Photojournalist and filmmaker Jason Kenzie is no stranger to exotic wildlife, having worked with tigers, grizzly bears, alligators, monkeys, wolves and even the African serval.
And he is no stranger to the sprawling forests and mountains of his native British Columbia, where he grew up hearing stories about the “hairy man of the woods”.
So, it was no great leap for Kenzie to begin hunting for Sasquatch with his camera. All it took was a pandemic.
“When the COVID virus locked us down, I wasn’t able to travel to produce my web series ‘My Animal Adventures’ where I interview animal lovers,” he wrote, in an April email. “I was going mad because I didn’t have a project to focus on, then I remembered all this talk about creatures called Bigfoot and realized that I do live in one of the hottest Bigfoot areas in the world.”
Since the pandemic was declared official in March 2020, Kenzie has produced four feature-length documentaries in his “Searching for Sasquatch” series, that not only explore the wilderness of his home province but the wilds of Michigan. He went on an expedition with several prominent groups and members of the squatching community, including The SheSquatchers and Adam Davies.
“I met up with people who had eyewitness accounts of these cryptids and they lead me to other eyewitnesses and before I knew it I was on a great adventure searching for signs of these creatures myself,” Kenzie said.
Kenzie himself has not had a definitive encounter with Sasquatch, even after having spent hours searching for the cryptid in the course of filming “Searching for Sasquatch”. However, he doesn’t consider the endeavour fruitless.
“I love hiking, camping, and making new friendships. I love adventure and a great mystery,” he wrote. “As long as these continue to be in one package together I will continue to film my ‘Searching for Sasquatch’ documentaries.
“The world we live in is massive and there are many areas that humans have not yet explored. Who knows what new species are out there?”Jason Kenzie
“Besides, somebody has to meet these eyewitnesses and record their encounters,” he added. “I have also seen and heard unexplained events that keep me motivated to continue the search.”
It’s Kenzie’s love of sharing stories through filmmaking that motivates him, rather than a crusade to prove Bigfoot’s existence. Throughout the series, Kenzie points out conventional explanations for phenomena he and his camera witness. Unlike many other cryptozoological documentaries, Kenzie doesn’t take a position as either skeptic or believer.
“I believe it’s very important to keep an open mind,” he wrote. “The world we live in is massive and there are many areas that humans have not yet explored. Who knows what new species are out there?”
However willing he is to play the skeptic, Kenzie sometimes can’t help but be drawn into the thrill of searching for Sasquatch in a dark and remote forest. He admitted while camping with an enthusiastic group of squatchers, belief can be contagious.
“I do find it very difficult to maintain objectivity while on expeditions when surrounded by unexplained happenings, including screams and howls,” he wrote. “When everybody around you is yelling, ‘That’s a Bigfoot’ and the sounds you are listening to are nothing you’ve ever heard before, it’s difficult to not get caught up in believing.”
In maintaining an open mind, Kenzie casts a wide net for subjects to interview. He not only embeds himself with trackers and squatching groups, but interviews various types of mediums who claim to have seen and even made contact with Sasquatch.
“Interviewing mediums and remote viewers is fascinating and I think it’s important to be able to tell their accounts,” he wrote. “They believe in their incredible encounters. It’s these eyewitnesses that guide my Bigfoot documentary stories.
“It’s up to the viewers to decide what to believe,” Kenzie added. “I’m just the photojournalist trying to tell a story while bumbling around in the forest.”
The result is not only a fascinating hunt for Sasquatch but a look at the people who believe Sasquatch has become a central tenet in their lives. And though Kenzie never makes light of his subjects, he certainly does inject humour into the documentaries, often lampooning himself. This approach, which makes the films light-hearted and enjoyable, has not been entirely well-received.
“I have received messages from Bigfoot investigators who think I’m playing games because I joke in my documentaries. But, honestly, I can’t help it, because when I’m out there alone in the darkness it can be scary and I make light of the situation and joke around to calm my nerves and it works,” he wrote. “I do take the subject seriously which is why I spend countless hours and self-finance my documentaries, but I also need to be enjoying myself and I love to make others laugh.”
Kenzie’s sense of humour was on display when asked whether he believes, if real, the Sasquatch to be a relict hominin, Gigantopithecus or an extraterrestrial lifeform.
“If these creatures are real, I believe that it is most likely closely related to a Gigantopithecus possibly from outer space … maybe,” he admitted.
No filmmaker is without their detractors, but the response to the films has been largely positive in the cryptozoological community, according to Kenzie.
“The cryptozoological community is like a big family that has been welcoming and shown genuine interest in my work,” he wrote.
After filming four installments of “Searching For Sasquatch”, Kenzie has accumulated his fair share of advice for those preparing for their expeditions into the wild.
“The greatest asset in a Bigfoot hunt is great hiking boots and knowledge of the wilderness around you … not understanding your environment is a great liability as you can get hurt, injured or lost,” he wrote, adding a good quality FLIR, or thermal imaging camera, is highly recommended.
Kenzie’s search for Sasquatch continues. “The Search for Sasquatch Chapter 5: The Texas Screams” is currently in production and a trailer is available, with a release date of summer 2022.
Chapters 6 and 7 will feature Kenzie exploring Michigan’s forests even further, then moving on to the Florida Everglades.
“Will there be more? Hell, yes! This has been an incredible journey so far and as long as I’m having fun and meeting new and interesting people along the way, I plan to keep it going,” Kenzie wrote.
During those adventures, he has experienced some inexplicable phenomena.
“The howls and screams I have heard on our expeditions are from something that I don’t recognize,” he wrote. “The 25-foot-tall trees that I have seen ripped out of the ground turned upside down and slammed back down into the ground are strange and have no explanation.”
Another instance had him witnessing a shadowy, shiny-eyed creature drop to the ground and scurry along a dirt trail like a giant spider.
“This was so strange and I can’t explain exactly what type of creature it was because it occurred during the night and I couldn’t see it in detail,” Kenzie wrote. “I cannot say it was certainly a Bigfoot, but it was like nothing I have ever witnessed before.”
Searching for Sasquatch Chapters 2, 3 and 4 are available on Tubi.