Locals help bring movie to big screen

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A new movie called “Interviewing Monsters and Bigfoot” was released on all major streaming services last week, and several Monroe County residents had a hand in making it. 

“It’s funny and it’s a little different,” said Waterloo’s Jon Fahey, who produced the film. “It’s a good film that involves a lot of local people.” 

In addition to Fahey, the film saw Fahey’s wife Kelly work as an associate producer and production coordinator, Christina (Garfield) Schmitt play a small role, Jamie Lanman help as a special effects make-up artist and Ricky Beckeer write a song. 

Those first two people are Waterloo residents, while the latter two live in Columbia. 

The cast and crew also included three former Monroe County residents. 

Fahey said everyone, local or otherwise, made shooting the picture fun. 

“There wasn’t anyone I didn’t enjoy working with on the film,” he said. 

A Gibault Catholic High School graduate, Fahey first got involved in filmmaking in 2004 when he worked on a movie called “Apocalypse and the Beauty Queen,” which shot many of its scenes in Monroe County. 

Fahey enjoyed the experience so much that for the next three years he worked on four independent feature films. For monetary reasons, he went back to a more traditional office setting for work in 2008.

He had not worked on a film since, but in 2015 he received two phone calls within a month of each other. 

One was a call asking him to be a production manager for 2017’s “Bad Grandmas,” which starred Florence Henderson and had scenes shot in Columbia. The other was from the writer and director of “Interviewing Monsters and Bigfoot,” Thomas Smugala, asking him to serve as producer. 

Fahey had wanted to produce since he got into filmmaking, so he took that opportunity. 

“I took the producer job over the production manager one just because it’s a more involved role,” he said. “It was a great opportunity to produce and lead.” 

That turned out to be quite a 

commitment because this movie had an unconventional shooting schedule. 

Typically, a small, independent movie like this is shot in a few consecutive weeks. But for “Interviewing Monsters and Bigfoot,” the cast and crew shot footage whenever people were available.

That led to 63 days of shooting over three years, with the last day of production taking place in 2018. 

The film was shot in southern Missouri in towns like Cape Girardeau, Ironton, Farmington, Jackson and Fredericktown. 

Fahey said that approach caused some problems from a scheduling, editing and budgetary perspective, though it also gave the filmmakers a chance to refine their work. 

“When you’re only shooting two or three days at a time, it gives you a lot of time to think ‘this would have been funnier’ or ‘this would have been a funnier way to do that scene,’” Fahey explained. “So you end up writing and shooting more.”

When filming wrapped, Fahey said the movie had ballooned to over three hours in length with hundreds of hours of footage. The filmmakers had to trim it to under two hours.  

As a producer, Fahey’s main responsibilities are working with the people involved in the production. 

“I think the biggest part of it is managing relationships with vendors, with the cast and with crew members,” Fahey said of producing. “You’re in charge of every other department and making sure everything happens the way it’s supposed to.” 

For this movie, that means Fahey got to work with Tom Green, known for “The Tom Green Show,” “Road Trip” and “Freddy Got Fingered,” and Les Stroud, the titular “Survivorman.” 

He said both men were “great to work with.” 

“I got to know (Tom) a little bit, and he’s a quiet guy,” Fahey said. “He’s very witty and his humor is very intelligent.” 

“Les was very real,” Fahey added. “I also found out he’s an amazing musician. He plays the guitar and the harmonica, and he even played onstage with Journey.” 

The film follows Cory Mathis (played by Stroud), a professor who claims Bigfoot killed his wife, and by-the-book forest ranger Billy Teal (Green), who is dead set on preventing Mathis from finding the truth about the Mark Twain Forest. 

Fahey described the movie – which also stars Jessi Combs, Teri Eckerle and Stacy Brown Jr. –  as a dark comedy with a weird protagonist and story. 

He said he is proud of the years of work that went into making the movie. 

“I hope people like it. I hope it gets a big following. I hope people spread the word and go to Rotten Tomatoes and rate it, hopefully highly,” he said. 

For more on the film, including all the places to stream it, visit interviewingmonstersandbigfoot.com.

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