What Is “The Back 80”?

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Jesse and I were finishing up filming a little documentary called The History of Salt Fork State Park and we started to wonder what was next. We really wanted to get back into our main area of interest, Bigfoot, but with so many other documentaries out there we needed something different. I was talking to my good friend Marc DeWerth trying to get some ideas and he mentioned the mass sightings in 2013 in Holmes County, OH. That had kind of been in the back of my mind but I just wasn’t sure what angle we could approach that and have it be interesting. I decided to contact the woman at the heart of all that activity, my friend Suzanne, to see what she thought about the potential of doing a film about it. In response, she sent me a 10 page email discussing all the things that had happened and were still going on. I knew we were on to something.

The interesting thing about Suzanne is, she never wanted any of this and she was thrust into this whole world of Bigfoot by being in the right place at the right time (wrong place/wrong time?). Her world of peace and quiet was turned upside down by the invasion of something that wasn’t supposed to exist. She calls the investigators, which responded to her requests for help, her “support group” and they truly are. She leans on them for guidance in her quest for answers and they’ve become an extension of her family now. So my initial idea for this film was to include Jesse and myself in it. We would show up, talk to her, go to the sighting location then head out into the woods to look for these things. Jesse and I never met eye-to-eye on that concept, he didn’t see how we could possibly fit into this story without it becoming an episode of “Finding Bigfoot”. As I usually do, I forced my idea on him and we started down the path of making this film.

The first thing I realized, when I started prepping Suzanne for her interview, was that we needed to dig deeper into this story than most other films dare. We needed to tell the story through her eyes and really feel the emotion. This wasn’t a Bigfoot story, this was a story that had a Bigfoot in it. We needed to take the viewer through the process of dealing with an event of this magnitude, something that was life changing. I’m sure Suzanne wasn’t prepared to be such an integral part of our film but she has graciously gone along with it and has been completely awesome to work with. We are now on this journey together, to find the truth…and make a movie about it! Still at this point, I’m holding firm that once we are done cracking Suzanne open to find out what makes her tick, Jesse and I are heading into the woods to find this thing. Jesse still reluctantly agrees.

I continued to get huge emails from Suzanne leading up to the first day of filming. She was getting into it and offering up so many great ideas and tidbits of information that generated even more great ideas from Jesse and I. She’s had a belief, for some time, that these things might live nearby in an abandoned, gated 80 acre lot the property owners call “The Back 80”. In that time, she has been trying to gain access to this property to take a look around and see what she can find. One of those emails read, “I’ve Got It! Access to the back eighty. Were In!” I started making the film schedule out and set aside one night for Jesse and myself to go into the back eighty, after dark and film this whole sequence for the movie. Just me and him plus one other camera guy, our friend Geoff. I sent the schedule out to everyone involved.

The next morning I got a message from Suzanne, she said that she saw the schedule and had a little issue. She wanted to go with us into the back eighty, it’s something she’s wanted to do for a long time and she was coming. Then it hit me, this film is about her, Jesse was right. We don’t belong in there. Soon after, we adopted the title “The Back 80” for the film and we were planning on how to film Suzanne’s journey to find the truth…inside the back eighty.

This film will not be a documentary. It will however, be creepy, intense and scary as it follows the actual events as they happened. We are approaching the half-way point of filming and have many great things to show you soon. Keep an eye out for updates on FaceBook (www.facebook.com/theback80) and we look forward to showing you the finished product at the 2017 Ohio Bigfoot Conference in May at Salt Fork State Park. #TheBack80 #ToTheWoods

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