A Radford filmmaker has resumed a project to revisit the 1987-88 UFO sightings in Wytheville.
The project originally kicked off in 2012, but Horse Archer Productions producer Sean Kotz said family health issues initially put the project on hold. Later, the company took on the production of the nationally televised PBS concert series, “Song of the Mountains,” leading Kotz to further put the project on the back burner.
But Kotz is pleased to get back to work on the film, titled “Strange Country: A Different Kind of UFO Documentary” and he expects to have it completed this year.
“It is fun and a bit of a relief,” Kotz said Friday. “I did some editing yesterday and found myself wrapped right back up in the story.”
The story centers on former WYVE news director Danny Gordon, who inadvertently became the hub of the flap when then Wythe County Sheriff Wayne Pike called in is crime report on October 7, 1987. Pike told Gordon that four police officers had witnessed a UFO.
Within weeks Gordon himself sighted a strange craft and reports of other sightings began to cross his desk. A press conference held in October 1987 drew national attention and by the following year, Gordon alone had received more than 3,000 reports.
Kotz said “Strange Country” will approach the story from a unique angle.
“Most of the time, UFO documentaries focus on the most outlandish aspects and are often marked by wild speculations or unfounded assumptions,” Kotz told the Enterprise in 2012, when he first announced the project.
“Instead, we are interested in the human story which is typically forgotten in these cases. What happened to the town and in particular, Danny Gordon, whose life was turned upside down by the ensuing attention and excitement?”
To help round out the film, Kotz is looking for more witnesses to tell their stories. Those who would like to participate can find him at the WyvaCon event held on the campus of Wytheville Community College this Saturday, where Kotz will discuss the film and making movies “in the middle of nowhere.”
“It is the best of times and the worst of times,” Kotz said of indie filmmaking. “On one hand, technology, tools and outlets are more available than ever before, but then again that makes the field crowded.”
At the convention, Kotz, who teaches film classes at Radford University, will lead a discussion on the philosophical and practical advice garnered from his 10 years of movie making. The second part of the presentation will look at the Wytheville UFO incident, the progress of the documentary and a discussion with Gordon.
Kotz and co-producer James Hunderup hope the film will be completed this fall and will find a place at film festivals around the country.
Those interested in lending their stories to the film, but are unable to attend Saturday’s discussion, can contact Kotz on Horse Archer’s website at www.horsearcherpro.com.
Jasmine Dent Franks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org