Bigfoot Encounters

Newly Hoaxed Bigfoot Video - Separating Fact from Fiction
John Freitas with additional comments by other veteran investigators...

Update: April 2006 Penn & Teller announced their claim that they hoaxed "The Sonoma Footage," which is a bigfoot video that fooled nobody except the usual members of the BFRO. The hoaxed film can be seen here:
and here:

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December 11, 2005 -- Note - The following is an analysis of the latest Bigfoot video controversy, "The Sonoma Footage" and is submitted by veteran researchers John Freitas, Bill Dranginis, Thom Powell and Steve Kulls...

Mark Nelson's story gets better and better as time goes on. He originally told me via phone that he was camping at Lake Sonoma. When they left, he headed towards highway 101 for the return drive to his home in Oxnard, CA. On the way out of the park he located a large turnout, pulled over and found a game trail. He followed this trail up a hill and continued to hike about a 1 hours. At this point, he claims he and his girlfriend heard a grunt. He says he thought it was a bear at first, so they waited about ten minutes and started taking landscape video again. As he was taking a video shot, he heard something on his left side; this is when he captured this "thing"...

I asked him specifically where this turnout was and he said it was going towards Lake Sonoma 15 minutes from highway 101. He said it was private land and he had to climb through a three-strand barbwire fence to gain access to this game trail. I also asked him to send me a video file of a minute before and a minute after this event, Mark became nervous and said he would rather not do that. I asked him why, and he could not come up with any reason other than he didn't want to do it.

This conversation was cut short when he said in a whisper "I have to go now, my girlfriend just got home and she is really jealous of the time I am taking on this video". I explained that I would need to talk with her also, as she is the only other witness. Mark started saying "I don't know, she is getting real jealous". I explained to Mark that the film is worthless if is not authenticated, and he said he would try to talk to her. He said he was interested in selling this film, and I explained that I knew of one producer, national news reporter and a talk show host that would be interested in this video IF a few questions were answered. He promised to call me back in a day or two and then hung up the phone.

A few days past and after I had left several more messages on his phone, he finally called me back on my cell phone at around 8pm. This time I was on my way towards LA. I told him that I was having trouble locating the turnout 15 minutes from 101. Mark then changed the location and said it was 15 minutes on the south side of lake Sonoma towards the ocean. I asked Mark could we meet Sunday so I could see the whole video since I was coming to the LA area, he immediately started to back pedal on me saying that he promised to spend the day with his girlfriend and he just couldn't meet with me. I told him it would only take 10 minutes...then I asked for only 5 minutes...and he still refused.

Mark stated he is afraid to meet new people. This seems to contradict his claim of playing guitar in a local band, or holding a job for a temporary agency where you meet new people/employers on a frequent basis. I asked Mark what his landline phone number as it would be easer to get in touch with him if needed, but he refused to give it to me saying "that's my DSL line and I use it just for the computer".

I asked Mark what his girlfriend did for a living and he hesitated for a second and said "she works in a doctors office". I asked him what he does for a living, and again he hesitated and said "I work for a temp agency". I asked mark what he does for the temp agency and again he hesitated as if he was thinking about what to say, and said "I work in a office as a clerk".

After all that transpired, I told him if this was a hoax to let me know now and I would go my way, and he would go his; no harm done. There was silence for 10 seconds....(this is classic textbook behavior of deception) He became verbally flustered and nervously said "it really happened", and added that MAYBE we could get together at a later date, but said he was interested in knowing how much the film was worth. He then said out of the blue, he wanted to arrange a "group showing". When I questioned him about who is in this "group", he again hesitated and said "um, well, I mean you". I then said, again, I could be there Sunday. He again declined to meet with me, but said he'd call me by December 5th with a time and date and to have me go ahead and arrange the live radio interview. He then said he was at work and needed to get off the phone immediately. This, again, was after 8pm in the evening. A strange time to be working as a temporary clerk in an office. This was the last contact I had with Mark. He has not responded to my phone messages, nor e-mails.

Without going into more detail, Mark's statements during both phone interviews were consistent with omeone fabricating a story.

Yesterday (12-09-2005), I spent several hours searching for the area where Mark said the turnout and barbwire fence was. The entire fence on this road is field fence and nowhere is there three strand barbwire used exclusively. This is true from the park and 15+ miles south on the road. At one point, I thought I located the site because the terrain seemed familiar. I took a roll of pictures, but once developed I could not match the peak shown in the video.

Some other facts:

1. I asked Mark if he has ever heard of Art Bell and he said "no" , although he posted his so-called experience on Art Bell's message board 11-16-2005

2. Marks prefix is Santa Maria, CA although he states he lives in Oxnard, CA

3. Mark wrote another investigator and said he was in San Luis Obispo, CA

4. I located a picture of a peak in San Luis Obispo County that looks almost identical the mountain peak in the video

5. Mark now states he was on a fire road (as perMatt Moneymaker's website), although Mark clearly stated he was following a "deer trail" ready to cross a gully

6. Mark claimed to be an expert with a compass, although he could not tell me the name of the peak in his video (this is taught in basic map reading)

7. There is NO distinctive peak that was displayed in the video in the area he claims he obtained the footage

8. Where is his girlfriend's voice when this happened?

9. Why are there not two sets of footfalls when he runs after this thing?

The rampant inconsistencies with Mark's story, his inability to answer questions freely, his contradictory statements and his unwillingness to show the video in the original format all have raised large red flags. The fact that the scene does not match the terrain is in itself deception, and therefore it is my professional opinion this video is a hoax.

The Bigfoot Research Organization (BFRO) still believes the video to be authentic.

Review is copyright John Freitas

Additonal comments on the Sonoma footage:

The Sonoma Video -- I only needed to watch the Sonoma Bigfoot video clip twice before I concluded the video footage was a hoax, plain and simple. I witnessed a Bigfoot creature while metal detecting with two FBI Agents in 1995 and can tell you the body movement of the "thing" in the Sonoma video does not even come close to the body motions I witnessed in the woods of Culpeper, Virginia.

The arm swing in the Sonoma video seems exaggerated and fast when combined with the slow walking speed of the "thing". Arm swing is a natural action that helps maintain the body's center of gravity, as you run faster, the arm swing is more pronounced. In normal human walking,
the arm swing is minimal, the video shows the "thing" walking not running, but the arm swing is being fabricated as if the "thing" was running.

If the "thing" in the video was running as indicated by the arm swing, the camera operator could not react fast enough to record the event. If this was a real creature, the arm swing and stride would have appeared as a natural fluid motion. It is my opinion that the footage shows a human in an ape suit trying to imitate the Bigfoot creature in Patterson film.

I am also very disappointed that the BFRO (Matt Moneymaker) used this footage to promote the thing in the video as a real Bigfoot creature and a survivor of the Gigantopithecus line of apes. How in the world can he extract that information from this bad video? The only way to back up his statement is to have the body of the thing; I seriously doubt this is the case. The BFRO claims to be the only scientific research organization exploring the Bigfoot/Sasquatch mystery.

Where is all the scientific evidence to back up his statements, how did they determine the 7-8 feet height and the 1,000 pound weight of the "thing" in the Sonoma video. Maybe I'm wrong and they will soon have a press release with all the information we're looking for and put the matter to rest.

It is my opinion that the actions of the BFRO are nothing more than a novice attempt to generate national press coverage for their "so called" Bigfoot Expeditions. Why else would the "Only Scientific Research Organization" do something like this?

William M. Dranginis
Manassas, Virginia December 16, 2005

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The Sonoma clip is suspicious, to put it mildly. If anyone is expected to take this seriously, you need to address these issues and do it soon:

1. What is the peak in the background of the opening shot?Nothing in your suporting information enables the viewer to verify the location. A friend I know who lives near Sonoma cannot identify the peak. I am sure it has a name. Rocky Peak is the only possibility according to my information. Is this correct. If so, which side of the peak is the video taken from. The view better match the video or you have a fraud on your hands. You NEED to address this concern. The background of the video definitely does not match the generic pictures of the area that you post on the webpage. The grass is too long and the trees are too numerous. Something is very wrong here. I won't even get into the fact that this all
supposedly happened in the middle of wine country. Yikes!

2. Why is the camera stationary and focused on this peak, despite the claim on your webpage that he pulled out his camera in response to the nearby disturbance, and then hustled after it? The actions of the camera operator do not appear to match the published claim on the webpage. This NEEDS to be explained. Specifically, why such a long pause on the video before the camera operator hustles after the subject.

3. How on earth can a person be so close to the subject and yet completely blow it with respect to operation of the camera and losing sight of the subject? How could you lose sight of a subject that is so close that you lose focus of it when you zoom in then lose track of the subject altogether? In the PGF, the creature walked away. In your purported video, the subject is so close to the camera that you lose track of it. How is this possible?

Backgorund on the owner of the footage is necessary. Credentials of SOME sort are necessary to establish minimal credibility. No one expects a rocket scientist, but do you even have a job? If the owner of the video cannot offer background details, then the possiblity of a money-grubbing hoax looms as large as an eight thousand pound gorilla atop the Chrysler Building.

These are questions that have been applied to every purported footage and faliure to provide them seriously weakens the case for your video clip which is suspiciously weak already.

Regards, Thom Powell
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The Sonoma Footage Commentary
By Steve Kulls, NY January 29, 2006

This film was introduced to the world by the videographer "Mark Nelson". It was supposedly shot in Sonoma, California on Sunday, November 13th, 2005.

The video itself looks interesting however; there are some disturbing aspects to the case.

1. To our knowledge, no one has seen the original video

2. To our knowledge, no one has a tape-to-tape transfer of the video (the most accurate)

3. To our knowledge no one, has met face to face with Mr. Nelson

4. Mr. Nelson provides us with a phone number on his website, initial checks show the number is not associated with anyone named Nelson. (Thank you David)

5. To our knowledge, no investigator has found the exact video location.

Mr. Nelson, has avoided the Squatchdetective ignoring a request last week to speak with him. So without his input we did a forensic analysis of the photos he posted on his website.

1. The picture of "Brownie" (Cute mutt) - Taken on 11/15/05, using a Pentax S40 Digital Camera. Processing Software - Adobe Photoshop CS (MacIntosh Version)

2. The picture of his boot - Taken on 11/16/05 using a Sony Cybershot Digital Camera. Processing Software - Adobe Photoshop CS (MacIntosh Version)

3. The picture of the hair supposedly taken at the lab - Unknown date, may have been copied off website. Processing Software- Adobe Photoshop CS (MacIntosh Version)

Now let common sense guide us not passion:

1. He notes that it had "black eyes", how did see it's eyes, he was obviously was looking through the screen on his video camera to follow the creature so accurately. He saw what we saw or did he?

2. He hiked two hours in, so that means at least two hours out, a walk on pavement, a trip to his mom's. He sent his boots off to the lab, but three days later, a picture was taken of the boots with mud still on it.

3. He states his girlfriend was with him, do we hear her on tape? No. For that matter he was unwilling to let her be contacted or give her full name.

4. Same for the buddies. No names except first names.

5. No lab name either.

6. The hair picture bothers me because it was supposedly from the lab, yet it was processed with the same software as the rest of the pictures on his website.

7. And one final note: The movie is in Apple QuickTime Format. Doesn't Apple make the MacIntosh?

Folks this reeks of a hoax. Hoaxers elaborate but cannot corroborate. His story is simply too amazing; he smelled something, saw its eyes, heard a growl (that wasn't on the video), saw flattened grass, collected a hair sample and knew someone to get it DNA tested within a couple of days. I'm in Bigfoot research and investigation and it would take a week for me at least to get the okay to send a sample. The test after all is not free or cheap.

As we know money is not the only motivation for hoaxing. Notoriety, attention, and pulling a gag are just a few more. This seems like the latter. Someone is trying to make as ass out of organizations that say it's real. Give it more time and the motive behind this will emerge. No matter how good the video may look, and see a small flaw (like bunching when the left arm is thrown back), still weighs on the merit of who took it.

Steven W. Kulls

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