POINT PLEASANT — Though film crews may cause a stir in most small towns, not so much in Point Pleasant.
Since the explosion of material on the city’s infamous Mothman, including a major motion picture dedicated to it (though that was filmed nowhere near Point Pleasant), seeing a film crew at the Mothman statue has become commonplace. The attention and tourists have become one of those things people in other small towns sometimes take for granted – like hospitality, or knowing exactly when the church bell rings on Wednesdays and Sundays.
Seth Breedlove, who lives in northern Ohio, is one of those filmmakers recently seen on the streets of Point Pleasant. He is a documentary filmmaker with the production company “Small Town Monsters” who credits the “Mothman Prophecies” film with his love of paranormal subject matters. However, that curiosity is paired with his upbringing by parents who owned a bookstore dedicated to books on history. In fact, the family traveled the country going to historical book shows. He was also a journalist at one time who enjoyed writing more about people’s lives than their crimes.
“The small human stories drew me to make the movies we make,” he said, adding this movie was an opportunity to tell something more than a scary story.
“I didn’t get into the weird cryptid stuff until much later in life…I was always really into history,” he said. “I think that’s why our movies are the way they are. For me, this story is a piece of Point Pleasant’s history whether or not they (people) want to believe (in Mothman) is totally up to them. You can’t deny it was a part of the town’s history.”
Keeping this mix of cryptid mystery and history in mind, Breedlove and his friends, have made the film “The Mothman of Point Pleasant: 13 Months that Changed History.”
Prior to taking on the project, Breedlove said he knew so much had already been done on the subject matter, he wasn’t sure if he could bring anything new to the table. So, he traveled to Point Pleasant and met with Jeff Wamsley, owner of the Mothman Museum and author of books on the sightings. Breedlove credits Wamsley and his daughter Ashley Watts for getting the movie made because Ashley convinced Wamsley to give Breedlove access to audio recordings of interviews with witnesses to use. He also gave Breedlove his 8mm film footage taken by a relative the day after the Silver Bridge collapsed.
“It has never been seen,” Breedlove said, recalling a shot of people in the film standing along the flood wall the day after the tragedy, just looking at what had happened, perhaps waiting for news on the missing.
“It is my favorite shot in the footage and the first time I saw it, I cried,” he said.
Breedlove looks at the bridge collapse as obviously part of the town’s history and doesn’t try to connect it to Mothman, he simply includes it as part of those 13 months the film looks at. Breedlove said early on when he was considering the film as a possibility, he had traveled to the Mothman Festival and talked with a local man who remembered the bridge disaster well.
“His memory of the bridge collapse was what made me want to make the movie,” he said.
Breedlove stressed he felt tying in the Mothman sightings with the disaster “always struck me as very wrong. I wanted to show the Silver Bridge collapse was just a part to these crazy series of things that happened in 13 months, rather than the Mothman caused the bridge collapse.”
Breedlove said the small town aspect of the story and the cultural impact of the sightings initially drew him in to the project which took only 3.5 days to shoot and two months of post production on the independently, self-funded project. There were some technical glitches along the way, like a drone getting stuck in a tree and what he describes as “serious technical problems filming interviews.” However, post production, which includes an original score and animated sequences, were relatively smooth.
“It was simultaneously the hardest film to make and the easiest,” he said, adding the moved wrapped in February.
Next up for the film, it will be released on the festival circuit as well as on iTunes, Amazon, Vimeo and DVD. The world premiere screening will be at this year’s Mothman Festival in September but a special VIP party and screening will be held on May 27 in Point Pleasant at the Lowe Hotel, with tickets already sold out for the event. Breedlove said the proceeds from the screening on May 27 will go toward helping to fund the Mothman Festival.
“I’m more proud of this movie than anything I’ve ever done,” Breedlove said. “I hope people from Point Pleasant will feel like it’s respectful to the town…it’s always really important to us when we’re making a movie to make sure not to portray the town in a negative light.”
Breedlove and his crew of friends with “Small Town Monsters” have made films on the Minerva Monster, the Beast of White Hall, N.Y. and the Boggy Creek Monster in Arkansas. They’ve won awards for their work and had the top selling documentary on Amazon for five months.
“The Mothman of Point Pleasant” film ends with a sequence where Wamsley shuts down the Mothman Museum but was to begin with a sequence of the late Carolin Harris opening her restaurant. Breedlove met Harris in mid-December 2016 when shooting the downtown Christmas lights for the film. Though the two didn’t talk long, Breedlove talked about the openness Harris showed him when sharing her story, particularly when it came to losing her son who was on the bridge with his father when it collapsed. This fateful meeting had an impact on Breedlove and he said Harris had agreed to participate in the film. Of course, before the interviews began filming, Harris died and now, when the film fades out at the end, it simply says, “For Carolin.”
Breedlove and his crew begin filming a new movie soon but he said: “No matter what we do next, we’ll never have another movie that has the heart that the Mothman movie did.”
As for whether or not he believes Mothman exists, Breedlove is still mulling it over.
Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.