Deep in the swamplands of Punta Gorda, Florida exists the Redneck Yacht Club - a monster truck terrain park comprised of acres of dirt jumps, muddy fields and small ponds to provide endless entertainment for those riding on top of colossal-sized tires. The result is a weekend of pure unbridled debauchery; men flex their masculinity behind the driving wheel to throngs of topless women twerking in mud pits while fueled by an endless supply of beer.
For most, the appeal in driving one's car through bogs of black sludge is baffling. But for a group of self-confessed rednecks, mudding is much more than a hobby - it's a religion.
'Mud is like a drug to me, it's better than doing drugs, it's all about the engine roaring, the mudslinging, the crowds cheering…' said Pat Burns, the main subject in a forthcoming documentary titled Red, White & Wasted by Andrei Bowden-Schwartz and Sam B. Jones. The film explores the strange and curious world of mud worshiping monster trucks while simultaneously telling a story that strikes right at the heart of Trumpland, America.
'The intention of the film is much more about finding a way to have a conversation about, what is the United States and how did we get here and are we actually very different from each other?' Schwartz told DailyMail.com.
Red, White & Wasted is a new documentary that explores the uncanny world of monster trucks and mudding. Research brought the filmmakers to the Florida, where they started filming in 2015 after uncovering footage of the Redneck Yacht Club on Youtube. By the time they returned in 2016 they said: 'Suddenly every truck had Trump flags. Everything about it had turned into this sort of impromptu Trump rally on this quite extraordinary Mad Max scale'
'There is no quantifiable goal to mudding,' said Andrei Bowden-Schwartz, one of the documentary's director, 'except for that it provides an excuse to have fun and drink, it's a party, an experience, a community and 'a celebration of identity and culture'
A man throws necklaces to a topless woman at the Redneck Yacht Club, which has also been called the 'redneck Mardi Gras'
An inverse set of rules applies to the world of mudding where the only perceivable goal is to get as dirty as humanly possible while having a good time. New York-based filmmakers, Andrei Bowden Schwartz and Sam B. Jones first learned of the unusual pastime when they discovered footage from Redneck Yacht Club on YouTube. 'We were like, 'what the f**k is this?' Schwartz told DailyMail.com. Their interest was piqued and it wasn't long before they booked a trip down to Florida in what would be the first in many excursions to follow.
Pat Burns and his two daughters are the central focus of the documentary. Their lives revolve around the mudding community at 'Swamp Ghost' - the mudhole he discovered near his home in Orlando, Florida. He admits that his passion for the hobby led to his divorce and says, 'mud is like a drug to me'
The film's protagonist is Pat Burns, a local legend in the Orlando mudding community and the unofficial mayor of 'Swamp Ghost' - the mudhole he discovered sometime in the late 90s. Along with his two daughters and close circle of friends, Burns and company meditate on a range of topics from their love for mudding to the Confederate flag and what it means to be a country boy in the ever changing world around them. 'We've lost a lot of rednecks, we're going extinct,' says Burns in the movie.
Culture, identity, racism and politics are certainly big themes in the documentary, distilled throughout the 90 minute film in intimate vignettes with characters in their most candid moments against the backdrop of Confederate flags and Trump/Pence campaign posters.
The two directors began filming in 2015; a time just before politics dominated and divided conversation. By the time they made their second trip in November, 2016 – they noticed the landscape change abruptly before their eyes: 'Suddenly every truck had Trump flags. Everything about it had turned into this sort of impromptu Trump rally on this quite extraordinary Mad Max scale,' said Schwartz.
It was then, that Schwartz and Jones realized they were telling a much bigger story, one that is both a pre-Trump time capsule and a depiction of present day.
A man at the Redneck Yacht Club in Punta Gorda, Florida gives a Nazi salute while a bikini clad woman rakes in the Mardi Gras beads. 'It's a white guy's world, they drive the trucks and the girls dance for them,' said Schwartz who also discussed the intrinsic danger in large scale mudding events that normalize and broadcast racism on an amplified scale
Redneck Yacht Club descends into unbridled debauchery at night. Fights break out, bonfires rage, women twerk to rap music while perilously hanging off the sides of monster trucks and the noise of people screaming over competing sound systems is deafening. It's a place for men to 'recharge their white male batteries,' said Schwartz to DailyMail.com
Some monster trucks can cost as much as $1.3million, while mesmerized by the machines at Redneck Yacht Club, Burns also said, 'it's disgusting, these f*****rs have money to build sh*t like this.' Making just over $13,000 per year, the new era of mudding is a far cry from the 'kid-friendly' community at Swamp Ghost that Burns said was 'like church' to him
The broad strokes of fellow Swamp Ghost affiliate, Chase Walker's belief system play out in a cluster of bumper stickers that tattoo the back of his Toyota truck. One reads 'Yankee Go Home' another says, 'EAT BEEF.' A Trump 2016 logo sits next to a massive pro-Second Amendment sticker. Pointing to one that reads, 'Nuke the Bastards,' Walker says: 'I'm pretty patriotic so f***it nuke the bastards! North Korea, Iran, all those places. I like Russia though, I have a lot of respect for Vladimir Putin.'
A friend of Walker reflects on the Confederate flag and what it means to be 'country,' he says: 'The Confederate flag? It's not about black people and slavery…it's about a lifestyle, it's about home grown cooking, you just can't defeat country, you can shoot us, you can burn down our cities but a country boy will survive.'
When speaking about Southern identity, Krista, Pat Burns' eldest daughter says: 'I don't even consider myself Southern, it is my heritage but it's not me though, I mean, I am kind of racist too though.' She gestures to her new-born son, 'I hope he doesn't get that from me.'
The film cuts to a character loading his arsenal of guns 'I noticed Florida is starting to climb up the ranks and be more liberal and more anti-gun…it's become a lot more pansy, if I want to shoot my gun in my front yard, I should be able to.'
Similarly, Krista says, 'We just don't like people that think they're better and shit' while her father, Pat interjects: 'Coming here and taking over, taking over.'
Getting dirty is part of the fun, Pat Burns daughter Krista (not pictured) said she grew up in the mud, it's 'part of being country'
The documentary follows Pat Burns, leaving Orlando for the first time in 20 years to attend the monster truck mudding rally in Punta Gorda, Florida. 'It's all kinds of carnage man, just non-stop carnage,' said Burns who also feels that commercial mudding events are a betrayal to the family friendly values and sense of community he had at Swamp Ghost before it closed
Scenes from the mud-worshiping monster trucks and fans at Redneck Yacht Club in the documentary reveal the true lawless nature of the weekend event that is one of the largest mudding events in the world
One subject interviewed in the documentary reflects on the Confederate flag and says: 'It's not about black people and