Exclusive 1:1 Interview: Eduardo Sanchez talks Exists!

Exists eduardo sanchez interview exclusive horror Bigfoot

Eduardo Sanchez doesn't know whether or not Bigfoot is real, but he certainly wants you to believe it for at least 90 minutes. In EXISTS, the BLAIR WITCH PROJECT co-director's new found footage horror film, the legendary Sasquatch is in the spotlight as he stalks and hunts five friends who are foolish enough to go looking for him. That old adage, "Be careful what you wish for," definitely applies to these unlucky campers as the creature gives them as much conclusive footage as they could possibly want.

For Sanchez, EXISTS is a long time in the making. Not only was it shot two years ago, but he's been envisioning making his own Bigfoot movie since he was a kid, when thoughts of the man-beast would haunt and excite him. Now that the film is finally ready to be released, Sanchez gets to see his younger self's nightmares terrify a new generation.

In this exclusive interview, Sanchez and I talk about the making of EXISTS, how found footage now compares to the days when he and his co-director Dan Myrick were making THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, making the creature a horrifying reality, and whether or not Sanchez himself actually believes the myth is in fact true.

Exists eduardo sanchez interview exclusive horror Bigfoot

I know this is a project you've been working on for a while so it must be nice to finally see it come out?

Yeah man, we shot over two years ago. The post-production definitely took longer than we anticipated, but it's definitely cool to have it coming out. I've been wanting to make a Bigfoot movie since I was a kid, and I'm pretty happy with it.

The version that is coming out, is it pretty close to what you had originally envisioned?

Every time you make a film, it's constantly changing, the idea is constantly evolving. It's a little different than what I had imagined, but the main goal was to bring this creature that I've loved since I was a little kid - that used to scare the crap out of me when I was a kid - to the screen. I wanted it to be real, I didn't want it to be a special effect, like a CG creature, I wasted it to look real. I think it surpassed my expectations of what the creature would look like. I thought I was going to have to stay away from showing too much, to do tricks with the camera, but Brian Steele who plays the creature and Spectral Motion who did the effects, they just did such an incredible job. It was so nice to be able to get right in there and do whatever I wanted.

Was the creature's design based on anything specific that you found in research, or was it your own design?

We wanted something that was cool and scary, but we also wanted to make sure it looked real, something that could exist, you know? I've seen pretty much everything that has Bigfoot in it, not necessarily research, but I have done my homework on it. We wanted it to be realistic; we didn't want it to have superhuman strength, we wanted it to have the strength of an ape or gorilla. It definitely has ape-like qualities, but it also has some human qualities, because the way I designed it is, it's some kind of missing link, some kind of offshoot from us that just remained hidden all these years and somehow survived.

We also wanted Brian to be able to express himself. We designed the face over Brian's face, and Spectral Motion had worked with Brian a bunch of times, so they already had a mold of his face and body and they built the suit around him.

Exists eduardo sanchez interview exclusive horror Bigfoot

Of course you helped pioneer the found footage movement, at least in a modern-day context - with BLAIR WITCH. How has your technique changed since then when you're approaching the genre?

With BLAIR WITCH, the story invented that style. You have three filmmakers going out to the woods to document this weird legend, and they have cameras, so of course it had to look that way. With EXISTS, the movie started out as a normal, professionally-shot film. Once I started getting through the script and breaking it down, we started to realize it lent itself really well to a found footage movie. We didn't just want to do it that way, we wanted to make sure there was a good reason to go that route. We then thought, you know, everything you see of Bigfoot is found footage, whether it's a photograph or a video someone in the woods has shot. That's all eyewitness video. So it was very natural to say, "Let's give all these guys cameras and make one of them sort of a crazy YouTube dude who has all these GoPros and that's what his life is." And that's pretty real; my son and daughter videotape everything. It's just the way people behave these days. It wasn't much of a leap to say these guys would go out there with all their cameras.

It has evolved, though, since the BLAIR WITCH days. Then it was all about making everything as real as possible, and the way found footage is now, there's obvious filmmaking at play. There's music, there's lighting, exterior lighting at night. With BLAIR WITCH we wanted to be like a piece of evidence. We wanted to stay true to what we started with BLAIR WITCH, but it's fifteen years later, so I felt we could take it in whatever direction we wanted to. And we did.

Exists eduardo sanchez interview exclusive horror Bigfoot

Not unlike BLAIR WITCH, it looks like the cast literally is in the middle of nowhere; can you talk about the location of the film, because it does seem very isolated.

We shot near Austin, Texas. A lot of people wonder how we wound up in Texas; we found these studios called Spiderwood Studios, and they have about 110 acres right off of the Colorado River, so there are fields and woods as well as production facilities. We were ably to use one of the sound stages as storage. We would take a golfcart out about a quarter of a mile to the location, in the middle of nowhere, but then if you needed assistance or something else, you had the facilities right nearby. It was a very comfortable shoot, despite the heat and the snakes and bugs and all that. The people at Spiderwood were cool enough to give us a good price, and they offered to build a cabin for us - which we obviously demolished. It was a good partnership, Spiderwood is the perfect place to shoot a Bigfoot movie.

Do you personally believe there's such a thing as Bigfoot?

Logically speaking, I don't necessarily believe in Bigfoot, but I believed it as a kid and it's still something creepy to think about, that kind of creature living in the woods. There was a guy I met while doing EXISTS, who had no reason to lie to me, who pulled me aside one day and told me he wanted to tell me his Bigfoot story. He saw the creature one night while he was with his wife in the middle of a snowstorm in Minnesota, miles from anywhere. He's a hunter, so he knows what a bear looks like, he knows what a dear looks like. And when he saw Brian on the set one day in his Bigfoot make-up, he pulled me aside and said, "That's what I saw." So the logical part of me says, "No, there's just not enough real evidence of it," but then again it's like, what are all these people seeing? Honestly, I don't think we'll ever find it, it's just going to be a part of history. But it's still an amazing thing, that people are still so interested in it, so many TV shows about it. People still always go back to it, even I go back to it; it's just interesting to think that it might actually be out there.

EXISTS trailer

Extra Tidbit: EXISTS opens in limited theaters and on VOD OCtober 24th.

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