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An Interview with Jeff Murray, Director of Bigfoot's Wild Weekend

by Mike Haberfelner

June 2012

Jeff Murray on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your film Bigfoot's Wild Weekend - in a few words, what is it about?

 

Bigfoot's Wild Weekend is a comedy adventure feature film. It's the story of a small Sierra mountain town whose residents and visiting tourists experience strange and wild encounters with a creature commonly discribed as Bigfoot. Hearing about the sightings and contacts from the local Sheriff, a national tabloid newspaper sends a cub reporter to investigate. The tabloid also offers a $25,000 reward for the creature dead or alive. This sets off a chain of events which brings local hillbillies, reform school girls, campers, a biker gang, stoners and others searching to locate the "monster" and collect the reward. It's a sexy fun-filled 85 minute romp through the woods with plenty of action and laughs.

 

A very basic question: Why Bigfoot? And who did actually come up with the original idea for Bigfoot's Wild Weekend?

 


The idea for this film came to director = me over a year and a half ago, well before the current interest in Bigfoot as seen on recent television programs and in the movie theaters. After being an executive producer on the feature film Super Shark (directed by Fred Olen Ray), I began to look for a project of my own. Long interested in things supernatural and unexplained, an idea was hatched for a low budget project which featured one of my favorite cryptids: Sasquatch. At first I thought about just your run-of-the-mill horror film, but having spent the past eighteen years associated in some small capacity with B movies (naked girls, guns, fast cars & monsters), I couldn't help myself from bringing these elements to my picture. Hence, the working title went from "Bloody Bigfoot" to "Bigfoots Wild Weekend". With a new title and the B movie formula, I began to write an outline to present to the people I had in mind for my key production staff. The rest is history.

 

What can you tell us about Bigfoot's Wild Weekend's evolution from idea to paper to film? And a few words about your co-writers?

 

I created the body of the story of Bigfoot's Wild Weekend in a 15 page outline with the help of my son Nick and some input from my wife Sue. I presented the outline to an acquaintance, Ryan Ramos, who said he would attempt to write a script from my ideas. Ryan did have experience in writting for short films and commercials, but this would be his first attempt at a full-fledged script. When I did receive his first draft, I was blown away with his treatment of my concept. It was funny and entertaining with just the right mix of naked girls, crazy hillbillies and the monster. I had few minor concerns with some of the language in a couple of scenes, which we replaced with less obscene dialog. It required about two months to develop a completed script.

 

Bigfoot has been the subject of tons of (pseudo-)scientific studies and (unscientific) feature films. What can you tell us about your research on the subject? And some of your favourite "sources"?

 

I have hand an interest in the subject of Bigfoot since the 1960s. I was a high school student when Roger Patterson encountered the creature here in California at Bluff Creek. I've read a lot of material on cryptozoology and Sasquatch in particular over the years. I have also lived in the mountains of California for over thirty years and heard many stories and reports of incidents of Bigfoot sightings. It seemed natural for me to create a story about this elusive creature to bring to the screen, and that's what I've done.

 

A key aspect of any Bigfoot-movie is of course finding the right costume for the hairy guy. What can you tell us about yours, and a few words about your Bigfoot-actor D.T. Carney?

 

Making an ultra low budget feature film and finding an affordable creature costume effect really doesn't make a good fit. When we began planning for Bigfoot's Wild Weekend, it was to be a local project with local talent and a miniscule budget of around $ 10,000. The costume was an unknown quantity, and the original idea was to find a Halloween gorilla

costume and beef it up. As planning went forward, the budget began to grow. We located Hollywood actors and nearby experienced entertainers willing to work on the project at reduced rates. We found some great locations which could be had at very affordable prices and realized that the production value of the picture was increasing with every new discovery of talent and set location. With the quality of people coming to the project, I did not feel we could get away with a cheap costume which would look fake and unbelievable on screen. Through some research we were able to find a high quality Bigfoot-costume which would work well for our picture. And it did.

 

One thing that I did not discover until later is that many other filmmakers have used this same costume in their films. Most recently Sweet Prudence and the Erotic Adventures of Bigfoot - it's the exact same costume we rented for Bigfoot's Wild Weekend! A friend asked if I was disappointed about having such a well-used costume-effect in my picture. The short answer is - NO! The costume added a lot of value to the project and if nothing else, the viewing public will see that Bigfoot has consistently the same look from film to film.

 

D.T. Carney as Bigfoot with Jeff Murray

David Novak, David Bradford

One thing about the costume was that the actor wearing it needed to be between 6' 4" and 6' 9" for a proper fit. I was fortunate to find an experienced nearby actor with many IMDb credits by the name of D.T. Carney. Just happens that D.T. is 6' 7" and of perfect build for the costume. With the high rental price, we could only afford the thing for two days and as fate would have it, both days were over 100 degrees during filming here in California in July. D.T. was a real trouper and made it through both days without incident or complaint. He also has a cameo in the picture as a normal local resident who reports an encounter with the creature.

 

What can you tell us about the rest of your principal cast?

 

The star of Bigfoot's Wild Weekend is David Novak who plays Sheriff Bubba Lopez. David has appeared in many films and television shows including Days of Our Lives, General Hospital, Passions and more. His Sci-Fi history includes SuperCroc, Turbulent Skies and Super Shark, all Fred Olen Ray-films. I met David on the set of Super Shark and enjoyed his acting ability. He was my first choice to play the Sheriff in our film.

 

Other cast menbers include Chase Carter as the cub reporter Harlan James, and Nicole Parsneau as his love interest Simone Jennings, a local television reporter. Both have had loads of acting experience, but this is their first feature project.

 

Ron Blackwell plays Chester Scoggins the Hillbilly Bigfoot Hunter and UFO contactee who searches and eventually finds Bigfoot in a crazy trek through the woods. Ron recently starred in the feature Showboys and has several other films under his belt.

 

Our reform school girls include Jeslin Michelle, an experienced actress with many projects completed in film and stage. Aja Chachanhsy, another of the "bad girls", recently went into adult entertainment video and now has her own interactive website and product line, Jesse James' Hollywood at 19. She is featured in several nude and lesbian scenes in the picture and is also one of our popular models in advertising materials for the film. Several other girls appear as part of the "naughty" girl group, and all were great in their roles.

 

Bigfoot's Wild Weekend has an ensemble cast of over thirty five talented actors with mixed degrees of past film work experience. A complete listing of cast and crew can be found of IMDb.com.

 

Having sufficiently covered the Bigfoot-part of your movie title, let's move over to "Wild Weekend" - which to me suggests quite a bit of sex and/or violence. Is there any truth to this bold assumption, how far do you go concerning sex and violence, and is there a line you refuse to cross?

 

This film is a comedy adventure, and the violence is very minimal. There is enough sexual content to keep most males interested throughout the picture. This includes topless swims, nude sunbathing, lesbian love scenes, a bikini dance contest and other nudity in the appropriate areas of the story. There are also lots of guns and other weaponry in the movie while the hunt for Bigfoot progresses.

Shots are fired....but they don't always hit the correct target!

 

What can you tell us about your directorial approach to your subject at hand?

 

This being my directorial debute, it was a shaky process to start. My approach was to allow the actors to express themselves and develop the role in a way that matched my vision for that particular character. I liked getting input from the crew and ideas from my assistant director Bryan Harley.

 

My only experience with how movies are made was through my 18 year association with Fred Olen Ray. Having been on many sets with Fred, and appearing in five of his films, I learned by simply watching the process. I attended the Fred Ray film school so to speak, and tried to emulate what I had seen him do over the years. I don't know if I was successful in my efforts, but judging from the reception that the picture received at our recent premiere, people seem to like it and find it entertaining and funny.

 

How would you describe your film's brand of humour, and do you consider yourself a humourous person, actually?

 

I would have to say that my humor matches up to that of days gone by. For example, I find Laurel & Hardy, Charley Chase, Jackie Gleason, Harold Lloyd and Rodney Dangerfield to be hilarious. Modern comedy just isn't funny to me. I think that Dennis Miller is probably the only "comedian" I enjoy these days.

 

So, you might say that Bigfoot's Wild Weekend has some slapstick-type comedy, cheesy burlesque gags and a few prat falls and physical humor that actually work very well in the picture. There was laughter throughout the screening during the premiere, and the audience seemed to find it very enjoyable.

 

The $64 question of course: When and where will the film be released?

 

We are currently seeking distribution for the picture. Our screeners and information packages with advertising materials and press kits will be released to distributors in mid-July. We are very hopeful that the picture will find it's way to television and DVD release throughout the world

 

Let's go back to the beginnings of your career: I've read somewhere that before making movies, you have been a sideshow operator. What can you tell us about that part of your career, and how did you become involved with sideshows in the first place?

 

It's been a wild ride. After leaving high school, I attended the San Francisco College of Mortuary Science. I graduated and passed my State of California licensing test as a Funeral Director and Embalmer to spend nine years in the mortuary profession. I had a of love of carnivals and sideshows since my childhood and had harbored a desire to run away and join outdoor show business for many years. I divorced my first wife in 1978 and began making plans to build a carnival freak show. Another failed marriage after my first delayed my efforts, and I eventually moved to the family ranch in Oakhurst California where we opened a bar and small restaurent called the Ahwahnee Inn, which I operated with my parents for about five years. During this time I met my lovely wife Sue, and found that she also had a desire to try something new and exciting. I did manage to purchase a small trailer-mounted "grind show" from an old showman in Washington state and we became "weekend carnies", showing the attraction at small fairs and festivals in nearby towns. The show was called the Arabian Giantess and featured a nine foot tall (paper mache) mummified giant female corpse. The King Tut exhibit was making the rounds in America at the time, so I re-titled the show "The Egyptian Giantess" which only mildly increased ticket sales.

 

Eventually we sold our bar business, and as luck would have it, a large working carnival sideshow owned by a well-known Florida showman came up for sale. I immediately purchased the show sight unseen and rented a truck and traveled to Virginia to pick it up at the close of the fair date where it was showing. It was a big tented show with a 100 ft bannerline front and all equipment. We followed the owner to his winterquarters in Florida where we obtained yet another huge load of show displays, costumes and related materials, and headed back to California. I booked a fair date on the return trip home so we could start making money with the show right away. I had also hired one of the acts who sort of came with the show, and Sue and I filled in doing the blade box and electric chair acts, and I also lectured on the preserved freak animals displayed in jars, while old Curley did fire eating, sword swallowing and human pincushion. The show made money, but we found that the 40ft X 60ft big top tent was about to fall apart on us. That winter we purchased a new tent and opened for full time business in the summer of 1984. I spent a total of 25 years in the freak show business having worked with many famous human oddities and displayed hundreds of curiosities both living and dead. We purchased several complete sideshows from other showmen over the years and at one time owned many preserved human freak fetuses including Billy Bryson the two-headed child seen in the movie She Freak. We also employed many human freaks in our shows including Otis the Frog Boy, Milinda the Monkey Girl, midgets Prince Arthur and little Richard Freeman, fat man Howard Huge, and the famous tattooed man and champion sword swallower Capt. Don Leslie, along with many others.

 

I still own many oddities and have enough equipment to frame a show whenever I please. However, I've lost much of my interest in the business and look forward to a lot of film work in the future.

 

What got you into the filmworld eventually, and how do sideshows and (genre-)filmmaking compare?

 

Jeff Murray with Kimberly and Fred Olen Ray

I got into the filmworld through my association with Fred Olen Ray.

 

Back in the early 1990s, a friend and business associate of mine who made "gaffs" (manufactured oddities) told me of a customer he had in California who was interested in building a sideshow and asked if I might assist in some way. I agreed by making my phone number available and told my friend to have the "would-be sideshow owner" give me a ring if he needed some help. Wasn't long before the phone did ring and a voice on the other end introduced himself as Fred Olen Ray.

 

It seems, like me, Fred had an interest in freak shows from childhood and was ready to give outdoor show biz a go. He had no intention of leaving the movie business, but wanted to explore the carnival world and become active in the operation of his own sideshow. Fred had already purchased a trailer mounted show called TERRORS of the AMAZON, which toured a few dates on the East Coast and was managed by a relative of his. The show did alright, but Fred wanted a simpler operation, one which he could handle alone, playing nearby events and festivals.

 

Eventually, Fred framed a truck-mounted show called The Alligator Man, which exhibited a very well made gaff of a creature wrapped like a mummy with the body of a human but the head, hands and feet of an alligator. It was a creepy looking effect and had many customers scratching their heads in wonderment.

 


I hooked Fred up with a number of nice fair and celebration dates in Southern California at which I also booked a couple of my shows. By this time, Fred and I were good friends and I stayed at his home in Sherman Oaks on many occasions, and spent a good deal of time together as well. There were also several movie projects on Fred's schedule during these times including Mind Twister, Inner Sanctum 2, Bikini Drive-In, Attack of the 60ft Centerfolds, Dinosaur Island and others all being juggled between carnival events. As time passed, I was invited to appear in several of these features and also supplied props, tents and other equipment on a few different sets. When not doing a small role before the cameras, I was hanging around in the background watching and learning about the filmmaking process. I wasn't ready to leave the carnival business, but having fun with making movies seemed like something I might eventually try.

 



After a few years of touring his Alligator Man show and doing a big museum sideshow in partnership together, Fred lost interest in the carny life and moved into professional wrestling. He wrestled under the name Fabulous Freddie Valentine and did a great job of training and getting himself into shape. He formed his own wrestling federation and promoted shows in the LA area and also wrestled some out of state dates. We began to lose track of each other and it would be ten years before I met up with Fred Olen Ray again.

 

Funny how time flies, as they say. We exchanged Christmas cards and an occasional email, but I hadn't seen Fred in ten years when we made arrangements to meet up for lunch while I was playing a date in SoCal. I had just about reached the end of my rope with the sideshow business and was looking for another outlet. During lunch we talked about a few past projects Fred had completed in which a mutual friend had invested money as a producer. I thought this might be a chance for me to change direction and I offered to become involved in an upcoming film venture.

 

Within a few weeks the opportunity arrived in the form of Super Shark, a feature Fred was planning to shoot in July of 2010. I came onboard as one of the executive producers and also had a small role in the picture. I enjoyed the process so much that I made plans to do my own picture when the time was right - Bigfoot's Wild Weekend.

 

What actually made you usurp the director's chair for Bigfoot's Wild Weekend?

 

I do not believe that I usurped the directors chair for Bigfoot's Wild Weekend With the project being mostly written by me, financed by me, cast by me and produced by me and other family members, who else could have seen my vision brought to the screen?

 

Jeff Murray and the 

Bigfoot's Wild Weekend-girls

When I bought my first sideshow and booked it with a carnival company to play big fair dates across the country, I had no experience with that except for what I had read and heard from people who had been in the business before me.

 

I found out as much as I could beforehand and then jumped in head first and went for it. I got my bumps and learned from the school of hard knocks, but I was a successful sideshow operator for many years.

 

I've done the same with the film business, and time will tell if I make a success of it as well. If nothing else, I'm having fun in my senior years and don't intend to slow down or retire for some time to come.

 

Directors who inspire you?

 

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John Ford, David Lynch, Ridley Scott, Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, the Coen Brothers, Roger Corman [Roger Corman bio - click here], Fred Olen Ray.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

Alien, Shane, War of The Worlds (original), The Thing (original), Drums Along the Mohawk, The Quiet Man, 3:10 to Yuma, Day The Earth Stood Still (original), Elephant Man, Blue Velvet, 40 Year Old Virgin, Shallow Hal, Wizard of Oz, On The Beach, 1941, Fail Safe, No Country for Old Men.

 

... and of course, films you really deplore?

 

The Wiz, Yentl, The Fokers, Big Momma's House.

 

Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?

 

VISIT:

Bigfoots Wild Weekend (The Movie) on Facebook

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIhe5hzNI_c

www.wix.com/harmurentertainment/harmur

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2144008/

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
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... and for the life of it,
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

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written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
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Rudy Barrow

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