It seems every decent-sized lake with dark, murky waters is home to a monster — or at least to a legend of one. Most of them are, like the infamous Nessie in Scotland’s Loch Ness, rather plesiosaurian or at least serpentile in nature and persistently camera-shy.
Lake Champlain, which lies across the Canada-United States border between New York/Vermont in the US and Quebec in Canada, is no exception. Its amphibious, serpent-like beastie is named Champ. Though legends of Champ’s existence have the support of local Native American tribes, the Iroquois and the Abenaki, and there have been over 300 reported sightings since French explorer Samuel de Champlain (founder of Québec) came to the area in 1609, concrete evidence of Champ’s existence remains elusive. The serpentile lake monster was apparently quite famous in the 19th Century. Showman and entrepreneurial cryptozoologist P.T. Barnum even offered a reward of $50,000 to anyone who could produce a carcass of Champ (source). Naturally Barnum would have used the carcass as one of his freakshow exhibits. I guess no one took up the offer.
Now producer/director Lori Kelly-Bailey of Oneonta is making a film about the legendary beast, shot in the area and using local actors and crew. Titled Champ-o-Sauras, the low-budget independent film, touted as a horror spoof and a mockumentary, tells of a doco filmmaker who turns up with the intent of debunking the legend of the Lake Champlain monster. Competition over a reward for anyone who can produce evidence of Champ’s existence results in savage competition and pranks that turn deadly.
Of the film’s plot Kelly-Bailey said that there are two central questions: “Is there proof that Champ exists? And will anyone make it out of the lake alive?”
The regional cast includes Dyani Mae Bryant, Mackenzie Peters, Giovanna Contini-Marrow, Brenda Baker, Rex Baker, Thomas Scozzafava, William Farrar, Cody Lang, Andy Miritello, Randy Miritello, Marie Ann Logue and Peggy Benjamin. Still be cast are roles for two children to play a 1920s paperboy between the ages of 6 and 8, with an English-Irish accent, and a 1920s shoeshine boy. Casting will be held in Essex County, with tryout times and location to be announced.
Anyone interested should send a current photo along with basic information, including child’s height and weight, any special skills or previous acting experience to: Tandem Cage Productions, P.O. Box 707, Oneonta, NY 13820, and include contact information.
Shooting for the film has begun and will continue through May and June. It will be released on DVD and various streaming services once completed.