Alum works on film about polygamist community exiles

The story of Warren Jeffs and his infamous ring of polygamy has repeatedly stirred the emotions of Americans. Now one film is telling the story of three people who had to start their lives over after being expelled from Jeffs’ community.

ASU alumnus Jason Watt worked as an associate producer on the feature documentary, “Sons of Perdition,” which focuses on the lives of the “lost boys” of polygamy — three boys who were exiled from Jeffs’ polygamist community in Colorado City, Ariz.

The documentary debuted last April at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, and its far-reaching impact has hit the desert, now playing at Harkins Camelview 5 theater in Scottsdale. The last showings are Thursday.

Watt said he wanted to work on the film because the subject matter piqued his interest.

“There was a curiosity I always had,” said Watt. “It was a story I grew up knowing about, being from Arizona.”

Watt, who graduated from ASU in 2000 with a degree in English, currently works in New York City as a writer and is also involved in film production. When he learned about a polygamy documentary being produced in Colorado City, he joined the project.

“He was very helpful throughout the process,” producer and co-director of “Sons of Perdition” Tyler Meason said. “He put us in contact with producers in New York City.”

Meason, a former member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, experienced being raised in a strict religious environment, leaving that environment and then adjusting to a new life.

“We found out about the kids kicked out of Colorado City, and we knew it was more than not just having a place to live,” Meason said.

For two and a half years, the film follows three boys exiled from the polygamist community in their mid-teens, and documents their challenging adjustment to a world they are completely foreign to, he said.

Upon leaving the life of polygamy, the boys have no education and are instilled with the haunting belief that they are going to be damned throughout their lives, Meason said.

“It’s the fact that they’re being told that they’re going to hell as 15 and 16-year-old boys,” he said. “How can you reconcile with that?”

The documentary was a five-year exhausting process, Meason said, but the rewards are plentiful. The documentary has aired on BBC in Europe and was recently picked up by the Oprah Winfrey Network.

“That was the Super Bowl moment,” Meason said.

The film will be leaving Harkins Camelview 5 this weekend. The last showings are on Thursday at 10:45 a.m., 1:30, 3:45, 6:30 and 9:15 p.m.

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