While visiting a pot farm in Northern California in 1993, investigative journalist David Holthouse heard a story that still haunts him: On a nearby farm three men were torn limb from limb in a savage Bigfoot attack. SASQUATCH follows David as he revisits the Redwoods 25 years later, in search of any evidence that might lead to the truth of what happened that night. As he pulls at the threads of this story he’ll be taken down a path that’s far more terrifying than anyone would have imagined.
For the release of the three-part docuseries SASQUATCH, Nightmarish Conjurings spoke to director Joshua Rofé, where we discussed everything from how the story came about to the dangerous situations the team was put in, and whether or not the director believes Bigfoot is actually real.
Hey Josh, thank you so much for speaking with me today! I’ve got to know. How did this crazy story even come to be?
Joshua Rofé: So, in 2018 I’m having dinner with a buddy, Zach Cregger, one of the executive producers, and he says, “You’ve got to listen to a podcast called Sasquatch Chronicles. You’re either going to love it or think I’m crazy for loving it. It’s people calling up with their encounter stories.” And so at his behest, I listened to an episode. Cut to four days later, I listened to 11 episodes. I’m completely obsessed. And what I’m taken by is I am sensing true visceral fear from every caller. For a week I was telling myself, “You’re going to make a Sasquatch something, I don’t know what it’s going to be, but you’re going to do it.” By the end of the week, I sort of came to this place of I knew what I was going to do. I was going to find a murder mystery that is somehow wrapped up in a Sasquatch story and if I can do that, no matter what happens, it will be a compelling journey, you know?
So if you were me, there’s one person you would call when you have that thought and that’s your friend and colleague David Holthouse, who has been a Gonzo journalist and investigative journalist for 25+ years. He was working with me on a series that we were making at the time called Lorena, which is about the Lorena Bobbitt story, and so I sent him a text saying, “Hey dude, craziest text I’m gonna send you for the next five years. I want to find a murder mystery that is somehow wrapped up in a Sasquatch story and if it exists, pursue it as the next project.” He writes me right back, “I love it. I got one. I’ll call you in five.” And then he tells me this story from the cabin that night and it was game over.
Since you mentioned having already worked with David on the Lorena Bobbitt doc, how was it working with him again on this project?
Joshua Rofé: I already knew that David was an incredible investigator. I knew that he was incredible at finding people to talk about the thing that you, as a director, want to talk to people about. But now there is David and I want to talk to him about stuff, you know? And so what made this one even more interesting, in terms of the experience, was the thing I want to talk to him about we are learning with every step of this investigation. It’s dangerous, like literally risking your life dangerous if you want to try and get to the source, the origin point of this crazy ghost story. It was intense for all of us. It really was. There were times when I was worried about everybody’s safety, including my own, but no one more than David. I mean, David was alone in the woods with straight-up killers at times and he knew it and he didn’t know if he was going to get out, but he did know that he had no cell service and even if he did, he wouldn’t even know where to tell anybody to come.
Wow, okay, so SASQUATCH is not worth that much danger. Piggybacking off of that, was there ever a point where you felt like you all could really be fucked with what you were looking into?
Joshua Rofé: There were people who ran up on us, for sure, and made it clear that they didn’t want us where we were. But the big moment was this one night that went from David meeting one person at 3:00 pm to now he’s meeting eight people, unbeknownst to him, in a private place around midnight. And now they’re trying to pressure him to get in the car and go three hours away to somebody’s cabin who’s got a big piece of information about this alleged triple homicide, and I’m getting text messages from him whenever he can sneak off to the bathroom of like, “This is what’s going on.” So that was an insane and terrifying night.
On a lighter note, I really liked the inclusion of the animation for the re-enactments. What was the decision behind doing that as opposed to live re-enactments?
Joshua Rofé: We were discussing what we should do and Mark Duplass said, “Hey, what about animation?” I wasn’t sure right away, because I had never really loved animation in docs, personally. They suggested that I talk to this guy named Drew Christie who lives in the Pacific Northwest and they had worked with him before and wanted us to just have a conversation with him. I spoke to Drew and explained that I wasn’t thinking of this as a doc, but that I’m making a paranoid thriller meets a graphic novel and this is what it’s about. And I said, I feel like I shouldn’t even tell you anymore, you should just kind of do your thing. Then he sends me back a test about two weeks later, of 90 seconds of animation to David’s story from the cabin that night in 1993, and it remains practically unchanged to the finished series. It was just like, BOOM, he nailed it. It came out of him fully formed and that is his brain on the screen.
My last question for you and the most important one, do you believe in Bigfoot?
Joshua Rofé: I’ve got to see it to believe it but I’ll tell you this, I am more afraid of the woods now than before I embarked on making this.
SASQUATCH is now available to stream on Hulu just in time for 4/20. Weed farms, danger, and the pursuit of Bigfoot? What could possibly go wrong? If you want to know more about the series, check out our review.