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An Interview with Jack Skyyler, Producer & (co-)Director of Skookum: The Hunt for Bigfoot, Night aboard the Salem, Isabel: a Love Story

by Mike Haberfelner

June 2013

Jack Skyyler on (re)Search my Trash


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Tell us about the feature films you are releasing in 2013:


2013 will be a lucky year for Dear Skyyler Productions. Dear Skyyler Productions is the group of filmmakers Alex Zizopoulos, Joel Brook, and myself (Jack Skyyler). And three of our features will be releasing this year:

  • Night Aboard the Salem
  • Isabel: a Love Story
  • Skookum: the Hunt for Bigfoot

Your most recent film Skookum: The Hunt for Bigfoot - in a few words, what is it about?


Skookum: The Hunt for Bigfoot is an adventure/thriller/horror film. Itís set in the swamps of northern Louisiana. To me itís a little bit like the Bigfoot-version of Jaws albeit with more crazy rednecks and a big twist at the end. Actually to save myself from talking, check out the teaser: 


What drew you to the project actually, and how did it get off the ground in the first place?


Conveniently for me the answer to both questions is: Debi King McMartin the writer/producer. Debi is a great person, easy to work with, kind, personable. The kind of person you wanted to go to bat for. Debi was the one who drew me into the project, and that same wonderful personality of hers drew in the necessary team to make the film happen: Kristi Hale, Ginger Cerio, Chevy White, Shanda Lee Munson, Rob Gaudet, and many, many more people who made this film work.


Do talk about Skookum: The Hunt for Bigfoot's writers Debi King McMartin and Lyn Morgan for a bit, and what was your collaboration like?


I canít say I actually did much writing on the script for Skookum. I added 5 or 6 scenes. But working with them was great. Early in pre-production I spent a lot of time sitting in Lyn Morganís living room with Debi King McMartin talking through different little twists and adjustments for the script which we wanted to make. I got to both respect them as writers and love them as people.


With Bigfoot beind a central theme of Skookum - do you at all have a personal interest in cryptozoology and the like?


I do have a definite interest in cryptozoology. An example I love is the dragon. The dragon is a ďmythĒ retold by virtually every culture from all 6 inhabited continents. But today we firmly believe the dragon never existed. Even when some of the accounts of dragons come from reputable sources of their time. We as a culture have decided whatever we believe in, whatever our science says is true. Itís very similar to the type of closed minded thinking that dominated the Dark Ages.


How did you approach your story at hand from a directorial point of view?


In directing this story I attempted to tell the writerís story. Iíve usually directed what Iíve written. And thus I have a lot of respect for writers. So I wanted to tell the story they created the way they wanted it created. Thatís why it was important to me to spend so much time with Debi King McMartin and Lyn Morgan so that I could understand how they would have made the film.


Anything you can tell us about your intended cast yet?


Paul Logan

(Mega Piranha, Days of Our Lives, Code Red)

Ashton Leigh

(Swamp Shark)

Shane Dzicek


Dianna Renee

(No Time to Fear)

[Dianna Renee interview - click here]

Tom Malloy

(The Alphabet Killer, Love N Dancing)

David Joseph Martinez

(X-Men: First Class, Expendables, No Escape)

Dr. Jeff Meldrum

(world renown cryptozoologist)


This being a Bigfoot-movie, you of course also have to talk about your creature effects for a bit!


Actually we kept the actual Bigfoot very minimal in this film. When we were working on this film we often used Jaws as a guideline for what we wanted to achieve. In Jaws they rarely ever actually showed a shark they just maintained the fear of the sharkís presence. Albeit when we actually did bring bigfoot into the film we relied heavily on Shane Dzicek to setup and execute the stunts with Bigfoot leaping onto and attacking the moving vehicles.


According to my information, you have shot at least parts of Skookum: The Hunt for Bigfoot in the Louisiana Swamps during rainy season. So what were the advantages as well as challenges in that, and in hindsight, was it a good idea? And what can you tell us about the shoot as such?


Actually, we shot during the rainy season - but it only actually rained twice! So that wasnít a problem at all! The biggest problem was: When I arrived on location it was brutally hot for the first week. So I selected all costumes appropriate to the heat. Then when we began filming the temperature plummeted. We had many nights below freezing which made working very difficult. Particularly one scene where Dianne Renee had to fall into quicksand. The soupy water was so cold it would have been unbearable; but what we did was fill up 50 gallon tubs with hot water and just before the beginning of the take we poured the hot water into the ďquicksandĒ. The hot water brought the overall temperature up to a bathwater-like temperature and then we shot out the scene. Actually again I have to thank Dianna for her incredible professionalism in doing what was needed to get that pivotal scene done! I love Dianna!


Any idea when and where the movie might be released onto the general public yet?


October, and weíll get you more details as the time approaches.


Let's also talk about another film of yours, Night aboard the Salem - we have already talked about this elsewhere [click here], but bring us up to speed, what is it about?


Better than telling you, hereís a link to the teaser for Night aboard the Salem:


Shooting on the U.S.S. Salem itself - what was that like, and what can you tell us about the on-set atmosphere?


Jerry Dwyer jr

Anna Shields

Stephen Medvidick

C.C Ice

The U.S.S. Salem is believed to be haunted not only by the public, but by most the shipís staff. When the shipís staff heard that we were staying aboard the U.S.S. Salem, many of them were disturbed by the fact that we were staying aboard overnight due to their fear of the hauntings. So being aboard the ship was like an adventure, not only in the coolness of living on board a World War II battleship, but the sort of spooky vibe. It was a totally unique experience and actually, cool thing, I, Jack Skyyler, having been on the ship in both pre- and part of post-production, have lived longer aboard the U.S.S. Salem than any other person since about 1960! Thatís kind of cool! Anyway, I felt like a kind of a captain walking those long dark corridors. Actually, we had a shaman aboard the ship with us (one of our crew members), and he described the ďhauntingĒ of the ship as a spirit of pride. This ship was constructed during World War II and launched right about the end of the way. So the shaman described the ďhauntingĒ as a spirit in oneís nation, oneís work, and particularly this massive 717 foot heavy gun cruiser! And honestly, I can say I agree with that. Everyone of our crew feels that connection to the ship, a sense of possession and pride. The U.S.S. Salem gets under your skin, and I canít wait to go back to shoot Haunted Ship.


How did you approach your film from a directorial point of view, and what can you tell us about your collaboration with your co-directors Joel Brook and Alex Zinzopoulos?


Directing particularly when youíre directing and producing, itís hell. Itís the hardest thing you could ever possibly do. So the key to directing is find people you believe in and trust, and then you and your comrades go to war.


You just have to talk about your key cast, and why exactly these people?


Jerry Dwyer Jr. [Jerry Dwyer interview - click here], Anna Shields [Anna Shields interview - click here], and Vanessa Gall all played in the award winning short film Infested Ship, which we (Dear Skyyler Productions) shot aboard the U.S.S. Salem. Actually Anna Shields is an actress whom you already wrote a story about primarily discussing her amazing film Little Bi Peep . Anyway, Jerry Dwyer Jr. and Anna Shields made a beautiful screen couple and honestly, the leads in Night aboard the Salem were written for them. Please check out the short film Infested Ship here: 


Joe Michael Philips

Vanessa Gall

C.C. Ice was the most interesting cast. After seeing her audition I really wanted to work with her, but she didnít fit any of the parts. So I changed a male character into a female character so that we could get her in the film!


Stephen Medvicick, this guyís a damn rockstar. He brought things to the character that I would never have imagined, watching him perform was like Christmas morning, seeing new and interesting things.


Since this film was a documentary-style of found footage, the actors were operating their own cameras, and Joe Michael Philips played the camera character. He actually did a beautiful job running the camera. Gave it a lot of life and maintained a professional looking quality.


Again, any idea when and where the film will be released onto the general public?


Night aboard the Salem will also be releasing in October.


Tell us about your film Isabel: a Love Story!


Isabel: a Love Story is a feature romance/drama about a broken family. Jon Briddell (Copycat), Emmy-Award-Winning Actress Sharon Wright, Joanne Willson, and Benjamin "Coach" Wade (Survivor).

Jon Briddell stars as an ex-husband / failed-father, who's unable to move on after his wife, Isabel, left him, and he's lost touch with his daughter; and in this story he has one last chance to redeem himself when his daughter needs to move back in with him for health reasons at the same time heís had to rent out a room in his home to a woman in the midst of bad divorce. So heís forced to deal with both falling in love again and rebuilding a relationship with his daughter.

Itís a simple, subtle, beautiful drama. And itís possibly favorite film Iíve worked on.

Iím actually not going to talk about it too much at the moment. Iíll be releasing a trailer in the next few weeks. And youíll be able to find it through the Facebook page:


Any future projects beyond Skookum: The Hunt for Bigfoot you'd like to talk about?


I am currently involved with several projects in development. Two favorites are:

Duque, written by David Pedrazine, directed by Chip Mefford, and starring Glynn Praesel [Glynn Praesel interview - click here], Joe Estevez, and Shy Pilgreen.

Savor the Kill written by Monica Moehring and directed by Tim Moehring.


I am also co-producing Dance of the Mescaline Spiders with Glynn Prasael. This is a film you actually covered in this interview with Glynn Praesel [click here], and again, thanks for that coverage.


Anyway I am producing Haunted Ship along with the rest of the Dear Skyyler Production team and weíre very excited to announce the film will be directed by Joe Charbanic, director of The Watcher which was #1 at the box office for 2 weeks running. This film will also be shooting aboard the U.S.S. Salem (the shooting location of Night aboard the Salem).


Your/your movies' website, Facebook, whatever else?


Iíd invite everyone to follow any of these productions mentioned on Facebook at: 

Or individually: 

And feel free to friend me on Facebook, I love connecting with film enthusiasts and filmmakers! 

And as always check out Dear Skyyler Productionsí website: 


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Anything else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?


Oh, as is standard with Indie films: In wrapping up Skookum: The Hunt for Bigfoot, we need to raise some more money to complete post-production appropriately so weíre raising fund through various fundraisers and through a site called GoFundMe: 

But I donít like people who just demand other peopleís money for no return, so we built in a bunch of cool things! Like you can get a digital download of the film for $10! (Thatís a great deal!) Or you can get an executive producer credit in the film and IMDb, you get to come to the world premiere and walk the red carpet with stars youíve seen in theater like: Paul Logan (Code Red), Shane Dzicek (Surrogates), David Joseph Martinez (X-Men: First Class), and Tom Malloy (The Alphabet Killer). 

Oh, or my favorite: For $600, I will make you your own 30 second short animated film in 3D! And Iím so confident about the success of this, if we agree on the story, Iíll guarantee you get an award on it in festivals or Iíll give you your money back! And if you donít have a story in mind you can borrow one of my mini stories, and we can do it together! How can that be beaten? You get to write and co-direct an award-winning animated 3D film!


Thanks for the interview!


And thank you!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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Thanks for watching !!!



On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD



Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Tršume ...


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