B. Alan Orange talks exclusively with Director Fred Tepper & Producer Tom Zimmerman about Sasquatch Hunters! (Part 1)
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CLICK HERE for Part 3 of the interview!
Tepper: Not only is that our Bigfoot, I'd done that before seeing the first Sasquatch DVD. I did that before the first Sasquatch came out. What's funny is, I went to Sony's homepage after hearing that the title had changed. And I saw the thumbnail picture for our DVD. And they put that same Sasquatch font on there. I thought, "No way, that can't be ours." I thought they were just reissuing the old movie again for a cheaper price. And had changed it a little bit. At that size, it looked similar enough; I didn't realize it was our film. Then I looked at the little description, and I thought, "Wait a second…"
O: Now, the Sasquatch on the cover of the original Sasquatch DVD is "not" the monster that is in the actual film.
Zimmerman: Right. That was something they put together to sell the movie. For this, this is an actual still from a scene in our film. I think it's pretty easy to do a 2-D rendering of some kind of creature. But ours, being a still, actually looks like that in the movie. It's not some kind of mock-up. It's typical salesmanship, just like a paperback book cover. Where you see this amazing Science Fiction landscape, then you read the book and it sucks.
O: How much Bigfoot is in the actual film?
Zimmerman: Six seconds.
O: Seriously. You said there wasn't a lot.
Tepper: I meant, there's not shots where he's just standing there, or walking around. The scenes are generally fast, because the style was modeled after ALIEN.
Zimmerman: Its not like we're in any way delusional enough to think we made a film that is as good as ALIEN. That's just the "type" of movie we wanted to do. We're not going, "Man, we made Alien with Bigfoot! And we did it with less money then them, so we're doubly cooler." That idea does kind of jump out. You do get some good looks at our Bigfoot, but its not like Harry and the Hendersons.
O: I always thought that was one of the problems with Harry and the Hendersons. He's always in your face.
Zimmerman: I think you get to see our Bigfoot just enough.
Tepper: It actually feels like you see him more than you do.
Zimmerman: You do get to see the design of it, which I think is superior. It being CGI, it does move around. It's not some kind of…Thing. You really get to see it. And it moves realistically. I guess that's where I'm trying to go with that. There's a scene in the movie where someone is taking photographs, and we did get the infamous pose.
Tepper: Not quite, exactly…I am really happy with how it moves, and its presence in the film itself. It looks real.
O: Have you guys looked at Amazon? The original Sasquatch only got one star across the board. You guys have been getting five star reviews. Is that someone within your camp writing those?
Tepper: No. And that looks great. But if you look at that one review, the guy hasn't even seen it. He's just some Bigfoot fan that gave it four stars, saying, "I can't wait for this!" The guy that typed his review in all caps? He has actually seen it. He actually saw an earlier cut of it. But he's not one of us. He's not someone that worked on the film. I wouldn't send in my own review.
Zimmerman: I would have been a little more subtle. "Ah, it's pretty good. Its not great." I wouldn't type in all caps, "IT'S THE MOST AWESOME FILM YOU'LL EVER SEE!"
O: Well, that's the first hook that got me. I read that and was like, "These people seem to love your movie. I will too."
Tepper: In a way, I wish that guy hadn't of done that. It looks like we did it. People actually have to stop and say to themselves, "Well, would they be that blatant?" I'm sure as soon as it comes out, there will be plenty of bad reviews. As soon as you hear, "Hey, there's a new Bigfoot film." You simultaneously get two thoughts at the exact same time. Number One: Cool, another Bigfoot film. And Number TwO: Boy, is that going to suck. Immediately, you get those two exact same thoughts. I think that's just the way it is. I think, no matter how good or bad the film is, some people are going to be unhappy with it. Its not what some people want. They want more rampage. More blood.
O: That's what I want.
Tepper: There's not a whole lot of rampage in it. But then, there's the guy starting the boycott that wants less rampage and blood.
O: Eh, that guy needs to go watch Harry and the Hendersons again. You need to give me that guy's name, so I can call him out. We'll have a war. We'll have a discussion.
Tepper: Anyway, there'll be plenty of, "This is the worst film I've ever seen." There's no even ground with it.
Zimmerman: We're not diluting ourselves into thinking no one's going to not like it.
Tepper: I think people, generally, will like it.
Zimmerman: You just have to put it out there and hope for the best. And listen to what people have to say. If they have a valid point, then you wont have to kill them.
O: Now, is your Sasquatch from space? And do you believe in the Sasquatch-UFO theory?
Zimmerman: Tell us about that. I'm interested in that.
O: A lot of people, maybe even this joker that's trying to boycott your film, think that Bigfoot came walking out of a UFO.
Zimmerman: I think they've been watching the Six Million Dollar Man.
Tepper: Do you know what I have to say to them?
Zimmerman: That's too easy for me. Why? Why would people think that?
O: Because they've seen UFOs around Bigfoot sightings. The same guy in one day sees Bigfoot and a Spaceship.
Tepper: Well, the guy that's most likely to jump to one conclusion is most likely to jump to the other conclusion.
Zimmerman: I don't know. I'm always interested in those theories. I had a friend of mine one time…Well, she was more of an acquaintance…She was telling me that Aliens disguise their spaceships like clouds. My immediate reaction to that was, "God, what an idiot." But then I thought, "That's genius." You see clouds all the time, but you never think about it. "Okay, I'm not standing in one. Maybe there is a spaceship up there." I wouldn't bet my life on it.
Tepper: There would be a lot of airplanes smashing into them. Wouldn't there?
O: There's a whole conspiracy revolving around the contrails in the sky.
Zimmerman: That it's deadly gas?
O: Yeah, its gas. And people are getting sick. And how can airplanes fly in those crisscross patterns? You wake up in the morning to a clear blue sky, then the next minute there's sixteen contrails in the air.
Zimmerman: Sounds like someone has a lot of extra time.
O: So, you used something called the Messiah Studio to create Bigfoot? Can you tell me a little bit about creating Bigfoot, and what went into the look of your monster?
Zimmerman: Like Gigantopethicus.
Tepper: That actually came into play later on.
O: What is that?
Zimmerman: Gigantopethicus was found in China, and it's used as one of the theories about the origin of Bigfoot.
O: That's a Chinese Bigfoot?
Tepper: No. It's actually a real thing. It only died out about a million years ago.
O: Yao Ming?
Zimmerman: Exactly. Gigantopethicus is now playing for the NBA.
Tepper: From the reconstructions they've done, this thing looked like a giant orangutan.
Zimmerman: Like a ten-foot tall, erect, standing orangutan
O: That would be horrifying.
Zimmerman: And they're unbelievably strong. They'll rip your arms out of your sockets.
Tepper: Some people are trying to put real science into their research. So, maybe they didn't die out. Maybe they migrated over here. With the weather, and all that, maybe they're a little darker than they used to be. That might work certain people up, because that's mentioned in the film. But they didn't look anything like our creature. We wanted ours to look more like King Kong than a traditional Bigfoot. In films, other than Harry and the Hendersons, it's usually an actor with a facial appliance.
O: They usually end up looking like that dude from Amistad. Not too be rude, but that's what he looked like in Sasquatch. Djimon…
Zimmerman: He was really good in Sasquatch. I'm surprised he didn't get an award for that. That was one of the most incredible performances I've seen in so long. I was really surprised and angry that he didn't win an Oscar for that.
Tepper: Anyway, the design was done by a friend of mine who is a real CGI artist, and it was amazing. I sent him some images that I'd gotten on line, and some shots from King Kong, the 1976 one. Rick Baker's work in that was pretty cool, despite what you might think of the movie, or whatnot. He was pretty ferocious. The guy that made ours is named Taran. He designed the face. The body was basically a guy in a suit. Speaking of clichés, there's not one shot in the film where you see Bigfoot's feet, or a footprint. When he's running, you can see his feet. But the characters never come across these big footprints.
O: Have you guys screened this anywhere?
Tepper: No. I don't want anyone to see it.
O: How did the guy on Amazon see it? Do you know that guy?
Tepper: We know who that is. He saw it through someone else. He didn't see it at a screening.
O: So, not too many people have seen this yet?
O: It comes out on DVD when?
Tepper: April 12th. Ironically, the day the Titanic sank. And I worked on that movie.
O: I know. You made the boat, right?
Tepper: Yes, I made the digital ship. And I created a lot of the shots. We had a team of six or seven people on that. On screen, there are about fifty shots we did. And they used our digital ship in other ways for virtually all the other shots. For example, they did have a forty-foot model. But they had CGI people walking around on it. They used my model of the ship to animate the people, then took that out and stuck the people on the model. So, even when you don't see my ship, it's in there. As far as, "There it is, up on screen." My team got about fifty-six shots in there.
O: Did you get the academy award?
Tepper: No, only four people can get it. I was one or two down from getting one.
O: That kind of sucks.
Tepper: Yeah, but one of the guys working with us was one of the guys that actually had it. He brought it in.
Zimmerman: And surprisingly, it disappeared.
O: Someone stole it?
Zimmerman: The thing is, it does weigh a lot. Even though people always say that, when you pick it up, it's heavier than you think it will be.
O: This is probably a dumb question, but did it ever click in your mind to have Leonard Nemoy come in and do narration for your film?
Zimmerman: Wouldn't that be great?
Tepper: We should have had him come in and do a commentary.
O: How did you get this film shot so quickly? You conceived it in February, and it was wrapped by August.
Zimmerman: Wasn't it caffeine and methamphetamins?
Tepper: The script was only seven words, so that helped.
O: Day of the Animals…Have you guys seen that movie?
Zimmerman: Yes. Absolutely.
O: When I saw the trailer for Sasquatch Hunters, that's the movie I thought of.
Zimmerman: Really? Okay.
O: That's not a dis. I love Day of the Animals. Leslie Nelson wrestles a grizzly bear.
Zimmerman: As long as you didn't say Maximum Overdrive, it's okay.
O: I saw that one time a million years ago. I don't remember it that well.
Tepper: I've never seen it.
O: It's awesome.
Zimmerman: Who's the guy with the curly hair in that?
O: I have no idea. Chuck Conners? Chuck Berris? I don't know.
Tepper: I think that guy was a big actor in the Seventies…
Zimmerman: Tommy, why did you gong him?
Tepper: Anyway, about shooting it so fast…
Zimmerman: Caffeine and methamphetamins.
Tepper: You know what it is? It's not that hard.
Zimmerman: It's story preparation. We really took the time to get it down, and we had a focus to a lot of what we were doing.
Tepper: Do you mean, getting it done fast enough that it shoots itself?
O: I mean, going from concept to having it in the can,
Tepper: In hindsight, there is a lot that I'd like to change about it. I do wish that we had taken longer. But I don't know that would have necessarily helped. The things I'd want to change are things we had to do one certain way, and then we looked at it and said, "Gee, I wish we could change that!"
Dont't forget to also check out: Sasquatch Hunters