Hominid: Jacksonville Native’s Short Film is Not About Bigfoot

Like many aspiring filmmakers, Jacksonville native Justin Suttles has been behind a camera since childhood. A recent graduate of the film program at Savannah College of Art and Design, his senior thesis project is Hominid, a short film based on the legend of Bigfoot—but don’t say that out loud.

“When I tell people it’s about Bigfoot they kind of say, ‘Oh. Interesting.’” Suttles says. “But in the movie, the characters don’t refer to it as that, no one ever says ‘We’re goin’ Squatchin’!’ It’s more about the practical ramifications of that possibility.” He settled on the topic because he found it to be just pithy enough to be transformed into a capsulated horror story. “As a kid, I remember watching the Discovery Channel shows and thinking it was a very exciting and tangible legend,” he recalls. “There’s more to be explored there than the B-movie camp territory. It’s about a greater idea, it’s about the unknown.”

HominidFestivalPoster

At just shy of 20 minutes, Hominid is an abbreviated scare, but it inhabits the space well. Two ambitious primatologists and their small team of researchers are funded for an 8 week research trip into the depths of the Northern Cascades to find what they believe is the truth behind the legend of Sasquatch.  Starring David Yazdiya, and Emily Updegraff their search is based loosely on the work of Dr. Jeff Meldrum, a real-world primatologist who is really serious about finding the legendary race, and even endorsed the movie for its scientific perspective. During production, Suttles simultaneously wore the hats of director, writer and editor. With the help of Jacksonville film producer Duane Sikes and a successful Kickstarter campaign, he recruited a cast and crew of fellow students and began principle photography in Roan Mountain State Park in Tennessee. The park convincingly plays the part of the Pacific Northwest and provides a visually stunning backdrop.

The biggest favor Suttles asks of his audience is to seriously consider that a small population of giant ape-relatives is loudly, but clandestinely, living in a modern day wilderness. After that, the narrative is engrossing and even suspenseful, and the cinematography is on a professional level—the viewer may even forget they’re watching a school project.

Hominid was completed in the fall 2014 and is seeing success at film festivals around the country. It even won the audience choice award at the 2015 Jacksonville Short Film Showcase. After its festival run, Suttles hopes to have it available for public viewing in 2016. You can find out more at the film’s website, www.hominidmovie.com.

About Toni Rachal

april, 2022

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