When Warren Jeffs rose to lead the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) he brought his dictatorial and sadistic desires to bear on a society that was all too vulnerable to exploitation. The FLDS was already a paternalistic religion with a history of polygamous and underage marriage, yet Warren managed to expand these practices in unprecedented ways, bridging the gap between sister wives and ecclesiastically justified rape.
Like any good religious tale it boils down to sex, greed, and the preservation of wealth. When Warren Jeffs rose to lead the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) he brought his dictatorial and sadistic desires to bear on a society that was all too vulnerable to exploitation. The FLDS was already a paternalistic religion with a history of polygamous and underage marriage, yet Warren managed to expand these practices in unprecedented ways, bridging the gap between sister wives and ecclesiastically justified rape.
This film will examine Warren Jeffs’ life to show how he seized control of people’s lives and an organization worth hundred of millions of dollars. Warren has a devout following numbering in the tens of thousands – many who would give their life at any moment with just one word from the Prophet. Despite a trail of abuse and ruined lives, Warren has maintained his grip on power and created a more obedient following. Meanwhile, the world has turned a blind eye toward his fundamentalist fiefdom in southern Utah.
This film explores what others have not. The FLDS story has been told before but no one has been able to look past the atrocities and understand how the man behind the curtain came to be there. Experts Jon Krakauer and Sam Brower help us understand: How did a man like Warren Jeffs raise himself to lead an entire religion?
In 1999, on the way home from a climbing trip in Southern Utah, author Jon Krakauer made what he assumed would be a routine stop for gas at a town straddling the borders of Colorado City, AZ, and Hildale, UT, an area commonly referred to as Short Creek. He intended only to refuel and take a quick scenic tour of the town before continuing on his drive. What happened to Krakauer on that visit, however, launched a several year long investigation that produced his bestselling book Under The Banner of Heaven in 2003, and culminated with the 2007 Utah trial of Warren Jeffs, prophet of the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). The topic of Mormon Fundamentalism was all-consuming for nearly a decade of Krakauer’s life and that of his comrade in arms, Private Investigator Sam Brower. Sam’s book Prophet’s Prey is the result of their treacherous quest for truth and justice.
It was with great honor that I joined forces with Jon and Sam to create this film, in what we hope is an opportunity to galvanize an unprecedented level of awareness and action around the issue Jon and Sam have doggedly devoted so much of their lives to exposing.
Over the past year, I have met so many men, women and children whose lives have been devastated by the corruption of the FLDS, whose voices deserve to be heard.
I am so proud to be returning to the festival and that we are premiering Prophet’s Prey at Sundance 2015 in Utah, where this crisis is still so palpably evident.
AMY BERG, Director
Amy Berg, Director
Amy Berg is a critically acclaimed, Emmy-award winning and Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her documentary DELIVER US FROM EVIL (2006). She went on to direct WEST OF MEMPHIS, a documentary about the failure of the justice system in the West Memphis Three case. She worked in collaboration with producers Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh. The film premiered to rave reviews at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and was BAFTA nominated. Sony Pictures Classics released the film in Fall 2012.
Amy completed her first narrative feature, EVERY SECRET THING, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2014 and will be released theatrically in 2015. She is currently in production on several films at her company, Disarming Films, which includes a project about music legend Janis Joplin as well as Prophet’s Prey, which was made in association with Showtime and Imagine Entertainment. Amy’s company, Disarming Films, writes and produces long-form documentaries focusing on social justice.
Brian Grazer, Executive Producer
Brian is an Oscar-winning writer and producer whose vast filmography includes AMERICAN GANGSTER, 24, and FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. He and Ron Howard founded Imagine Entertainment, which they continue to run together as chairman.
Ron Howard, Executive Producer
Ron is a director, producer and actor. He has directed and produced countless films including RUSH and Oscar-winning A BEAUTIFUL MIND. He and Brian Grazer founded Imagine Entertainment, which they continue to run together as chairman.
Erica Huggins, Producer
Erica Huggins is President of Imagine Entertainment and has produced numerous films including J. EDGAR, RUSH and the James Brown biopic “GET ON UP.”
Scott Stevenson, Editor
Originally from Los Angeles, Scott Stevenson has spent most of his long career editing both documentaries and fiction in France. On the non-fiction side, he was most notably one of the editors of Jean-Xavier Delestrade’s series The Staircase (Sundance Channel, Canal+), as well as for the Delestrade-produced series Sin City Law (Sundance Channel, ARTE). The former was the winner of the International Documentary Association “Best Limited Series” Award, the DuPont-Columbia Broadcast News Award and the Peabody Award in 2005, while the latter also received the IDA’s “Best Limited Series” Award in 2008.
In features, Scott received the “César” (the French Oscar) for his work on Mathieu Kassovitz’ “La Haine” (“Hate”) in 1996. The film also won the Best Picture César that year, as well as the Best Director Award at Cannes.
Brendan Walsh, Editor
Brendan Walsh recently completed his first feature editing credit on the indie thriller Preservation (Tribeca Film Festival 2014). He was an additional editor on Wes Craven’s Scream 4 and edited the Fiona Apple music video Hot Knife after working as an assistant editor on Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood and The Master.
Mark Degli Antoni, Composer
Mark degli Antoni is a film composer / performer living in Los Angeles & NYC. He received a BM & MM in Composition from the Mannes College of Music in New York City and is a Composer Fellow of the Sundance Institute. He has scored films for an eclectic selection of award-winning Narrative and Documentary directors including Werner Herzog, Wallace Shawn, Finn Taylor, William Wegman, Lily Baldwin, Jed Rothstein and Roger Ross Williams.
Mark is a co-founder of the internationally acclaimed Warner Bros band Soul Coughing. He has also performed and recorded with David Byrne, Laurie Anderson, John Zorn, Low, John Scofield, Angelique Kidjo, among others. He has created sound scores for artists Richard Prince, Julia Scher, Christian Marclay, Nam Joon Pike.
Mark’s approach to film scoring is a unique fusion of his studied appreciation of traditional forms, embedded with sound from the space around us, crafting a distinct dramatic voice.
Sam Brower, PI
Sam Brower is a private investigator based in Utah, whose book Prophet’s Prey was the result of a seven year investigation into Warren Jeffs and the FLDS Church. He continues to fight for justice for those whose lives have been destroyed by the church.
Jon Krakauer, Author
Jon is a writer and mountaineer, best known for his non-fiction books Into The Wild and Under the Banner of Heaven.
Thomas Jeffs, Ex-FLDS Member
Thomas is an ex-FLDS member, whose father Lyle has taken over for Warren Jeffs as the leader of the FLDS community. Thomas lives in Utah with his wife and is expecting his first child.
Based on the book by
Dustin Lance Black
Nick Cave & Warren Ellis
(In Alphabetical Order)
Sheriff David Doran
Karl Von Rump
Sheriff Rick Wheeler
Production Sound Mixers
John Steven Iriguchi
Joyce Canlas, Jacobson Production Services
Julie Claire Guest
Hannah Mae Robinson
Cameras & Accessories Provided By Canon USA
Insurance Provided by
Albert G. Ruben AON Insurance Services Inc.
Post Production Supervisor
Additional Editing by
Original Artwork by
Noriko ‘Cutie’ Shinohara
Graphics & Animation by
The Render Guys
Additional Graphics by
Test Animations by
Digital Intermediate provided by
Rhonda L. Moore
Head of Production
CO3 Executive Producer
Audio Post Production Services provided by
ADR Recorded at
Retreat Recording Studios, London
Mark Henry Phillips
Additional Score by
Mark Henry Phillips
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