Phillip Wade, who lives in Creswell with his wife and brother, checks on lighting before shooting a scene. PHOTO PROVIDED
CRESWELL – If you like mysteries, Mount Adams is probably your kind of place.
Located about 75 miles northeast of Portland, Mount Adams is the second-largest mountain in Washington. Although it hasn’t erupted in over 1,000 years, it is still considered an active volcano.
While there may not be any lava bubbling up, that won’t stop the hotbeds of controversy always surrounding Mount Adams and its rich history. The first UFO sighting in modern history happened on June 24, 1947, when private pilot Kenneth Arnold – who first coined the term “flying saucers” – claimed to see a succession of nine, shiny objects flying from Mount Rainier to Mount Adams before they faded out of view.
Gilliland’s Ranch and Sattva Sanctuary, a patch of land owned by James Gilliland at the base of Mount Adams, has been the gathering spot for UFO sighting events since 2003. Throughout the years there have been steady reports – some from Gilliland’s group, some from other observers – of illuminated, pulsating balls of light darting across the sky.
Most will concede that something isn’t normal on Mount Adams … but is it paranormal? So many stories, so much folklore, so many unanswered questions.
One Native American legend even spoke of a secret mountain doorway or portal, from which otherworldly beings with healing powers would emerge.
When Creswell brothers Tim and Phillip Wade decided to go “monster-hunting” on Mount Adams a few years back – thinking they might see some type of Bigfoot creature – they had no clue they were about to spend one of the most harrowing nights of their lives.
They also had no idea that their experience that fateful night would be the inspiration for a six-year independent movie project which they just put the finishing touches on. Their first full-length feature film, “Mount Adams,” is now available at Walmart and is streaming on Amazon, Vudu and DirecTV.
From left: Jordan, Tim and Phillip
“Tim and I spent years investigating mysterious phenomena,” Phillip said. “On one of our trips many years ago we ran across Mount Adams and discovered a lot of mysterious folklore there. It’s a beautiful area. … A lot of the scenery for our movie was actually filmed here in Oregon; we have a similar look so it was easy enough to mimic some of the scenes.”
“We had heard about strange occurrences up there, so we went there monster-hunting, hoping to get a glimpse of Bigfoot,” Tim recalled. “So we high-tailed it up into the forest and found this hunting lookout and we hunkered down and started looking at the stars and seeing these strange lights, satellite-type lights, and there were lights on the mountain as well, something we had never seen first-hand.
“It was around midnight, and we heard noises in the distance and there were big branches breaking, and they kept getting closer and closer and closer, and they were coming from both sides. I originally thought they were elk – it’s the first time I’ve ever been truly startled by animals,” he said.
“We also had our little brother with us, who was, like, 12 at the time, and we didn’t want to put anybody’s life at risk, so we decided to hike our way back. There was no trail or anything, but thankfully we found our way through the forest back down the mountain and safely back to our car.”
What exactly were they running away from? They’re still trying to figure that one out.
“It was making these weird grunts and growls – I’ve heard elk, deer, bear, cougars … you name it. I’d never heard anything quite like that and I’ve looked it up and I still can’t pin down what it might have been. So my brain went to ‘Bigfoot’ because that was the scariest thing I could think of at the time,” Tim recalls.
“There’s a portal that the creatures come through off the mountain that is inspired by the mythology about the mountain having an actual door that we incorporated into the movie,” Phillip said. “One guy said there was a pterodactyl that once flew over the local UFO ranch.”
Before taking on the “Mount Adams” project, the brothers had won the Houston International Film Festival with their 26-minute film, “Manifest.” They weren’t sure of their next move.
“Tim and I were sitting on top of a place called Snow Peak, trying to figure out what to do after the experience we had at Mount Adams, and we said, ‘You know, that might be a pretty good story,’” Phillips said.
Six years later, they have that “pretty good story” in the form of a full-length movie.
“We were committed to it and once we got started, we wanted to see this thing through and do it right … even if it meant having to refilm things, and add new stuff. Tim re-editing the movie three times. It’s been like an intense editing school,” Phillip said.
“We like having connections to our personal experiences, talking to other people … very rich, there’s so much good storytelling there.”
“Mount Adams” has been quite the family deal, as four other Wade brothers – Stanley, DJ, Mathew and Steven – joined Phillip and Tim – and their parents, too – to conquer this unique mountain challenge.
The Wade brothers, foreground, said much of their new movie was filmed in Oregon.
To trim costs, Tim plays the lead actor in the movie and Phillip, who’s the director, also plays a starring role.
“It’s not that uncommon in these indie films for actors to just not show up,” Tim said.
“I’m free, so it cuts out a big expense for a lead actor. They might think, ‘Tim has little acting experience, but you know he’s going to show up every day.’”
Behind the scenes
And, of course, there’s Phil’s wife of 18 months, Jordan, who brought Phil and Tim back home with her to Creswell from Salem. Jordan, who grew up in Creswell and was homeschooled, spent her early years on Enterprise Road before the family moved to Camas Swale Road.
Jordan wrote a script based on a sci-fi short story called “Lifecycle 63” that she’s eager to see completed.
“It got published in a magazine,” Jordan said. “It won an award or two. They came to me later and said they wanted to make this our next movie.”
“It’s in development now and the script is almost done,” she added. “We’re working with a casting director from L.A. to get real actors on this one. We’re trying to make the next project more professional because the last one was a lot more haphazard.”
Phillip said futuristic, sci-fi/thriller films will continue to be his focus.
“Our last movie was an alien, futuristic-style, and our next movie is sort of in the same vein,” Phillip said. “So I think we want to get established in our own niche before we start venturing too far outside of our lane.”
The brothers’ film career might have been launched at an early age when they sent in a picture that was aired on Animal Planet of the family dog “driving” a rider lawn-mower while towing kids around in their wagons.
“We were kids growing up on a farm so we didn’t even have cable TV, so we went out to our grandparents’ house,” Tim said. “Animal Planet was on and that guy Keegan (Keegan-Michael Key) from Key & Peele was on, and there were hundreds of thousands of people watching our video, so it inspired us, and it kind of took off from there.”
You won’t find “Mount Adams” on Animal Planet, but it’s production team was out of this world.