By Olivia Timm 
STIRLING – Bigfoot is lurking just outside Belleville. But don’t worry, he is only here for a couple of weeks as local filmmakers begin shooting their short horror film The Woodsmen.
“Bigfoot has always been exciting for me. I have loved Bigfoot films since I was a little kid, even Harry and The Hendersons … they had a great Bigfoot that looked real and was convincing,” said director Victor Cooper.
Though Cooper has been intrigued by Bigfoot since he was young, he said was never quite satisfied with the portrayal of the beast on screen.
“Bigfoot didn’t get much face time, and if he did you kind of wished that he didn’t because he looked so bad. For me this is a chance to give horror fans and Bigfoot fans what they have been waiting.”
The film is the brainchild of Cooper and his wife Jodi. They began writing the script for The Woodsmen about two years ago, shortly after their first short horror film Mercy  took the screen.
Cooper said he and his team knew their version of Bigfoot needed to be a strong, compelling role in the film in order to give fans what they’ve been promised. After getting concept drawings made up, they approached The Butcher Shop Makeup and FX  studio in Hamilton to make Bigfoot come to life.
“They created a custom Bigfoot built around me. They poured gel over my head and my hands and my legs, and they made a form of me … So when I put the suit on it is built perfectly to my body. I can move my hands and my fingers; I can move all of my facial expressions and it follows me perfectly,” Cooper explained.
The first passion project, Mercy, had a small budget of $700, quite a lot less than The Woodsmen’s budget of $14,287.
Even with a small budget, Mercy was reviewed by Reel Red Reviews  as a film that should not be missed. The review said, “Wight makes a terrifying serial killer, with her cold stare and eerily measured voice.”
Although Wight will not play the role of the killer in this second film, she still takes on one of the lead characters and said she is excited for the movie to get underway.
“It is going really well. We’ve done a read-through, we’ve done a whole run-through of the movie, and the cast is gelling really well … I think we’re in for a really fun week” of filming.
The creative team behind the project is Five Year Plan – the company created by Victor and Jodi Cooper, along with Rob Howsam and his wife Kirsten Wight. The team has partnered with Vantage Point Media House  in Belleville, and began filming Tuesday.
“It has been such a local project. All the money to fund this project came from mostly people in the Belleville and Prince Edward County Hastings area, and all of our actors are local people, so it kind of just shows what support you can get in this community,” Wight said.
Victor Cooper also said the local aspect makes the experience a good one.
“There is a really cool local aspect to this … it is pretty exciting to see that much talent locally come together.”
In order to give back to people who have donated and supported the film, the team of co-creators have given people recognition in a memorable way. Some people were given t-shirts, some had their picture featured on the missing person’s board. Others were given a spot as an extra in the film or their name in the credits.
This was their way of saying thank you, according to Cooper, and another way the team is giving back to the community is offering the finished product for free on multiple platforms.
Cooper is also a senior producer with VPMH and said the goal is to complete the 15-minute movie in two weeks.
Though that does not sound like much to do, Cooper said when you consider shooting each sequence several times to get it where it needs to be, it can take a lot of time.
Cooper said the team hopes for a Christmas release, but that the film will hit screens no later than early 2018 for all to enjoy.
In the mean time, be on high alert for Bigfoot lurking on the outskirts of Belleville.