Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Jeffery Pritchett. He is the host of The Church of Mabus radio show-- Bringing you unique personalities in the paranormal and high strange always and forever til death do us part. You can join his Facebook group, The Church Of Mabus Radio Show.
This is simply put one of the best Sasquatch films ever made and the most realistic. It approaches Sasquatch in a manner that is spiritually evolved compared to all the other trash out there. Sasquatch is a being that is much more than some type of wild untamed animal. This film is excellent and if you haven't seen it yet, I suggest you most assuredly pick up a copy. This is Sasquatch truth at it's finest moment in film history. I would have to say it is the best Sasquatch film I have ever seen in my entire life. I have discussed Sasquatch many times at my radio show The Church of Mabus and I have always known there was more to Sasquatch than meets the eye. But this film embodies that perfectly and I found it to be enlightening and I hope you feel the same way after viewing the film. Presenting.
1. I have to say your movie about Sasquatch entitled Letters From the Big Man is one of the best Bigfoot films I've ever seen. What was the inspiration behind it exactly?
Christopher Munch: The project literally showed up on my doorstep in 2005, punctuated by a Christmas gift of the humorous book In Me Own Words. Prior to that I had not considered the subject to any great degree one way or the other. I must have had a vague awareness that “they were out there,” and indeed had fond memories of the Ronald Olson 1977 docudrama Sasquatch, which I saw in the theatre as a teenager, and also the famous episode of In Search Of, my favorite TV series.
Much later I came to acknowledge a deep and atavistic connection to sasquatch which I am only now beginning to understand, small piece by small piece, even while my commitment to their “cause” grows more steadfast every day.
After being bitten in early 2005, I took the plunge and devoured every book, every issue of The Track Record, and every prior film that touched on the subject that I could get my hands on. Paralleling my developing interest in sasquatch was an interest in a particular area of southern Oregon where a drama had been unfolding surrounding salvage logging of Federal lands burnt in the 2002 Biscuit Fire. I became fascinated by the so-called Klamath-Siskiyou ecoregion, an ancient, biologically diverse, and mysterious land elegantly chronicled by David Rains Wallace in The Klamath Knot, a book that inspired the tone I hoped to achieve with my film.
As I developed the screenplay with an esteemed New York producer, Paul Mezey, whom I had known for many years, various stars (who would have enabled us to finance the picture at a larger budget) hovered around it. Every time I came close to setting the project up, however, invariably I ran up against the unwillingness of Hollywood to think in anything but the most cliché and untruthful terms when it comes to sasquatch. There had been intriguing smaller productions, independently financed – such as the Little Bigfoot series and the animated Legend of Sasquatch with William Hurt – that had slipped in some fascinating and seemingly truthful tidbits of information. And despite its unlikely premise, Harry and the Hendersons played the very important role of defusing monster stereotypes and opening the door to a more reasoned understanding of sasquatch. I believe this is why it is beloved by so many to this day. (Joan Crawford had made the same pleas in a different and campier way decades earlier in Trog).
Because I was seeking at all costs a truthful depiction of sasquatch, it seemed that the best way to do it was against a realistic backdrop, sacrificing suspense if necessary for the sort of detail that would ground my heroine’s emotional journey. Indeed, her journey paralleled mine at every step.
Early drafts of the script were focussesd less on Sarah’s internal life and more on external circumstances, culminating in our hero-sasquatch showing up, messiah-like, in downtown Portland and making a big public splash: a rousing but not terribly realistic conclusion. He even hopped a freight train to get there. :)
2. With all the horrific movies about Bigfoot out there that depict Sasquatch as a horrific creature it was great to finally see a movie that got it right. Who were some researchers that you took from that helped you to make sure you got Sasquatch depicted on screen correctly and especially positively instead of negatively?
Christopher Munch: My first advisor was Thom Powell, whose book The Locals was the one I most admired from my early reading. He very generously took me into the field and introduced me to his trusted friends, Kirk Sigurdson (Kultus) and Joe Beelart. Thom and Kirk encouraged me to put myself in places where I could conceivably begin to have experiences of my own – something which, at the time, I assumed was beyond my understanding or ability. My actress friend Jeri Arredondo (who, along with Thom, Kirk, Kathleen Grevie Jones, Dee Odom, Andrew Robson, and Jann Weiss, is featured in my documentary Sasquatch and Us), also encouraged me to forge further by opening my heart to the mystical aspects of sasquatch as she understood them from her childhood in the Mescalero Apache nation.
A year or so into the project, I corresponded with and met Kewaunee Lapseritis (The Sasquatch People, The Psychic Sasquatch), who advanced my understanding further. As a consultant on the film, he accompanied me in the field and opened a number of doors. I have consistently found his information to be truthful, and if he was ever unsure of an answer to a question, he would never hesitate to say “I don’t know,” rather than speculate too wildly. He steadfastly honors sasquatch. While he has paid a high price for being at the vanguard of “the fringe” over the past 30 years, thankfully “the fringe” is now becoming un-fringe as many others recognize the value of his methodology, and realize that the only way to connect with sasquatch is through the heart.
Close to the start of production in 2009, I began to work with an exceptional interspecies communicator, Kathleen Grevie Jones, whose strong capabilities as a trance medium facilitated a more rigorous communication with sasquatch, and in fact resulted in the voice-over lines spoken by our hero sasquatch in the film. The words are theirs.
3. Could you tell us about the actress who played Sarah Smith aka Lily Rabe and what were her initial impressions of being involved in a film about Bigfoot?
Christopher Munch: I met Lily Rabe through our wonderful casting director, Joseph Middleton. While her film work had been limited to supporting roles up to that point, her reputation in casting circles was considerable due to her acclaim as a Broadway luminary. Lily “got” the script and “got” Sarah’s need to disappear for a while. Though she had read Thom Powell’s book and was fascinated by my take on the sasquatch phenomenon, I don’t think she ever cultivated strong feelings herself one way or the other. She was certainly not prejudiced against the reality of sasquatch. I think she viewed the film more as a woman-off-the-grid story, which worked perfectly well for my purposes. I particularly admired the fact that she had an absolute compass bearing on where Sarah needed to be emotionally at any given moment, even though the film, like most, was shot out of sequence and she was often the only person in a scene, in effect acting with herself. I can’t speak highly enough of Lily’s focus and commitment during the shoot, even after narrowly escaping the path of a falling tree!
4. Would you tell us about the history and background of the creation of the film and who was involved actor and actress wise? It originally appeared at Sundance 2011 and I've read tons of great reviews on it from Roger Ebert to Rotten Tomatoes to the New York Times.
Christopher Munch: This is largely answered above, but the timeline was: script written and project developed 2005-2009, principal photography fall 2009, cutting and additional shooting 2010, premiere at Sundance January 2011, additional festival roll-out throughout 2011 and theatrical playdates in several cities.
5. What is the Kickstarter project all about with Letters From The Big Man. Is the sole purpose to get it out on DVD and what else?
Christopher Munch: In Spring 2012, because the home video rights to the film were still unsold in the U.S., I mounted a small Kickstarter campaign to fund a home video self-release of the film. In hindsight, I probably should have done a larger campaign sooner in order to fund a bigger theatrical opening. But my time was limited and, like most directors, I didn’t relish being in the distribution business. Fortunately, SnagFilms has subsequently acquired the film for VOD distribution in the U.S., and through them it will be more easily available on many digital platforms. I believe Snag to be one of the top companies working in the digital distribution frontier, and they are very enthusiastic about Letters. The DVD is available now directly from my site at http://www.lettersfromthebigman.com.
6. In the movie the Big Man was portrayed as being a spiritual being aligned with the heart and I have to say I really enjoyed the documentary in the extras section as well. I've interviewed Thom Powell before and was introduced to some new faces as well. Could you tell us a bit about that documentary in the extras section?
Christopher Munch: Because I am honored by and take very seriously the trust the sasquatch have placed in me, it is my strong intention that Letters be used educationally, and thusly in some small way countervail the unending stream of heartless and defamatory genre films that use the designation “sasquatch” or “bigfoot” to describe a monster figment of our imagination that bears no relationship to reality.
The documentary came about because the feature, of necessity, leaves many questions unanswered. Rather than adding some sort of silly commentary track to the feature, I sought out several individuals whose insights into sasquatch I hold in the highest regard. It was important to me that I be able to vouch personally for the integrity of each of these individuals, and that is the reason that I didn’t expand the documentary to include interviews with more well-known figures. Whenever I tried to exercise my usual editorial instincts and make the documentary shorter, I kept getting the message to keep it long and allow the information to flow freely.
7. I have to say the Bigfoot in the film was the most realistic I have ever seen in a film ever. Could you give us some background on how that was created and by who?
Christopher Munch: During the several years that the script was in development, I learned how difficult and expensive it is to construct a credible suit that holds up to scrutiny under a variety of close-up conditions. The hair work alone is extremely labor-intensive, and a great deal of artistry and experimentation enters into the sculpting process. Like everything else on this production, though, I was led to exactly the right person at the right time. I had consulted with the great makeup effects artist, Kazuhiro Tsuji, who was very generous in trying to steer me to the right person. That person turned out to be Lee Romaire, who coincidentally had desired for many years to build a credible sasquatch. Lee didn’t take the job right away due to concerns over being able to maintain the highest standards of quality given my limited budget. But when he finally said yes, his commitment was wholehearted, and he brought on the best people to work with him. He also worked closely with our actor, Isaac C. Singleton Jr. (who had previously appeared in Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes remake); Lee followed the smart philosophy of using Isaac’s own features and physique to our best advantage. We were after a good-looking, leading man sort of sasquatch rather than a fanged monster. I didn’t actually see Isaac fully costumed until the night before he began shooting, on location in Oregon. But it was clear that Lee and his colleagues had outdone themselves. They were so well prepared that we obtained even more footage than we had hoped. Not all of it wound up in the picture (I learned how careful a filmmaker must be in choosing camera angles and editing options so as to maintain a fragile illusion of reality). Although we had decided at the outset not to rely on digital effects, Lee wound up doing a small amount of subtle work in this area that I believe enhances the illusion.
8. In the film Bigfoot is portrayed as a spiritual being and many times he goes multidimensional and the fact that the being can walk between realms is embraced. I have always believed Bigfoot to be a truly spiritual being. Could you tell us about your personal thoughts on the spiritual elements of Bigfoot?
Christopher Munch: Like us, they are both physical and nonphysical beings. Unlike us, their experience of physical reality is not veiled, not focussed on one narrow slice of what they have referred to as “the fabric of many thicknesses.” Their temporal relationship to physical reality is apparently different than ours, as well. I was once in the presence of a trickster adolescent sasquatch who, over several days and with my tacit permission, presented me with an elaborate series of acoustical oddities that sounded as if they were created with specific objects that I knew to be in the immediate vicinity of where I was staying in the forest. I assumed that some sort of ventriloquial capability was at work here, for I did not see these objects being utilized in a way that would have produced what I was hearing. Years later, by way of Kathleen Grevie Jones, I enquired about this and received the following explanation:
The digging was not happening at your place; you heard it happening in another place. It is a place you do not know. But we help you to hear the sound from there. We do not have a frame around us as you humans have made for yourselves. It is open and the sound there becomes the sound here. Here is there. We are here and we are there. We want to show you how to be here and there also. It is the same for what you see. We can be here and we can be there at the same time.
Jann Weiss, a highly respected intuitive who has interacted extensively with elephants and dolphins as well as sasquatch (and is featured in my documentary), cogently describes their ability to “back and forth”:
It’s like living in a large house, and each room is a different reality. . . . [S]asquatch live in the living room, and we’re in the kitchen, and we’re very busy in the kitchen and we have no cognizance of the other rooms in the house. And suddenly one walks in from another part of the house and we get really startled, like “Where did you come from?!” “Well, I was just over there.” . . . They are able to walk back and forth between the rooms, they are able to stand in a doorway and observe what is going on in a room without entering, and as we evolve as a species – as homo sapiens evolve – we’re becoming more sensitive to who’s walking through the room, and to the existence of the other rooms.
It is clear from their communications that the sasquatch regard this as a time of awakening and expansion for our people, and they wish to help us make the transition into a way of being that more fully acknowledges the interconnectedness of all living things. Systems theorist Ervin László has described this interconnectedness in both humanistic and scientific terms:
Underlying the diversified and localized gross layers of ordinary consciousness there is a unified, nonlocalized, and subtle layer: pure consciousness. . . . .
The quantum states of all particles within a system of coordinates are ‘superposed’ so that it is not the property of a single particle that carries information but the state of the system of coordinates in which the particle is embedded. In that system the individual particles are intrinsically ‘entangled’ with each other. The superposed wave function of the whole system describes the state of each particle in it.
9. There is a great interplay between Sarah and other forces who are trying to keep Bigfoot safe from the military organization who would like to capture the Big Man. Could you go a bit into that side of the film and conspiracy elements of why the military would want such a creature? I have heard some interesting cases about this in my research but I am curious to how you feel about it truly or where the idea for this came from.
Christopher Munch: As intrigued as I am by certain conspiracy theories, I have no desire to pursue them beyond a certain point for I have found they can easily become obsessions, make one feel powerless, and divert attention from living a fulfilling life. We must truly create the joyous reality in which we wish to live by giving our energy and loving attention exclusively to it. We cannot do that if we are focussed on the old paradigms of secrecy and control. Those paradigms, and the individuals attached to them, are losing power every day. A huge transformation in the consciousness of our species is well underway, and all the secrets are coming out in the wash.
Yes, we have reason to speculate that there may be unacknowledged and dark elements that have an interest in sasquatch. At a certain point, however, I realized I did not want to pursue the government intrigue subplot of my story. It is still there in the background, but my interest (and I hope that of the audience) lies with Sarah’s emotional journey. While these covert, darker elements may to some degree be a fact of life, at every step we have the choice not to give them our attention.
To the degree we refuse to validate and renew the old paradigms, the safety and security issues that have contributed to sasquatch remaining, in modern times, a “secret society” will lessen to the point where a more regular and fruitful interaction between our peoples will be possible. I believe that point in time to be far closer than we may think.
The sasquatch stated it thusly in a message given to me to read at the premiere of the film:
Those who doubt the Light will be very lonely. It is within each one of you. You each must see and feel the Light and it can only be seen and felt through your heart. There is no other way. Do not look outside of yourselves. When you feel the Light and then the expansion in your heart, it is then that you will know the One, with us and with all that is. It is very simple and bright beyond your imagination. We will now walk the path of Light together.
10. How can people get to see Letters From The Big Man who haven't got to see it yet or who may just be finding out about it? I posted the trailer on my Facebook and everyone was asking how they can see it. Well how can they? Also what are you up to in the future film wise? Thanks Christopher.
Christopher Munch: As mentioned above, the DVD is available for purchase at www.lettersfromthebigman.com, and the film will be released on VOD sometime in the next six months by SnagFilms.
CHRISTOPHER MUNCH is a producer-writer-director whose past films include the features Harry and Max (2004, TLA Releasing), about two brothers who are both pop idols; The Sleepy Time Gal (2001), about a dying mother’s search for a daughter put up for adoption at birth, starring Jacqueline Bisset, Martha Plimpton, Nick Stahl and Seymour Cassel; Color of a Brisk and Leaping Day (1996, Artistic License Films), a drama about a young man’s efforts to save a doomed short-line railroad in the 1940s, starring Michael Stipe and Henry Gibson; and The Hours and Times (1992, Good Machine), based on the friendship of Brian Epstein and John Lennon, a lauded work that received jury prizes at Sundance and Berlin. All four have played in competition at Sundance as well as at other major international festivals. Munch has been a Guggenheim Fellow, recipient of the IFP’s Someone to Watch Award, and featured in two Whitney Biennial exhibitions, among other honors.