Now that you've grown familiar with the Bigfoot community, how much self-awareness do you think there is? Are there a fair amount of people who don't actually take it seriously?
I've run into all different kinds of people. There are folks who started out from a snarky kind of place and then got into it. It's interesting -- just like any kind of faith, there are people who don't believe they're ripping people off, and then people who don't believe what they're seeing. For the same people go to find a church or a religion, people find their way into Bigfoot and that community.
You did a screening of the film for Bigfoot believers just outside Willow Creek. How did that go?
We had a big turnout and they really, really liked the movie. It was weird for me. I was actually nervous, because I didn't want to make a movie that made fun of them. That's too easy. My movies are always about the kooks and the outsiders. That always comes from a place of feeling that I am one of those people, so I wouldn't want to make fun of them.
They were just happy that I wasn't doing an all-out comedy. Because I'm a comic -- I think Bob Saget came through town and made fun of them, so they were really traumatized. Damn you, Bob Saget! [laughs] I've known him for years, so it's funny that he fell into that super-sweet, clean, wholesome thing because Bob has always been a kind of twisted thing.
It's interesting that you've gone to the believers crowd first ahead of gaining the blessing of the genre lovers.
I feel a little bit like I'm Mel Gibson and this is "The Passion of Squatch," you know? You know, Gibson went out and peddled that movie to the hardcore base. I'm happy that they liked it.
How familiar are you with the other Bigfoot movies going on? One of the directors of "Blair Witch" has a Bigfoot movie in post-production now called "Exists."
I'm aware of "Exists." I hope it's a good movie and does well. I don't feel competitive. I remember a few years ago when there were like four movies that had the "Freaky Friday" theme -- "17 Again," "Big." You just hope you make the "Big" and not one of the lesser versions.
But do you think Bigfoot obsession is possibly about to get more popular?
I am interested in why, after all these years, if you don't believe in Sasquatch then why does this keep coming back? It could be that parents don't want their kids to roam out into the woods because they're going to get lost or attacked by a bear. Or maybe there's something weird, subconscious going on that goes back thousands of years. I do find that interesting -- why these myths exist.
To a certain extent, "Willow Creek" resembles your other movies because it's about people receiving their comeuppance for acting out of line.
Oh, that's interesting. You're right -- that is what it is. Right on. I finish these scripts and give them to my wife and she's always like, "You don't understand who this is? Well, this character is your mother," and so on. But you're right: All my movies are about getting your comeuppance. I just write 'em and hope I can make 'em. I don't like calling my movies dark, but I guess this one's dark.
All your movies have an element of darkness at least in the sense that they involve stories with ingredients that are non-commercial. Does it upset you that none of your movies have been hits?
I am frustrated. I do think there are more people who would probably related to my movies and who aren't aware of them. That's the frustrating part. I never expect that I'm going to have a hit, but I guess the formula for me would be to just keep making them and maybe the more I make, the more people will be aware of them, and then they'll go back and discover the rest.
I can imagine that when you started making movies everyone would see you in terms of the comedy career that preceded your directing credits. But now that you're a couple of films deep, is it frustrating when you go to comedy clubs and nobody knows about your other career?
That doesn't bother me. I started doing stand-up when I was 15 and doing Letterman when I was 20. So I've been doing stand-up comedy and clubs for over 30 years. That's a long time. Sometimes I come from a film festival and I'm all excited from hanging out with a bunch of filmmakers and seeing a bunch of movies -- I really get energized -- and then I'm back at a comedy club, and somebody wants to talk gossip about Dane Cook, and I can't even pretend to give a shit. [laughs] That's the part of my job that's a bit of a drag. For myself, I find standup comedy a little limiting for telling stories. With movies, you can tell a whole story.
You seem to be taking a very hands-on approach with this movie, handling a lot of the promotion and other duties on your own. Is that a direction you hope to head into? The film didn't play at any huge festivals, so it seems like you're going through the back door in terms of getting it out there.
For me, it feels really like a William Castle thing. I really feel like I'm taking "The Tingler" from city to city. When we were making the movie, at one point, I'm laying in the dirt and I've got a big pile of dried sticks that I'm breaking so they'll sound like footsteps. And I thought, "You are Bill Castle. This isn't Ed Wood, this is Bill Castle type stuff."
It did not get the love at some of the bigger festivals. I assume that's because they sit there and look at a million found footage screeners. I hope that if this movie works for people that hopefully we brought something different to it. It'll be interesting to see what happens. I think if we knew how people were going to react to these movies, we wouldn't make them. It is exciting to go to a theater and hear people scream and talk back at the movie.
So what now?
We'll probably sell the movie. I'd love it if one of the bigger distributors saw it and said, "we could put this on 1400 screens and scare people." I don't think that's crazy with this one. I have a feeling things will get locked up after Fantasia Fest. I've had a lot of offers from other countries on this movie. In general my movies do sell quicker in other countries. "God Bless America" had a pretty healthy independent film run in France. Maybe I don't come with the baggage of being the guy from "Hollywood Squares" in other countries.