We caught up with filmmaker Brad Abrahams, director of Love and Saucers, ahead of it’s Lift-Off premier in Los Angeles next week.
Love and Saucers follows the strange story of David Huggins, a 72 year-old Hoboken man who claims to have had a lifetime of encounters with otherworldly beings – including an interspecies romance with an extra-terrestrial woman (with whom he lost his virginity to), and chronicled it all in surreal impressionist paintings, few of which have ever been seen.
Interview by Natalie Daniels
How did you find David?
About 5 years ago I was on a long distance bus journey in South East Asia and had loaded up my iPhone with all sorts of strange and interesting podcasts, and after hours and hours of listening to some UFO related podcasts, they mentioned David’s story (just in one line,) and it just sounded so bizarre I couldn’t believe that someone even thought that that happened to them. So as soon as I was back home I tried to hunt him down, and learned that he had absolutely zero internet presence, and the only way I could contact him was through a neighbour, who had since moved to Turkey. So I had to track her down in Turkey, and get his home phone number and then call him and just say, “Hey, your story is fascinating, maybe we can talk about a film?” We just started these chats, talking for hours once a week or so, to get his full story. And we took it from there!
How much time did you spend with David and what was the interview process like?
For one, I wanted to get a sense of him as a person, to see his psychology and how down to earth he was. And that was what I was immediately struck by. He’s from small town Georgia, he has that sensibility and seems like one of the most down to earth guys you could ever talk to. Very plain spoken, talks about this all matter of factly, which is very striking. There’s not a new age bone in his body! He’s just like “Hey this is what happened to me.” He’s so non-existential that he doesn’t even think about why it happened… it just happened to him.
After a few calls, I asked it was okay if I could come and film with him for a few days as an experiment. He invited me to stay in his house (and I actually slept in his ex wife’s bed whilst I was there for a few days!) and she actually lives with him but was on vacation at the time. I would wake up and film David making breakfast and going about his day, and then we would have interviews and I would film him painting. I still at the end of that trip wasn’t sure if I had a film at all or if it was a short film and I actually sat on it for a while. I put together a little trailer and it exploded – like so quickly – it got hundreds of thousands of views on like Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan and Vice, so I just had to actually follow through and make the film.
I must say the opening line to the documentary hooks you into the story and makes you take a double take.
Yeah and that was also his very first line to me was when I called him – that’s how he started his story.
So you spent a lot of time with David, but how long was the actual shoot?
There weren’t that many shoot days, probably each year we would go once or twice for a few days. Mainly because of budget, that was the main constraint, along with not wanting to impose too much on David. I also think it is a pretty simple story, it didn’t need much more than that. So in total, I would say it was about 10 shoot days, but over 3 years… so it took a while!
Did you have any obstacles you had to overcome whilst filming?
I had to get a production company interested for money, but other than that it wasn’t too difficult. Maybe a little bit of convincing, for example the professor of comparative religious studies from Rice University, a prestigious University here in the States. It was a bit of a challenge to get him to come on camera, but eventually he was interested! And other people too, they just wanted to make sure I wasn’t poking fun and treating the subject respectfully.
Has David seen the film?
No, he hasn’t yet and the hurdle is that his only viewing medium he had is VHS! So I have to and want to convert the file to VHS, it’s just not these days an easy process – I still have to figure that out… Once I do that I’ll ship it to him and he’ll watch it on that tiny broken television and see what he thinks! I have no idea what he’ll think. Because of course for a story you have to cut things out, and move things around, but I’m sure he’ll think it’s respectful enough.
What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
Maybe around 13/14 years old I had a local video store, and the lady who owned it would recommend very strange films for my age, such as David Lynch films (like Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart), Andrei Tarkovsky, Lars von Trier, all these films that a teenage shouldn’t be watching! But I think she was trying to usher me into good taste in cinema, and watching those films at that young age made such a good impression in terms of the power of image making and storytelling, as well as the weirder side of that. That was the first steps, and then I had an old super 8 camera that I would film experimental things with and claymation. I went to film school, at Ryerson University in Toronto, where I don’t put much importance, but the main thing I took from the experience was friends and peers, creating working relationships.
What are you working on at the moment?
With the same producer, we are working on a film called Cryptozoologist. It’s about the unknown animals and the people who have devoted their lives to finding them, so things like Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, Mothman… all of these legendary creatures that over the years have had a lot of settings, but completely focusing on the serious researchers that have literally spent 30 – 40 years of their lives, just devoted to finding this things that most likely doesn’t exist, and the types of personally that that requires to do so. Also the possibility that at least one of these creatures does exist in some fashion, and that’s what keeps them going. We’ve shot a bit of that and are about to launch a kickstarter for it fairly soon.
I’m also in postproduction for a science and medicine documentary film that takes on the flaws in the scientific and medical research establishments, and how to make it better. We interviewed a lot of badass renegade, older scientists that tried to make huge changes in science and medicine, curing major diseases, and trying to get their voices out there.
Do you mind me asking if you think extraterrestrials have visited earth?
I think it’s now a pretty mainstream view to believe in the possibility of extraterrestrials, just based on the odds. But in terms of visiting earth, I think that it’s hard to say yes definitively (unless you have experienced something,) but then again we haven’t experienced black holes but we believe they exist because scientists say so. So I don’t know what amount of evidence we would need to actually believe aliens have visited, or that abductions are real. There are other alternative theories, that they are not necessary far away, but that they are from another dimension. Maybe I believe that a little more.
So to end, do you believe what happened to David is real?
“Do I believe what happened to David is real?” Yes. One – I believe he is being 100% truthful in what he experience himself, he is not making anything up. But is what he experienced something objectively something someone else would experience? And I tend to agree with Jeffrey J. Kripal, the academic in the film who believes he had a mystical experience, like a religious or a magical experience, the content of which are coloured by pop culture and things that you see every day. I do think something extraordinary happened to him many times, but I can’t say they were extraterrestrials, and even he doesn’t say that. He just says he doesn’t know what they are or where they come from…
After wanting to screening Love and Saucers for some time now we are delighted to announce the screening as part of Los Angeles Lift-Off on Saturday 9th September at Raleigh Studios as part of the sci fi showcase.
Tickets available on Eventbrite: https://losangelesliftoff2017.eventbrite.co.uk
For more from Brad, Love and Saucers and his latest film see below.