Bolivar native Seth Breedlove has made a career out of chronicling tales about the legendary creature Bigfoot.
Breedlove and his company, Small Town Monsters, have produced a series of documentaries, mini-series and web series on local legends from around the United States.
His latest mini-series, "On the Trail of Bigfoot," will premiere at the Canton Palace Theater at 8 p.m. March 29 with four of the six episodes being shown. The series will also have its digital premiere the same day on Amazon, Vimeo OnDemand and VIDI Space, as well as DVD.
The series was shot in California, Oregon, Washington, Oklahoma, South Carolina and New York. It tracks the history of the Bigfoot subject while also telling Breedlove's personal story, tracing how he went from ardent skeptic to truly believing that there could be an undocumented creature lurking in North American forests.
"The opening and the close of 'On the Trail of Bigfoot' were shot in Bolivar," he said during a conversation with The Times-Reporter. "The reason was, I'm actually in front of the camera in that one, and I'm telling my origin stories, how I got into the subject and all that."
His interest in monsters began when a friend told him about a series of Bigfoot sightings on St. Peter's Church Road south of Bolivar in the 1970s.
Breedlove started his movie career four years ago.
"I was doing medical billing when I started making movies," he said. "I had written a book proposal about monster cases around the United States that I had sent to a bunch of publishers. The book proposal was called Small Town Monsters. I sent it to all these publishers and they all rejected it.
"I happened to be doing a podcast at the time about Bigfoot. I had realized I wanted to make a documentary about the subject, so I decided to make this documentary that would focus on one local monster case. It was the 'Minerva Monster,' which I had written about in my book proposal. I had done all of the preliminary work on it. So we took the cameras that we had and we went out and made the 'Minerva Monster' movie."
The documentary told the story of a Stark County family's encounter with a mysterious creature in the 1970s.
"The movie came out and premiered in Minerva and there were 1,200 people there," Breedlove said. "It wasn't until that moment that I was, oh, we made a movie. Up until then, I was just working on a project that happened to be visual."
He said he made the documentary as "a fun YouTube video." Then the Akron Beacon Journal did a story about it that was picked up by the Associated Press. "All of the sudden, thousands of people were watching it."
Breedlove took the money he made from the "Minerva Monster" movie and used it to pay for his next film, "The Beast of Whitehall," a Bigfoot story from New York. He has continued that process since then, and his production company has continued to grow.
Small Town Monsters has a studio in downtown Wadsworth, where all the post-production work has done. Breedlove and his wife, Adrienne, are the only full-time employees, but they have a team of freelancers from all over the country who work on projects.
Zac Palmisano, of Canton, is director of photography. Jason Utes, another Canton resident, is production manager. Brandon Dalo, a Minerva native who now lives in Los Angeles, does the music for the documentaries.
Breedlove's films have a growing fan base, and the critical reception has been positive too. His work has been viewed more than 3 million times on Amazon. "Our numbers are starting to compete with network television," he said.
One of his fans is Adam Wingard, director of the next King Kong vs. Godzilla movie. Breedlove was flown out to Los Angeles last summer to hang out with Wingard.
Breedlove's work brings him back to Tuscarawas County from time to time.
Last year, he and his crew filmed a scene from "The Bray Road Beast," a werewolf story, on Arrowhead Drive in Wilkshire Hills.
They will be back this May to film scenes for his next movie, "Momo, the Missouri Monster."
"A large chunk of the movie is going to be re-creations that we're shooting in Bolivar because, weirdly enough, the area down there actually looks a lot like the area in Missouri where the original case took place," he said. "There's going to be all sorts of actors and things we're bringing down there from all over the country.
"There's scenes where we have 30 actors. There is a posse that goes out into the woods looking for Bigfoot."
Breedlove is looking for extras for the film. Anyone interested can contact him through his Small Town Monsters website.