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EXCL: Eduardo Sanchez and Gregg Hale talk Bigfoot film, “EXISTS”

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by: Samuel Zimmerman on: 2013-01-22 22:40:12

Midst celebrating the warm, warm reception of S-VHS’
Sundance world premiere (Fango’s review), and especially their segment in particular, Eduardo
Sanchez and longtime producer/now co-director Gregg Hale (THE BLAIR WITCH
PROJECT) are still actively finishing up their next foray into found footage,
EXISTS. “We are mixing the sound right now. Then, we’ll be doing color
correction. Basically, by the end of January, first week of February, we’ll be
done and then we have a whole sales strategy,” Sanchez tells Fango.

While Sundance has certainly been kind and the filmmaker received
much acclaim along the festival circuit for last year’s eerie LOVELY MOLLY as
well, the team aren’t so sure EXISTS is appropriate. “We don’t know if it’s
really a festival film, really,” Hale says. “I love film festivals, and if it
ended up as part of promoting the film that we ended up in a festival, that’d
be great, but I kind of feel like let’s deal with a distributor first. It feels
like that kind of movie to me. It’s definitely our most commercial, accessible
movie, for sure.”

With found footage, or POV, or mockumentary, or cinema
scarité now an institution, it’s undeniable Sanchez and Hale are the ones that institutionalized
it with their seminal BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. LOVELY MOLLY employed the aesthetic
in doses, but they’re returning in full with EXISTS, citing Bigfoot tradition
as the reason. “We were actually going to shoot the film conventionally, with a
little bit of POV, but normal coverage,” the director explains. “A month/month-and-a-half
before we shot, we thought, ‘this feels like it could be a found footage movie.’
For us, as the BLAIR WITCH guys, we haven’t avoided found footage, but it’s all
about how you see it in your head as you’re reading it. So, we thought Bigfoot
and found footage are a perfect mix. The thing about Bigfoot is that every time
you’ve seen him or supposedly seen him, or even heard him, it is found
footage. It’s somebody videotaping camping or the Patterson-Gimlin film on
Super 8 in the woods. We felt like that was the proper way. There are a lot of
scenes in the movie that feel like that typical Bigfoot, ‘What was that?’ Then obviously, by the end, it’s Bigfoot.”

With found footage often used as a grounded, humanizing
window into more paranormal horror, Bigfoot straddles a line as well. Unreal,
yet a creature of the earth, it is this connection and roots which fascinate
Sanchez and allow him to still find fear and even tribute in the legend. “To
me, it’s the fact that it feels real. We lit it, but there’s never a scene
where you’re like that’s a fucking huge light hitting those woods,” Sanchez
says. “Everything is very realistic and the creature looks and sounds like it’s
really there. It doesn’t do any supernatural—it can’t lift a car, but it is
powerful . It’s just the idea of these young people going in kind of
cluelessly.”

“Also, we’re trying to be as respectful as possible to the
Bigfoot community because they have this belief of this thing that’s out there.
I share these sentiments, I want to believe. I love everything about it, so we
try to get into it as scientifically as possible. And the whole thing with the
Bigfoot people is we didn’t want to make it this killing machine doing
Godzilla-like things. We wanted it to be a real character and we thought about
that. By the end of the movie you realize there’s more to why it’s doing this.
It has human characteristics. I came to the sound mix last week and it really
is this cool amount of ape and man and something unknown. To me, it’s this
unknown thing coming after you and it’s of this earth. It’s not from outer
space. It’s an animal that is chasing you.”

For more on EXISTS, keep an eye on FANGORIA as the film
nears completion. You can find the film’s official Facebook right here.

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About the author
Samuel Zimmerman
Fangoria.com Managing Editor Samuel Zimmerman has been at FANGORIA since 2009, where fresh out of the Purchase College Cinema Studies program, he began as an editorial assistant. Since, he’s honed both his writing and karaoke skills and been trusted with the responsibility of jury duty at Austin’s incredible Fantastic Fest. Zimmerman lives in and hails from The Bronx, New York where his pants are too tight and he’ll watch anything with witches.
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