Florida bigfoot horror movie shot in Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. — A newly released horror and thriller movie called The Wild Man, which was shot in Hillsborough County during the pandemic, features the skunk ape or Florida’s bigfoot.

“As a Florida native, the legend of the skunk ape always had our interest,” said co-producer and director Ryan Justice, 35. “We wanted to do a fun movie around the legend and do something different with the bigfoot movie genre.”

What You Need To Know

  • The movie was shot in Fall 2020
  • The Wild Man was released digitially on Sept. 30
  • The movie got film incentives from Pinellas and Hillsborough counties

The movie was shot in the fall of 2020 and was released digitally on Amazon, Apple and Google Play on September 30. It’s about a group of journalists who visit a small town where young girls have gone missing. Everyone has their own suspect, which includes the skunk ape.

“The Wild Man takes place in a small town right outside the Florida Everglades,” said Justice. “The deeper our journalists dig into this small town, the more secrets, dark secrets, are pretty much eventually revealed.” 

Justice said marketing incentives from Film Tampa Bay and the St. Petersburg-Clearwater Film Commission helped to boost the movie’s production value.

“These tax incentives are so important for these little films. We got almost $15,000 back from Tampa and almost $6,000 back from Pinellas,” he said. “That’s almost like half our budget back in incentives. That we were able to then take and put right back into the movie to make the movie even better.”

Justice said Film Tampa Bay also helped them secure filming locations at a home in Plant City, the American Victory Ship and MOSI.

“More than 50 percent of our movie was shot right here at MOSI,” he said. “Half the building was used for storing PPE and the other half was just completely empty​. It had so many different looks. Our script needed different locations.”

Justice said nearly the entire cast and crew are local natives and proud of making a movie in their backyard.

“The Tampa Bay area is a great film community,” he said. “With the help of our film commissioners, we’re getting a lot of movies in here and getting a lot of our cast and crew work.”