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A Dozen FLDS Videos for Pioneer Day Watching

Published July 22, 2013 12:08 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Watchers of Warren Jeffs' Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) got an early Pioneer Day treat over the weekend. A YouTube account, FLDS Productions, popped up with a dozen interesting videos. Some, like the time-lapse video showing an entire home being built in a single day by members of the community, have been posted before. But others offer an interesting glimpse into Short Creek life.

The videos all appear to have been made prior to 2008.

My favorite is the 29-minute videotape of Colorado City's 24th of July (Pioneer Day) Parade in 1997. The poor, videotaped quality almost adds to the wow factor, blurring faces and smearing colors. The clip starts out with what looks like the late church elder Fred Jessop (Uncle Fred) sitting on a horse at the front of the parade. Various Mormon pioneer-themed floats pass by, as does the first fundamentalist Mormon marching band I've ever seen. There are lots of American flags throughout. A group of young men in white shirts and ties, Uncle Rulon's Sons of Helaman, demonstrate their pseudo-military marching skills. Then several large groups of dancing women parade by, representing various nations and regions from which early Mormon converts came — England, Ireland, Scotland, Scandanavia, Switzerland, Germany. This parade is unforgettable.

Several of the other videos reference FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, namely his trial in St. George, Utah, and his time in jail in Kingman, Arizona. Others are collections of photos from the April, 2008 raid on the Texas YFZ compound, accompanied by hymns. If you've followed our polygamy photography, you'll recognize a lot of Tribune photographs have been appropriated for these videos, especially from Texas.

Rounding out the collection are two videos of harvest time. These short films are titled Spud Harvest 2005 and Corn Harvest 2004. Sorry, but these are kinda boring if you're not into farming or farm equipment.

And then there are two western films, apparently produced and acted by people from the FLDS community. One, titled Home Entertainment, has this description:

"Where a young boy goes out on his own to explore the west where he meet's a old general who didn't arrive at a battle soon enough and the battle was lost, the two head out together to find where the battle took place but get lost after wandering for a while and then find the cabin where they started out from."

I skimmed through Home Entertainment and A Way to Go West rather quickly. The production values aren't up to Hollywood standards. These two films are mostly camcorder affairs with average sound quality and the type of earnest acting you'd expect from amateurs. But hey, how often does a western film made by the people of Short Creek fall into your lap?

In the first few minutes of the film, director Amy Williams says: "Now about the making of this show, my motives were to create good, clean home entertainment, if possible. However, conditions were we were not able to practice this. I, being the director, made most of it up while we were filming it, so it might be boring and confusing." She continues, "And what are the good lessons to be gotten out of it? They're not obvious enough so I'll have to tell you what to look for. One of them is that the boy kept sweet, and was kind, though the General was harsh."