The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization runs a website reporting all the sightings of Bigfoot across North America. No reported sightings have been listed for Santa Fe County, which means they have yet to hear about his appearance on the campus of SFUAD. A hairy, simian-like creature stalked the Quad recently during lunch hours. Students leapt from their seats to get pictures of the famous beast, who was only too happy to pose for the cameras.
“People love to get pictures of themselves with Sasquatch,” says Spring 2015 Film School graduate Nick Beckman, the man behind the mask. “There’s no logical reason for it. You know there’s a person inside the suit, but it’s fun.” Beckman’s impromptu photo shoot outside the café was what he calls a shameless promotional stunt in support of his web series, Squatch’d. Longtime filmmaking partner Tyler Sherek joins Beckman for the production, which got its start when the two friends attended school at Western Kentucky University. “Tyler got the suit four years ago. This kid gave him the Sasquatch suit and we figured we had to make something out of it.”
Squatch’d is the story of a group of film school students making a cheesy sci-fi production in their home. Amid their flimsy, cardboard set and the beer bottles on the floor, these filmmakers play out the archetypes Beckman and Sherek encountered in their time at the Film School. “They’re all the worst directors, worst producers and the worst ADs [Assistant Directors] you would have on set,” Beckman says. “In the first season, you don’t even see Sasquatch that much.”
“He’s a chill Squatch,” Sherek says. “He just wants to fit in.”
The initial story for the series revolved around a group of men hunting the Sasquatch. “They thought Sasquatch was stealing their women,” Sherek says. The series took on a new form when Beckman wrote a 30-page script for his Intermediate Screenwriting class last year. The duo plans to split the script into five or six episodes, and combine the first two for a pilot. Beckman compares the first season to a thriller, similar to The Fugitive, with a much hairier Harrison Ford.
SFUAD Performing Arts alumnus Thomas Poncho plays a part in the production as the super suave, Patches Provolone. Modeled loosely after Poncho himself, Provolone serves as both a friend to the fictional film students and an expert on all things Sasquatch. He also possesses the unfortunate power to melt women, literally, with his debonair stare. Bearing them no ill will, he pours their liquid forms into jars, keeping them in his fridge until a time when he can figure out how to restore them to their natural states.
“We’ve got a really good crew,” Beckman says, “but the more people we get involved, the more complicated it gets.” Case in point, the director of photography (DP) quit the production the same day of the interview with Jackalope. In spite of this setback, Beckman and Sherek keep a relaxed attitude. “Sasquatch kidnapped and murdered our DP,” Beckman says.
“We’re pretty sure he’s dead,” Sherek adds.
Though Beckman graduated last year, the work continues through Sherek’s Project Workshop class this semester. “Everyone in our class is doing something different,” Sherek says. “We get together on Fridays for about four hours and cover as much as we can of what everyone is doing.”
The real-life production crew bears no resemblance to their Squatch’d counterparts. Arturo Pierdona and Rose Abella serve as co-producer and first AD, and Beckman says he is very pleased with their work. The team hopes to raise $3,000 on crowdfunding site Indiegogo. They have a long way to go before they meet their goal. Most of the money raised will go to food and transportation. “We’d love to pay our crew, but we don’t have the money for it,” Beckman says. “We have to pay them with food instead.” In the meantime, the Squatch’d crew constructs their set on Stage C at the Film School. Shooting begins the weekend of Halloween.
Does Beckman believe that Sasquatch really exists? He won’t say for sure, but like Mulder of The X-Files, he says he wants to believe. In a recent video posted to Facebook, Sasquatch was seen abducting Sherek. Beckman claims the elusive forest dweller sent a poorly-scribbled note, asking for a ransom in the amount of $3,000. If you can’t obtain the money for your film through traditional fundraising, it seems that kidnapping may be the best way to go.