of the LAPD there are one million stories to tell.

ERIC: I had dug into news reports about police corruption, and fixated on an LAPD officer named Rafael Perez, who in 1999 threatened to tell all one million of those stories.

GIL: I couldn’t believe it – here was a cop who had stolen SIX POUNDS of cocaine from a police evidence locker. So Perez gets immunity from prosecution in exchange for testifying about a sweeping pattern of misconduct by “dirty” cops.

ERIC: Perez’s tales threatened to overturn thousands of LAPD conviction cases, costing the city of Los Angeles millions. Perez also pointed fingers at about seventy fellow CRASH officers during his grandstand days in court.

ERIC: So then…

GIL: …Chris Fisher comes into the picture.

ERIC: I knew Chris through my friend Elliott Rocket, the cinematographer on Dirty. Fish is a director who made some very interesting films about crime, one of which made Sundance.

GIL: Fish asked us to come up with a story about the LAPD CRASH unit shenanigans after reading my Rampart scandal article from Maxim magazine about Rafael Perez.

ERIC: CRASH, that stands for Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums.

GIL: I love police acronyms!

ERIC: Fish’s mandate for Dirty was to have us deal with how absolute power corrupts absolutely. Within an all-powerful organization such as the LAPD, the ones who get punked the most are its own foot soldiers, the guys on the street.

GIL: We thought the title “Dirty” would be perfect for a film about corrupt cops.

ERIC: In the movie, fictional cops Armando Sancho and Salim Adel are undercover warriors sent on a fool’s errand. They get punked, but they achieve some measure of redemption, too.

GIL: Do you remember who brought Hansel and Gretel into play? Was it you?

ERIC: It was Chris.

GIL: We thought he was off his rocker! But it proved exactly right. First off, I fucking hate seeing people say Dirty’s just like Training Day. Because Dirty is way deeper than an errand boy-cop-buddy punks newbie-buddy-cop. The plot we hatched is more Machiavellian.

ERIC: Chris Fisher told us to think of it as a Hansel and Gretel story. There is direct allusion to H&G in the first few minutes of the movie as Adel’s kids watch an animated Hansel and Gretel cartoon.

GIL: The L.A. powers-that-be send these two lost children out into the dark woods of the city, hoping that they would just get gobbled up.

ERIC: We decided to take the Hansel and Gretel model back beyond the sanitized middle-class 19th-century versions to the medieval core of the fairy tale. In the Middle Ages it was a common practice to commit infanticide because of the constant shortages of food. Brother and sister, Hansel and Gretel, are left in the woods to die because the parents can’t feed ‘em.

GIL: Our early drafts of Dirty were way more dark than what the story is now. Remember the exploding microwave?

ERIC: And how Rita put her lipstick on the bullets she intended for Adele?

GIL: The cops in Dirty are dirty, but they are most definitely NOT rogue cops, because they have the full endorsement of command, a top-down license to manufacture “crime reduction” at any cost. Get the public approval ratings and make the front-man mayor look good.

ERIC: I always loved the character of a gangbanger with an attack of conscience.

GIL: Or a dirty cop with an attack of conscience. Sancho is both!

ERIC: What happened was that Fish took our script, stripped it down, added his magic to it, and then cast some of the greatest actors in movies to give it life, improve it, improvise around it. But what you see up on the screen…

GIL: That’s our movie, right?

ERIC: Right.

FROM GIL AND ERIC: To Cuba Gooding, Clifton Collins, David Keith, Cole Hauser, Aimee Garcia, Wyclef Jean, Taboo and all the cast members, to Chris Fisher, Elliot Rockett, Ash Shah, Tim Petrenel and everyone else involved, you are incredible, and you made an incredible film.