Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Mysteries of the Paul Freeman Footage

     Even among sasquatch researchers, most do not realize just how enigmatic the above footage, shot by ultimate field man Paul Freeman, truly is. There are several mysteries that surround this genuine video footage of a sasquatch, taken in 1984. The first mystery is just who owns the legal rights to the footage.  
     With the death of Freeman in 2003, it is assumed that rights to the Freeman footage reverted to his widow, Nancy.  But all my attempts to locate her and verify this have proven futile. Paul lived in the eastern Washington town of Walla Walla,  prior to his death. he also kept a cabin on the Washington coast around Long Beach. None of the Freemans I contacted in those towns claim any connection to Paul or even knew of him. Meanwhile, two separate individuals, one representing a TV show, have approached me in hopes of finding Nancy Freeman, or whoever else currently holds rights to this famed footage. And so I issue this appeal to hear from anyone who might know who currently hods the rights to the Freeman footage.
     This question of ownership is a far easier one to answer than the questions and mysteries that are inherent in the video clip itself. Authenticity of the clip is  one big question in the minds of some, but not for me.  Just prior to his death, Paul and Nancy Freeman came to my house in Oregon to do an interview for a British TV production. An informed and competent interviewer quizzed Paul on numerous aspect of his field work in general and the video in particular.  As his wife sat facing him only ten feet distant, Paul insisted that the footage was authentic. That's good enough for me. I don't think there are too many souls who, staring their own  mortality in the face, not to mention their life-long spouse, would sit there and tell lies. But beyond  circumstantial evidence and personal assurances, the video itself, especially when the whole raw footage is viewed, bespeaks an authenticity that is not as evident when the much the shorter clip taht is usually found on internet sources is viewed. 
     Prior to filming the subject of interest, the footage made on Paul's camcorder shows a trackway that Paul found near Deduck Springs. On t he video, he competently documents the trackway which he credits to a juvenile sasquatch. Then he makes multiple plaster casts, measurements, and of course, video documentation. What most may not realize is that Freeman had been schooled by Dr. Grover Krantz in how to cast and measure trackways.  
     Freeman's detailed knowledge of the remote Blue Mountains and his keen sense of animal tracking was valued by Dr. Krantz, who saw Freeman as the most experienced and competent field man in the area surrounding Pullman, Washington, where Krantz was a professor at Washington State.  Freeman was so prolific at uncovering bigfoot evidence that some, like Dahinden and Byrne, doubted his honesty, and they said so on multiple occasions.  It is my considered opinion that their statements stemmed from a combination of ego and narrow range of experience that prevented these high-profile researchers from accepting the fact that Freeman was far more capable and successful at gathering the much sought evidence than they would ever be. 
     Yet for all his savvy as a field man, Freeman lived an austere life in which money was always tight. While some suppose that money was the root motivation for fakery, I would point out that on such limited means, Freeman could not have pulled off the costuming ruse on his video that is alleged by some.  And, the raw footage clearly shows the work of a diligent and well-trained field man.  What is not seen on the video footage is a short clip between the casting of a trackway and the creature segment.  Between these to segments was a short clip of a child's birthday party at a restaurant. I removed the segment out of privacy concerns but its existence on the original camcorder tape illustrates to my satisfaction that Freeman was using his one and only camcorder for anything and everything of intereste in his life that was worth documenting on video tape. While the sasquatch research was the reason for the camcorder;'s existence, Freeman was just a regular guy with a regular life including relatives' birthday party in between trips to the Blue Mountains in search of sasquatch evidence. 
     But there is yet another, more compelling reason why I am absolutely certain that Freeman didn't fake anything: He could not have possibly done so. I direct the viewer's attention to the time stamp on the video as seen on the YouTube-posted segment. At time 4:08, just as Freeman utters, "Oh, there he goes!" the subject steps behind what looks to be a grand fir tree trunk that is between 12 and 18 inches in diameter.  And remarkably, an instant later, the creature steps out from behind another, still smaller tree, that looks to be about a foot distant of the first tree. Yet, the subject is never seen to cross what appears to be an open gap between the two trees!  The quality of the video and the distance to the subject makes it difficult to be absolutely certain of the gap between the two trees but, to the best of my ability to discriminate, it does appear that there is a gap between the two trees. To the extent that  folks like to post replies to these blog posts, I invite them to offer their own opinions of this question in the comments box at the bottom of this post.
     The very first time I ever watched this video, this anomaly jumped off the screen at me, yet it seems that this oddity is not perceived by most who view this clip. One person who did notice it was Dar Addington, a long time friend of Freeman's.  I recently spoke with Dar while trying to locate Freeman's widow, Nancy. Dar reflected on the many evenings that she, Wes Summerlin, and Vance Orchard spent in Paul's basement, viewing the footage over and over again, trying to resolve that very question of just what was going with respect to the subject of the vieo and the two trees. Between them, the group just could not come up with an answer for just what the video shows. Nor can I, but it kinda looks paranormal.  
     Some suppose that the subject passed behind the first tree, ducked down, crossed the gap between the trees, then stood back up to emerge from behind the second tree. Of course, it makes no sense whatsoever that, if concealment was the purpose, the subject would stand back up and proceed on its merry way in plain sight. On the other end of the spectrum of possibilities, I know of persons who seriously postulate that something truly paranormal in nature has been dutifully documented by Freeman's eighties-era camcorder. Indeed, I know of other witnesses who insist they saw a sasquatch step behind a tree that was too narrow to conceal its broad and bulky form, then disappear. (see pg.169, The Locals, author: moi). I hesitate to get all paranormal in a post like this that is read by every Tom, Dick, and Harriet sasquatch researcher on six continents, but I'll do it anyway because the mystery seems to be right there on the tape. Most will say that there is not really a gap of empty space between the trees. That seems likely, but that isn't the way it appears to me. Just sayin'
     Now for the next mystery: At time stamp 4:13 on the video, the subject gives a very quick glance toward the videographer (Freeman).  This is huge for two reasons. First, it defies the view that a costumed person is the subject.  The flick of the head is so rapid that a head inside a costume hood would spin independently of the mask.  No person is an costume would risk such a move unless the hood was glued to their head.  Sorry skeptics, but that flick of the head say one thing to me that isd loud and clear: That ain't no mask! And here is the second problem: that very same move defies everything that is assumed to be true about the sasquatch creatures based on study of the Patterson-Gimlin footage (PGF). 
     Even a narrowly experienced armchair researcher seems know that "Patty," the subject in the PGF turns her entire upper torso in order to asses the cameraman's (Patterson's) intent. The way the whole upper torso pivots is seen as an indication that the subject is indeed a 'great ape,' and that is how great apes, with thick upper necks, have to move in order to look back. Well, that may be fine for the subject in the PGF, but the subject in the Freeman footage moves exactly like a person would. The upper torso barely pivots. It give a quick flick of the head and all the motion is taken up in the neck. If apes have to rotate their upper torso, this ain't no ape! 
     Some see this as an indication of fakery, but I would argue that they are overly committed to a point of view that is based on one prior data set, and that is the PGF.  If Freeman was involved in fakery, he had over a decade to study the PGF before he made his video.  Wouldn't he have his confederate in the costume  replicate the movements seen in the PGF for purposes of consistency?  Speaking of consistency, what's with the pot belly on the subject of the Freeman footage? Either it's a pregnant female or a somewhat rotund creature of either gender. Why would fakers add that feature and display more contradictions to the view that sasquatches are robust and agile creatures? Just as with the breasts on Patty, st seems to be a risky addition to a costuming ruse if believability is the goal.
      The next item is the better yet.   At 4:15, (just as Freeman exclaims, "Jeezus!") the subject steps behind a ten-or-so-year-old Douglas fir tree and stops cold. Freeman lowers the camcorder (presumably to secure his footing,) then raises it again.  Based on some rapid camera movements, he seems to be experiencing difficulty locating the now-motionless subject that is hiding behind the young tree.  The astuteness of this move by the video subject cannot be overstated. Until the subject moves again, it is utterly indistinguishable from the tree in front of it.  At least to me, this speaks volumes of the subjects knowledge of camouflage and concealment.  Whatever the subject is, that thing knew exactly how to use its adaptive coloration and profile in conjunction with the native foliage to utterly conceal itself in plain sight. How many times has the armchair researcher read eyewitness accounts that describe a creature that concealed itself in plain sight by remaining completely motionless.  That is exactly what we see here, and in that respect, the degree of savvy displayed by the subject surpasses anything we see on the PGF.  Despite its inferior image quality, the Freeman footage is actually more informative than the PGF in this respect. It gives us much more information about creature cleverness and concealment in response to human presence. 
     And the mysteries do not end there. Another huge question in my mind is where the subject ultimately went. Freeman puzzles over this matter audibly on the video tape.   Unfortunately, Paul took his camera off the subject for a brief instant as he secured his footing, and never saw it again.  He can be heard to utter, "There's two of 'em" but it is never clear what makes him say this.  One must assume he heard "brush popping from two separate locations. "Where'd he go?" Paul asks as he scans the forest through the viewfinder.
     In my view, there are only three possible answers to this question. The first one is that the subject hid behind another bush. Or, it dropped to the ground and stayed there. There are witnesses who describe a sasquatch belly-crawling on the ground to avoid detection. This move does have precedent in the annals of eyewitness sasquatch sighting reports. The problem is that Freeman was so close to it. As he continued to approach the place where the subject was last seem,  it seems like Freeman would have stepped on it if it was lying on the ground, and seen it if it was hiding behind a bush.   Then there's the third possibility that is sure to be rejected out-of-hand by any flesh-and-blood bigfooters. I'll say it anyway because it has to be considered, especially since it's what the camcorder shows. The dang thing disappeared!  Sorry, but there is also precedent for this idea.
     Paul Freeman was as flesh-and-blood as they come, but ,to his dying day, Freeman could not resolve the question of where that thing went in the moment he took his camera off of it. One thing we have definitely learned from the freeman footage is , if you ever get your lens on a sasquatch, don't take it off for any reason. I spoke with Freeman about this when he came to my house.  I didn't raise any paranormal possibilities with him but I certainly entertained them in my own mind, having already collected a number of accounts (See The Locals, Chap. 9, ibid)  One witness even claimed to have witnessed a shimmer of light as the subject of his  sighting disappeared from view in the middle an open clear cut in broad daylight.  Freeman's situation, on the other hand, is a bit more nebulous, owing to the fact that he took the camera off his subject and his visibility was significantly restricted by forest vegetation.
     Of one thing I feel certain: No hoaxer would end a hoaxed video in this way.  If Freeman and some confederate had gone to the trouble of procuring a suit, they would most surely try to construct a scene that was as credible as they could possibly make it, and that would mean having the creature shamble off over the hill, getting smaller and farther away all the while.  No hoaxer would cast aspersions on an already dubious scenario by have their costumed apparition dematerialize at close range. Yet, this seems to be one solid interpretation of what the video shows. 
     Could Paul Freeman's video clip actually be credible evidence that the sasquatch creature do indeed possess paranormal attributes? Like I said, Freeman himself certainly did not want to go there.  I, on the other hand, am not afraid to, especially since I have other accounts to support it. In any case, like it or not, it seems to be what the video shows. I reject the idea that the subject is lying on the ground, even though I considered it thoroughly.  Freeman was no dummy and he was too close to the thing to overlook it if that's what it was doing.  Heck, I expect he would have tripped over it as he attempted to follow its direction of travel.  I invite readers to weigh in on this question in the comment box below, although I cringe at the thought of what kind of vitriolic exchange this could precipitate. All I ask is that responders stick to the issue and remain civil. 
     A few conclusions can be drawn from careful study of the Paul Freeman footage. The first one is the most speculative to some but not to me: The Freeman footage is the real deal. I knew Paul well enough to know he did not and could not have faked that video.  Not only is his integrity secure in my view, but there are just too many peculiar aspects to that video that were beyond Paul's understanding, not to mention his ability to fake. 
   Another conclusion that I endorse, at the risk of enraging others, is that there is definitely something paranormal going on in that video. Even if one does not buy the bit about the creature crossing an open gap between trees, the manner in which the subject cleared the area instantaneously and at close range is extremely suspicious. A third conclusion is that the neck mobility shown in that video invalidates not only simple costuming as an explanation, but it also invalidates the idea that the subject is a lower form of primate that, like the subject in the PGF, is said to have limited neck mobility. The video clearly shows something else, and that is the same neck mobility as any person. 
     Indeed, the biggest problem with the Freeman footage is that, despite its brevity and poor resolution, it shows too much.  Upon careful examination,  it raises some deeply troubling issues, especially in the mind of those who wish to maintain an utterly flesh-and-blood interpretation of the whole sasquatch phenomenon. Of course, there is a simple way to maintain a flesh-and-blood perspective in the face of the data supplied by the Freeman footage: call it a fake.  Sorry folks, but I, for one, am not buying that,  I did my best in this essay to explain  the reasons why I don't think that works. 
    In a recent blog entry entitled, "To be or not to be..."   writer Melissa Hovey. asks,  "Are the opinions of the “paranormal crowd” so weak, they can’t withstand some questions or the scrutiny of the “flesh and blood community"?"   Scientific evidence of paranormal events seems to be a bit of a contradiction in terms but, O.K., here is it: the Freeman footage.  I'd call it evidence, but not proof.  Like it or not, I think the Freeman footage is some of the best evidence of paranormal activity you can find.  In the end, that's why the video is so damn important. But you have to look at it and look carefully, then be willing to ask some questions that don't have easy answers.  
     As Freeman himself said in the interviews I posted here, it has never been shown to be a fake, but I doubt it will seal the deal in the minds of Ms, Hovey nor to mention the Ben Radford-style skeptics. But it's still there and, based on my own investigations and interviews with Freeman himself, I'm saying it's the real deal. Now, if I could just figure out who owns the dang thing?