Filming the Man Who Almost Killed John Gotti ~ Big Mike Craft

As a filmmaker, I am driven by the interesting people that I get to meet, and the fascinating stories that I get to tell. My goal is to tell stories that have not been told before. I like to translate a real-life event or a story into something that people can identify with. I think it is important to share stories that not only entertain, but inform people; or even better, challenge the beliefs of others and making people think about something differently than they ever had before. Those types of stories usually involve the most interesting people. So when I got a mysterious phone call out of the blue from someone who said they wanted to make a mob movie with me, I could not resist finding out more about this opportunity.

In Fall of last year, I met Dr. Reverend Mike Craft Sr for the first time. He began to tell me some of the stories about how he used to be an international mob assassin. To be honest, after the first meeting I didn’t believe him, but his story intrigued me just enough to spark my interest in looking into this more. I spent the next few days doing research to find out as much as I could about  “Mike Craft,” and to my surprise, the things that he had told me matched up with whatever reality I could find in my research. He had been interviewed by the Toronto Star (the New York Times of Canada), about how he was contracted to kill Pierre Trudeau and Fidel Castro at the time of the American Boycott of Cuba. The Mike Craft that I met, really was some kind of a “go to” hitman in his prime.  

Not long after our initial meeting, Dr. Mike Craft reached out to me again, asking if I would be interested in working with him (as I had not specified previously). I accepted and inquired about our next steps. After a bit of coordination, we set a date to meet to do the interview and promos with some “actresses” he said he had, at a hotel he had connections with. I decided to take on the job. So after finding out the date, I reached out to a friend to work as my “assistant.“ He was partially there to be an extra set of hands, but mostly because I was too terrified to be alone with an (ex) hitman.

The day to shoot this short film with Mike Craft came, and my assistant and I headed to Cobleskill, New York with our nerves and excitement high. After waiting and setting up for what seemed like forever, we finally began filming the interview (none of his “actresses” had come). The next few hours that I spent with Dr. Mike Craft were some of the most equally terrifying and fascinating moments of my life. He was not just telling us one story, maybe for the film he was, but we learned so much (maybe more than we wanted to), about Mike Craft and his life. He told us about how he became a reverend and began preaching while he was still in middle school. He told us how he owned bars (probably not legal ones), was paid to kill Richard Nixon (but didn’t want to kill a US President...He was very specific about being against killing an American President).  He told us so many stories of the things he had done in places he had been. All that he left out for us, were the stories that he said: “have no statute of limitations.”

Craft told me that he transported his weapons in his golf bag for each mission, in order to keep from looking suspicious. Well coincidentally, come to find out I have a friend who was Craft’s neighbor. When I found out about this, I asked my friend what he knew about Mike Craft. He didn’t know much, except that his mother was not a fan. His mother frequently would comment about disliking this man, because he yelled at his wife too much and was always golfing all day (which she assumed because she saw him loading a large golf bag into his car every day).

One of the most fascinating stories he told was how he almost killed John Gotti Senior. At the time we met, the new Gotti movie had just been announced (the movie just premiered this past weekend). He wanted to tell John Gotti Jr. that the only reason this movie could be made, was because he, “Big Mike Craft” was never paid his one-million dollars to assassinate John Gotti. He said he was ready to tell his story.  He even told us how he would’ve done it, but as Big Mike says “no one works for free.” It’s so fascinating when movies or even stories like the story of John Gotti are able to be seen as a reality. For me, that’s what this film was all about. It was a simple interview with no extras, but it made this fantasized mob culture that is so prevalent in the age of the Godfather a reality. So, meet the man who should’ve killed John Gotti.

by Joshua Stanley