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“He who seeketh long enough and hard enough will find the truth, whatever that truth may be.”

The Patterson-Gimlin Film

Roger Patterson (1933-1972)

  1. The Background
  2. Filming the Bigfoot
  3. The Analysis
  4. The Skeptics Strike Back
  5. Webmasters Conclusions

1. The Background

Patterson Gimlin
Bob Gimlin and Roger Patterson

The Patterson Film has its Origins in an article written in 1959 by Ivan Sanderson in True Magazine called “The strange story of Americas Abominable snowmen”. The article centred around sightings and footprints of a large apelike creature inhabiting the forests of Humboldt County, northern California.

This article was read by an ex rodeo rider and horse breeder from Tampico, WA by the name of Roger Patterson. The article had a profound effect on him and his life would never be the same again. “I know for sure there was one American who was shocked and that fellow was me…the more i thought about it, the more interested and excited i became”.1

In 1963, Patterson finally bit the bullet and decided to check out Sandersons story and travelled to Northern California. After a quick stop in Willow Creek , he travelled to Bluff creek as he learnt that the area was still the centre of activity as there had been sightings and tracks found.

In Bluff Creek, Patterson stayed the night in a small Cabin, down in the valley with his friend Rob Thornton. He says “Around three in the morning Rod and I were awakened by the strangest sound we ever heard. It was somewhat of a high pitched whine trailing off to a deep growl…Had it been a “Bigfoot?” I am not sure. I do know it was the weirdest sound ever to reach my ears”2

Pattersons deep interest in Bigfoot led him to write a book on the subject. Do Abominable snowmen of America really exist was published in 1966 and didn’t sell that many copies. Nevertheless he was thinking about bigger better things, namely making a Documentary, and decided to take a trip back to Bluff creek the following year.

He decided to take his friend Bob Gimlin along. Gimlin was also a horsebreeder and came from Union Gap, Washington State. Like Patterson, Gimlin also had an interest in Bigfoot and they both, when there schedules allowed, conducted private searches for the creature in Washington, Oregon and Northern California.

2. Filming the Bigfoot

Bluff Creek Map

Detailed map of the actual site of the 1967 film. The area is in the Six Rivers National Forest, Northern California

They drove down to Bluff Creek in 1967. They made camp on the west bank of bluff creek, just above where it is joined by notice creek, and from there commenced their search. Both men were mounted on their own horses and behind them trailing on a rope, came a pack horse. The pack horse carried light camping equipment, some food and was their safeguard against being unable to get back to camp in the same day.

They approached a large jumbled pile of logs lying almost in the centre of the stream beds. The logs, some of them very large and still carrying their roots, were the result of a sudden flood the previous year that had washed them out of the higher reaches of the creek. The pile was probably one hundred feet in width and fifteen width high. It effectively hid the approach of the horsemen from anything that might lie behind it to the north.

Both horsemen came around the log pile together and according to their story, found a large female Bigfoot squatting on the bank of the watercourse ahead and to their left. She immediately stood up and walked away

Things seem to have happened very quickly after that. All three horses panicked and both men were again, according to their story, shocked and alarmed at the sight of the huge creature. The pack horse reared, broke its trailing rope and bolted southwards. Gimlin’s horse began to panic and he was forced to dismount in a hurry. He slid out of the saddle and took a firm grip on the reigns and

managed to hold the horse. Patterson had less luck. His horse reared and fell over sideways, coming down on his right leg, crushing the metal stirrup on his foot and pinning him temporarily to the ground.

While Pattersons was struggling to get up, the Bigfoot was walking rapidly away. Then Pattersons’s horse was up and he rose with it, pulling the camera out of the saddle bag and shouting to Gimlin to cover him with a rifle as he ran after the Bigfoot. Patterson aimed his camera at the creature and kept his finger pressed on the trigger while he changed position three times until he ran out of film. There was, according to him, only twenty eight feet of film in the camera. The remainder had been used to shoot other subjects that were to be used as part of a general film on Bigfoot. Then the camera was empty, the Bigfoot was gone, and it was all over.

They retrieved the horses, returned to the scene of the encounter and tied up the horses and set out to try and track the Bigfoot. They were unable to track it and instead made plaster casts of the footprints in the soft mud and then, with their horses, returned to their base camp near notice creek. They closed up camp, loaded the horses in the horse truck and drove to Eureka, on the coast, to mail the film to a relative in Yakima for processing.

3. The Analysis

Please click to view the Footage. A Hi Res 
Version can be seen in the Video Section.
         ( Requires Windows MediaPlayer )

The film has never been conclusively proved fake and the debate still rages thirty years after it was shot. It has been the subject of several legal actions, but none have ever questioned its authenticity. Bob Gimlin was actually cut out of the profits for several years and it seems unlikely this would have occurred if the film was not genuine.

At its first showing, at the University of British Columbia, the film was well received by an audience of scientists, museum staff, and members of the press—no one suggested it was a fake. Bigfoot researcher Bob Titmus saw the film at this first showing, and went to California to check the evidence, he later wrote to author John Green reporting what he found:

I spent hours that day examining the tracks, which, for the most part, were still in very good condition considering that they were 9 or 10 days old. Roger and Bob had covered a few of them with slabs of bark etc. and these were in excellent condition. The tracks appeared perfectly natural and normal. The same as the many others that we have tracked and become so familiar with over the years, but of a slightly different size. Most of the tracks showed a great deal of foot movement, some showed a little and a few indicated almost no movement whatever. I took plaster casts of ten consecutive imprints and the casts show a vast difference in each imprint, such as toe placement, toe gripping force, pressure ridges and breaks, weight shifts, weight distribution, depth, etc. Nothing whatever here indicated that these tracks could have been faked in some manner. In fact all of the evidence pointed in the opposite direction. And no amount of thinking and imagining on my part could conceive of a method by which these tracks could have been made fictitiously.

What the experts say

The film has been examined by several scientists and their opinions as to its authenticity differ. Dr. Grover Krantz, professor of Anthropology at Washington State University, while discussing the possibility of faking the film on a TV show:

"I went through it, frame by frame, measuring everything I could on it... what the body proportions were... and I can state flatly that there is no human being alive who could fit into a costume with the dimensions that are shown there."

 His view is shared by Dr Dmitri Donskoy, Chief of the Chair of Biomechanics at USSR Central Institute of Physical Culture in Moscow:

"...with all the diversity of human gaits, such a walk as demonstrated by the creature in the film is absolutely non-typical of man."

But Dr John Napier, physical anthropologist, former head of the primate program at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington disagrees. Here is an extract from his book 'Bigfoot':

"There is little doubt that the scientific evidence taken collectively points to a hoax of some kind. The creature shown in the film does not stand up well to functional analysis. I could not see the zipper; and I still can't. There I think we must leave the matter. Perhaps it was a man dressed up in a monkey-skin, if so it was a brilliantly executed hoax and the unknown perpetrator will take his place with the great hoaxers of the world. Perhaps it was the first film of a new type of hominid, quite unknown to science, in which case Roger Patterson deserves to rank with Dubois, the discoverer of Pithecanthropus erectus or Java man..."

Dr. William Montagna, director of the federal primate center at Beaverton, Oregon, gave his thoughts on the film in Primate News, September 1976:

"Along with some colleagues, I had the dubious distinction of being among the first to view this few-second-long bit of foolishness. As I sat watching the hazy outlines of a big, black, hairy man-ape taking long, deliberate human strides, I blushed for those scientists who spent unconscionable amounts of time analyzing the dynamics, and angulation of the gait and the shape of the animal, only to conclude (cautiously, mind you) that they could not decide what it was. For real or woe, I am neither modest about my scientific adroitness nor cautious about my convictions. Stated simply, Patterson and friends perpetrated a hoax. As the gait, erect body, and swing of the arms attest, their Sasquatch was a large man in a poorly made monkey suit. Even a schoolchild would not be taken in. The crowning irony was Patterson's touch of glamor: making his monster into a female with large pendulous breasts. If Patterson had done his homework, he would have known that regardless of how hirsute an animal is, its mammary glands are always covered with such short hairs as to appear naked."

Dr D W Grieve, Reader in Biomechanics at the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, London, concluded in his report on the film:

"My subjective impressions have oscillated between total acceptance of the Sasquatch on the grounds that the film would be difficult to fake, to one of irrational rejection based on an emotional response to the possibility that the Sasquatch actually exists. This seems worth stating because others have reacted similarly to the film. The possibility of a very clever fake cannot be ruled out on the evidence of the film. A man could have sufficient height and suitable proportions to mimic the longitudal dimensions of the Sasquatch. The shoulder breadth however would be difficult to achieve without giving an unnatural appearance to the arm swing and shoulder contours. The possibility of fakery is ruled out if the speed of the film was 16 or 18fps. No one knows at what speed the film was shot.] In these conditions a normal human being could not duplicate the observed pattern, which would suggest that the Sasquatch must possess a very different locomotor system to that of man."

Click here to read the full report

Silas Salmonberry, co-founder of the Internet Virtual Bigfoot Conference said of the film:

"Some people actually believe (incorrectly, I might add) that the Patterson Film has been shown to be a fake by experts. However, no expert has claimed it to be fake based on relevant techniques from his (or her) particular field of expertise. And certainly the film is of fairly poor quality, but not all that bad considering the apparent circumstances under which it was taken. A great deal could still be done with it if anyone with necessary skills, equipment and money would take an interest in the film. In fact, it is possible that the Patterson film has enough evidence to prove the existence of Bigfoot once and for all”


Left. A rear view of the Bigfoot creature showing his foot and Top. A plaster cast of the foot next to the original.

In 1968 Veteran Bigfoot researcher John Green, filmed his colleague Jim Mclarin retracing the very steps of the filmed creature. Jim Maclarin stands well over six feet tall and the plan was to gauge a size comparison of the Bigfoot compared to that of a man. Although a rather difficult task, it seemed to indicate that the Sasquatch was between 6 feet 5 inches tall and 6 feet 9 inches tall. (See Comparison below)


John Greens Comparison between the Bigfoot and a 6 foot 5 inch tall man.

For a more thorough examination of the Patterson film subject click here to read the report compiled by the North American Science Institute.   

Or Click on the following links..

Report on the Film of a Supposed Sasquatch by DW Grieve

Bigfoot's screen test - analysis of the Patterson-Gilmin film of Bigfoot by David J. Daegling & Daniel O. Schmitt

The First Russian Report on the 1967 Bigfoot Film Footage by Dmitri Bayanov & Igor Bourtev

The Second Russian Report on the 1967 Bigfoot Film Footage BY DR. Dmitri D. Donsky

MK Davis’s Patterson film stabiliastion

Close up of face of Patterson Film Bigfoot

Bill Munns Analysis of the Patterson-Gimlin Film

4. The Skeptics strike back

When considering the possibility of a hoax, many critics immediately suspected one or both of the men who witnessed the figure depicted in the film. Patterson and Gimlin both denied that they’d perpetrated a hoax.

Indeed, if they had perpetrated a hoax, they were most confident of it, in seeking various experts to examine the film. Patterson screened the film for unnamed “technicians in the special effects department at Universal Studios in Hollywood ... Their conclusion was: ‘We could try (faking it), but we would have to create a completely new system of artificial muscles and find an actor who could be trained to walk like that. It might be done, but we would have to say that it would be almost impossible’” (Hunter and Dahinden, 119).

Anthropologist David Daegling writes that the “more cynical skeptics” see Patterson’s luck as “more than a little suspicious”: He sets out to make a Bigfoot documentary, then almost literally stumbles across a Bigfoot. Daegling, however, offers the benefit of the doubt, noting that Patterson’s reasoning is sound: In seeking something elusive, he went to where it had been reported.

Krantz thought Patterson might have perpetrated such a hoax, given the opportunity and resources, but he also argued that Patterson had “nowhere near the knowledge or facilities to do so--nor for that matter, did anyone else ... When I talked about some of the more technical details of biomechanics, he (Patterson) showed the familiar blank look of a student who had lost the drift of the explanation, but was still trying hard to pay attention. Yet he must have known all these details to create a hoax. For instance, he could see the anterior position of the front of the shin, but how that related to foot leverage was quite beyond him”.

Similarly, Daegling writes that “Most acquaintances of Patterson volunteered that neither he nor Gimlin were clever enough to put something that detailed together”.

John Chambers

Rumors circulated that the creature seen in the Patterson-Gimlin film was a suit designed by movie special effects expert John Chambers, who designed the ape costumes seen in many of the original Planet of the Apes films, and was reportedly an acquaintance of Ray Wallace and Bob Gimlin.

Film director John Landis (who had earlier worked with Chambers on Beneath the Planet of the Apes) certainly helped spread such rumors, if he didn’t invent them outright. Coleman and Clark cite a 1997 Sunday Telegraph story where Landis says, “That famous piece of film of Bigfoot walking in the woods that was touted as the real thing was just a suit made by John Chambers”. The allegation has been repeated by pioneering makeup artist Rick Baker.

Shortly after Landis's story was published, Bigfoot researcher Bobbie Short interviewed Chambers, who was living in a Los Angeles nursing home. Chambers asserted he did not know Patterson or Gimlin, was not involved in making the film, and had no knowledge of the Patterson-Gimlin film before its public exposure. Chambers added “that he was ‘good’ but he ‘was not that good’ to have fashioned anything nearly so convincing as the Bluff Creek Bigfoot”. Chambers also told Short he had once helped create a Bigfoot sculpture, and speculated that this fact may have started or fueled the rumors that he was involved in the Patterson film.

It is also worth noting that Chambers’ innovative Planet of the Apes make-up relied primarily on expressive masks, not on body suits, and whatever seams or "zippers" would have appeared on the Planet of the Apes suits were covered up by clothing. Clothing was also used to cover up certain folds and seams on the Ewok costumes in Return of the Jedi (1983). Even when the costumes became more elaborate in the 1970's, King Kong in the 1976 remake still had a clearly-defined separation between the body of the suit and the head mask. Folds in the material have appeared in every film in which there was human costumed as an ape up until Gorillas in the Mist (1988), and they can be identified as such either in close-up or at a distance. In the Patterson/Gimlin film of Bigfoot, there are no identifiable folds seen, which means either both men had their hands on a costume that was far superior to anything made in Hollywood in the mid-1960's.

Other Costume Designers

However, very convincing full body suits were being used in the filming of another science fiction masterpiece, 2001:A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick. The suits were designed and created by the makeup artists of MGM Studios. Less elaborate ape costumes were used in the original Star Trek series, most notably in the episodes "The Galileo Seven", "The Man Trap" and "A Private Little War". The Star Trek apes and other non-humanoid life forms were created by costume designer Janos Prohaska, who also performed many of the non-humanoid roles.

This fact demonstrates that somewhat lifelike ape suits were not only possible, but available and reasonably affordable at the time Patterson and Gimlin were filming. Since home-movie stock doesn't clearly record details at a distance, it is arguable that, if the film was faked, the ape suit did not have to be unusually elaborate.

Philip Morris

In 2002, Philip Morris of Morris Costumes (a North Carolina-based company offering costumes, props and stage products) claimed that he made a gorilla costume that was used in the Patterson film. Morris says he discussed his role in the hoax privately in the 1980’s, but first admitted it publicly on August 16, 2002 on Charlotte, North Carolina radio station WBT-AM. Morris claims he was reluctant to expose the hoax earlier for fear of harming his business: Giving away a performer’s secrets, he says, would be widely regarded as disreputable.

Morris asserts that he sold an ape suit to Patterson via mail-order in 1967, thinking it was going to be used in what Patterson described as a "prank" . (Ordinarily the gorilla suits he sold were used for a popular side-show routine that depicted an attractive woman changing into a gorilla.) After the initial sale, Morris said that Patterson telephoned him asking how to make the "shoulders more massive" and the "arms longer". Morris says he suggested that whoever wore the suit should wear wide football-type shoulder pads and hold sticks in his hands within the suit. His assertion was also printed in the Charlotte Observer.

Beyond his rather detailed account, Morris has offered no corroborative evidence or testimony.

Bob Heironimus

Bob Heironimus claims to have been the figure depicted in the Patterson film, and his allegations are detailed in Long’s book. Heironimus was a tall (6-foot), muscular Yakima, Washington native, age 26, when he says Patterson offered him $1000 to wear an ape suit for a Bigfoot film.

Long uncovered testimony that he contends corroborates Heironimus's claims: Russ Bohannon, a longtime friend, says that Heironimus revealed the hoax privately in 1968 or 1969. Heironimus says he didn’t publicly discuss his role in the hoax because he hoped to be repaid eventually. In separate incidents, Bob Hammermeister and Heironimus’s relatives (mother Opal and nephew John Miller) claim to have seen an ape suit in Heironimus’ car. The relatives saw it two days after the film was alleged to have been made. No date was given by Long for Hammermeister's observation, but it apparently came well after the relatives' observation, as implied by the word "still" in the justification Heironimus gave Hammermeister for requesting his silence: "There was still supposed to be a payola on this thing, and he didn't have it". However, this is awkward for Heironimus's case, because his account implies that he had possession of the suit after his return to Yakima for only 24 hours.

Long argues that the suit Morris says he sold to Patterson was the same suit Heironimus claims to have worn in the Patterson film. However, Long quotes Heironimus and Morris describing ape suits that are in many respects quite different; Long speculates that Patterson modified the costume.

 Heironimus says he was told by his brother Howard that the suit was manufactured by Patterson from a “real dark brown” horse hide. This point is repeated several times: “It stunk: Roger skinned out a dead, red horse”. Heironimus also reports that he was told by Howard the suit’s fur was from an old fur coat.

 Morris reports that the suit was a rather expensive ($450) dark brown model with fur made of Dynel, a synthetic material. Long writes that Morris “used Dynel solely in the sixties--and was using brown Dynel in 1967”.

 Heironimus described the suit as having no metal pieces and an upper “torso part” that he donned “like putting on a T-shirt”. At Bluff Creek he put on “the top”. Asked about the “bottom portion,” he guessed it was cinched with a drawstring.

 Morris made a one-piece union suit with a metal zipper up the back and into which one stepped .

 Heironimus described the suit as having hands and feet that were attached to the arms and legs.

 Morris made a suit whose hands and feet were separate pieces. Long speculates that Patterson riveted or glued these parts to the suit. (Oddly, before Heironimus tried the suit on for size.)

Ray Wallace

After his death in 2002, the family of Ray Wallace went public with claims that he had started the entire Bigfoot phenomenon. In addition, David Daegling stated as a fact that Wallace "had a degree of involvement" with the Patterson-Gimlin film, and that this gave grounds for suspicion of it. The evidence for this involvement is Wallace's statement (made while alive), "I felt sorry for Roger Patterson. He told me he had cancer of the lymph glands and he was desperately broke and he wanted to try to get something where he could have a little income. Well, he went down there exactly where I told him. I told him, 'You go down there and hang around on that bank. Stay up there and watch that spot.'"

Wallace was well known for his dubious and attention-seeking claims, however, so most Bigfoot researchers discount Wallace’s involvement. And this particular claim is dubious on its face. It implies that Wallace masterminded the hoax without Patterson's involvement, and possibly even without his awareness. And it implies that his first attempt at a Bigfoot film hoax was far more convincing than the films Wallace subsequently made and tried to pass off as genuine.

Robert B. Stein

Robert B. Stein, an expert on hoaxes in general and trick photography in particular, argues that the Patterson-Gimlin creature's apparent size is due to a photographic trick called forced perspective. This is an elaborate set of special effects used to make film characters look larger or smaller than usual, compared to their surroundings. It has been used to good effect in many recent fantasy movies, including The Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter series. He notes that at no point in the Patterson-Gimlin film is any recognizable human form in the frame for size reference. He also asserts that the apparent "muscle movement" in the film was probably the result of a tight-fitting costume that enclosed the feet.

As a teenager in the late 1970s, Stein tried to demonstrate that convincing UFO photographs could not be created without expensive equipment. Ironically, he proved that they could be faked. Using only a Kodak InstaMatic, a Polaroid instant camera and an assortment of common objects thrown into the air, he created many convincing UFO pictures. Stein discovered how to use forced perspective to make his UFOs hover above trees or buildings. Claiming to be a "contactee", he later sold his pictures to several tabloids and UFO journals.

Stein comments on Patterson's incredible good luck. "Roger Patterson set out to make a Bigfoot documentary," he says. "He immediately stumbled upon a Bigfoot. Not only that, he stumbled upon a Bigfoot that was out in the open in bright, clear sunshine, perfect weather for filming. He didn't just beat the odds. He gave the odds a royal whipping."

Cliff Crook

In January 1999, a man by the name of Cliff Crook held a press confrence to anounce that he and his associate Chris Murphy had found an artifact on Patty's(the subject in the film) waistline that resembled a bell like fastner. This discovery, Mr Crook explained, was positive proof that the creature in the film is a man in a suit. This anouncement made headlines all over North America and parts of the world. This aleged artifact was produced by Chris Murphy with a home scanner from a book, Manlike Monsters on Trial, from the famous frame 352. Cliff Crook stated that this object is not visable in all reporduction of the footage, but it is in this book.

Examination done on the color plate frame by imaging specialists at a color technology laboratory in Ventura, California, revealed that no discernable object can be seen at any level of resolution. The image analysts stated that Murphy seems to be relying on some "highly imaginative, Rorschach-like interpretations of fuzzy details in enlargements of the color plates."

After 30 years of scientific study, no such artifact had ever been seen on the original film by qualified scientist, yet two amature bigfoot buffs managed to find it in a reproduction from a book.


Pictures showing a man-made object - or not!


Click on a picture to enlarge


For more information on the various Hoax arguments click on the following links.

Shooting the Bigfoot - A BBC investigation into Bigfoot

A History of various TV Programs Claiming the Patterson Footage was shown to be a Hoax. from www.bfro.net

Bigfoot's screen test - analysis of the Patterson-Gilmin film of Bigfoot by David J. Daegling & Daniel O. Schmitt

Some Thoughts About the Patterson Bigfoot Film on its 30th Anniversary by Marvin Chomsky

Webmasters conclusions

As mentioned by Silas Salmonbeerry, the film has never been proven to be a hoax, and the 40th anniversary of the film will no doubt bring with it the usual ‘The film is a hoax - i can prove it!’ brigade. The problem is however that everything periphery to the film will be critiqued and attacked, in the hope that if the critics can smear Roger Patterson (an easy target as he is unable to defend himself) then the film itself will be undermimed (Guilty by association).

It is a testament to the patterson film that noone has managed to duplicate the Bigfoot suit. Yet, skeptics laugh at the ‘ridiculous’ costume that Patterson created despite the likes of John Chambers and Yannish Parashka, two of the best makeup effects artists at the time, commenting how good and realistic the ‘costume‘ was.

If someone shows me how the costume was successfully created using 1967 makeup effects techniques then it will go a long way in successfuly debunking the film. Apart from that it is no good attacking everything else in the hope that the film will be tarnished aswell.


1. Roger Patterson - Do Abominable Snowmen of America really exist? Pyramid publications (1996) 3rd ed