Arriving on VOD next Tuesday, July 3rd, is Justin Lee’s Big Legend, which follows a man (played by Kevin Makely) who, haunted by the disappearance of his fiancé, heads back to the woods where she was taken, only to find himself hot on the trail of none other than Bigfoot himself, and he must find a way to contend with the elusive creature.

Daily Dead recently spoke with Lee about the real-life inspiration behind Big Legend, and he discussed how Makely’s own obsession with the long-rumored beast led to him taking on the infamous Sasquatch as well. Lee chatted about working with his lead actor (and long-time best pal) and collaborating with several genre veterans on Big Legend, and he also discussed future plans for the world he establishes in the film, which is set up during Big Legend’s finale with the help of Lance Henriksen.

Look for Big Legend on VOD soon, courtesy of Vega Baby and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Great to speak with you, Justin. I would love to hear about your process of putting the story together for Big Legend. Was there something in particular about the mythology of Bigfoot that drew you in as a storyteller?

Justin Lee: Yeah, I grew up in that area in the Northwest, so we shot pretty much along where I grew up at, which is where the majority of Bigfoot legends came from. And so I grew up with that, and Kevin [Makely], who is the lead in this, said “I want to do this part,” because he is a Bigfoot believer.

So, we were trying to figure out what to make and I had already written a script called Monster Chronicles, and so I figured I would make a Bigfoot movie that tied into that initial idea, and Kevin was really on me about figuring out how to get it made. One of the things I've always wanted to do is a practical effects creature feature film. I'm a huge fan of the '80s, and you have those movies like The Howling and Cujo and Critters that all had great effects. So, I set out to try and make this one-man movie where he’s on the hunt for this creature, similar to Predator.

And when I realized we could make this movie, but make it like Jaws, where we really only give you mostly glimpses of Bigfoot, that's what sold me. I was like, “I love that idea.” So that's how it came to be.

You mentioned practical effects, which is something that I'm a big fan of. It can be tough to do a practical monster when you’re working on the indie level–was that one of the biggest challenges on this film? I’m guessing shooting out in the woods came with some complications as well.

Justin Lee: Oh, yeah. Every time I write a script, I'm pretty much writing for a particular location that I already know very intimately. So based on my own knowledge, the area where we shot was something that I knew very well. The monster tree, the big open moss land between trees, that was just perfect. Not to mention, it's where a lot of the legends originally came from.

Shooting out in the wilderness like that can be tough, especially since we weren't expecting there to be the biggest snowstorm in 30 years in Washington a week into shooting. One day, there was not a single drop of rain in the sky, and then the next day, there were two feet of snow on the ground. So, as the writer, I had to figure out how to transition this thing to where now this big storm came in, so we tried to shoot in and out of snow lines to make it feel like they are just below a snow line at the start of the film, and as they go up, more snow falls. We really tried to piece that together because getting hit with snow like that was unexpected, but things like that happen all the time in indie films. You just have to jump in and figure it all out.

In terms of the creature, we had the creature suit done up. It was like three million individual yak hairs that were pinned to the costume and tied. And then we had the monster effects. Angela Bulmer did the practical effects on Big Legend, and I think it came out really great. There’s only one real shot where you really see him, but the creature came out really awesome. I'm pretty happy about that, and hopefully we did Bigfoot some justice with our creature.

Because you have such a close relationship with Kevin, was it easy to work with him in terms of this role? Because, for the amount of time we spend with his character in this film and the things that you are putting him through, he runs quite the gamut.

Justin Lee: 100 percent. Kevin and I are best friends, like brothers, so when I write a character, Kevin goes in to make it his own, and then he owns it. I can say two words that most people would never understand, but Kevin already knows exactly what I’m thinking with just those two words. It's just such a unique relationship, it's just so awesome. And I don't know if a lot of other directors have that, so I feel very fortunate to be able to work with Kevin.

You also have some great genre vets in this, too, like Amanda [Wyss], Lance [Henriksen], and Adrienne Barbeau, too. Can you talk about bringing them into the fold for Big Legend?

Justin Lee: With Amanda, we worked with her on this film, and now we're all like, “So, what are we doing next?” She's become part of the family. And it was fun. We knew we needed a psychologist in that role and we managed to get her to come in and do that role. She may or may not be in the Monster Chronicles sequel, too [laughs]. But then, Adrienne, we never had the scene scripted with Tyler’s mother and we realized maybe we needed to have something that helped people relate to what Tyler was going through. And Adrienne literally could not have been more perfect. For me, I am such a big fan of her work, so I knew I had to bring her in and thought she would be great in this role in particular, because of her performances on Carnivale.

And then Lance, I knew we needed him from the get-go, for this character in particular, because he’s driving this really huge moment in the film. He becomes this linchpin to our future plans for this world, and there was no one better than Lance Henriksen to play that character. I can't even tell you how amazing it was that day on set, when we had him in there. And Kevin was trying to maintain his excitement that day, but he was all, “Oh my God, I'm acting with Lance Henriksen!”

You mentioned Monster Chronicles, and obviously, the end of this film sets up to something much bigger that you guys are working towards. Can you talk a little about that, like where you guys are planning to take this world? And are there going to be more monsters?

Justin Lee: Yeah, what can I say about it [laughs]? You will definitely see some of these faces more. There are multiple films planned as of right now, and we are planning out a lot more practical creature effects, too. There are some creatures I think that you've heard of, and there are some that you might not have heard of, but you will see different looks for what we’re planning. One of my favorite movies of all times is The Monster Squad, and I don't think we've had the same thing in a movie in a very long time where you've got monster hunters chasing down multiple monsters. So that's a direction that we might be heading towards [laughs].

  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.