Monster Interviews: Seth Breedlove- Small Town Monsters

Seth Breedlove is a producer, writer, and director from Bolivar, Ohio. He’s best known for his company, Small Town Monsters. In 2015 Breedlove released his first documentary film, The Minerva Monster, based on the local legend. Thanks to a warm reception from viewers, STM quickly built a huge fan base and has continued their strong storytelling ever since.

A fan of cryptids himself, Breedlove has initially been working in medical billing when he tried to pitch a book idea about monsters around the United States, called Small Town Monsters. After several unsuccessful attempts to seal the deal, while doing a podcast, he decided it was finally time to follow through and make what would be his first of many films to come. STM currently remains at the forefront of cryptozoology and has yet to hit their stride.

  • DS: At what point did you realize you wanted to be a filmmaker and how did you wind up working behind the camera, directing?

 

  • SB: I knew I wanted to make movies in my teens, and really, the goal upon graduating high school was to head off to New York Film Academy, learn the craft and then start making movies. I ended up doubting the realism of pursuing a career in making movies, and giving up on the idea and going through numerous, monotonous jobs before making Minerva Monster. In a way, though, I’d been training to make movies for a couple of decades, by merely watching anything I could get my hands on and reading books about directors and film making going back to my teens. I ended up being the director because I did the initial research work and picked the stories we made early on. Then everything else built up around me after those first two STM movies, and soon I was running my own production company.

 

  • DS: When did your affection for cryptids begin? What was it initially that attracted you to them, and what compelled you to feel the need to share and tell their stories?

 

  • SB: I got into Cryptids reasonably recently. Maybe 10-12 years ago. Initially, it was just a casual interest brought about by watching some crappy tv shows about sea monsters and Bigfoot. Then I started learning about sightings taking place near my hometown of Bigfoot-type creatures which sparked my interest, and soon I was interviewing people about their experiences. I just wanted to know if there was anything to the subject; any shred of truth. Once I started going down the rabbit hole, then I started seeing there was a need for films that retold essential events rather than focused on running trying to find real monsters and so that’s what I decided to do.

 

 

  • DS: How did you come up with Small Town Monsters? What was your inspiration for creating the brand and logo, and does it have any significant meaning to you?



  • SB: I grew up in a small town, and I was fascinated by the Minerva Monster case, which involved a rash of hairy monster sightings near the small town of Minerva, Ohio in the 1970s. I had learned that most of the city had forgotten the story or didn’t want anything to do with it which seemed a shame to be given its importance to the area at the time. I found a handful of other similar cases from around the US and started compiling a list of them that could be turned into films. This was back in 2013. Originally, Small Town Monsters was simply the name of a casebook I was pitching to publishers, but it eventually became the series title and the name of the production company.



  • The logo was brilliantly created by my friend Michael Santi. I think the name and branding have worked out pretty well. It’s all right there. You see the logo or the series name, and you instantly know what you’re going to get.

 

 

  • DS: What led you to want to chase monsters? Which cryptids are your favorite and which ones do you find the most intriguing?



  • SB: Oh, I don’t even consider it is chasing monsters. I’ve been on a couple of searches for Bigfoot, but that was mostly due to the filming of On the Trail of Bigfoot. I consider what we are doing storytelling. I’m much more interested in capturing witness accounts and retelling these stories in an exciting way than I am in the actual reality of the monsters. Although Bigfoot is a little different, I guess. I want to know if that’s legit, so Bigfoot is probably my favorite. I love the Flatwoods Monster and Mothman, and I’m intrigued by the Thunderbird phenomenon right now, so that’s where I’m focused, currently.

 

 

  • DS: You’ve recently produced some pretty potent content. At the risk of becoming stale, how do you plan to keep things current and innovative, and not bogged down with the same old stories?



  • SB: We try to change up the style and storytelling on every project based on our interests and those dictated by the actual events. “On the Trail of” allows us to play with episodic storytelling and they’re shot in a news shooter or verite style while the movies tend to be much more cinematic. You’ll see three utterly different storytelling styles on display this year from STM, with the cinema verite style of Otto to the traditional, historical documentary style of Terror in the Skies to the drive-in, 70s horror-inspired MOMO: The Missouri Monster where over 70 percent of the film is a narrative retelling of the monster sightings. Things would get stale, not just for the audience but for us, if we just kept doing the same stuff over and over, so you’ll probably see us shake things up with each new project

 

  • However, the editing side of On the Trail of Bigfoot was a beast, compared to something like Terror in the Skies. I was trying to distill years of history or easily explain multiple storytelling threads in short, 25-30 minute chunks. I think every episode was edited and re-edited at least three times to make it all work. It was exhausting because I was editing “Terror” at the same time.

 

    • DS: You’re “On the Trail of” series is fantastic. How did that concept originate and what’s it like doing a tv series as opposed to a film?
    • SB: Thanks so much! I was so nervous putting that series out since it’s such a dramatic departure from the movies, but the response has been phenomenal. The concept behind the “On the Trail of” series is still being worked out. Initially, it was just what we do with the movies only episodic. Then Aleksandar Petakov made his On the Trail of Champ series and changed my thinking about what the title could mean. I love the fact that it’s pretty much been a one-man-band project from the beginning. That added such an interesting approach to the film making side of it and presented a challenge for me that I loved tackling. The actual filming of the series is considerably more straightforward in some ways, from our films. With the movie, we’re trying to set the bar higher and higher visually on each project, and we have to do lighting for interviews and the recreations and all that. On the Trail merely is me setting my camera down in front of someone and they talk to it, or me with a camera in the woods capturing whatever happens.
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    • DS: Being a journalist and reporter yourself, how does it feel to be interviewing and interacting with some of the famous legends in the field of cryptozoology, such as Lyle Blackburn, Loren Coleman, and Linda S. Godfrey?


    • SB: I try to learn as much from them as possible. Someone like Linda or Loren, where they’ve spent years looking into these subjects and have such a portfolio of work behind them. Linda was intimidating, as well, because I’m a writer and started as a newspaper reporter much as she did. Our paths follow a similar trajectory, although she pushed further into writing while I moved more toward the visual side of things. I’ve come to appreciate getting to spend time with people like those three because they can teach me so much.
    • DS: Where can people keep up to date with you, as well as follow Small Town Monsters? Which social channels are you most active on?


    • SB: We’re on Facebook, or Twitter and Instagram. I do a podcast called Monsteropolis with my buddy Mark Matzke which is an STM production, so that’s a great place to keep up with us. The official website is smalltownmonsters.com or onthetrailof.tv.
    • DS : Do you have any upcoming projects or campaigns you want to inform your fans? Is there anything unique or exciting you have planned for STM in the future?



    • SB: Terror in the Skies lands on June 7th, which I’m excited. I think it’s a visual feast and deals with some topics that are important to me, personally. Momo is the next phase in the evolution of STM and will blow some minds when it arrives this Halloween. It will be the first of its kind. 2020 will be a banner year for us, as well, since we’ll be celebrating our fifth STM anniversary. We have some great stuff planned for the Kickstarter launching next February so stay tuned for that.
  • DS: To wrap up, we usually like to ask what your favorite horror film of all time is. However, since STM deals in cryptids, what’s your favorite cryptid based movie of all time?



  • SB: Man…can I call Creature from the Black Lagoon a cryptid film? It’s always seemed like one to me. Otherwise, I’d go with Creature from Black Lake. That’s just an entertaining, campy 70s horror movie that I’ve come to love while prepping for MOMO.

 

Posted by Donovan Smith

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