Salt Lake City (2016) - full transcript

A taxidermist, a pro skiier, a faltering mormon and a teenaged punk. In a city ruled by religion, they live in shadows of counter culture.

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Salt Lake City.

Built on gold and God.

It's a thriving place
reinventing its identity.

These four people have figured
out ways to make money here

that as unusual as
the city they call home.

Probably about 80% of the time

I hope I look like I know
what I'm doing right now,

but I really just
feel like I'm drowning.

I had everything lined up
to be the perfect Mormon.

Companies need to make money.

And if they're gonna
pay you to do so,



you've gotta be able to perform.

As a kid I was
always pretty poor,

so I couldn't have that much.

And then as an adult now,
I've kinda spoiled myself.

One city, four people,

and where they live is a
key part of who they are.

* I found a place
to sell my name *

* Along the market's promenade

* High prices

*

* Going down

* Oh the rice is burning brown

* And high prices

* Going down



*

Salt Lake City.

It's the Mormon equivalent
of Vatican City,

and the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter Day Saints

owns a lot of assets, an
estimated 35 billion worth.

Even though its monuments cast
a long shadow over the city,

only half its people
are practicing Mormons.

*

Sexual repression has given way

to nation-high
online porn consumption.

And the place that once poured
money into anti-gay legislation

is now run by a lesbian mayor.

This town is in the
midst of a culture shift.

This is Andy over
at Remnant Preservations.

I'm just calling to let
you know that your mule deer

is ready to pick up.

Hey Kelly, it's Andy over
at Remnant Preservations.

I'm just calling to let you know

that your Europeans on
those bears are all done.

Hey Kayleen, it's Andy.

I'm just calling
to let you know that

I've got your mouse all done up.

I've been trying to
get a hold of you

for a couple of weeks now,
so if you can please get...

This voicemail box is full.

Please try again later.

Thank you for calling.

Chasing after customers
to get them to pick up

is probably the most frustrating
part about the business,

'cause that's money
that's already done.

I've already put
the work into it.

Andrea has just started

her own taxidermy business.

In a state where hunters
spend half a billion dollars

every year, her business
has great potential

if she can manage her money.

If I could do this job
and not get paid for it,

and just like miraculously my
bills would be taken are of,

I easily would do that.

If I want to continue and
perpetuate this business,

I kind of have to hold money
at like a higher level than

I actually really want to.

This is the freeze dryer.

This is where we do anything
under 31 inches, primarily pets.

I'm the only one in
Utah who works on pets.

If I'm having a slow hunting
season, I can count on the pets.

This cost us $15,000,

definitely the most expensive
thing that we have in the shop,

and it costs about
$400 a month to run.

When I first opened the shop,
I had a private investor

who was willing to
invest about $38,000.

So it was a very, very
terrifying chunk of money.

I have not started
his payments yet.

My goal is to have it completely
paid off in about 4 years.

That might be a little
optimistic, but I wouldn't

be doing this if I wasn't
a little optimistic anyways.

A house on the northern edge
of town is the unlikely location

for Salt Lake City's
small hardcore music scene,

where money is
not the motivation.

The way I look at
money is it's nothing to me.

'Cause you could use it to help
everyone, but people don't.

I'm actually in a lot of bands
right now, but the main one

I put the main focus
into is Nelson Muntz.

The genre of music we play,

there's like a lot
of faux tough guys.

We'd thought from watching
Simpsons for years and years,

we were always like, "Nelson
Muntz, he's the toughest."

But it's funny, 'cause
he's like really sad inside,

'cause of like
his bad childhood.

I was 9 years old when
my dad got taken away,

and then 10 years old, that's
when my mom got taken away.

*

Was that good?

- Yeah.
- Alright.

So my mom and dad went on
a trip when I was a kid.

The trip ended days later with
my mom coming back telling me

that my dad got taken to jail.

And then later on
they came back for her.

*

My dad had always done shady
things to try to make money,

like selling drugs and
stuff and like smuggling drugs.

*

He's just a crazy
fucking dumb guy.

I'd like to think my mom
is smart enough to know,

but I guess love makes
you do dumb things.

With both parents in jail,
Conrad spent six years

bouncing around from
relative to relative,

eventually settling
in with his brother Sam.

I don't think we played
it as well last time.

I tell you we got a set list, we
should add those ones in there.

Nelson Muntz
brings in a bit of money

but it's not enough
for like anything.

And I'd say most
times I break even.

Are you gonna try
and get those screens?

And then we can start
screen printing soon?

Fucking sweet.

I print shirts and stuff.

This is probably the only
profitable part about it

'cause like people like buying
shirts for some reason.

I just never wanted to
go through the trouble

that I've seen my
dad go through.

It just wouldn't be worth doing
that to make whatever little

amount of money you make.

Because you make a big mistake,
you basically lose everything.

*

Salt Lake is a hub
for outdoor sports,

d for sponsored skier Kalen,
's sometimes home base.

*

I lived in various
places in Salt Lake.

I was here for nine years but I
technically can't call anywhere

home 'cause there's
nowhere I actually wanna

plant roots as of now.

So Salt Lake is just
another stop on the adventure.

My name is Kalen Thorien.

I'm 27 years old and
I'm a professional skier

and adventurer.

Typical Utah, it
was crazy yesterday,

it was full on
torrential downpours,

the roads were
flooding and now it's sunny.

*

Pro skiers like Kalen have
to continuously travel

to book gigs.

*

I was actually pursuing
a firefighting career.

I was like "Oh this is
something I could do for

the rest of my life, 401ks,
retirement, government work,"

you name it and there was
something not right.

Being stagnant like that
and being so normal

caused me to freak
out a little bit.

So I tried to find
any sort of way

to separate myself
from the masses.

This is the top.

Ah, here we are.

*

I moved to Utah and
became a ski bum,

and I completely
fell in love with it.

*

I'd say I was
about 24 years old,

actually got the title as a
sponsored skier and then I was

able to start making
a living off of it.

It can get competitive because
there's always some new young

gun, coming up in the field.

Like when I finally was able
to make a living off of this

I really just wanted
to kick up my feet

and enjoy it for a little bit.

But it was like you know you
just keep plugging away because

it could be gone just like that.

Jake grew up Mormon
in Salt Lake City

but now he's lost his faith.

My name is Jake Jones.

I go to school at
Utah Valley University.

I'm studying entrepreneurship.

I was the guy that knocked on
your door and said

"You want to learn
about Jesus?"

My family goes back to
the first settlers.

My mom and dad were
both raised in the faith.

I was really active in the
youth groups all throughout

high school and then just
like the good Mormon boy does

I went on the two year mission.

White shirts, ties,
clean cut, riding the bike,

knocking on your door.

That was me.

It wasn't until I was serving
the end of my two year mission

in Michigan where I
started to have serious doubts.

I saw problems with how
the belief structure worked.

Circular reasoning,
self-confirming doctrine.

I was definitely on a
different page than my parents.

I haven't really talked to my
parents about my lack of faith

because I guess I'm
afraid of the conversation.

If I told them everything the
worst case scenario would be

they could disown me.

You're on your own now.

We're kind of dropping off
support and they're helping

heavily, almost completely with
my college education right now.

That is a great concern because
I would have to work harder and

make sure I'm a bit more
diligent with finances.

I'm gonna tell my parents
the extent of my disbelief,

because there are some things

that are just worth
more than money.

And that's being
true to yourself.

The first Mormons
called Salt Lake City

"Kingdom of Heaven on
Earth," but this heaven

places a lot of emphasis
on earthly wealth.

It's a mash up of
church and corporate empire,

with holy holdings fuelled by
$7 billion in annual donations,

all wired directly
to Salt lake City Elders.

*

So we're in downtown right now.

The church has lots and lots
of like land holdings,

and they literally own
most of the property

around downtown Salt Lake.

Part of the Mormon doctrine
and pretty wide spread in just

Christian doctrine is tithing.

Tithing is where you give 10%
of your income to the church.

So it's like a sign of devotion,
it's required if you wanna be

considered like, fully
active and contributing,

that you pay the 10%.

I've heard estimates that
the total that the church gets

through tithing is around
$5 billion a year.

There's a lot of
wealthy Mormons.

Jake's decided he no
longer wants to be Mormon.

But by cutting ties
with the church

his parents might cut him off.

If my personal decision to leave
the faith did cause a schism

in my relationship with my
parents, the entire Utah culture

and all of these monuments
and establishments would be

a constant reminder
of that rift.

I think it does give a little
bit more reason to just

clean slate, move somewhere else

where Mormonism just
isn't as big a deal.

*

Renters in Salt Lake City
spend on average around

$761 in rent per month.

Andrea pays way less than that.

And here it all is.

It's actually my first
time living by myself,

which has been
quite the adjustment.

Before this I was living
in a house with 10 people.

The square footage
for this apartment is

298 square feet I believe.

And the rent is 393 a month.

It is considered low income
housing but I've kind of come to

love it just because it's
mine and nobody else's,

so that's pretty good.

Kenny was, is, was my best
friend and the love of my life,

and he actually shot
himself in August...

playing Russian
roulette by himself.

That was the first Valentine's
Day present he gave me.

His mom had gotten a hold of me,
she was really concerned,

so I drove over to his house,

and I found him in his
bedroom on the ground.

He had been dead for
some time by that point.

Kenny was my biggest cheerleader
with opening the shop.

It was kind of adorable
how excited he would get

at the things that I was doing.

I took a month and a half off
and everyone didn't think that

I would keep the shop open, that
I would wind up shutting it down

'cause I would have to be
working with death

on a daily basis.

And I was like, Kenny
would be pissed if he knew

I was even considering
shutting down the shop.

Knowing how much he supported
me definitely helped me wanna

make sure that it didn't fail.

And that I didn't just give up
on it and walk away from it.

Professional skier
Kalen has come to town

to make a little money.

Instead the trip is costing her.

Here we're at a KOA which
is a campgrounds of America,

it's typically not ideal.

This spot right here is about 55
a night which almost seems like

a rip off 'cause I might as
well go stay at a hotel.

And this is Frances.

That's my girl!

Driving into Salt Lake I
noticed my car had sprayed oil

pretty much everywhere.

I'm hoping that these
fixes are pretty minor.

She's a 1986 diesel Land Cruiser
and there was only about a 1,000

of this model made and
so to find parts for it

and to repair it is a
little tricky sometimes.

So I noticed that the oil filter
was getting kind of loose,

so yeah, I'm hoping
just drop her off

and you guys can take a look.

- Drop her off.
- I think it's mellow.

Mine used to do that I think
it's that diesel that vibrates

gets all crazy.

Shakes the filter out.

Alrighty.

Thanks buddy.

I'm in this weird little rental
car here and it's way too fancy.

I'm hoping Frances gets fixed
today which it totally can

if they can find the part.

If not then I guess I'll
have to stay at the campground,

it's kind of a bummer.

*

I don't know
where to go from there,

it's all I got.

I'm shopping for some screens,
some screen printing ink.

We gotta get some shirts done
hopefully make some money

to eat, to get gas, to...

Hopefully break even.

Hopefully get close
to breaking even.

But you know it's stuff you
do when you're in a band.

The screens are pretty expensive
but once you have the screens,

you can keep
printing stuff on them.

Selling each shirt for 10 bucks
a piece so we sell a hundred

we could possibly make a 1,000
bucks off of it but there's like

almost no chance that
we'll sell every shirt.

It's a pretty big if.

Yeah like it's just
not gonna happen.

It'd be nice.

89.36.

Just swipe?

I remember I bought a bunch of
tapes and cases and that came

out to be like 200, 250 almost.

And it's not bad but it's kind
of a lot when you-some months

when you look at your
wallet and you're like,

"Oh I spent more than I
should have this month."

I wrote my expenses for
the label down once and,

I don't know, I guess I didn't
like looking at the money

that like I was putting into it.

I'd rather just have the
cool product come out of it.

What's up Brad?

It's about time you got some
new screens, fucking slouch.

This is us.

Nelson Muntz, kind of
used to be in this band,

Satanic Hispanic.

Oh this is his solo
project Bill Murray.

You making any
money off the label?

Nah not too much.

- Putting it all back.
- Yeah basically.

Circulating it.

These going with you?

Yea, I'm going
to take these two.

Okay sounds great.

61.81 on that.

Give me that card, you loser.

Gotta keep the money moving.

The Salt Lake City
area supports a thriving

winter sports industry,
with skiing contributing

1.29 billion in revenue
and 20,000 jobs

to the state of Utah.

Kalen's figured out

how to turn her skiing
skills into money.

Getting out with photographers
and with my sponsors

to shoot photos.

So this is exactly
how I make my living.

We'll probably go
right to the top of that.

If you notice it's a slightly
male dominated group

that's pretty common
in this sport.

We usually have one
girl and a bunch of guys.

For a woman to actually
make a living in this field,

solely, it's very
difficult, it's very rare.

There's only a handful of us.

Oh yeah, let's do it.

Get 'er done.

*

I have companies, brands that
sponsor me and they pay me.

In exchange I'm an
ambassador for their product.

*

I have a dozen sponsors but
only four of them pay me

like an actual salary.

And then the other ones are
product which is great because

I pretty much don't have to
pay for anything that I use.

And then I can go to a lot of my
sponsors if I have a trip idea

and you know they'll pay for it.

And so you can find a lot of
ways you can kind of get things

for free which kind of makes
the salary irrelevant almost.

*

Within a year I make
40,000 from my sponsors.

I'm getting consistent
pay cheques and I can

put food on my table
and then some.

I'm terrified of the idea of
having a normal job again

so I'm gonna try to keep
this going as best I can.

Jake's done the math
of what will happen

if his parents cut him off.

My parents help me almost
completely with my tuition.

I think it's right
around 3 or 4,000.

My car is paid for but
my dad gave me the car.

I'm on the phone
plan for the family.

I'm on the health
insurance, car insurance,

dental insurance.

If my dad really wanted to
say fine do your own thing.

It would be challenging.

Jake knows he's financially
dependent on his parents,

so he's trying to make
some money of his own.

Just got an order.

I'm now working for
a new start-up company

which is like a
food delivery service.

This company has a lot of great
potential and if they're willing

to take me in then I'm willing
to work with them and push

the company to its
greatest potential.

In ten years I wanna
be financially secure.

Wealthy.

In one way or another
I'm gonna be a millionaire.

What's up?

Got your food.

So he gave me 5 stars,

so 5 out of 5 that's
what I'm talking about.

So that run took about 15-20
minutes and I made 4 dollars off

it so that would be around
12 dollars an hour

after gas, 10 dollars.

Yeah totally worth it.

*

When it's not hunting season,
business can lag for Andrea.

To make up her shortfall
she takes requests to work on

roadkill retrieved
from the highway.

We are headed to
a friend's house.

She's got a roadkill deer that
she wants gutted and defleshed

so she can keep the bones on it.

I'm not getting paid a lot for
it maybe a couple hundred bucks.

I actually like the break
from the traditional taxidermy.

Behind my passenger there's
bags and a battery and the saw,

can you grab those?

It's a big job so Andrea's
friend Alan has offered to help.

She's already been gutted

but obviously not
skinned or anything.

It's a girl?

Let's get to it then.

I'm going to finish stripping
off all of the meat on this

and then we're gonna
cut it up into pieces

so we can take it
back to the shop.

Not to eat it.

I do have a lot of people
who are just kind of like,

morbidly curious about
working with death essentially,

dead animals and animal remains.

I would not be able to afford
paying someone every time

I needed help on
the spot like this.

- Alan does not get paid.
- I just do it for fun.

Yeah it is.

Alright we're gonna
cut his head off now.

Money and I have a severe
hate hate love relationship

I would say.

I hate everything that money
does to people definitely.

But I need it to continue
doing the things I love.

But it's not something
I'll ever want in excess,

so hate hate love.

*

I started working
at Einstein Bagels

in September of last year.

I work 40 hours a week and I
make a bit above minimum wage.

It's about 3:25, public
transportation ain't up

till about 5:00,
close to 6:00-ish.

It's tough getting up sometimes.

*

Yeah I'd only had one
other job before that

I started working at Taco Bell.

And I worked there for a year
which I think is the turning

point for most fast food jobs.

Hard to keep people
there for what they pay you,

and what you have to deal with.

*

I hate the fact that I do have
to work this job to survive

but it's good for the
time being I guess.

Damn it!

Mormons leaving the
faith run the risk of being

socially shunned, getting
expelled or losing employment.

Jake's afraid to tell his
parents he no longer believes

but he's found a support
group to help him out.

- I'm Jake.
- Hi Jake.

It's important that there's a
safe place where people who've

come out of the church can
kind of know they're not crazy.

There are other
people that are like them,

and they can feel accepted.

This group started four years
ago with like three people.

Now we have about
1700 to 1800 people.

It was so hard.

I was so depressed.

And I'm isolated in
this little world.

And it's interesting
after I shared on Facebook

coming out just today.

Wait, did you say today?

Yeah, she came out
on Facebook today.

Whoa!

It's been a
really good day today.

How's your family been
doing with your exit?

That's a really
interesting question.

My parents still don't know.

It's really fear of hurting
them and our relationship.

I've heard of parents say things
like "It would be better to me

if you were dead than to
tell me that you don't believe

anymore," so the ramifications
from a financial perspective,

yeah that's all wrapped up
in that whole devastation.

Yeah I'm somewhat concerned
that my roommate finds out

or my employer.

Those prejudice is unconscious
if an employer is looking at two

different job candidates without
realizing it they're gonna

gravitate to the one who is
speaking the Mormon language.

I know it's pretty intimidating
when you haven't come out,

especially to your parents.

But hiding it is a
burden, it's tiresome.

Hearing stories is so helpful.

- Oh it is.
- So helpful.

*

Welcome to Casa di Big Foot.

It's a no bedroom house with
a small bathroom but yeah

this is it's a little 17 foot
fibreglass trailer.

This is my dining area/office.

Way down at the other end of
the trailer is the bedroom.

This is my bathroom, so
it's actually turned into

my gear closet.

I pee outside or I have
these little poop bags,

open it, suction cup it on
there and just let er rip.

I get paid to create these
stories or these adventures

and they're documented and those
will either go to magazines or

online content and
social media of course.

Especially Instagram.

I do $500 per post and that's
an exclusive product post.

But it still has
to be authentic.

I am almost at 59,000 followers.

Seems to grow about a 100 a day.

I wouldn't be
modeling if you know,

I wasn't a cute blonde girl but
I think I've managed to stay out

of that being what defines me.

What gave me my edge was
just-I'm able to create,

produce, market, do
everything on my own.

An adult couple making minimum
wage in Salt Lake City spends

over $500 a month on food
and household products.

It's the one high cost Conrad
and his girlfriend Vaenka

have to manage.

We drive out here even
though it's not the closest one.

The one by our house is just
more expensive so it's worth it

to drive out here.

We've been together
three years this February.

She has expenses like a car, car
insurance and health insurance

and a bunch of stuff.

God dammit!

They don't have
that toilet paper.

Yeah they're out of that one,

do you wanna just
get those ones?

Yeah it's fucking more
expensive this way though.

I don't have very
many bills actually.

My main expenses would be
like eating out and groceries,

just eating food in general.

I think we did pretty good.

Can we split it up
between two cards?

Sure.

Okee dokee.

If I stay there long enough and
just look at things I'll tend to

get it 'cause I come from-when
you're a kid and your parents

are like "No you
can't get that."

"Why?" "Cause you
can't afford it."

Well I have money so
I'll buy whatever I want.

The other day I ordered like
two pounds of pistachios

on the internet.

And I was like "What else can
you order on the internet?"

And apparently you can just
bulk order a bunch of candy.

So I got like two
pound bag of lemonheads,

a five pound bag
of gummy cherries.

Display thing of zowers you
know those dum dum suckers.

I got only the blue ones 'cause
that's the only flavour I like.

When I was doing it I was like
hmm is this that smart to do?

And then I realized, yes.

*

While Conrad likes to
blow some of his money.

Andrea and her friends
find a way to save theirs.

We're dumpstering
for produce right now.

Which is one of my
favourite ways to get food.

And they just throw out
everything for new good reason,

seemingly.

If one banana
goes bad in a bunch

they throw the whole bunch away.

Look at that, look at this,

look at the basil,
look at that basil.

That's stupid.

That's so stupid exciting.

It's one of those things where
it makes you sad that there's

this much food waste but like
really grateful for it because

like none of it is
bad so we get it.

I would say this is easily $400.

Yeah easily.

Since I started dumpster diving
I don't think I've paid for

produce or macaroons.

Corporate waste on three.

1, 2, 3...

Corporate waste.

Sick.

Conrad gets his pay cheque

after 80 hours of work
at a bagel shop.

So I just got paid.

So now I gotta go give my half
for rent together and then

walk down to my
landlord and pay my rent.

I got paid 464.29 that's
over a span of two weeks.

*

My share of the rent is 238.

This is collectively
what me, my brother,

my girlfriend and my
other roommate pay for rent.

*

I try to save money but it just-

like if I need it
I'll take the money.

I'd like to save up to get a van
or something but it's just a lot

of money to save right now and I
don't even have my license so.

It's just a little bit painful

to pay for the bad
house I live in.

When I look at their
house and how nice it is.

To hear some of that
diesel engine purr...

Ah.

It just makes me so happy,
it's the sound of freedom.

Kalen's truck is fixed and
she's made $500 from her

sponsors, enough to get
her back on the road,

chasing snow and
money to the north.

I never get tired
of life on the road.

I don't even think about it.

*

Keep my future on the horizon

but by no means am I
stressing about it.

Whether or not it's the
career that I had in mind,

maybe not.

But things are always
evolving and changing.

Andrea is seeking new
venues to expand her business.

Oh hello.

And if it works out
she'll be able to

start paying off her investor.

I'm getting whored up so I can
go sell some skulls tonight

at our event at Metro.

The whole ordeal of doing an
event and getting dressed up,

all of it is a necessity
that I'd rather do without.

But yet I can't afford not
to be doing that right now.

The sex sells, kids.

*

So these ones right here are 30,
these ones right here are 20,

we've got boxes and
an opossum right there.

Oh, wow!

*

To hit my goal for the night
I have to get another $530,

but there's enough people
here so I'm gonna go through

and round them all
up and be like

"Hey come up to the stand,

it's okay like look
at what we've got."

So far I haven't had any bars
request for me to give them a

cut of anything I make and I
think that a part of that

is because I do tend to bring
quite the crowd when I do these.

So they kind of get
their compensation

through drinks and what not.

So with tax it's gonna be
320.40, is that okay?

Okay thank you.

So tonight we ended with 940

which is more than my
baseline for the night.

I'm super happy with
the way the night went.

Jake spends some down time
with his friend Cody

while he figures out
how to tell his parents.

Alright homeboy.

*

When are you
telling your parents?

Ah I don't know.

Are you gonna be disowned?

Can I live with you if I do?

No.

I am writing the tell-all
letter to my parents.

I do not know what
they're gonna do.

I'm somewhat nervous.

I think it'll probably be best
if I just drive up there

and leave a copy for
each, my mom and my dad.

Because of the belief system,
they can feel like they failed.

My parents are good people but
the religion teaches that

if you're not active
in the church,

then those things
don't really matter.

I want my parents to
know they haven't failed.

*

While I know that my finances
may be affected in the future,

especially in Utah,
I'm honestly okay with that.

Jake's outcome is uncertain but
he's willing to take the risk.

Faith and
fortune brought settlers

to Salt Lake City, and
the town's love of God

and desire for money
have woven together.

Jake tells his parents
he's leaving the church.

They aren't happy,
but they'll support him

while he's still in school.

I'm not held back
by anything anymore.

There's no weight
hanging over me.

I could see myself eventually
coming back to Utah

but I've got to see the world.

New York, California,
China, wherever.

I've never had any
plans for my future.

By making it by I don't
work myself into tiredness

or nothingness.

So paying for this house
for people to come and enjoy

is definitely worth it.

*

The scene that me and my
brother kind of sparked up,

you see more people starting
their own projects and doing

what they wanna do.

*

I wouldn't say I have any sort
of retirement plans but I've

thought about what happens post
skiing or if my body were just

to really fall
apart, massive injuries.

I'd have to look outside the box
and see how I can continue my

career in other ways
beside just skiing,

and continue to pick up
sponsors who aren't just

in the ski industry.

*

I really don't think
that I would be where I am

without the support
I had from Kenny.

I want to make sure I'm always
doing the best I can so that all

of the work that he put
into me wasn't for nothing.

*

Salt Lake City is redefining
itself and these four people

are not only tapping
into the change,

they are influencing its future.

*

Just figure out what
your priorities are

what you really wanna do.

For me it's being in
the noise hardcore scene

in Salt Lake City.

Thanks everyone for coming out.