Captivating Creatures: Cruising Through CryptozoologyNicole Horne and Lauren SturialeCaptivating Creatures: Cruising Through Cryptozoology
Cryptic CryptidsDeveloping DocumentariesFilmmaking FanaticsLights, Camera, Action!
Welcome to a crash course into the elusive world of cryptozoology! Cryptozoology literally means the study of hidden animals and involves the search for undiscovered creatures, such as Bigfoot and the Lochness Monster. In addition to learning about the creatures that have captivated audiences all over the world, you will also explore why people are so fascinated with these beings. You will interview a Bigfoot researcher and create a documentary film about cryptozoology and the people who seek out these elusive creatures!
What compels humans to search for undiscovered creatures, or cryptids?Why do filmmakers use documentaries to convey information?Why is learning how to operate video equipment an essential skill in documentary filmmaking?
Nicole Horne and Lauren SturialeSPED 6402 Spring 2014East Carolina University
CONTENT RESEARCH PAPER
Captivating Creatures: Cruising Through CryptozoologyCryptozoology: What is it?Cryptozoology is the study of animals and othercreaturesthat have not yet been accepted by science as real. Cryptozoology literally mean the study of hidden animals with the word crypto coming from the Greek word meaning hidden and zoology meaning the study of animal life. Many experts consider cryptozoology to be a pseudoscience usually because of a lack of conclusive evidence of existence, or the recognition of a prerequisite type specimen (Heuvelmans, 1982); however, there are countless people who give into their natural human curiosity and are drawn to the mystique of the unknown, undiscovered, and unexplained.The notion of cryptids being hidden, in many cases, is solely based on the fact that that the creature is unable to be classified because of lack of evidence or lack of awareness of evidence; because of this, the unifying theme of cryptozoology often is more related to a persons perception of a creature (or idea of a creature) rather than what is inherently known about a creature (Bindernagel and Meldrum, 2012). Thus, it is easy to dismiss cryptozoology and those who search for cryptids as fantasy seekers chasing creatures who do not exist or who have long been extinct. For instance, many species may only be considered cryptids because they live in remote or human impenetrable habitats or that their reported existence is unexpected (e.g., thought to be extinct) (Bindernagel and Meldrum, 2012).Dr. Bernard HeuvelmansDr. Bernard Heuvelmans was born in France in 1916. Dr. Heuvelmans received his doctorate in zoology from the Free University in Brussels in 1939. Dr. Heuvelmans wrote many books and dozens of articles on the validity of cryptozoology and, until his death in 2001, was known as the father of cryptozoology. Dr. Heuvelmans most recognized work is his book, On the Track of Unknown Animals (Heuvelmans, 1995).Bigfoot: The Most Famous Cryptid?The most well-known cryptid throughout the world is known by many names including: Sasquatch and Bigfoot. Speculations of a creature like the elusive Bigfoot have been prevalent since the 1800s (Bindernagel and Meldrum, 2012). Native Americans have told stories about creatures similar to Bigfoot including the Salish tribe of British Columbia who named Bigfoot Sasquatch, which means wild man of the woods. Also, the Huppa Native Americans called Bigfoot Oh-Ma, which means big foot. To help perpetuate the name Bigfoot, the elusive creatures tracks have been discovered all over the world: Documentation of its tracks in photographs and casts affirms its existence as a track-leaving North American mammal. (Bindernagel and Meldrum, 2012).In addition to the oral tradition of Bigfoot stories and the numerous footprints that have been discovered around the world, one of the strongest and most compelling pieces of evidence that best solidifies the existence of Bigfoot, or a creature like Bigfoot, was a video taken by Robert Patterson in 1967. The video, which consists of less than a minute of 16mm film shot along northern Californias Bluff Creek, even after forty-seven years, still provides the most solid proof of the existence of Bigfoot. The Patterson film has undergone sophisticated analyses by those experts willing to few it and; in spite of rumored accomplices, a supposed death-bed confession, and charges of a case of a man-in-a-fur-suit, the film is still seen as a compelling piece of evidence and has even led some experts to believe that the creature portrayed in the video, because of the way it moves, cannot possibly be a human in a suit (Bindernagel and Meldrum, 2012).North American Bigfoot SearchAs a result of evidence from Patterson video, many North American Bigfoot research societies have emerged across America. One of the largest organizations is the North American Bigfoot Search (NABS). The North America Bigfoot Search (NABS) is a privately funded organization that had its start in Silicon Valley, California. Members of this research society are dedicated to thoroughly searching areas in America were reported Bigfoot sighting have occurred until every possible angle of every sighting has been researched, witnesses interviewed, locations and food sources understood, and an extensive list of variables answered. The NABS will stay in a community sometimes for months/Years and thereby develop the trust, integrity and contacts to make their research valuable and enlightening. The research of the NABS have even gone as far as to attempt to determine the DNA of a Bigfoot creature by collecting a hair sample found at the scene of what was thought to be a Bigfoot sighting (North American Bigfoot Search, 2011).Overview of Documentaries
Documentary filmmaking allows information about real people and events to be disseminated to viewers all over the world, in a profound, poignant way; it is a way for filmmakers to broadcast their idea of political, historical, and social information. However, Documentary filmmaking is more than simply coming up with a good topic, pointing the camera and hoping something interesting will happen (Pooley, 2009, p. 47). Because documentaries capture the essence of real-life, oftentimes the veracity of the information presented comes with controversy and skepticism: Documentary filmmakers are continually faced with decisions beyond where to put the tripod; they are coping with impossible moral dilemmas, emotionally charged situations in difficult and sometimes dangerous environments (Pooley, 2009, p. 48). Even with the arduous situations and criticisms for filmmakers, documentaries permit viewers to live vicariously through the information and real-life experiences they see. A documentary can mitigate myopic opinions, and open peoples eyes to new perspective and insights.Elements of DocumentariesDocumentaries are comprised of certain techniques that help to persuade, enlighten, and inform. According to Pooley (2009), a documentary requires a story with some form of narrative or journey. They should have interesting characters, turning points, shift in tone and pace, humor alongside darkness, a climax (p. 47). These important literary and thematic elements should be coupled with images, video footage, and music. One of the most important facets of a documentary is the narration. In a documentary, viewers will prevalently experience either direct narration or voiceovers. Direct narration is when the audience both hears and sees the narrator in the film, whereas voiceovers are when a narrator or speaker are heard but usually not seen. A voiceover allows an image to fully accompany the speakers delineation (Yahnke, 2009). Analogous to narration is the usage of interview footage in a documentary. There are two main forms of interviews: direct and indirect interview techniques. Direct interviews allow the interviewer and interviewee to both be heard on film; the indirect interview is when the interviewee is the only one heard on camera. Filmmakers prevalently utilize interviews with experts to help show the validity of their documentary and the information presented (Yahnke, 2009).Although narration and interviews are indispensable techniques, documentaries should also be imbued with aesthetic qualities, such as music, images, and text. To make a statement and connect with viewers, camera angels and different types of shots are used, such as long shots and close-up shots. Music is used to compliment visual images (Yahnke, 2009) and evoke emotional responses from viewers. ConclusionDocumentaries have the power to shape opinions, enlighten, and create change. Documentaries are a way to inform people about, sometimes, unfamiliar subjects, such as cryptozoology. While some may view cryptozoology with skepticism, a documentary can divulge new breakthroughs about the search for elusive cryptids. Organizations, such as the North American Bigfoot Search, are striving diligently to prove-through DNA evidence-the existence of Bigfoot. Documentaries have the ability to not only convey information about controversial subjects, but also the ability to change the perspective of doubtful viewers.
ReferencesBindernagel, J., & Meldrum, J. (2012). Misunderstandings arising from treating the sasquatch as a subject of cryptozoology. The Relict Hominoid Inquiry, 2, 81-102. Retrieved from http://www.isu.edu/rhi/pdf/BINDERNAGEL_finalHeuvelmans, B. (1982) What is cryptozoology? Cryptozoology, 1:1-12.Heuvelmans, B. (1995) On the track of unknown animals, 3rd ed., Jacket Cover.North American Bigfoot Search. (2011). North American bigfoot search. Retrieved from http://www.nabigfootsearch.com/home.htmlPooley, L. (2009). What's the story? Metro, (163), 46-48.
Yahnke, R. (2009). A primer of documentary film techniques.