Posted by: Seth Breedlove on October 5th, 2016
Never before have I set down to write about my experiences making a Small Town Monsters movie. While making Minerva Monster I recall doing a bit of blogging here and there about the filming but I stopped not long into the editing process and never revisited it. It seems fitting that I should take a few minutes and type down my thoughts on making my third movie, Boggy Creek Monster.
In 2014 I first spoke with Lyle about making a film about the Fouke Monster. This was around the time that Minerva Monster had just entered production and, at the time, that movie was envisioned as a short project that would end up posted to YouTube and be subsequently forgotten. I certainly had no inkling that Minerva would end up nearly an hour long and, though I may have dreamed about making my Small Town Monsters book into a series of docs, I didn’t consider it a possibility. Funny how that all played out…
Anyway, Lyle mentioned creating a doc about Boggy Creek and I was instantly swept up by the idea. See, I loved Lyle’s book, The Beast of Boggy Creek. In fact, it was one of the first books I’d read on the subject of cryptids, and one of the stories that triggered the thought process that led to the creation of STM. I even have a signed The Beast of Boggy Creek poster, framed and hanging in the entryway to my office. To say I was a fan of Lyle’s and the Fouke Monster would be entirely accurate, and potentially understated.
Let’s skip past the part where we completed and released Minerva Monster, and made Beast of Whitehall. Let’s go to last October when my dad and I took a fateful journey to Fouke to announce the inevitable filming of a documentary on the Fouke Monster. I’d dreamed up the idea of announcing our work on the film in advance to help promote our crowdfunding campaign, and to help get the word out that the third STM film was underway.
This was my first trip to Fouke and it proved to be one of the highlights of my year. Not simply because we got to spend a very memorable couple of hours being taken on a tour of the area by Lyle himself but because I got to spend a large amount of time with my dad. These films are intensely personal experiences for us. While from the outside they may seem to be hastily put-together, little, indie projects, they do become a huge part of my life. In the case of Minerva it was years. Whitehall, months, and Boggy… well, I feel like my brain resides somewhere in the murky waters of a southern swamp after the amount of time I’ve spent working on this film.
So yes, my first Fouke trip was a fantastic experience and one that allowed me to spend a couple days meandering around the bottomlands of Southern Arkansas with my father. It’s interesting to think about how the Boggy Creek story is very much about fathers and sons. The Crabtrees, the Pierces, even Lyle and his father, are all given mention in our film. For myself, I got to share a piece of my life with my dad that I’ll always treasure.
Okay, let’s fast forward again. Past the pre-production chaos of last winter, the build-up to launching our Kickstarter for BCM (which went on to garner $17,000 to help get the movie made), and on past the release of Beast of Whitehall, right up to last April.
Not only did we release Beast of Whitehall on April 1st, but we began prepping for our official production trip to Fouke. There were numerous meetings, hotel bookings, more meetings, discussions with Lyle about the direction of the film, and still more meetings. We rented massive amounts of gear for our trek, helped along by the money we’d raised through Kickstarter. This was to be the most visually stunning movie we’d made to date, after all. I believed that the legacy of the Boggy Creek story demanded it.
I’d assembled a crew of friends who were willing to head south with me for a few days, into the swamps of Arkansas. As always, Brandon Dalo was onboard as producer and sound man but this time out I wanted a director of photography; someone who could lessen the burden of shooting the movie and allow me to focus more on the story. Thankfully, my friend Zac, acquiesced to my constant questioning and allowed himself to be dragged along on our quest. Along with Zac came another old friend, Jason Utes. Newbie, Aaron Gascon, who I’d met when he worked on my living room floor, joined us as our behind the scenes photographer and videographer. We would also be joined in Arkansas by my buddy, Mark Matzke and his son, Andy.
So on April 22nd, nearly two years since Lyle had mentioned working on a Boggy Creek film together, we boarded a couple rental vehicles and began the long drive to Texarkana. I don’t want to bore you by going day by day through the shoot (you can actually see that journey through the production diaries we’ll be including on the DVD) but suffice to say it was a whirlwind 6 day shoot. I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard or been so exhausted. Having said that, it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and truly gave me a greater appreciation for my friends. To see the team come together and work as hard as they possibly could to help us pull off this film was incredible.
I can’t explain exactly why making Boggy Creek Monster has affected me so deeply. Maybe it’s simply the act of making our first feature-length film, or maybe it was the fact that Fouke seems worlds away from little, old Ohio where we’re based. Maybe it’s the fact that we got to follow in the footsteps of filmmaker, Charles B Pierce, who made The Legend of Boggy Creek in the early 70’s. That film also chronicled the exploits of the Fouke Monster, and, similar to our film, was made on a shoestring budget. Maybe it was the fact that we were allowed to shoot in locations either never before captured on film or not shot since Pierce made “Boggy Creek” four decades ago.
Maybe it was that I got to work with Lyle Blackburn on a project that shared source material with a book he’d written that inspired me to create Small Town Monsters. Talk about full circle… Or maybe it was that trip I’d taken with my dad last October. It could have been spending 6 days running around with cameras with some of my dearest friends.
Whatever the case may be, as I sit here one month out from the release date of our third film, Boggy Creek Monster, I can honestly say I am sad to be wrapping up. My time on this project has been a legend in itself. Maybe not to the rest of the world but to my family and my wife and my (future) kids this will be my legend. The one I tell over and over to anyone who will listen.
So thank you. Thank you to Lyle Blackburn, Pamula Pierce, and Zac Palmisano, Brandon Dalo, Jason Utes, Aaron Gascon, Mark and Andy Matzke, Sam Shearon, Matt Harris, the Scalf’s Maz Adams, my wife, my dad, my family, you… thank you to everyone. I loved telling this story. I loved playing a part in the legend.
Seth Breedlove is a freelance investigative journalist, filmmaker, and radio show host. He has contributed content to numerous websites on a variety of topics. He served as a columnist for the Massillon Independent, helming a weekly column titled "Slice of Life" that ran on the front page of the paper. In addition to his column he has covered news stories and daily assingnments for the Medina Gazette. In 2014 he started SasWhat: a Podcast About Bigfoot with co-host Mark Matzke where each week they discuss the subject as a whole and interview various personalities from the field. Seth has also researched and examined historical Bigfoot reports from across the country, compiling an extensive database of newspaper articles dating back to the early 1800's.