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DID YOU READ

SXSW 2008: Jay Delaney on “Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie”

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03132008_notyourtypicalbigfootmovie1.jpgBy Stephen Saito

I’ll start with a spoiler: You won’t see Bigfoot in Jay Delaney’s documentary, “Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie.” (Actually, that’s a matter of opinion, since there’s photographic evidence presented throughout the film that may or may not be Sasquatch.) But there is something much more elusive that Delaney captures as he tracks two Bigfoot hunters through the Appalachian woods of Portsmouth, Ohio — a loving portrait of Dallas and Wayne, two old friends looking for a major accomplishment to be remembered for in a place where there aren’t many opportunities to make a mark. While both men believe the discovery of Bigfoot could also bring fame and fortune, they also enjoy the thrill of the hunt, and when the arrival of a high-profile Bigfoot hunter complicates their research, their friendship is tested. I caught up with Delaney after his film premiered at SXSW to talk about the creature they call Yeti in Australia and the pursuit of the American dream.

Could you talk about how you guys met up with Dallas and Wayne?

A friend of mine was working in a bank in Portsmouth, and he told me the story about this guy who’d come inand ended up talking all about Bigfoot the whole time he was in the bank. He left a business card that said, “Dallas Gilbert: Bigfoot Researcher.” I was instantly curious, so he passed on the card to me and I figured out a way to get in touch with Dallas. We decided we’d meet [Dallas and Wayne] on the Ohio River at a picnic table, and Dallas came with this briefcase with pictures and he showed all kinds of pictures and pointed to Bigfoots in [them], and it really grew out of that. Ever since then, it’s haunted me, the story, and I’ve always wanted to get back to it. The whole time, they really wanted us to go out into the woods with them to see some of the evidence — broken tree limbs and whatnot — and they have a whole lingo and language for their research. If a tree limb’s broken, that’s called a snap. Sometimes it’s called a snap and a twist, if the Bigfoot twists it. We weren’t going to go out into the woods with them, but then I got back and I looked at the footage and I realized this was going to be really boring if we didn’t. So I called them up and said, “Hey, are you still up for going out and showing us where you do your research?” And he did.

Had you been actively looking for a project when this came about?

In all honesty, no. I’ve been interested in filmmaking since I was a teenager. I studied marketing in college, but I had an honors class on the films of Frederick Wiseman and that whole vérité style just really stuck with me. For that class, we were supposed to do a class project on ethnography and doing the story about the Bigfoot researchers was a bit of a stretch, but I really wanted to make a [short] about them, so I thought “let’s just tie these two together.” That was in 2000, 2001. I lived in New York for six months during 2005, worked on some productions and for those years in between, it was always eating at me that I really need to get back to this. In October ’05, I decided to move back to Ohio to start the project.

03132008_notyourtypicalbigfootmovie2.jpgThe guitar score really underlines what’s going on in the film, particularly the montage sequence that explains the history of the two men. How did you come up with that?

All of the music in the film, except for the closing song and one that’s played briefly in the middle, is by Justin Riley and Ben Colburn, two Ohio musicians. They saw a cut of the film and really connected with the story and wanted to be involved. But to talk just a bit more about that montage sequence: I realized that I had spent all this time with Dallas and Wayne and I wanted an audience to be able to understand them. To me, that’s the part of the film in which I probably interjected myself the most. I tried as much as possible to stay out of it, but there were all these little sort of quirks and interesting qualities about them that I wanted people to know, but to let them experience it all in a true vérité style would have taken forever. So I was actually looking to some other films. In “Amélie,” of all films, there’s this interesting part in the beginning that always stuck with me where her parents are introduced and it lists qualities and personality traits about them, so I just thought “let’s try this out” and I thought this really works.

The film is about these two men and their friendship, but it could’ve just as easily turned into some farce about their obsession with Bigfoot. How did you walk that fine line?

That was definitely one of the challenges, because there was a friendship there that I feel with Dallas and Wayne, and I really wanted to respect that and the trust that they placed in me. They realized that it’s funny to some people, but then you see moments like when Dallas wins the award [from his local Bigfoot Society for his contributions to research] and he stands outside and he’s talking about, “I don’t appreciate when people make fun of me, but what else can you say? What else can you do?” Moments like that just really connected with me and I hope connected with an audience. Growing up in that area [myself], I wanted to respect it, and I hope the film is taken in a way that people who are from there will realize there are some problems with our hometown, but there are [also] really good things about it. And I think there’s something really beautiful and inspiring about the fact that [Dallas and Wayne] are still out there still trying for this. They have this hope in Bigfoot, and they have this faith in action, and I think that’s really inspiring.

As the film goes on, you also realize that there’s an enormous world of Bigfoot hunters as well as the politics that go with it. How early in the process did you discover that?

I had no idea going into it and in fact, initially, I thought that he was a rarity in the sense that, you know, how many Bigfoot researchers are there? As far as realizing that there is a pretty big subculture out there of people who track this, and they’re a ton of websites online, that was really fascinating. At one point, I thought it would be interesting to interview some other Bigfoot researchers, but then I realized no, it’s really a story about Dallas and Wayne, and I think the real value in it is [how] deep we can get into these two guys’ lives. But it was fascinating to see that world out there and to see how there are controversies and disagreements within it — some people feel this bond with Bigfoot and want to just expose Bigfoot to the world, but in a loving way. Other people want to capture Bigfoot and other people want to kill Bigfoot.

It has to be asked — are you a Bigfoot believer now?

I went into it with an open mind and I hope it doesn’t sound at all like a weak position, but for me, I was so focused on [Dallas and Wayne] that I don’t know that my opinion changed. My opinion changed in other ways and I think I probably went into the film with a lot of questions and thought I’d come out with answers and actually came out with different questions and more questions. I still just keep an open mind.

[Photos: Dallas and Wayne; Director Jay Delaney, “Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie,” Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie, LLC, 2008]

For more on “Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie,” check out the official site here.

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.