A little over sixteen years ago, Dan Wayne was in search of a small place to renovate, when he fell in love with a building at 5th and Harrison that he turned into Soda Lofts in Columbus Park. Wayne had always loved Columbus Park, and found a community there, with inspiration surrounding him everywhere.
Wayne has always been a creator. He started out as a photographer, but has moved from project to project. He eventually found himself working with taxidermy, and although it was difficult, the people he met while practicing the craft made it worth it for him. These are the people who inspired him to start making the film “Big Fur.”
“My neighborhood especially is very supportive of my work. You know, I have that big van that I wrapped in Big Fur promotions. And I think, that everyone in the neighborhood is really excited to see it come to fruition,” says Wayne.
He had always enjoyed the idea of taxidermy, and had met many people through the online forum taxidermy.net. This is where he met Ken Walker, a maven in the world of taxidermy, that had an extreme interest with the legend of bigfoot.
Wayne had an idea for a film about what an underappreciated art form taxidermy is, and he had been working on a project with about ten taxidermists, but he dropped his work on that film as he started to get to know Walker. Wayne signed up for one of Walker’s coyote taxidermy workshops, and sent him a message through the forum. He told Walker that he was a filmmaker and was interested in making a documentary about taxidermy. “I told him we could have a beer and sit down for an hour or two and talk about it while I was in the area. He told me he’d call me in a few minutes. When he did, we talked for about an hour, and all he talked about was big foot. And when you meet him in person, that’s always the case too. When he told me he was going to do a recreation of bigfoot, I knew: this is a story right here.”
Walker is known for doing recreations of rare or extinct animals. He takes parts from other animals and pieces them together to recreate animals like pandas and sabertooth tigers. This has gained him a lot of recognition in the taxidermy world. Even with the experience Walker had, it took years to finish his recreation of bigfoot. He frequently altered what he believed bigfoot would look like because he wanted it to be absolutely perfect.
Wayne said, “I think a lot of people assume ‘Oh this guy is just kind of making up stuff to make this fun creation,’ but that’s not the case. Ken really believes in this stuff, and he did hours of research, watching clips, and looking into individual’s experiences to make sure he was making the most accurate rendition possible. He really cared about this, and even though it looks great, I know he always thinks it could be better.”
It took Wayne 6 years to complete this documentary about Walker and his work, which presented many challenges. He created his own original animations for the film, and lost his film editor, but now he has finally completed the film and is eager to share his work. On Thursday May 2, Wayne premiered the film at the World Taxidermy Championships at the Alamo Drafthouse in Springfield, Missouri. On Sunday May 5, “Big Fur” will premier for the first time in Kansas City at the Screenland Armour Theatre in North Kansas City at 5:30 PM.
After these showings, Wayne will look for companies interested in streaming the film, making it more readily available for the public to view.
For more information on this film and Dan’s work go to bigfurmovie.com.