Pamula Pierce Barcelou has gained copyright to one of her father Charles B. Pierce’s most beloved films, “The Legend of Boggy Creek,” and is having the movie restored for a future re-release, she said.
Shot in the early 1970s in a docudrama style, “The Legend of Boggy Creek” became a cult hit for Pierce, a longtime Texarkana resident who also directed “The Town That Dreaded Sundown” and other independent feature films.
“The Legend of Boggy Creek” chronicles the based-on-real-life encounters between Fouke-area residents and the Fouke Monster—a shaggy, Bigfoot-esque creature said to roam the nearby woods and swampy waterways.
Barcelou said Steve Ledwell of Ledwell & Son assigned her copyright of both “Boggy Creek” and another Pierce film, “Bootleggers.” Ledwell’s father, L.W., helped finance “The Legend of Boggy Creek,” which found success as a low-budget, drive-in creature feature.
“The Legend of Boggy Creek” is being restored at the George Eastman Museum in New York and, for the first time since it was released, the movie will be appear as it did during its theatrical release, unlike bootleg versions out there now, Barcelou said.
“We have a clean, clear beautiful print that is being remastered,” Barcelou said, noting various elements have been brought together to make the restored version, including negatives from a Technicolor office in Burbank, Calif.
Barecelou said she aims to release “Boggy Creek” on Blu-ray and also bring it back to movie theaters after working on the sound. She’d like to hold a “Charles B. Pierce-style” premiere at the Perot Theatre.
“We will also be re-releasing theatrically,” said Barcelou, noting she’s gone back and forth to Rochester, N.Y., where the restoration work is being completed, to see the project’s progress. This will make the film look how it was meant to appear, she said, adding that “Boggy Creek” fans have long requested this type of clear version being made available.
“I saw it up on the big screen for the first time in 45 years and it made me cry,” Barcelou said, noting the restoration and remastering work will help the colors pop in the swamp scenes, for example.
Kyle Alvut, who manages the digital part of film preservation services for the George Eastman Museum, said they’re taking analog elements and turning them into digital content to produce Blu-rays and high-definition copies, basically preparing the movie for that sort of distribution.
“Just like it would be a brand-new movie,” Alvut said. They’ve received a few elements and are sorting through them before deciding the best way to reconform to the original movie. It’s the kind of work they do to restore movies made a century ago.
“They’re original prints, original negatives she’s finding,” Alvut said of Barcelou’s project to acquire these elements. It’s a process of selecting and evaluating, scanning and restoring. What they’ll end up with is a digital source master, he said.
About a local premiere, Barcelou said, “I’ll make it a great big event for Texarkana.” She’s worked on this project for the past three years, tracking down elements to be restored and acquiring copyright.
“This will be the first release since the theatrical release in ’73 that is using pristine elements,” Barcelou said.
She plans to dedicate this “Boggy Creek” re-release to Ledwell, too. “I’m very humbled and honored that Steve entrusted their preservation to me,” she said. “These films would have been lost forever had Steve not assigned me these rights.”
Michael McCormack of the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based entertainment and intellectual property firm Drew Patrick Law worked with Barcelou on the copyright issue. He said Ledwell “very generously” assigned copyright to Barcelou.
“We were ecstatic that he worked with us completing that process,” McCormack said. He said there were various companies through which Ledwell’s father and Barcelou’s father were in business together, so they had to follow the chain to establish ownership.
“It was clear to us that Steve was the individual that had the rights to assign to us the copyright,” McCormack said.