Filmmaker looking to bring ‘The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster’ to the big screen
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IDAHO FALLS – Bear Lake is a popular destination for thousands of tourists every year.
If you’re a frequent visitor, chances are you’ve heard the legend of the Bear Lake monster. Utah native Brandon Smith, a documentary filmmaker, is looking to tell the story in an upcoming feature film.
“There’s just a magic to Bear Lake. The water is incredibly beautiful,” Smith tells EastIdahoNews.com. “Add on top of that is this really cool monster legend. When I looked into it further, I found out that … it has a really cool cultural significance.”
The legend dates back more than 150 years ago and has ties to the Latter-day Saint community.
“When the Mormon settlers came to the area, they made a land agreement with the Shoshone Native Americans. The Shoshone said, ‘By the way, there’s this water devil.’ That’s what they called it,” Smith says.
One of the settlers began documenting reported encounters with the monster, says Smith. Reports of sightings through the years have perpetuated the myth. Today, the legend is an integral part of the Bear Lake culture.
The annual Raspberry Days festival in Garden City, Utah typically has a Bear Lake monster float in the parade every summer, Smith says. There are also shops and boutiques in the area that capitalize on the legend in some way.
Smith grew up loving legends, and many visits to Bear Lake over the years motivated him to tell this story for the screen.
“Every year, as my family goes up there, I’m re-energized to do something about this,” says Smith. “It’s a recipe for some good content.”
Production has not yet begun on the film, but Smith has a working script about a group of teens who set out to prove the monster really exists.
“It’s an action-adventure film with a mystery scare element. The best way I can describe it is if you were to mix ‘The Goonies’ and ‘Jaws’ together,” he says.
Smith says the story will also contain flashback scenes to the origin of the legend and will be family-friendly.
Smith began working as a short film/documentary filmmaker 20 years ago. “The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster” will be his first feature film.
He recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the project, which has already earned a little over $22,000. He’s hoping to raise $250,000 by the end of the summer so production can move forward.
He’s aiming to release it in theaters next year and hopes others are as interested in the project as he is.
“This film will be a love letter to Bear Lake and to the Bear Lake monster. There are those out there who have a special place in their heart for Bear Lake and the monster. I’m looking to add my voice to that legend and continue that tradition for future generations,” Smith says.
Watch a teaser trailer for the film below: