Written and directed by Robert D. Krzykowski, The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot is the story of Calvin Barr, an unassuming senior citizen who has one heck of a backstory. He’s responsible for the secret assassination of the biggest monster in history, Adolf Hitler. And, although he should have been hailed a hero, taking center stage in history books, Barr has been living a quiet, solitary life.

It’s not until the government asks him to perform one more job, a job that only he can do, that he’s pulled out of his lonely routine. It’s time to kill the Bigfoot.

ScreenPicks spoke with Krzykowski about his fantastical film that was over a decade in the making.

ScreenPicks: Where did the idea for the movie come from?

Krzykowski: It started out as a pulp adventure story, but the hero would be more of this Mister Rogers, Norman Rockwell type of guy — a little more innocent — and how his abilities would play against how they make him feel in some ways. When I got to the end of the first ten pages that had just been filled, I realized that I needed somewhere else for the story to go for it to be engaging. So, I started thinking of Hitler as a monster. So maybe later in his life, the hero could go after another monster and [one] that felt mythic enough for this guy was Bigfoot.

I saw certain parallels between the hero and Bigfoot, being the last of their kind, lonely and isolated. So, I thought that would kind of be the perfect creature for him to have to go after in the end. But I wanted Hitler to remain very much a monster that was real, and the Bigfoot to be this innocent thing that was spreading a plague and that plague is literal — whereas Hitler was spreading a plague of ideas. That was the kind of early concoction of ideas.

ScreenPicks: How long did it take between the conception of those ideas and wrapping on the film?

Krzykowski: A little over 12 years it took to get this movie made. I’ve been working on it almost my entire adult life.

ScreenPicks: And how long was filming? 

Krzykowski: We had several months of prep, and then the actual shoot was 25 days. The entire film was shot in five, five-day weeks. A very, very rapid shoot.

ScreenPicks: Just a blip compared to those 12 years.

Krzykowski: Yeah [laughs] … [you have] this idea you have in your head and you want to capture it all and you don’t want to miss any scenes. It required trusting the team around me … they recommended keeping my takes down to maybe three to six takes … so I made it a point to do that. And to listen to our First AD, Elaine Gibson, who had scheduled this so we could get all those elements into a short period of time. 

ScreenPicks: The film takes place all over the world — where did you film?

Krzykowski: Every single shot in the movie takes place ten minutes from my front door here in Massachusetts. The only thing that was about an hour and a half away was Hitler’s castle. That is in Lenox, Mass. That’s the house from “Cider House Rules,” and that’s now Hitler’s castle. 

ScreenPicks: Was it a conscious choice on your part then to do the film so close to home?

Krzykowski: It was just the only way you could pull off something in that few days. The only way we could do it was matte paintings, miniatures, old school effects techniques and a bunch of new visual effects techniques to sell the scope of the movie. And those kinds of splashy reveals and singular shots that give you some scope, really distill those down to the bare necessities so we’re really just telling the story.

ScreenPicks: Did you have Sam Elliott in mind when you wrote the character? How did he get involved?

Krzykowski: In all of my storyboards and conceptual designs — I have a background in illustration — he looked exactly like Sam. He had the same hair, same mustache, tall, lanky physique, but I hadn’t thought about it in that way. So, when Sam’s name came into the mix, it started to become very apparent that if he said yes, it could work.

It needed somebody who would take it seriously and who would kind of bring the reality to this thing. If the movie works, a massive debt is owed to Sam Elliott because he made it real. He was looking for the truth in this film.

ScreenPicks: There’s so much going on — there’s romance, there’s action, there’s horror — how would you describe the film genre-wise?

Krzykowski: At the end of the day, I just think it’s a character story, a drama. It just happens to have some wild elements in it. Kind of like “The Old Man and the Sea” or “Moby Dick” have these characters going after these mythic-level creatures. It just felt like an opportunity to write a parable for adults and it felt like if you took it seriously enough but brought some humor into it and characterization and a love story, you’d be much more drawn in and you’d be rewarded by these two events promised in the title. It was a real balancing act getting that right. But at the end of it, I think it’s really about the characters and the sweetness of it and the heartfelt nature of it.

ScreenPicks: Did you always intend for Calvin to make it to the end?

Krzykowski: Always. Even when I began, it just felt like there would be an expectation that the hero would die at the top of the cliff, but I wanted to tell a hopeful story. I wanted it to feel like a cinematic hug. I very much wanted him to live on and provide hope for people who are feeling the same things that he was feeling about loss, regret, fear and loneliness. I didn’t want to kill that character, I wanted him to choose to live and embrace a connection with the people that are still around him and care about him. 

ScreenPicks: Alright, saved the biggest question for last — Are we meant to know what’s in the box Calvin keeps under the bed?

Krzykowski: For me, I felt like I wanted to leave something that could just be for the audience and could be theirs … I didn’t feel like it was important to show exactly what that was because it would allow the audience an opportunity to put something in it that was meaningful either from the story or from themselves. … My favorite movies are the ones that allow the audience to be participants and not just passively receive the movie. I want them to feel like they’re a part of the storytelling, so that was letting the audience in on some ownership over the movie.

At this point, the movie’s not mine anymore. It’s about to come out and then it’s everybody else’s.

The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot opens in theaters and is available on VOD and Digital HD on February 8th.