Christopher Maloney stands with Bigfoot Discovery Museum owner and Bigfoot eyewitness Michael Rugg.
By Stephanie Michaud
AYER — At a young age, Christopher Maloney fell in love with cryptozoology and developed a fascination for mythical creatures. Cryptozoology is defined as a “pseudoscience involving the search for animals whose existence has not been proven due to the lack of evidence,” according to Wikipedia.
He spent his childhood watching documentaries and TV shows about the Lochness Monster and Bigfoot.
Now, a college graduate and a father of two children, Maloney is about to have his first big break as his independent documentary “Monster Witness” airs on Destination America.
Born and raised in Ohio, Maloney first became interested in film when he was assigned a research project in elementary school.
“We did a project on famous people and I found out Steven Spielberg was born in Cincinnati. Having that connection with someone who was from my area made it seem like I could be excited about movies not from the outside but become involved on the inside,” Maloney said.
He eventually attended Ohio University to study journalism and planned to use his film skills to follow his cryptozoology passion upon graduation in 2007.
“I started thinking I should go to different parts of the country and explore these creatures and where they live because I haven’t seen that done in a movie yet,” Maloney said.
He created a kickstarter campaign to fund the film. Unsuccessful, Maloney decided to use a traditional tactic and raise donations through friends and family.
“I did a letter-writing campaign and created a list of everyone I know and raised the funds to travel and do the interviews just by writing letters,” Maloney said.
To travel inexpensively, Maloney and his crew drove to a majority of the creature sightings to showcase a road trip-type setting.
“We drove from Kentucky to California and back within a week to do interviews with people who have had Bigfoot sightings,” Maloney said.
“Monster Witness” explores eyewitness accounts of mythical creatures across the nation and includes interviews with eyewitnesses who Maloney met with in person — the toughest challenge he faced.
“Some witnesses were extremely protective about what had happened to them. Others had been made fun of. So the challenge there was just showing them that I wasn’t trying to exploit them or make light of what had happened to them. I wanted to listen and hear what their stories were,” Maloney said.
He would often be taken to the sighting location, a dangerous aspect that comes along with cryptozoology filmmaking.
“When I went to Florida to do an interview with a witness who had seen Skunk Ape, I knew we were going into the swamp and I jokingly told my wife that if I died I would die doing something I believed in,” Maloney said.
Maloney knew traveling the nation would be a danger in itself, especially when he traveled to Montana alone.
“I met with these two different people on opposite parts of the state and it’s always scary going to a stranger’s home,” Maloney said.
While meeting his witnesses, his interviews included people who, he felt, were not truthful with their experiences.
“One guy who was telling me about this sea serpent in a lake, mentioned how it had been good for business in the area, which seemed more of a business endeavor than anything else. But everyone in the movie I think was either telling the truth or I at least believe they are telling the truth,” Maloney said.
After seven years of planning, traveling and editing the documentary, Maloney was approached by one of his colleagues who connected him with Destination America.
“He bridged the gap for me. They were interested when they saw it. They liked it and picked it up,” Maloney said.
Although he has never seen a creature on his own, Maloney hopes that his future endeavors will allow him to.
“It’s risky to pursue a career in this because people are still trying to find a way to make a living from it and usually you can’t,” Maloney said.
“Monster Witness” will premier on Destination America, Saturday, Aug. 22, at 10 p.m. To view a trailer for the documentary, visit http://www.monsterwitness.com/.