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Monster idea spawns series of urban-myth movies

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Many youngsters are afraid of things that go “bump in the night.” Not Seth Breedlove.

Growing up in Bolivar, the Wadsworth resident said he was “obsessed” with movies, sometimes seeing two or three a day. Later, he began collecting information on what became a favorite topics — Bigfoot.

A medical billing employee and freelance writer when he’s not chasing folklore, Breedlove, 34, wrote a proposal for a book titled, “Small Town Monsters” and submitted it to publishers in 2003. One of the cases Breedlove researched was the story of the Minerva Monster. Over time, the book idea turned into a series of independent films.

The first film, “Minerva Monster,” came out in the spring of 2015 from his independent production company, Small Town Monsters. STM joined the crowdfunding website kickstarter.com asking for $500 — and received $6,416.

“Minerva Monster” tells about a family from Minerva who spotted a monster in the woods behind their house. In the movie, Breedlove interviewed witnesses, keeping away from re-enactments, an element that viewers responded well to, Breedlove said.

Film festivals

For the second film, “Beast of Whitehall,” Breedlove paid his own expenses, totaling about $5,000. The group traveled to

Whitehall, N.Y. When Breedlove saw the end result after editing, he submitted it to 17 film festivals, making it into eight.

“Everyone told me not to submit to film festivals,” he said.

Between social and local media, as well as word of mouth, “Minerva Monster” “blew up,” he said.

The documentary received “generally favorable reviews from the public,” Breedlove said.

He said he thinks the popularity of STM films is because they appeal to more than just fans of the Bigfoot legend. The stories reach across the interests of audiences, focusing on “urban myths.”

“We all come at this with an independent point of mind,” Breedlove said. “We are basically making documentaries that preserve history.”

“Whitehall” was better received, Breedlove said, because the final product was more professional.

“The goal is to keep getting better each time,” he added.

The footage from the third movie, “Boggy Creek Monster,” is his most professional look so far, Breedlove said.

“In my opinion, it’s as good as what you see on National Geographic (cable TV),” he said. Showing the footage to family, Breedlove said the viewers thought the product looks the best to date as well.

“Boggy Creek Monster” is in post-production and the crew hopes to have the movie out around Halloween this year.

Breedlove said interest has been shown from television studios as well as a theatrical distributor for “Boggy Creek Monster,” but noted discussions are in early stages.

Fans contribute

The sale of merchandise is a “big chunk” of funding for STM in addition to crowdfunding, Breedlove said. Donors respond “enthusiastically” when memorabilia is included in tiers of donation amounts, he noted.

“People feel a part of the filmmaking process,” Breedlove said. “They want to help.”

For “Boggy Creek,” STM asked for $9,000 and received almost $17,000.

STM traveled to Fouke, Ark., to explore bayous, swamps and woods, interviewing residents about the legendary Boggy Creek monster.

The experience of going on location to an area nicknamed “Arklatex” (a name taken from the combination of Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Texas) and shooting footage in swamps with an extended crew led Breedlove to feel more like a director, having to make decisions and lead a larger group.

With two films on his resume, Breedlove had a better idea of how he wanted each frame and scene set up during filming of “Boggy Creek.” But he wasn’t prepared for the wildlife.

The first two STM movies take place in northern United States. “Boggy Creek,” however, took the crew for more than a week in May to alligator-infested waters and roads where wild boars roam.

“Everything down there wants to kill you,” Breedlove said.

Young workforce

Breedlove uses the skills of fellow enthusiasts to help in his film ventures.

Brandon Dalo, 26, of Akron, is a composer and producer who started out with STM as a composer on “Minerva Monster.”

Breedlove wears many hats including director, writer and producer. He covers finances and advertising. Dalo does “everything else” from a production standpoint.

Dalo’s father once had a Bigfoot experience and posted that story online. Breedlove came across it and messaged Dalo on Facebook. The rest, they both say, “is history.”

“He’s one of the people who will yell at me if he doesn’t agree, so we’ll go back and forth. … I need that,” Breedlove said.

Aaron Gascon, who also lives in Akron, is a 25-year-old carpenter who joined the STM crew six months ago. Gascon was working on Breedlove’s house when the two began talking. Gascon also brings photography skills to the group, capturing behind-the-scenes footage and photos that are included in the upcoming “Boggy Creek Monster” as well as merchandise.

Zac Palmisano and Jason Utes are two friends of Breedlove who help. Palmisano is a cinematographer and Utes is part of the production team.

In all, it took a six-car convoy with everyone included to make the southern trip.

Monster day

In September, STM will host Minerva Monster Day, an event they are calling “the world’s only Crypto-Zoology Film Festival and Conference.” Held at Minerva Community Park, screenings of speaker presentations will be held in the high school gym next door.

“Minerva Monster” and “Beast of Whitehall” are on Vimeo on Demand at http://bit.ly/291GaS5.

A DVD copy of “Minerva Monster” and “Beast of Whitehall” may be purchased for $11.99 each through

the STM website along with other merchandise at http://bit.ly/28YYpoK.

 

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