On October 20, 1967, Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin emerged from a forest in Northern California with 59 seconds of grainy, shaky, silent 16mm film that supposedly offered documentary evidence of the Sasquatch, a creature of Native American folklore. Although neither Patterson nor Gimlin had any previous experience in filmmaking or zoology, they presented their remarkable footage as the first motion picture confirmation of the existence of the elusive Sasquatch.
However, not everyone was convinced by the imagery on the Patterson-Gimlin Film. Additional doubt was generated by the strange story behind the film’s creation. Over the years, odd rumors emerged about the film, including the story of an Academy Award-winning make-up artist’s alleged role in assembling the creature seen on camera.
Film journalist Phil Hall traces the convoluted history of how Patterson and Gimlin supposedly wound up in the right place at the right time with their camera, and how they brought their weird little film into the scientific community and American popular culture. While the debate over the authenticity of the Patterson-Gimlin Film continues to percolate, few would question the effectiveness of how this piece of celluloid brought forth an unlikely sensation lovingly dubbed Bigfoot.
Phil Hall is the author of The History of Independent Cinema, The Greatest Bad Movies of All Time and In Search of Lost Films. His film writing has appeared in The New York Times, New York Daily News and Wired, and he is the host of the award-winning SoundCloud podcast “The Online Movie Show with Phil Hall.”