Friday, March 2, 2012

Monsterland Ohio Finds Bigfoot

Face to face with the cast of "Finding Bigfoot"

In mid-January, Andy and I had an unusually unique experience: we participated in the filming of an episode of Animal Planet's "Finding Bigfoot" that took place less than an hour from our home. It was a remarkable day--one that we will not soon forget.

I found out about the filming session through a notice in our local newspaper that I happened to see about two weeks in advance. I kept it quiet until the day before it happened, so that Andy wouldn't get overexcited, or let his hopes get too high, lest fate intervened, and we could not go.

And that is almost what happened; the night before the taping we got one of the worst ice storms of the year--not much, but enough for the local sherriff's office to issue a Level One Snow Emergency that morning. We seriously contemplated not making the 45-minute drive, but then decided to give it a try, rather than not. It was a great decision. Once we got to the expressway, it was relatively smooth sailing, and we soon found ourselves pulling into the parking lot of Deerasic Park, a nature preserve near the entrance to Salt Fork State Park.

James "Bobo" Fay and Andy

We had given ourselves plenty of extra time to get there; so much so that we were probably the first audience members to arrive. What this meant for us soon became clear, when Ranae Holland approached us, noticed Andy's "I Believe" Salt Fork T-shirt, and generally made us feel very welcome. It was a cool precursor to the day's activities.

Within minutes, the other members of the cast trickled in, and we were able to meet and speak with Cliff Barackman and Bobo. Andy, in particular, got to spend some quality time with Cliff, as they talked about what makes for good Sasquatch habitat and places in our region where they have been sighted. Bobo was just as approachable and laid-back as he appears on camera; in fact, one thing that stood out is that the stars of FB aren't acting. They truly seem to just be themselves whether the cameras are rolling or not.

Cliff Barackman and a young bigfooter

As the crowd began to swell, we found good seats near the front and got to know some of the folks around us. I was surprised to see a couple who had appeared in the "Ohio Grassman" episode of MonsterQuest, and got to talk with them at length about their experiences. Folks brought in artwork, alleged Bigfoot casts and photos. It was a festive atmosphere. Then we started to learn some of the trade secrets of "reality television."

This episode of FB was to be a "clip show," or a "best-of," so the cast would be introducing and commenting on footage from Season Two episodes, some of which had not yet aired. If you've seen the show, then you know that one element of FB's formula is the "town hall meeting," during which people share their opinions and encounters. However, to prompt the best responses from the cast, the production crew handed out index cards with questions already printed out, and asked members of the audience to ask them as if they were their own. Our excitement reached a new level when both Andy and I were invited to participate. My question was in reference to the "Baby Bigfoot" episode, and Andy's was about the "Canadian Rockies" expedition. We did our best, and could only wonder if we would make it into the final cut.

BFRO Founder and former Ohio resident Matt Moneymaker with Andy

All told, the recording took about five hours, which was whittled down to about 20 minutes of footage once the episode summaries/previews were added. So much interesting stuff was left on the cutting room floor, including Bobo's in-depth description of a controversial Bigfoot kill and the cast's candid opinions of Todd Standing, whose Slylvanic project purports to have clear footage of Bigfoot. (Matt made it pretty clear that he thinks Standing is a charlatan.) As someone who is a public speaker by vocation, I must say that I came away from this experience very impressed by the entire cast's ability to speak extemporaneously. Even Bobo, who some might consider the least polished of the foursome, is, in his own way, a master storyteller--someone to whom you can't help but listen, and his natural humor endears him to his fans. This series benefits tremendously from the cast's success at articulating their viewpoints, whether you agree with them or not.

Ranae Holland with Andy

Once the filming was done, the cast members stayed until every last hand had been shaken. Ranae Holland had special promo cards made up especially for young fans, and Andy got the signatures of the Big Four. We shared a really nice moment with her, as our father/son connection brought to mind memories of her father, who is repsonsible for her interest in the Bigfoot phenomenon. More than anyone, I think she understood what we were doing there.

Did I mention the catered meal? We were served pizza, hot Italian subs, salad, just for showing up!

And in case you were wondering, "Finding Bigfoot: Secrets of the Search" aired February 26th, and Andy and I both appeared on screen, asking our respective questions. Thank you, "Finding Bigfoot," for the legendary memory!

1 comment:

  1. It's awesome that Andy and his dad both got to be on the show, and that the crew treated them so special! Y'all seem so down to earth. Keep Squatching!