"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." -- Christopher Munch; Writer/Director of Letters from the Big Man
Jeffery Pritchett, known for his radio show ChurchOfMabusRadio.com has recently posted an excellent interview with Christopher Munch, director of the true-to-life depiction of Sasquatch in Letters from the Big Man. You can buy the DVD at the Official Letters From The Big Man website.
Pritchett does an amazing job asking questions that get to the heart of Christopher Munch's journey from script to screen, a few of our favorite questions and answers are below.
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.