Small Town Monsters' 'On the Trail of...Bigfoot' Favors Hard Science in the Search for Sasquatch
On the Trail of...Bigfoot is the latest installment in Small Town Monsters’ On the Trail of… series, which aims to capture the experience of investigators in the field. Unlike their feature length documentaries—which focus on a single event or geographic area—On the Trail of... seeks to summarize an entire phenomenon. This is a massive undertaking, but Seth Breedlove is well practiced at crafting a narrative within the boundaries of documentary filmmaking, and he does a serviceable job this time of fitting a staggering amount of information into six beautifully-shot 30-minute episodes. From a visual perspective, the series punches well above its $5,000 budget.
Fans of Small Town Monsters’ feature length films will be familiar with the format of this series. On the Trail of…Bigfoot begins by framing the phenomenon of Bigfoot in an historical context, tracing the origin of Bigfoot in the popular American consciousness from its roots in 19th century storytelling all the way to accounts in modern media—while acknowledging that North America’s ‘forest giant’ is far older than the presence of European settlers. Bigfoot is placed into a larger, cultural context, and a startling commonality between reports is revealed.
Small Town Monsters is known for incorporating as many relevant researchers and investigators into its documentaries as possible, a trend that continues in the new series. The project made a point of favoring those with actual authority on the subject over the name recognition of celebrities, and On the Trail of…Bigfoot intersperses interviews with experts like Mark Matzke, Don Keating, Loren Coleman, Kathy Strain, Dr. David Floyd, Shannon Legro, and Adam Duggan with footage from the field taken with investigators like the Olympic Project’s Derek Randles and Shane Corson; Alton Higgins, Brian Brown, and Daryl Colyer of the North American Wood Ape Conservancy; and Mike Feltner and Mike Miller of Ohio’s Night Stalkers.
The series comes out firmly in favor of the scientific materialist paradigm in its search for Bigfoot. Although it briefly touches on some of the high strangeness associated with Bigfoot sightings in interviews with investigators Stan Gordon and Eric Altman, On the Trail of…Bigfoot establishes in no uncertain terms that it will not be attempting to explain one mystery with another. So while alternatives to the undiscovered primate species hypothesis are mentioned in passing, things like interdimensional theory or Bigfoot’s connection to UFO sightings are never explored in depth. This may be disappointing—or even frustrating—to fans of more paranormal explanations for the Bigfoot phenomenon, but frankly, the series has its hands full with examining this mystery from a natural science perspective, and any further exploration of high strangeness would likely have served only to under deliver the theories favored by both camps.
The evidence presented by the series is intriguing, and those who feel left out by its focus on hard science will still find its historical reports, eyewitness testimony, and audio recordings well worth their time. Perhaps the most interesting piece of evidence is the effect the making of the documentary had on Seth himself, who had all but given up on the creature’s existence prior to filming. On the Trail of…Bigfoot is a series that isn’t afraid to ask the difficult questions, and it demands proof that can withstand scientific rigor before passing judgment, while fully accepting the difficulty endemic to a field investigated primarily by citizen scientists with whatever equipment they can afford. It is a series that begins by asking why, but by its end is left with no recourse other than to ask why not.
On the Trail of…Bigfoot is slated for release March 29th, and will be available for purchase on DVD, or found streaming on Amazon, Vimeo OnDemand, and VIDI Space.
The entire series was shot, edited, narrated, written, produced and directed by Seth Breedlove.
Small Town Monsters' next installment in the On the Trail of... series will focus on UFOs, and will feature Shannon Legro as narrator and investigator. That project is currently in the very early stages of pre-production and no release date has been set.
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