The incredible chronicler and student of mythic storytelling and the human condition Joseph Campbell said in his iconic tome "The Power of Myth": "People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life. I don't think that's what we're really seeking. I think that what we're seeking is an experience of being alive…"

I caught up with writer and director Robert Krzykowski of The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot – starring Sam Elliott as the American mythic hero who attempts exactly what the title says – for a chat on just this kind of myth-making, constructing the "adult bedtime story" as Krzykowski aptly calls it, film, writing, the challenges of film-making, influences and so much more.  

The Man is one hell of a unique adventure of a film following our hero, WWII vet Calvin Barr (Sam Elliott in Barr's more aged but still badass state, and Aidan Turner in the flashbacks of young Barr) who secretly killed Hitler in WWII. Barr is recruited for a new mission by his government (Office Space's Ron Livingston is perfectly utilized as the bureaucrat Flag Pin) to eradicate a plague-carrying beast threatening the US – in the process, we get a look back at the hero's life as he once again does battle.

The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot is a one of a kind yet also classic study in the power of myth and that goal Campbell mentioned of helping us to feel alive by tapping into these greater stories that thrill and entertain us, while giving us a look at the creative process that builds the very myth itself – something the interview below also does.

Catch The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot in theaters and on VOD and Digital HD February 8. Enjoy the interview below.

Hello Robert and welcome to The 405!

Hello Wess!

Starting things off, what was your initial inspiration behind the film? It was quite well-done and entertaining, especially for a feature debut.

Early on, in the first ten pages, I was writing a pulp adventure. And when I reached the end of those pages, the hero had just killed Hitler, because he thought Hitler was a monster.

Realizing that, this hero could go fight another monster in the minutes left later in his life. One of them is spreading a plague of ideas in World War II and the other one: he's spreading a literal plague.

Great symbolism.

So, I went back to the beginning and put that title on it and I started writing my way toward it, and the things that happened in my life right around that time, mostly involving loss, started making me really think about loss and fear and regret.

Sorry to hear about that part of it Bob.

Thanks. That way – in spreading the two timelines apart – I could really focus on this character study aspect with Sam Elliott's character Calvin Barr.

(L-R) Sam Elliott as Calvin Barr and Ron Livingston as Flag Pin in the action-thriller“THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT,” an RLJE Films release. Photo courtesy of RLJE Films.

Yeah, I found that really fascinating. That actually gets into the next question I had which was: What was it like constructing this very mythic storytelling that you were doing? What was it like constructing the man, the myth, the legend of Calvin Barr?

I wanted it to be a bit of a deconstruction of the typical mythic American hero. It would embrace all of the things that we expect from that type of person, but I wanted to really get into who he was and where he came from and how he feels about his final action and I thought that there'd be something revealing to that and also the notion that he carries these frailties that are familiar to all of us. Then he could be this kind of iconic avatar for our common enemies which again are fear and loss and pain.

Absolutely.

So I was thinking about that very much in the mythic sense of trying to tell the story almost like a parable or I sometimes describe them as a bedtime story for adults.

That's a really a good way of putting it. I hadn't thought about it like a bedtime story for adults.

In casting that part, and even I guess in writing it, too, did you have anyone in particular in mind? I honestly don't know if I could picture anybody but Sam Elliott in that part.

I mean when I was writing it, there wasn't any real inspiration for Calvin Barr. I very much pictured a Norman Rockwell painting. I could see him so clearly in my head, and I have a background in illustration, so I did a lot of storyboard and professional design in the twelve years it took to make this movie. They looked exactly like Sam Elliott with the mustache and the hair and the tall build.  

Interesting.

And when it came time to cast the movie, [executive producer] John Sayles and I talked at length about who that might be. When Sam Elliott's name came up, it just became this epiphany that if Sam were to do it, the words on the page would come to life, and that they would feel real and that he would bring a truth to it. And then I got really worried that there might not be anyone else, like you just said, so that was a fear for me, too.

Oh, definitely. He did bring that role and indeed this story to life.

Pivoting into the process of filming, what was that like for you? What were the challenges like with the film in terms of that process?

The greatest challenge was just trying to do a movie this ambitious and with this kind of scope in 25 days, and then having to make certain sacrifices. As much fun as it would be to spend five days in the fight with Bigfoot, in the time it'd take – we only had about a day and a half.

So the thing that John Sayles told me was, "Do the most important thing. Just do what this movie is. Just stay on schedule, keep your takes down, and just tell the story. Get the whole story told, don't miss any scenes. Go to the edit completely confident that you can shape it then, so you have your whole movie, all 93 pages of your script get captured with no exceptions."

And so, our first A.D. – Elaine Gibson – created a schedule that made that happen, and then our line producer who became an executive producer – Louise Lovegrove – created a budget that just barely made every single one of these elements happen on an incredibly tight budget and schedule. So, it was a collaboration between all the different department heads bringing their gifts to this movie to help pull it off.

It was extremely challenging before there was a lot of communication and a lot of press.

That's great. Like you said, very ambitious, especially for a feature debut, especially. You executed really well on that challenge, I think.

Sam Elliott as Calvin Barr in the action-thriller“THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT,” an RLJE Films release. Photo courtesy of RLJE Films.

Any funny or memorable moments from that process that stick out?

I mean, we were having fun every day. Just the shoot itself was incredibly intense and the pace was so rapid so Sam and I were just in constant communication and we were always talking about the character and focusing on the task at hand; but on the weekends we all hung out like a family, and we'd go to picnics and we'd all go swimming in the Connecticut River.

We'd go to the bar that opens the film, and it was very much a family atmosphere so there was a lot of laughter and a lot of fun and we were all really sad to say goodbye to each other when it was all done.

But we also knew it wasn't goodbye. We've all stayed in touch and we're all still meeting each other at festivals and if I go to a festival and somebody's there with me, we go host this thing together so that the audience can learn this thing about what some of the other departments do and how special each person is in the process of making a movie. It's not just three or four people making a movie, it's over a hundred, and they're all bringing their specialty to that and making it what it is, so.

My favorite memories are just working with this team and having fun.

I always love hearing how art brings people together like that

Switching gears just a little bit to the question I ask most everybody: What films and directors would you consider most pivotal on you as an artist? Influences, basically.

Hal Ashby is very, very important to me. The Last Detail and Being There ... those movies mean a lot to me.

Raiders of the Lost Ark and Steven Spielberg Close Encounters of the Third Kind, obviously with Douglas Trumbull's contributions...

Absolutely.

I look up to the Coen brothers immensely. Fargo is one of my favorite movies of all time and had a big influence on this movie where you can have this dark, brutal kidnapping story on one end and you have this incredibly human, decent story on the other end between this pregnant police officer and her husband who just love each other in a very real, simple way. Fargo juxtaposed the brutality against the small-town decency. That felt radical to me the first time that I saw it.

Me too. Love all their work but especially Fargo and their 1984 debut Blood Simple..

There's so many ... Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation. My favorite movie – probably with Raiders of the Lost Ark. I've watched The Conversation many times to try to understand Walter Murch's sound design and editing and the construction of the story itself and how it has this very art house feel to it, yet it's extremely intense and intelligent...

Absolutely.

There's a handful of movies that I go back to and I just love. Lawrence of Arabia, I try to watch every year…

Great, and that's a great selection there.

Aidan Turner as Calvin Barr in the action-thriller“THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT,” an RLJE Films release. Photo courtesy of RLJE Films.

Getting into our last question because we don't have a lot of time: What's next for you?

I don't know exactly yet. Some things have come across my radar that might be interesting, and I've written a couple things that I share about a lot.

But this process has taken like I said, 12 years and when all is said and done, I just want to take a full stop and look over it and assess what just happened and then make a decision that feels right and true and good.

Especially if it's an independent film. You're asking a lot of good people to gather around you – sometimes for not very much money – to do a whole new thing that's rewarding unless the work itself is something we can all be proud of and is worth doing.

So, I think the next thing I do, I just want to really make sure that it's worth doing.