It’s common to think that we’re not alone in the universe. There’s got to be intelligent life on some other planet. Then why is it when somebody says that they have encountered beings from another world, we dismiss them as crazy? Is it possible that aliens have been regularly visiting Earth for years without our knowing? David Huggins thinks so. In fact, he knows so. He’s the subject Love and Saucers, a documentary in which he chronicles his numerous close encounters with the third kind. And by close encounters, I mean intergalactic sexual relations.
Filmmaker Brad Abrahams is fascinated with stories like David’s. But he’s more interested in documenting the storytellers themselves instead of chasing after the unknown and the unexplained. After bringing Love and Saucers to film festivals all over the world, Abrahams has now released the documentary for streaming and home viewing. We spoke to Abrahams about his own beliefs, meeting David and his future projects.
You can read our review of Love and Saucers here.
Chris Aitkens of Nightmare on Film Street: Prior to talking to David, did you believe in UFOs and intelligent life on other planets?
Brad Abrahams: Yes, but I’m not a true believer, especially when it comes to abduction stories. I’m more interested in the phenomena and the culture around that phenomena. I think everyone’s interested to a certain extent about intelligent life out in the universe.
NOFS: Has your opinion changed at all since talking to David?
BA: Not in terms of believing in contact. But more in terms of believing that UFO experiences are related to mystical or religious experiences, or more supernatural experiences such as ghostly or monster experiences. I tend to think more in that way. I still believe that something has happened to all these people but not necessarily in objective reality.
NOFS: Did your skepticism shape the movie?
BA: In a sense, that’s when I introduced Jeffrey Kripal, the professor of comparative religious studies, because I found his approach attractive in that he’s a world-renowned professor but he does not judge and he does not dismiss. In fact, he believes what these people are saying but he adds another layer to it in that what they’re experiencing may not be the reality. They’re experiencing something, but it’s been colored from popular culture or their history or their trauma or all manner of things.
NOFS: How did you come across David’s story?
BA: It was listening to a wacky UFO podcast and they mentioned David’s story as even too wacky for them to talk about. And I thought, if something is too fringe for these people, then I’ve got to find out more. I tried looking him up online, but he’s one of the few human beings that has no internet presence, so I needed to track down one of his neighbors. And she had actually made a little photobook of his paintings. She gave me his phone number and that’s how it started.
NOFS: What I really liked about the movie is that it didn’t take much to tell the story, all you needed was David’s voice and the visual of his paintings, and maybe a bit of music to set the mood. Was there a lot of decision making with the storyline or what kind of mood you wanted to evoke?
BA: I had to pull myself back, being a filmmaker and since I come from a commercial world. Just resisting the temptation to stylize and do recreations and flourishes, because the story is really ripe for that, but David’s story is so out there and so bizarre that I felt like any flourishes beyond that would put it over the top that would suggest I’m a true believer or that he’s a wacko. It’s a very delicate line to cross and I wanted to skate it instead of going over either end.
NOFS: Were there any scenes that ended up on the cutting room floor that might have added to the story?
BA: No, it was pretty lean and mean shooting, it was a pretty low ratio shooting in terms of budget and time. I needed to be super focused. Even before shooting with him, I did six to eight-hour telephone calls with him that I would record, so I knew exactly what I wanted to ask him and shoot with him. I spent three days at his house at first, I slept in his ex-wife’s bed and that’s when all the unexpected stuff happened, like founding out about his 2000-strong VHS tape collection, for example.
NOFS: And when it came to talking to other subjects, did you have to make the contacts through David or did you have to send out a million emails until something actually stuck?
BA: There was some hit-and-misses there. At first, I felt like the only people I really wanted to talk to were people who knew David because it’s so easy to cast aspersions and judgment on someone with such a ridiculous story that you don’t know. And the whole thing with David is that you have to know you have to know him to realize that he’s not making things up. That’s why it was his son, his neighbor, his journalist friend and his boss. But then I felt that the story needed to be a bit bigger, it felt a little too claustrophobic, and I wanted either a hypnotherapist who would do hypnotic regressions or a psychiatrist or a psychoanalyst. What I found was that after reaching out to them, almost none of them wanted to do it because there’s actually a rule stating that you can’t psychoanalyze people that aren’t your patient, it’s an American Psychiatric Association rule which I actually agree with and value now, for the same reason that I didn’t want to interview people who didn’t know David because I feel that any psychiatrist that I would have interviewed would have just said that it was probably a childhood trauma or that he has personality disorder or all these things you might say if you don’t know him or haven’t spent a lot of time with him. Ultimately, the outside voice I did get was this professor because I knew he was going to be non-judgmental.
NOFS: What was your relationship to David like? How did he receive you?
BA: He’s very open and friendly, almost to the point of being a bit naïve. He was almost immediately trusting. I mean, I came of as genuine but I think he had every reason not to be trusting because I’m sure any other person could have come and made a piece that would make fun of him. He surprised me with how open and generous he was, like offering for me to stay at his house, he would call me because he knew my parents were going through some health issues, so he would call me every week just to ask how my parents were doing and to ask how the crew was doing. He was just so friendly and nice. I consider him a friend, we chat every week or so. Not too close, but friendly.
NOFS: Have there been any developments since the film has come out?
BA: He called me to tell me that he had a dreamlike encounter with the beings and they told him that they endorse the film. So it has the extra-terrestrial stamp of approval, which I’m glad for because I was actually worried if they are out there, if they didn’t like the film, I was going to be swiftly taken away.
NOFS: So if they approve, then David must approve of the film.
BA: I guess they saw it before he did, because that was months ago and I was waiting to give him a VHS of the film but it turns out in this day and age, it’s really hard to get a VHS made. I was going to have to send it out of state or buy one of those VHS-to-DVD boxes, so I eventually just sent him a DVD recently and he really liked the film which I’m really happy about.
NOFS: So let’s talk more about the reception of the film. Did you travel to many film festivals?
NOFS: Yeah, in Canada and the US. It played in Australia and England and some other places in Europe, but I was only able to travel to the US and Canada. It’s pretty fascinating, the audience reactions were radically different in each place. Mostly, it was all positive, depending on the eclecticism of the crowd. In Miami, which isn’t the most sophisticated film-going culture, there was more laughter, things were funnier to them. But in Austin for Fantastic Fest, no one was laughing at David, they got all the in-jokes, like old sci-fi references, and they really dug the paintings.
NOFS: Did you do a lot of Q&As?
BA: Yeah, the Q&As were pretty amazing. In a few of them, I actually had people admit that they had experiences, even people who hadn’t talked about it publicly before, mostly sightings, not actually being taken inside a craft, but just seeing UFOs. I had a lot of out-there conspiracy comments and questions, but overall, people were pretty transfixed with David’s story and I think going in, they all thought they were going to see a film about a loony guy, but coming out, most people were quite taken by him.
NOFS: Now that the film is available for streaming, do you have any last-minute anxieties?
BA: I guess a little bit. So far, I’ve only screened it to film festival audiences and that’s a completely different crowd than the general audience and from general reviewing entities, so I’m fascinated and worried about how the general populous will take it because it’s such an out-there story, especially for people who aren’t into odd and esoteric things. Why would you even make a movie on this topic? So we’ll see about that. I was worried that the UFO community might not like it but they seem to so far.
NOFS: So I see you’re already working on your next project, Cryptozoologist. Can you reveal any details about it or what you want to achieve with it?
BA: That’s one of the next projects, it’s in pre-production. For the people who don’t know, cryptozoology is the study of hidden or unknown animals, and that ranges from the more fantastical like Bigfoot and Loch Ness Monster but also to pieces of lichen or fungi, or a little bird that is of a new species that we haven’t seen before. So it’s kind of like the UFO world or ufology, cryptozoology is seen as completely fringe and disreputable. But there are surprisingly a large group of serious researchers, this is their life! They’ve dedicated decades of their life and have been marginalized personally and professionally to study an animal or creature that they will most likely never find. Just that idea is so fascinating to me, and if even one of them finds one of these creatures, that’s game-changing in terms of zoology and biology. It’s a passion project of the producer and I just love cryptozoology as well. And we did a little short together on the skunk ape, which is South Florida’s Bigfoot that lives in the Everglades. Like that one, it’s more about the people than about the creature, same with how Love and Saucers is more about David and his story than it is about aliens.
NOFS: Anything else you would like to add?
BA: I just want to say, for people who haven’t seen the film to go into with an open mind. Speaking for myself and everyone who has met David, they would say that he’s an honest, humble and sincere man, so keep that in mind when you watch it and reserve judgment until the end.