'Bumfights' producer defends his video
LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CNN) -- A Las Vegas filmmaker defended his fast-selling video featuring grisly footage of homeless men fighting and performing dangerous stunts.
In a telephone interview Friday with CNN, 23-year-old Ray Laticia said the homeless men featured in "Bumfights: Cause for Concern, Volume 1" agreed to be videotaped and signed release forms that free the filmmakers from liability.
Laticia said the men were sober and mentally competent when they were taped. But an advertisement on his Web site states otherwise: "You'll see drunk bums beating each other silly," it promises.
Laticia said the men were compensated with food, clothing or money ($20 to $100) after the tapings, though most agreed to participate in the video free of charge. "They want to be part of something," he added. "It's fun. It's a relief from their mundane lives. We've developed a close relationship with many of them. They consider us their friends."
The video, which sells for $19.95 on www.bumfights.com, includes a scene of a homeless man referred to as Rufus the Stunt Bum going down a flight of stairs in a shopping cart. In another scene, Rufus runs into a wall. In yet another, he rams his head into a fast-food drive-through sign. The Web site sells a Rufus the Stunt Bum sweatshirt for $34.95.
The video also features fights between homeless men, which Laticia said were not staged by him or his co producer, Ty Beeson, 24. "Fights are part of their culture. It's a way for them to vent their anger. We're simply there to video it."
In one case, a fight resulted in broken bones and the producers paid the medical bills, Laticia said.
Over the past few weeks, thousands of copies of the video have been sold, and volumes two and three are in production, Laticia said.
Laticia is a recent graduate of the University of Southern California film school. Beeson graduated from the film school of University of California, Los Angeles.
Clark County District Attorney Stewart Bell tells CNN there are no cases pending against the two filmmakers. He says before a case can be opened, a victim must file a complaint with police. "The film is irrelevant unless the filmmakers paid a perpetrator to beat up someone," says Bell. "Then they would be considered an accessory to a crime. But filming a fight between two people in and of itself is not a crime."
Laticia said he and Beeson have decided to donate a percentage of the proceeds from the film to a homeless charity, but they have not decided which one.
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