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An Interview with Seth Breedlove, Director of MOMO: The Missouri Monster

by Mike Haberfelner

September 2019

Films directed by Seth Breedlove on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie MOMO: The Missouri Monster - in a few words, what is it about?

 

Itís about a hair-covered creature that was seen around the town of Louisiana, MO in the early 1970s. The family that first saw the creature was the Harrison family and the movie we made tells their story via a ďfoundĒ 1970s drive-in movie. This also gave us the means to explore some of the central themes of the film such as the ways in which stories can evolve and change in the retelling particularly when theyíre retold via movies.

 

What was it that actually first attracted you to the subject matter, and how much research did you do on the Missouri Monster before the shoot?

 

I just respond to stories about families dealing with mysterious phenomena. Our first documentary was about a similar case that happened in Minerva, OH so this was also appealing to me because I knew we could try some new stuff that was not at our disposal back when we made that movie back in 2015.

 

There was a lot of research that went into the movie. A good deal of the historic and case-related work was done by me but my research assistant, Heather Moser, did the lion's share of the work in tracking down witnesses and interview subjects for us. She was a huge part of the success we had in creating the documentary side of MOMO: The Missouri Monster.

 

Do talk about MOMO: The Missouri Monster's host Lyle Blackburn for a bit, and what was working with him like?

 

This is our fifth time working with Lyle and the second time weíve been on location together. Itís a solid relationship by now because we know each other pretty well and have spent a lot of time together. At this point heís just part of the Small Town Monster family so having him with us is always fun. He brings his own ideas and takes to the films he works on too which is always welcome.

 

What might be a first for MOMO: The Missouri Monster is its film-within-a-film, a mock grindhouse monster movie from the 1970s - so what were the inspirations of shooting these segments to begin with?

 

Well weíd hit upon the idea of doing MOMO: The Missouri Monster in a half narrative/half documentary fashion about a year ago. However, it really started to take shape earlier this year through the pre-pro meetings with the crew. The specific ways in which we dove into and out of the narrative and how the movie would feel tonally was all decided upon far before filming started and, again, it was all very collaborative with ideas coming from all sides and many of them being used.

 

Jason Utes, Mark Matzke and myself handled all the plotting and actual scripting. Itís shocking how much of that first script is in the final film. This really is the movie we wrote and saw in our heads pretty much from the moment we finished that first script which is really incredible when you consider how insane the whole thing seems at first blush.

 

Since the film-within-a-film is set in the 1970s, what were the challenges of creating the look and feel of the era?

 

Something Adrienne (producer) contributed early on was that the opening scene needed to immediately establish the time period through costume and dialogue. We actually went and bought that VW Beetle to immediately help sell the time period. So basically one of the biggest things was just trying to find little props to help sell the time period. Dialogue was used in the same way.

 

In terms of actual camera work we used a lot of ď70s zoomsĒ and screen wipes as transitions and that sort of thing. We approached everything trying to imagine what a movie in the 1970s being made for little money would look like, so thereís a lot of handheld and awkward closeups. I kept saying to Zac (the DP) that it needed to look like it was made on 16mm but not 8mm. 16mm cams were bigger and heavier as opposed to those little 8mm cams that everyone had.

 

What can you tell us about your directorial approach to the film-within-a-film, and to what extent were you inspired by actual 1970s monster movies?

 

I guess I just approached it like it was a real movie. We never wanted it to feel tongue-in-cheek or like it was a parody. We knew that simply by the limitations we were up against (a cast of mostly non-actors, a tiny budget, etc) the movie would organically take on the ďattitudeĒ of those drive in movies we loved. Some of the acting is purposely over the top, some of it isnít, but the cast did an amazing job with what is a very very unusual story and storytelling device and I donít think I can say enough about how they embraced the weirdness.

 

Visually, I had a lot of shots and moments in my head from the start that drew inspiration from 70s Bigfoot and monster movies. We all watched a lot of that sort of thing but the standouts for me are Mysterious Monsters, The Legend of Boggy Creek, Creature from Black Lake... there are some nods to John Carpenter's Halloween, and even Creature from the Black Lagoon. The narrative is really a huge love letter to the monster movies we grew up on.

 

Do talk about your key cast, and why exactly these people?

 

Adam Duggan who played Edgar (the lead) wanted a shot at playing that character from the start. He had that rugged, straight-laced vibe that monster leads in the 70s tended to have and he also was able to sell some of the heavier moments without overacting. I think the whole production lives or dies with that performance. Amy Davies and Sara Heddleston as Doris and Betty respectively did a fantastic job with their roles as the mother and daughter. Again, they understood the silliness of some of what was going on but they played it 100% straight and I think they help sell the idea that this is a real found film from the 70s. Elizabeth Saint and Janet Jay do an excellent job in the opening and I have to give special mention to

my dad (playing Wendorf) and Sue Matzke as Mrs Suddarth and  Mark Matzke as the crazed reverend for standout moments. The cast was comprised of mostly non-actors which is appropriate given that The Legend of Boggy Creek was also cast with non-actors. It just helps sell the time period to me.

 

Now how much fun was it to actually shoot these segments?

 

This was my favorite production weíve ever done. It was utterly exhausting and draining but scenes like the posse sequence were just insanely fun to shoot.

 

To what extent was your film-within-a-film based in reality (or the actual legend, if you may)?

 

The biggest answer I can give here is to watch the movie. For the most part itís all stated what really happened or didnít. The big events of the narrative are all based on real events and aside from small details and slight exaggerations, most of what you see in the narrative is claimed to have happened. If it straight up didnít happen, Lyle will come in and state it never happened after itís been on screen.

 

Let's come back to the documentary as a whole: Your personal opinions and insights about the Missouri Monster?

 

Oh I think that MOMO: The Missouri Monster was something other than a hoax. It might have been a misidentified bear or even a *gasp* Bigfoot. I donít think the family lied and I donít think you can write off their initial sightings as hoax.

 

To what extent do the good people of Louisiana, Missouri embrace the legend themselves, and how happy were they about you bringing it up?

 

They donít embrace it at all for the most part. I think some of the younger generation think itís a cool story and want to do something to embrace it as a town, but the older people we interviewed really just want to move on. They werenít upset we were there asking questions about it but they did seem kind of confused about why we cared about it at all.

 

Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of MOMO: The Missouri Monster yet?

 

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I think itís been largely received very well, particularly from those who are watching it with their full attention and are picking up on the subtext and some of the fun Easter eggs we added into the film. Itís really a movie for people who love movies as much as it is for the paranormal crowd.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

Weíre hard at work on a massive 10 episode series about the UFO subject called On the Trail of UFOs. Following that will be The Mothman Legacy and The Mark of the Bell Witch.

 

Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?

 

smalltownmonsters.com, and you can find us on Facebook, Instagram and all that stuff.

 

Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

Nope I think thatís about it!

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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