Filmmaker uses ‘crazy’ tactic to generate interest in movie project
BEAR LAKE – An eyebrow-raising press conference held in Bear Lake last week got a lot of people talking when it hit the internet.
In a Youtube video dated August 4, a representative from Wisconsin law firm Anderson, Sorenson & Sorenson claims ownership of the Bear Lake Monster.
“We represent Bear Lake World, Inc., a new resort and water park off the shores of Bear Lake, Wisonsin,” he says in a Scottish-sounding accent. “Our client has recently obtained the Bear Lake Monster trademark. For you nice folks in Utah and Idaho … this unfortunately means an immediate cease and desist from all further uses of the name ‘Bear Lake Monster.'”
The man, who identifies himself as Jack Sorenson, goes on to say they are “not afraid to pursue litigation,” and that they’ve already filed a lawsuit “against a production company making a Bear Lake Monster movie.”
“Those artsy fartsy bums need to quit all this nonsense and get themselves a real job,” Sorenson says. Watch the press conference in the video above.
As the video began to circulate on social media, many reacted with confusion. Those unfamiliar with the film project weren’t sure what was going on and some wondered if the press conference was a joke.
Matthew Havertz, who made a documentary about the Bear Lake Monster in 2019, was worried he’d have to pull it from Amazon and Youtube.
Hours after the video was published, Brandon Smith, the director of the would-be monster film, posted his reaction on Facebook.
“Thanks to one of our fans for bringing this to our attention,” Smith wrote. “Maybe if we could all share the video as a show-of-force we could get them to drop the lawsuit.”
Further clarification was provided three days later.
During a conversation with EastIdahoNews.com Saturday afternoon, Smith explained the press conference was, in fact, fake. It was all a gag intended to start a conversation and “build an audience” for his film project.
“It was a tongue-in-cheek way of getting Bear Lake Monster lovers … to band together (in support of the project),” Smith says.
Though there is a town in Wisconsin called Bear Lake, a water park called Bear Lake World does not exist and the law firm Anderson, Sorenson & Sorenson is fictitious.
The attorneys in the video are actors. The one at the podium is Trenton James, which some might recognize from an improvisational comedy series on BYUTV called “Show Offs.”
Smith has always loved legends and he became interested in the legend of the Bear Lake Monster after many trips to the lake on the Idaho-Utah border with his family over the years.
“I went and did research on the legend and it turns out that it’s something that predates the Loch Ness Monster,” Smith explains. “The history of it also ties in to the Native American culture and the Mormon (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) settlers that came in. When you add all of that stuff up, it’s magic (for a filmmaker).”
Smith wrote a script and began raising funds for the film in 2020. He is hoping to begin production next year, but it’s contingent on whether the funding is available.
Some investors have expressed interest in backing the $1.95 million project if Smith can come up with a portion of the funds.
It’s hard to say if the gag was successful in generating enough interest in the film, but after three years of trying to make this happen and an unsuccessful attempt at raising funds in 2020, Smith says some have called him crazy for sticking with this endeavor.
But through it all, he remains passionate in the project and he’s confident it will ultimately come to fruition.
“There’s so much ‘digital noise’ out there. It’s near impossible to get noticed. Without large marketing resources, filmmakers have to get crazy in their approach to gain traction. There’s a gray area between passion and crazy and I think successful filmmakers end up finding a home there,” Smith says. “I believe in it. It’s going to be magic when it happens.”