Friday, August 17, 2018

Part II: On the Trail of…Champ Interviews

We asked director Aleksandar Petakov to share his experience filming the first Small Town Monsters mini-series On the Trail of... Champ and his thoughts on the area and famous monster. Read on for part one of his series of blog posts. - Adrienne

Over the course of the four weekends I filmed On the Trail of…Champ, I had the fortune of interviewing countless people involved in the mystery. 

I interviewed about half a dozen eyewitnesses who all had seen something unusual in the waters of Lake Champlain. While some of the interviews were planned ahead of time, others were spontaneous but all of them were fascinating. My pre-planned phone interview with Sandra Mansi (of the famous 1977 Mansi photography) for example turned out wonderful and I believe that to have been her last formal Champ related interview before her recent passing. My interview with Frank Horton, who turned out to be one of my favorite eyewitnesses, was totally spontaneous. While I was filming the giant Champ parade float at the 2017 Champ Day event, he approached me as he lived right across from the faux Champ and we struck up a conversation, leading to an invigorating interview shortly afterwards.

Among the eyewitnesses I interviewed there was a wide variety of when their sightings took place, ranging as far back as the 1950’s up until a few weeks prior to filming and everything in between. That really helped me realize that whatever was going on was not an isolated phenomenon that occurred sporadically. Of course through research I realized sightings of “Champ” date back quite far as well. 

Aside from the eyewitnesses, by far the most important interviews were with the three most prolific Champ investigators, Scott Mardis, Katy Elizabeth and William Dranginis. These three arguably made the series what it is and more broadly gave the search for Champ human faces and plenty of personality. Their interviews were filled with years of experience searching for the mystery of Lake Champlain, endless facts about Champ and Lake Champlain as well as their own sightings and encounters. These folks exhibit some serious dedication and ingenuity in this particular quest for the unknown.

With these researchers, comprising of the Mardis-Dranginis Research team and Champ Search (Katy Elizabeth) respectively, I accompanied them as they scoured deep sections of the lake, combed through the many Champlain marshes at night and much more. It was truly adventure in every sense of the word as we battled with unpredictable weather and the simple difficulty of researching on a large body of water. Ultimately On the Trail of…Champ is as much as a story about Scott, Katy and Will as it is about the famous denizen of the lake.

Finally, for the last set of interviews for the series I spoke with local people that were involved with Champ beyond sightings or research. These were people like Lorraine Franklin, owner of Champ’s Trading Post, a Vermont based gift shop themed around Champ of course. This type of interview gave the Champ mythos a deeper meaning and cultural roots in the communities surrounding Lake Champlain. This included the Vermont Lake Monsters, Vermont’s minor league baseball team, which fully embraced the monster legend.

Combining all these types of interviews was something I felt needed to be done to demonstrate the full scale of the mystery of Champ. Alongside many historical facts about Champ and the lake, the only thing I needed to ensure was that I could truly capture the alluring beauty of Lake Champlain. Luckily I had some serious filmmaking tech at my disposal.

To be continued…

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Bray Pre-orders Are Open!

We have some exciting news! We've released the final trailer for our upcoming feature Bray Road Beast, and we celebrated by launching our DVD pre-orders!

If you aren't already familiar with the general details of the story, check out the synopsis below.
In 1989 a country road outside of the Wisconsin town of Elkhorn became the center of a media frenzy unlike anything the world had ever seen. “People were seeing, what looked to them, like a werewolf…” said Linda Godfrey the newspaper reporter who brought the story to light in a local publication called “The Week”. In fact, many people -locals and out-of-towners alike- had sightings and encounters with the creature that came to be known as The Beast of Bray Road. Many of these sightings were largely ignored or under-reported… that is, until October 5th when the new documentary film, The Bray Road Beast will unlock decades of history relating to “werewolf” sightings around the US.
The Bray Road Beast DVD also includes a short, behind-the-scenes featurette that takes you to Elkhorn with the STM crew.

The Bray Road Beast features narration by Lyle Blackburn, animated sequences by Santino Vitale (who also created our creature costume) and Chris Scalf with illustrations by Matt Harris, Brandon Scalf and Brian Serway. Music by Brandon Dalo and Chris Dudley. Director of photography was Zac Palmisano (with cinematography by Santino) some assistance from Andrew Peterson (of Midwest Mysteries) and sound design by Jason Utes (also our production manager). 

Behind the scenes footage on the dvd was shot by Jason and Mark Matzke who also co-wrote the script, and our Key Grip was Andy Matzke. Posters were created by Sam Shearon and Adrienne Breedlove who also produced the movie. Christy Williams plays Doris Gipson, Adrienne plays Lori Endrizzi and Jason Utes plays the beast.

Huge thanks to all of our Kickstarter backers including the executive producers Rod Fielder, Tim Lancaster, Theresa Tramel, and Dwight Bishop. An extra special thanks to Morgan Hazel and Forest Hazel who backed the entire years worth of STM projects at the series executive producer level.

Pre-order your copy now and get it on or before 10-5-18!

- Adrienne

Monday, July 23, 2018

On the Trail of... Champ - Now on Amazon

Now Available on Amazon!

On the Trail of Champ dives deep in centuries of "monster lore". Various eyewitnesses of the creature recall their encounters and present their evidence for what they have encountered. Follow along as researchers seek to document the existence of this unknown monster. Their hunt for the creature takes them from the deep waters of the lake to its winding rivers and primeval swamps and marshlands.

You can now get the series, or individual episodes, on Amazon Video.
Click here to watch the series now!

We need your reviews!

Whether you watch digitally or buy the series on DVD (available here), please leave a review on Amazon! Leaving your feedback on our series will help others find it and grow our audience.

As always, thank you for your support.

- Adrienne