JON OLSEN GOES APE

Jon Olsen has discovered the key for guaranteed laughter. You see, rape isn’t funny. But if you have Sasquatch as the rapist…let the laughs begin. This leads me to think that perhaps adding the Squatch to any situation or task, completely devoid of any humor, would make it funny. Sasquatch going through chemotherapy. Sasquatch standing in line at the welfare office. Sasquatch getting injured in a ten car pile-up. Sasquatch doing taxes. Hmmm…it just might work. It certainly did for Jon Olsen in the first ever rape comedy Ape Canyon.

Jon is hitting the road to screen Ape Canyon to the masses with his Bigfoot Backyard BBQ tour. We got the chance to speak with Jon about Ape Canyon and Sasquatch’s domination of the U.S.

When did you start making films?
I’ve been afflicted with the “film bug” since about 1991, I guess. Ape Canyon is my first feature, and also the first film I’ve really tried to promote and sell.

What was the inspiration behind “Ape Canyon”?
Many things. Do a Google search and locate the “Cybersquatch Bigfoot Internet Library” and you will find a wealth of eclectic Bigfoot-related links. Many of the ideas in our movie came from there, including the horrible Bigfoot poetry. Arthur C. Clark’s Mysterious World gets credit for introducing to me the idea of using bloody tampons as Bigfoot bait. A 1980s movie called “Night of the Demon” exposed me to my first cinematic Bigfoot-rape scene and also inspired the scene in our movie where bigfoot attacked a guy in a sleeping bag. Jim Goad’s book The Redneck Manifesto opened my mind to the world of self-published Bigfoot-rape-fantasy-fiction. All of these things and more had to be absorbed by my subconscious before the seed of Ape Canyon clicked into existence. Ape Canyon is the direct result of a mental over saturation of Sasquatch subculture. Rape became the running gag just because, of all these things I was absorbing, the idea of people being raped by Bigfoot struck me as exceptionally absurd.

What kind of audience do you think “Ape Canyon” is likely to attract?
Sigh…Frat boys. No, actually, it’s difficult to gauge who will be attracted to this movie. I think part of Ape Canyon‘s peculiar charm is the fact that the very people who assume they will be outraged and offended by it often end up laughing despite themselves. Ape Canyon is undeniably ridiculous, and its humor appeals to a surprisingly broad range of viewers. It’s hard to make rape funny. For some reason, however, when Bigfoot’s doing the raping, it seems less morally repugnant.

Where did you get the ape suit from?
A place called Costumes on Haight in San Francisco. I believe it cost $130, and that was almost our entire production budget.

Who wore it in the film?
Pretty much everyone, at one time or another. Doug Mitchell, one of the producers and also our music supervisor, wore it for the first two days of shooting. Then he left town for most of the shoot so he could work at his paying job, and Chris Henry became our primary Squatch. And once we got a taste of Henry’s talents we wanted him in every Bigfoot scene. I wore the suit to beat up a guy in a sleeping bag, and masturbate in the middle of a clear-cut. Trevor Guthrie, co-writer and our other producer, ended up in the suit for the bulk of the Darcy/Bigfoot love scenes, and Clover Lutter got to wear the suit for our “Deliverance” homage.

As you watch Ape Canyon, you can tell how far into production we are in any given scene by the quantity of redwood needles tangled in Bigfoot’s fur. When we started shooting, that suit was sleek and svelte. By the end, its weight must have been doubled from the accumulation of forest detritus. And it stank like a motherfucker.

We gave the suit to Clover when everything was finished. She spent days picking shit out of the fur, took it to a drycleaner, got it sewed and patched, and now she wears it out on the town fairly often.

Will there be an “Ape Canyon 2”?
God forbid. I mean, there is a premise for a sequel in my mind, but somebody will have to dump an awfully big pile of money in our laps before we’ll get interested enough to actually do it. And we want a budget, too…a FAT budget. And Chris Henry has to be the voice of Bigfoot. And he has to have his own trailer, we’ve been promising him a trailer for years. We can hire a wrestler to wear the suit. Preferably a Mexican wrestler. I might just get excited by the thought of Bigfoot doing Santo stunts.

But really, we have other fish to fry. I envision projects beyond Ape Canyon. However, I wholeheartedly invite anyone with sufficient financial resources to test our whore-threshold. If some moneyed entity wants an “Ape Canyon 2″ that badly, I say it sure beats the hell out of doing wedding videos for a living.

Do you think Sasquatch is actually out there, and if so, what do you think he’s doing right now?
I’m an open-minded skeptic. There’s a wee bit too much compelling evidence to dismiss the whole thing as a hoax. I think Sasquatch might be out there. He’s doing a good job of staying hidden. More power to him.

Is there a major film community in Humboldt?
No. Not that I’m aware of. Humboldt State University has a film department, and puts on an annual film festival. But I never got involved in any of that. Public access TV was my film school. A lot of random schmoes in Humboldt, including myself, decide they want to become filmmakers. Some of us hang out together, all of us talk a lot, a few of us actually produce something. In the end we always seem to scatter away from the area.

Any stops nailed down on your Ape Canyon tour, yet?
Yes. Seattle. November first. The Aftermath Gallery. And there will be a kickoff screening in San Francisco. Otherwise, everything’s up in the air. There are also venues that definitely want us to come, but haven’t settled on a date yet. We will announce confirmed screenings on our website. Considering it’s been just over a week since this whole hair-brained idea sprung into our minds, things are going rather well. I’ve gotten lots of enthusiastic responses, but solid dates are rare as of yet.

Any other upcoming projects?
At present we have a few things in various stages of post-production and a few scripts undergoing various treatments with meat tenderizers. Nothing penultimate looms on the horizon right now. But just you wait…




Posted on October 7, 2003 in Interviews by

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