While working out at a local gym, Taylor Guterson, a Snoqualmie resident and avid hiker, knew he wanted his next movie to feature the beautiful outdoors around the Snoqualmie Valley, but he was unsure in what capacity.
After spending time talking to residents and people in the area, Guterson got his answer: Bigfoot.
“I saw there were a lot of people who claimed sightings, who seemed like they had no reason to make it up,” Guterson said. “I wasn’t that interested in Bigfoot itself, but the stories. The more I talked to people and heard these stories, the more I became fascinated by it.”
Guterson’s fourth feature film, “Hunting Bigfoot,” is set to premiere at the North Bend Theater on Friday, Aug. 6. It tells the story of a man obsessed by an all-consuming quest to prove the existence of Bigfoot.
In honor of the movie’s premiere, North Bend Mayor Rob McFarland and Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson proclaimed Aug. 6 as Hunting Bigfoot Day. The movie was filmed almost entirely in the Snoqualmie and North Bend area, and the majority of those featured in the film are local residents.
“Anyone who had a Bigfoot story I knew about, I asked them to be in the film,” Guterson said.
Guterson has been making movies in the Seattle area for over a decade. He has been writing, directing and producing independent films since 2011.
His first movie, “Old Goats,” a comedy, was filmed with a group of friends in his hometown of Bainbridge Island. It told the story of three retired men navigating the late stages of their lives. The film gained nationwide attention, playing in theaters across the country. The group teamed up again in 2014 to create “Burkholder,” Guterson’s second film.
For his current project, Guterson describes the film as neither a documentary nor a completely fictional work, but a blur between the two. He said one of the goals of the film was to make it feel natural and authentic.
“I’m proud of how real this one feels,” Guterson said. “Some people have seen it and thought it was just a documentary, and that’s really gratifying to me.”
Guterson said he did this by following a non-traditional approach. He allowed actors to improvise, and said the final product was much different than the script he had originally written.
He said the film was also helped by the fact that almost no one, aside from lead actor John Green, was cast for their respective roles or had acting experience. He said he tried to get actors to talk about their own lives, and use that as a way to reproduce authentic results.
“In the movie, Anita, who plays John’s daughter, is talking about her own father when I am interviewing her, not John,” Guterson said. “At the time she didn’t know what we were doing, so in the movie the audience is listening to her talk about her own father, but through editing it sounds like it’s about John.”
Guterson said casting for the film was loose, allowing anyone who was interested in the project to participate.
“I asked [Mt Si Sports and Fitness owner] Ben [Cockman] to be in the film because I’d heard him talking in the lobby, and he was such a character, I knew if he could be himself, we had something,” he said.
In his style of filmmaking, Guterson said he prefers working with people without acting experience.
“Actors are more aware of what’s going on and why, and often that leads to something artificial,” he said. “A good actor can be authentic, but it’s difficult.”
Through the long process of filming outdoors through rain, and even snow, Guterson said he is thankful for the interest and community support the film has received, and is excited to unveil the film in North Bend.
“I hope people feel like they see something unique in style,” he said. “You don’t have to be a Bigfoot fanatic. I think it’s a unique approach, and hopefully people will say ‘that’s something I haven’t quite seen before.’”