Corey Grant is an African-American director with such titles as Hip-Hop Task Force and its follow-up, Studio, on his resume. Stereotypically speaking, he’s not your typical horror director.
But this fearless filmmaker recently trekked to Northern California with his crew and brought back Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes, which opens this Friday, October 19th.
“It’s about a disgraced television host who was hoaxed by a fictional UFO story on a previous show, and it killed his career,” Grant said in describing Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes. “Now he stages his comeback when he finds out there is a Bigfoot hunter who supposedly has an image of Bigfoot. So he figures he can do a show, but this time do it about people who pull hoaxes. Then he can bring his career back. So, of course, they travel up to Northern California to find this Bigfoot hunter, but when they get up there, everything is not what it seems.”
In keeping with the Bigfoot legend, Grant hoped to really bring some of the key elements of the tale to his film. “Basically, we tried to make it as authentic to the Bigfoot legend as possible but, at the same time, add some core elements to it,” Grant said. “I think it gives a lot of accurate information about the legend of Bigfoot, but at the same time it’s entertaining, with some fictional elements added to it.”
Adding to the realism of the film is the fact that one of the writers had an intimate knowledge of the region. “[Co-writer] Brian Kelsey is a native of that area of Humboldt County,” Grant said. “He remembered seeing a Bigfoot print outside his home when he was growing up. Then over the years he’d owned this cabin in Humboldt County, and he would go up there by himself. It’s very secluded, and he would write. And he’d admit to being scared in this cabin, hearing the craziest noises outside. It spooked him. And that’s where the inspiration for the story came from. Before we shot the film, he took some of the crew up there in the night and we saw the environment in which he was writing, and it freaked us all out.”
To help capture the atmosphere of a television shoot, Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes was done as a found footage project. “Before this film I wasn’t really into the found footage style,” Grant said, “but in the story that was written by Brian Kelsey and Bryan O’Cain, the found footage style was a very intricate element to the actual script. I wrestled with the thought of not doing it that way and doing it traditionally. That’s what I like, that’s what I’m used to. But the more I looked at the script, the more I realized found footage was the best way to do it. So we tried to have a hybrid between that and a traditional style film.”
Grant also felt there were other advantages of the found footage style. “I really wanted to capture the atmosphere, to get the feeling that they’re up there on this journey, and I think the found footage element wasn’t so much for scares, but to make the audience feel like they’re along for this journey.”
Although this film is set in the woods of Northern California and another infamous found footage film, Cloverfield, is set in New York City, viewers of Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes may find similarities between the two movies. “Other than The Blair Witch Project years ago, Cloverfield is the only found footage movie I’d seen before shooting this. And what I liked about Cloverfield was they had special effects, but it was very subtle. That was one of the influences. We all watched Cloverfield… and [REC].”
Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes also has its share of effects and stunts, but Grant prefers to keep them as an accentuation to the film instead of the driving force behind it. “Eric Chen was our stunt coordinator,” Grant said. “He’s done a lot of Jackie Chan movies and is one of the top stunt coordinators in the world. He was gracious enough to come on board to help us. And we did a lot of special effects, but we did try to minimize it a bit to keep it more organic. We did a lot of neat effects that seem subtle in the movie but were pretty elaborate to put together.”
And certainly this was no easy shoot as the cast found themselves right in the region that the film was based on. “We shot an hour and a half into the forest every day,” Grant said. “No cell phone service or anything. And where we were shooting is referred to as ‘Bigfoot Central.’ When we initially got up there, we realized we couldn’t get our trucks the entire way up, but we found a logging road that we had to take as an alternate route, and we pulled it together.”
And Grant had nothing but stellar things to say about his cast. “They roughed it up there in the elements, and they were in it 100 percent,” Grant said. “No one ever complained at all, and I’m very happy with all of them.”
Grant continued on some of his stars, “To work with Frank Ashmore was a dream. I’m a big, big fan of his, and he’s probably the only guy I’ve been star-struck by in any of the films I’ve done. He brought a really sophisticated element to the way he attacked his character. Sean Reynolds is an excellent actor who’s very quick. He worked well with his co-star Rich McDonald, and I think the audience likes those guys. They’re really fun, and I thought they brought their characters alive.”
So just how does an African-American director with no horror credits on his resume find himself working in Bigfoot Central? “I’m a fan of movies,” Grant said. “I watch everything. I’m a big Star Wars buff, I work in a little horror. But I don’t consider myself a horror director as much as a storyteller. And I feel if you’re a director or a writer, you should be able to tell a story in the best way possible. And this was a story I approached in a different way just from being a fan of various different types of movies. I’ve done other movies that are completely different from this one. And then we have another supernatural film we’re going to be doing and then more comedy. I’m just a fan of movies. I’m a fanboy.”
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