Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Adrian Erickson gets Local Press Part 1

You can read our previous coverage on the Erickson Project. If your new to the subject, the Erickson Project is one of the most anticipated Sasquatch endeavors since it's inception six years ago.

On the Erickson Project's website They are self-described as, "...actively researching sasquatch at various study sites in North America. The goal of Adrian Erickson and his team is to have the collected evidence validated by science and the sasquatch officially recognized as a species or sub-species."

Below is Part One of a two-part feature about The Erickson Project published by Maple Ridge News

Adrian Erickson has filmed what he says
are sasquatch in Golden Ears Provincial Park.


By Monisha Martins - Maple Ridge News
Published: August 12, 2011 8:00 AM
Updated: August 16, 2011 4:07 PM

From a thicket of hemlock, a rock fell at Jason’s Erickson feet with a thud.

It was followed by a second volley, a scattering of tiny pebbles, bound to get his attention. From the trees that crowded at the base of a rocky slope, he heard a purr, a bass, vibrating sound, he was sure didn’t come from a cougar or bear.

“I’ve grown up in the bush and it’s definitely something different.”

Stretching from the edge of Maple Ridge to the rugged reaches of Mount Blanshard, Golden Ears Provincial Park is 62,540 hectares of second-growth forest, home to beaver, deer, black bear, and mountain goat.

But lurking in the red cedar and moss-covered Douglas fir is where a legend comes to life. Sasquatch – the gigantic hirsute beast that figures in First Nation mythology, the comical Kokanee beer mascot – has been barking at Jason, tossing pebbles at him, banging on trees.

He hasn’t seen one.

“But I believe they are real.”


Jason’s dad Adrian Erickson is your stereotypical outdoorsman, tall and rugged with weathered skin. He grew up on a small farm in northern Alberta, hunting and trapping with his father at an young age to help supplement their meager income.

He saw his first sasquatch at age seven, shrugging off the encounter as something normal, just another beast in the forest, as nothing odd.

By the age of 16, while still in high school, Erickson was guiding American moose hunters and after graduation expanded his guiding and outfitting business into reclamation work for the oil and gas industry.

At 26, Erickson put down his gun and switched to a bow. He’s comfortable trekking into the wild, spending days camped far from civilization, alone, braving all kinds of weather. In 2001, not far from Jasper, Alta., a sasquatch, quite literally, crossed his path.

He admits he initially dismissed it as a cow moose. But he couldn’t avoid the nagging, gnawing notion that the lumbering, hairy brown creature he had seen was no ungulate.

He had to find out more.


Founded in 1995, the Big Foot Field Research Organization bills itself as “the only scientific research organization exploring the bigfoot/sasquatch mystery.”

It is a virtual community of scientists, journalists, volunteers and the curious who maintain a database of sightings and research.

When Erickson googled “sasquatch” a decade ago, the BFRO was like an easily accessed encyclopedia.

“I realized how much evidence there was out there,” says Erickson.

He devoured the BFRO’s compilations of eye witness reports from across the continent, the Patterson footage and research done by retired B.C. journalist John Green.

Soon, Erickson signed up as a researcher and began to interview people in the U.S. and Canada who claimed to have seen a sasquatch.

These were people who were dismissed as kooks, ridiculed, folks who has lost their jobs after revealing they believed in a beast that shared the same plane as fairies and the Loch Ness monster.

It made Erickson wonder: why is the sasquatch shunned by science?

“If scientists put 10 per cent of the effort into proving this exists, rather than trying to prove it didn’t exist, this would have been recognized decades ago as a species,” says Erickson.

By 2005, Erickson had talked to hundreds of witnesses who were relieved to speak about sasquatches to someone who took them seriously – who had seen them himself.

Tired of the wayward stares and sneers, he started the Erickson Project that year, the first multi-site field study of the sasquatch in Canada and the U.S. with the goal to have it recognized as a species.

“It is to vindicate the thousands of people who have been ridiculed,” says Erickson, who has been juggling a quest for the sasquatch while he develops acreages in Osoyoos, with his two sons, Jason and Ryan.


The term “sasquatch” is an anglicized derivative of the word “Sésquac”, meaning “wild man” in Halkomelem, the language of Coast Salish aboriginals of the Fraser Valley and parts of Vancouver Island.

Aboriginal tribes across North America have more than 60 different terms for the sasquatch.

And “big foot” isn’t just a North American legend.

Yeti and Meh-Teh, the Abominable Snowman, is said to inhabit the Himalayan region of Nepal, India and Tibet. The mapinguari or Inashi is a giant sloth-like creature that features in legends throughout the Amazon, while Yowies are the ape-men of the Australian Outback.

Big foot researchers pledge to study the species in ways that will not harm them.

It’s why Erickson won’t tranquilize the creatures. To kill them, he says, would be akin to murder.

Erickson says he has seen the sasquatch with his own eyes.

So armed with cameras, in 2005, the Erickson Project began its quest to document the sasquatch, capturing what is purported to be the only other footage of the creature since the 1967 Patterson-Gimlin film.

Most scientists believe the Patterson film is a hoax with a man in an ape suit, but some people, including Erickson, insist it’s a creature unknown to science.

The creature in the Patterson film resembles the sasquatch he’s seen, says Erickson. They have well-defined muscular physiques, long arms and walk like runway models.

Erickson and his Reel Productions team say they filmed the sasquatch in Maple Ridge and in U.S. locations. They didn’t just film one – but several. They caught them sleeping, peering through trees and via thermal images. In his film, you can hear the sasquatch make low guttural sounds, the kind that make your hair stand on edge. The creatures are in a variety of colours – grey, brown and an orangutan orange.

The location in Golden Ears Provincial Park was ideal because it had been hiked for more than a decade by the man who reported the sightings to Erickson. The sasquatch were not afraid to interact with the man, growing more familiar with him as he returned to the area.

Erickson filmed at the location for two years and collected hair samples from what he says is a grey, light-coloured sasquatch.

“You whistle and they whistle back. They won’t interact with strangers,” he explains.

Not all encounters are visual. The sasquatch like to chuck rocks at you. They are skittish.

“We don’t know why they pick certain people to show themselves to,” says Erickson.


Although Erickson captured sasquatch several times in clear, crisp images, he soon realized people would still dismiss his video as a hoax.

“The more evidence we got, scientists started backing away further and we got really tired,” he says.

“We realized DNA was the only thing.”

He hired Dr. Leila Hadj-Chikh, a biologist, who has a PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology, from Princeton University, along with Dennis Pfohl who set out to collect blood, saliva, hair and skin samples.

A resident of Colorado, Pfohl, is an avid outdoorsman who had some strange encounters while camping in the backcountry.

Married with four children, he has spent the past six years hunting sasquatch with a camera and baiting them with food for samples of their DNA. The Erickson Project picked sites in Maple Ridge, Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama where they knew they could get close to the creatures.

Pfohl says the reports from those locations were credible and the sasquatch were known to return to the areas, especially to snack on human food.

Much like bears, it seems the sasquatch have a taste for garbage and sweet things. Pfohl spent six months of the year visiting the research sites, trying to perfect his techniques.

He’s missed birthdays, many Christmases, his son’s graduation.

“Cumulatively it takes thousands of hours to collect the DNA,” he says.

“I have spent days in tree stands, on the ground, in tall weeds, with ticks, rain, snow, hell.”

Pfohl’s baited the sasquatch with dog food but finds cakes and candy – Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Susie Qs – are what they like best.

He’d leave them at the site for two or three days and is confident it was sasquatch that took the snacks rather than a raccoon or bear.

He also figured pancakes were an inexpensive and quick-to-create bait.

When he didn’t have time to cook pancakes, he’d drive to a local McDonalds and buy a stack. Sasquatch like them smothered in syrup. “I often think I’m leading to their early death by cardio vascular disease. Or the poor things will end up with tooth decay because of all the sweets,” he says with a laugh.

Pfohl sees himself as someone on a mission to find answers.

“A lot of scientists won’t risk their reputations or careers on this,” he says.

“The discovery of a species – a bipedal hominid – that is the greatest discovery of modern day man.

“How could they live all these years and we didn’t know they were there?

“The fact is people do see them. Hunters talk about them all the time but no one acknowledges it. People think I’m nuts.”

SRC: Martins, Monisha. "Is the sasquatch out there? Part 1." Maple Bridge News. Ed. Michael Hall. 2011. 18 Aug. 2011 <http://www.bclocalnews.com/tri_city_maple_ridge/mapleridgenews/news/127560548.html>.


Monday, August 15, 2011

The Making of Letters from the Big Man: Exclusive Video and Interview

you may have read our ongoing coverage of the Christopher Munch directed movie Letters from the Big Man. Recently we connected with the creature and character effects artist of the Sasquatch from the movie (see photo above). The artist is Lee Romaire, and his creature shop is aptly named Romaire Studios. Lee was nice enough to answer a few questions, but before we get to the interview lets check out Lee's work in action.

BLC: Lee thanks for letting us have this interview, we are big fans of your craft and have a lot of respect for the art you create. How were you approached to do letters from the Big Man? Had you had a prior relationship to Christopher Munch?

Lee: First let me say "thank you" for giving me the opportunity to speak about this project. I really enjoy your website.

BLC: Thank you!

LEE: I was recommended to Chris by my friend Kazuhiro Tsuji. Kazu is literally, in my opinion, the best make-up artist in the world, so it was a real honor that he referred me to Chris. At that point, Chris was exploring his options on how to do the sasquatch. I could tell by our initial conversations that he wanted it to be live in a natural, realistic world, and to be 100% believable, which is what really excited me about the project. Sasquatch has always been either been a monster or a clown, but has rarely been portrayed in a natural manner. The opportunity to work with someone like Chris to explore the subject was just too good to pass up.

BLC: I'm sure when some one requests a Sasquatch you already had some ideas, by the end of the final design, what differed from you initial concept?

LEE: If you are a creature/character designer, you have a least 4 or 5 ideas in your head about what a sasquath would look like right off the bat. But I based my design from the beginning on the actor Issaac Singleton. I wanted his essence to come through in the make-up and suit. He has a very imposing presence because he is a big guy with a deep voice. But once you get to know him he has a very gentle side, which is why I think Chris chose him. I wanted all of that to show through the facade, and I think it did, so to answer your question I don't think it turned out too far from my original concept.

BLC: How was the process with Chris? Did he have definite ideas and boundaries, what were you able to add?

LEE: Chris was a really great director to work with. I worked with Brian Henson several years ago on a Steven King tv project, and Chris reminded me of working with Brian in that they are both very very experienced and they were both really patient and appreciative of my input. Making these kind of suits is difficult and frustrating at times, so when you have someone in the lead who is very confident in your ability and allows you do your work, it makes the process much easier.

Chris had some great illustrations that he wanted to base the sasquatch off of, so we used some elements from those drawings. Because BIG MAN is an independent film, we didn't have a million dollars to make a sasquatch, so I had to think very practically about what was achieveable. For example, we couldn't build arm extentions or any sort of mechanical face. Everything had to last throughout the shoot because we couldn't afford to do spares, so we used latex rubber finger tips instead of foam latex, which would have torn on the first day of filming. Little things like that helped make it all happen.

Chris actually asked me in to look at the sasquatch shots he and the editor chose and I was able to point out which ones I thought didn't work from a realistic viewpoint. It i is very rare to have that opportunity like that, where a director and editor want your input on the post look creaure effects.

This was also the first film that my studio had a chance to do digital make-up enhancement. After Chris allowed me to look at the footage, I felt that we could go just a bit further in taking the human element out but keeping Issaac in. So I suggested that we do some digital enhancement. I've done digital enhancement before, but only for my own work. I assembled a team, and we picked the shots that I thought needed enhancing- basically all of the close ups. We enlarged the irises, slanted the eyes ever so slightly and moved the lower lip just a bit. On the big screen it is imperceptible, but very effective. So I consider it a new tool in my arsenal.

BLC: What were some of the inspirations you used to create the final design, for instance did you look at specific primates, Rick Baker stuff, and the Patterson/Gimlin footage?

LEE: My main inspiration was the actor, Issaac Singleton jr. I wanted his face to come through the make-up. I did use a lot of primate reference. At one point we were talking about a more human feel, but I felt it had to have a wild animal/alien feel. The human would come through isaac's eyes. I really tried to stay away from Rick Baker's work and from Patterson/Gimlin footage. The last thing we wanted was for him to look like Harry from Harry and the Hendersons. Harry is a great iconic character, but it seems there are so many bad copies of harry are out there, and it would be insane to try to mimic a suit that cost millions of dolllars with a fraction of that available to us. So I pieced together a new primate looking creature.

BLC: As a make-up artist do you have an opinion on the creature in the patterson/Gimlin footage?

LEE: The only thing I want to say about that footage is that I desperately want it to be real, so that clouds my judgment.

BLC: On your site you have a few jobs that are defined as being done in "record time", was this the case with Bigman? How long did each stage take on bigman, Design vs. production.

LEE: I always want to have more time on jobs. I would have loved to have more time and more money on BIG MAN of course, but you have to deal with the reality of your situation. We had several months, a very open an cooperative director and Isaac was very helpful in coming in for fitttings. Our design process went quickly, it was the production of the suit that took up a lot of the time. Chris fortunately pushed the schedule, so the crew had enough time to get what I think is a pretty good result.

BLC: Some of the things I liked about the design was the placement of the ears, the belly, and the facial hair pattern. Any stories behind any of those decisions?

LEE: Well, I had started the job, and we had already sculpted out the chest and belly. Chris sent me a pic of this horrible sasquatch suit that had a six pack. He said, " I want to avoid this look". I sent him back a pic of our stomach, and chest which was patterned after a gorilla with an enormous belly, so after seeing that I think he was a bit relieved and felt we were on the same page. The ears were small and placed upward to emphasize the size of the jaw. Also, the facial hair pattern is based on a mountain gorilla, but is shaped to really build up the size of the jaw. We had very large teeth in Isaac's mouth, but in the face sculpt, which I did in a day and a half or so, I didn't make the mouth wide enough. But we were able to cheat it
with hair so there is an illusion that the mouth is wider than Isaacs mouth really is.

BLC: Was there anything you were trying specifically not to do?

LEE: Yes, I was trying to stay away from the "monster" look and the "harry and the henderson's look. There are many things that I would have liked to do, like lengthen the arms, change the shoulder set a bit, make his legs shorter looking etc.

but it just wasn't practical for this project. Perhaps on LETTERS FROM THE BIG MAN 2 we will be able to do more.

BLC: Please tell us about your studio, how you got started, past and future projects, what are your influences?

LEE: My studio creates creatures and characters for entertainment purposes, which in include movies, tv shows, and museum and theme park attractions. I am lucky work with a lot of talented artists who help create the things we produce.

On BIG MAN, we had a crew of about 7 people who helped make everything. We do a wide range of projects. I've been doing work with Disney Imagineering recently, and one of my most interesting projects was to be part of the team at Disney Imagineering research and develeopment who re-created Abraham Lincoln for the Disneyland attraction THE WALT DISNEY STORY FEATURING GREAT MOMENTS WITH MR. LINCOLN. Abraham Lincoln was the very first human Audio Animatronics © figure that Walt Disney attempted, so it was very exciting to become part of that lineage.

Most people in my business loved monster and horror movies as children, and take their inspiration from that. I enjoyed that as well, but I was very interested in fake things that looked real as a kid, and being from the south, I took up taxidermy as a hobby. Being from Louisiana, it was a natural choice for me as a youngster. I practiced taxidermy from age 6 into my early 20's and had people paying me for my work at about age 10. I'm not saying it was good work, but it helped me refine my eye for what looks real. I went to college and majored in advertising and marketing, but there was something missing for me. So 10 years into my advertising career I decided to make a change and work on make-up effects in Hollywood. And I've done a lot of creatures and characters since then.

I am currently making my first short film entitled LET'S EAT LOLLY, that includes a lot of creatures and effects that my studio created. I will see it completed by the end of this year.

BLC: Thanks for the opportunity to do this interview. We have to ask one last question. What is your take on Sasquatch in general?

LEE: I think it's great. It allows us to dream and have adventure and mystery in our lives.It allows us to maintain some of the wonder and innocence of childhood. Although it would be thrilling for the world to actually gain proof positive scientific evidence of the sasquatch's existence, there is something wonderful about us never knowing the truth. In my experience in life, the truth about a thing is never as interesting as the stories we weave around it.

BLC: Thanks again Lee, we hope to you keep us updated on your new first short, "LET'S EAT LOLLY" and good luck with Mr. Lincoln. We look forward to watching for updates on your website www.leeromairestudios.com.

Bigfoot Board Games

Taking a stroll in the neighborhood I noticed a Board Game Store here in Portland. The place was called Off The Charts Games and it didn't take long for me realize board games have evolved beyond Monopoly and Scrabble.

There were advanced strategy board games, commonly referred to as European Board Games, based on building worlds, villages, train routes, and even pizzas. The owners Ron and Lynn were quick to explain every game they had in stock. I had only only question, "Do you have a game based on Bigfoot?" (It's amazing how everything seems to be related to bigfoot).

They were quick to point out an out-of-print game that was originally printed in Germany called Yeti.

The american version was published under the title Big Foot, yes there is a space between big and foot.


I was a little disappointed that after this huge boom in European Board Games, no one had decided to do another Bigfoot game. Ah but there was! Enter, Yetisburg.

Somehow they forgot to tell you in History class that during the Civil War each army had their own uniformed Yeti army recruited from Canada.

Many of these strategy board games are based on role-playing real events. We would love to see one based on doing Sasquatch Field research that also works as a training kit for all who endeavor the search for the Squatch.

Thanks to Ron and Lynn of Off The Charts Games for the informative visit. If you are in the Portland area and want to find board games or even European board games give Ron and Lynn a visit.
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