When filmmaker Taylor Guterson (Old Goats, Burkholder) initially contemplated his fourth feature film he knew two things “I wanted to film predominantly outdoors in the Northwest and John Green was going to star in it.”
A Northwest native, Guterson loves the outdoors and realized “the natural beauty of this region would give a movie a visual appeal and production value well beyond anything money could buy.” Guterson had worked with Green before, having cast him in a small role in a previous film in which Green made a definite impression, “After the first take of the first scene John was in, I knew this was someone I could build a feature film around” Guterson recalls.
The film which ultimately emerged, Hunting Bigfoot, is a compelling drama (which includes a healthy dose of humor) about a man obsessed by an all-consuming quest to verify the existence of a Sasquatch he claims to have witnessed. The film introduces the audience to the Bigfoot subculture, featuring interviews with people recounting their Bigfoot encounters and appearances by recognized Bigfoot authorities.
But, as Green observes, “the film is about a lot more than Bigfoot. It’s about a human being searching for meaning in his life. That’s what gives it a universal appeal.”
Hunting Bigfoot is being released by Xenon Pictures. Leigh Savidge, Xenon CEO and an Academy Award nominee for his screenwriting work on Straight Outta’ Compton, is one of the film’s Executive Producers, as is Tom Gorai, whose producing credits include Outsourced, Nostalgia, and Arlington Road.
The film’s unique distribution strategy initially focuses on a region by region national theatrical rollout partnering primarily with owner-operated independent theatres. The strategy also includes working with local Chambers of Commerce to encourage local business communities to engage in network marketing and related activities in support of the film.
In addition to providing independent theatres a film which is not simultaneously available for streaming at home, a rarity in the current environment, Hunting Bigfoot offers significantly better financial terms than independent theatres typically receive. “When we say we want to partner with independent theatres in presenting this film we mean it” says Savidge. “We want them to be engaged and be able to really benefit from its success.”
For independent theatres coming off a year plus of Covid-19 restrictions this distribution approach holds a lot of appeal. “The financial terms and not having to compete with folks being able to stream the same film at home are both very helpful” says Beth Burrows, owner operator of the North Bend Theatre. She also notes an additional benefit “Their willingness to ask for our input on the best ways to reach our audience and really listen to our advice is a breath of fresh air.”
According to Kelly Coughlin, Executive Director of the Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce, “Our members are happy to help spread the word because they know a film drawing large audiences at a local theatre means more business for coffee shops, bars, and restaurants, before and after each screening. “
On Bainbridge Island Hunting Bigfoot’s Friday, August 13 opening will be preceded by a special screening on Thursday, August 12, benefitting the local venue; the historic Lynwood theatre. That screening will launch a campaign in support of the Lynwood with the full support of the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce.
“There’s nothing more instructive for a filmmaker than to see their work in front of a live audience” says Guterson, who is especially gratified to have Hunting Bigfoot supporting independent theatres “They will immediately let you know what works and what doesn’t, and in either case, the energy and engagement are amazing.” Ultimately, observes Guterson, “It’s the way movies were meant to be seen.”
Hunting Bigfoot opens:
Friday, August 6:
North Bend Theatre – Showtime/ticket info: NorthBendTheatre.com or 425.888.1232
Galaxy Theatre Gig Harbor – Showtime/ticket info: galaxytheatres.com/movie-theater/gigharbor or 888-407-9874
Galaxy Theatre Monroe – Showtime/ticket info: galaxytheatres.com/movie-theater/Monroe or 888-407-9874
Friday, August 13:
Lynwood Theatre, Bainbridge Island – Showtime/ticket info: farawayentertainment.com/historic-lynwood or (206) 842-3080
Friday, August 20
Admiral Theatre, West Seattle – Showtime/ticket info: farawayentertainment.com/historic-admiral or (206) 938-0360