5 Questions With Tyler Measom And Jennilyn Merten
Being a teenager is never an easy proposition. But imagine all the insecurity and uncertainty that comes with those formative years compounded by being cut off from everyone you've ever known. Sons of Perdition is a documentary centred on three boys who have been kicked out of their fundamentalist Mormon church (FLDS) by its leader Warren Jeffs. Co-directors Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Merten both left the mainstream Mormon church in their 20s and know how hard it is for anyone to re-evaluate their faith. They talked with Jon Roe ahead of the Sons of Perdition screening and Q&A with Measom at The Plaza as part of Doc Soup.

What was it like leaving the Mormon church?

J.M. Luckily for Tyler and me, we're still in contact with our families. When we heard about the kids, we were like, "Oh my god, this is what we've been doing for the last 10, 15 years (but) to a much greater degree." This is about coming of age, trying to figure out who you are and making some really crazy sacrifices for it.

For you, what is most compelling about these boys' story?

T.M. For me, (the fact) they're told they're going to hell. Hell is a very visceral and real place, not only in the faith that we grew up in, but even more so in the FLDS. And that's all they knew. You ask them and they say there was very little talk about heaven. You can leave Colorado City (the home of the FLDS), but how do you leave Colorado City in your mind?

How has the FLDS situation changed since you made the film?

T.M. They're just continuing to exile these boys, which is good in some ways because it gives these kids a chance. The one that got kicked out yesterday that we're trying to find a home for (through their Holding Out Help Foundation) has a sixth-grade education.

Was increasing awareness about the boys your prime motivation in making this documentary?

J.M. I'd say it was two things. Yes, it was trying to raise awareness about the political situation. But I think it was also an artistic journey for us, one to express the more abstract story about leaving your faith and what that means. At the heart of it, it was a character piece about that struggle to be free.

What was the biggest thing you learned from making this film?

J.M. I really learned how reciprocal storytelling is. These people come into your lives and they affect you and you affect them. You get involved in somebody's life and you don't just get to take their story and walk away. That's not the way storytelling works.

Sons of Perdition screens as part of Doc Soup, Wednesday, Jan. 5 at the Plaza Theatre, 7 p.m. Tyler Measom will be in attendance.
Originally published December 24, 2010