HELL’S TOUR GUIDE
In 2001 a little independent production known as “Bumfights Volume 1: Cause For Concern” was released. It was essentially a 56-minute collection of home videos shot by a handful of young adults who dubbed themselves Indecline and pride themselves on taking their viewers places they’ve never gone before. The youngest and most vocal of the bunch was Ryen McPherson. Only 18 at the time of its release, McPherson actually started shooting footage used in the video when he was in high school. Five years later, it appears “Bumfights” is ancient history for the filmmaker. Having been cleared of felony charges, Indecline pled guilty to lesser misdemeanors and now no longer produces that series. The hype has died down. The witch hunt has ended. Or so it seems.
McPherson has matured as an artist and branched out a little. Most of his work can be viewed online at Stab the Princess and he most recently released a 15-minute dry-hump porno “King of the Jews.” Of course Indecline has not completely left the ruckus genre behind them. Their releases “Blingalong” and “It’s Worse Than You Think” are just as rambunctious as anything they’ve done before. With a jail sentence for “probation violations” rapidly approaching, “Bumfights” is as big a part of McPherson’s life as it ever was.
McPherson opened up to PollyStaffle.com and talked about his hobby that goes too far, his opinions on film school, society and what Indecline is all about. He also discusses “Bumfights,” his relationship with the homeless men Rufus Hannah and Donnie Brennan that starred in the production and how he ended up facing six months in jail.
CCF: Who is Ryen McPherson?
RM: Ryen is a small Irish boy who consumes too much fattening food. He has “soccer thighs” and is on the prowl for a Lauryn Hill look alike. He’d settle for Christina Ricci. On the 28th of July, he’ll be spending six months of his life in a jail cell. Send him pictures of random things to make him smile.
how old are you?
RM: I turned 23 on the fourth of July. An embarrassing patriotic birthday for an unpatriotic child.
CCF: Have you any training or education in film?
RM: My education was acquired through countless hours on the streets filming degenerates and interacting with people and their severe mental disabilities. I’ve peeked at a few film books and watched a few movies but I’d prefer learning as I go. Film school is for assholes that need to be told how to make movies. Their films lack original style and creativity. That’s why every student film you see is a fucking Tarantino rip off.
CCF: As far as your work do you consider yourself a documentary filmmaker, a shock cinema entrepreneur or just a guy trying to hold a mirror up to the world?
RM: I’m not one for titles, but I guess I’m a little of each. If I want to act serious and impress some art fag I’d say “Documentarian.” Should I feel the need to get some punk rock chick all razzed up, I’d say something more edgy like “Shockumentarian.” I guess it all depends on who’s asking. Nonetheless, I film the things I enjoy looking at. Simple hobby that usually goes too far.
KING OF THE JEWS
Ryen McPherson directing Jesse Smith and Rose Dryden
CCF: Tell me about where that idea for “King of the Jews”came from and what you were going for.
RM: I originally wanted to shoot a full on porn scene with soft lighting, porn music, etc. and nothing but dry humping after a little cheesy plumber skit. This was years ago. Then I figured adding Jesus to the equation would add some depth. It all just poured out onto the page from there. I wrote the script in one night and shot it a week later. This is the only film I’ve directed away from Indecline that I’m selling. Everything else I just want people to watch and enjoy. Being that this film could get you laid if played at the right moment, I felt compelled to ask for a little something in return. I can’t live off of Lunchables forever.
CCF: So you had a script, was a lot of this still pretty improvised?
RM: It was actually a fairly airtight script. We only left the page a few times for improvisation. I hadn’t planned out all the positions but I knew that the “Reverse Cowgirl” would need to be in there somewhere.
CCF: Where did you get both leads from?
RM: Jesse Smith and Rose Dryden are both close friends of my Mexican girlfriend Lily. They work together at Hart and Huntington Tattoo at the Palms. While I knew I wanted Jesse to play the role of Jew Hefner, it wasn’t until a few days before shooting the film that Rose offered her 80-pound body to the role of Gloria Hole.
CCF: Was it hard finding a female lead to participate and how was it explained to her? I mean she had to think you guys were crazy, right?
RM: Rose had done some acting in the past. More than a girl who was willing to dry hump her life away I needed someone who could hold down the role of a very confused and ultimately turned on prostitute. There were some very drastic changes in her emotions that needed to come off as gradual. I really wanted this awkward and apprehensive energy. There was no pitch involved with Rose. I sat down with her, went over the script, gave her a high five and shot the film a few days later.
CCF: With the outtakes, it seems like it took her awhile to get serious about what was going on.
RM: It did take a while for us to stop laughing and get serious once the shooting started, but that was bound to happen. We all just needed to get it out of our system.
CCF: Where did you film it and what was the cost to make this?
RM: We shot it in a suite at the Palms. I spent about $250 on the props and lighting. Rose drank twice that much in the few hours it took to shoot the film.
A familiar site around town - Indecline’s logo
CCF: Indecline has seemed to really take off and become a rather large organization. No longer is this a few punk kids with cameras. How many people are involved?
RM: We’re actually still quite small. It’s really a family business. We do have kids all over the world vandalizing shit with the Indecline logo but here in Vegas it’s just a few of us making things happen. We wouldn’t know how to run an organization if we tried.
CCF: There’s obviously some anti-consumerism and anti-establishment beliefs, but what’s the underlying agenda of the group?
RM: We want to present thought provoking images to the people who choose ignorance over knowledge. We take our cameras into places white people should never fucking go in order to show a desperate side of America that goes unnoticed. If people would look up from their Ipods, Indecline and the things we depict wouldn’t be such an eyesore. We’re not anti-anything…we’re anti-everything.
CCF: There is a huge homeless problem in our country and specifically here in Las Vegas and in California where a lot of this stuff is filmed. As far as the footage with any of these street dwellers, what point are you trying to make with filming them?
RM: Well we’re certainly not trying to solve the homeless issue. That would be absurd. Just like anything else we do, we want to point out a problem, or issue and force people to be a little more engaging. You can’t sit around forever and not feel.
CCF: The most powerful footage you have here are some real moments on the street that obviously happened to be someone at the right place at the right time. Do you guys just hang out on the street with cameras rolling or how are you able to get some of this?
RM: We’ve really spent the last eight years of our lives filming on the streets. There’s little time for anything else. Whether it’s graffiti or the circus of life, it’s what we love to do. Even if girls think it’s sad and pathetic. Girls are more stupider than boys anyway. Most of the gems we catch late at night in places you’re not supposed to be. Sometimes people ask us to film things - breaking into cars, getting into fights - sometimes we hide in a big white government issued van and get our images on the sly. We really need to start carrying guns to be honest.
CCF: What’s the scariest situation you have gotten into where you thought, ““Man we really shouldn’t have come here and since we did I wish I had brought a weapon?”
RM: It’s hard to choose a favorite. We filmed a huge gang fight in San Francisco on Halloween one year and came pretty close to getting killed. I was two feet away from this guy who got stabbed in the back with a ridiculously huge blade. You can see it in the opening credits of “It’s Worse Than You Think.”
A scene from “It’s Worse Than You Think.”
CCF: Tell me about your favorite time you almost were killed? (LOL) Sorry… One scene that really stuck out in my mind, was the woman on the bike. You guys help her up and she goes on about her business and is almost hit by a car and she falls in the middle of the street. To me this was a great example of showing some of the ugliness of the world everyone wants to pretend doesn’t exist. To the driver of the car, the woman on the bike was invisible. You know they were probably on their way to shop or buy some fast food and here’s this helpless woman practically ran over that they do not stop to check on. How much of what you do is about trying to wake people up to what is going on around them as opposed to trying to shock audiences and get laughs?
RM: Standing alone that clip gets a lot of laughs. I’m not sure our audience analyzes that as much as you do. To them it’s slapstick humor. Fat woman on a bike goes boom-boom. We let the viewers decide how they feel. Personally, I like it when they get mad and want to fight us for filming the atrocities and mayhem going around outside our air-conditioned palaces. The footage can be shocking and funny at the same time. We’re just a bunch of desensitized kids who think in terms of intrigue. Not humor or shock value.
CCF: When the camera is off, what is the relationship you have with guys like Jerome and Bling Bling?
RM: Well, the camera is seldom off, but when we’re changing batteries or something we have an amazing relationship with these individuals. We give them what they need - clothing, food, shelter - and not what they want - crack, alcohol. It’s really amazing to be able to sit down and get inside the head of a body of nubs or a crack head who feels that the apocalypse is right around the corner. These are people society has cast out to die on the streets. It’s funny that when a group of teenagers befriends them, they throw us in jail.
CCF: How much of the Indecline footage is stuff you or someone in your organization filmed and how much was sent in?
RM: Maybe a few fights were sent in. Aside from that, it’s all a collection of five years worth of footage.