Documentary based on a New Times cover story premieres this weekend

By Benjamin Leatherman

The star of a New Times cover story is about to become a star of the silver screen.

Back in 2006, I profiled madcap local performance artist and musician Ryan Avery, a cherubic and ultra-gleeful teenage oddity who was a mainstay at downtown Phoenix art galleries like Trunk Space. Avery, who suffered from a glandular deficiency that stunted his growth and gave him the look and voice of a pre-pubescent teen, fronted numerous local punk and experimental bands, as well as an improv comedy troupe and his own talk show.

He's also a lifelong Mormon, and gave up his gonzo antics to go on a two-year mission in Portland, Oregon, where he's been preaching the gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since August 2006.

Besides increasing Avery's infamy, the cover story was read by Salt Lake City-based filmmakers Paul Eagleston and Stephen Rose, who immediately hopped a plane to Phoenix to grab footage of Avery before he left town, as well as to interview friends and family for the documentary Hi, My Name is Ryan. (Full disclosure: I was also interviewed and appear in the film.)

Since then, the project expanded from a 20-minute short film into an 87-minute feature (that's been described as "Juno-esque") and is scheduled to premiere at the CineVegas Film Festival in Sin City this Saturday and Sunday. The film will also screen on June 19 and June 22 at SILVERDOCS, a documentary festival in Silver Springs, Maryland, run by the American Film Institute and the Discovery Channel.

Here's the trailer for the flick:

Avery is set to return to the Valley from his mission later this summer, and is planning on picking up where left off. According to Stephanie Carrico, co-owner of Trunk Space, he's scheduled a performance for Labor Day weekend.


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