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Sean Kotz

(2 Hours, 44 Minutes)

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BoA:Audio returns to the realm of UFOs with our guest, filmmaker Sean Kotz, who discusses the 1987 UFO flap in Wytheville, Virginia, which will be chronicled in his forthcoming documentary Strange Country: A Different Kind of UFO Documentary. Sean will detail the story of reporter Danny Gordon, who found himself in the center of the UFO maelstrom after he made what appeared to be a seemingly innocuous report on a UFO sighting in the the Wytheville area. We'll learn about how Gordon was overwhelmed with sighting reports from local citizens, the strange characters who emerged in the area as the UFO flap grew, and the troubling events which beset Gordon's life as he dug deeper into the UFO mystery.

It is a chilling cautionary tale that examines how 'lights in the sky' can profoundly alter the lives of those on the ground who witness them, as Sean Kotz revisits the 1987 Wytheville UFO flap.

Full Preview: We kick things off with the bio / background of Sean Kotz and find out how he got interested in the Wytheville UFO story. We also find out if the Wytheville is Sean's first foray in looking at the UFO phenomenon or if it is the culmination of long interest in the subject. This leads to some discussion on the nature of UFO documentaries, which almost always focus on the phenomenon rather than the witnesses.

Our conversation then turns towards the events in Wytheville in 1987 and Sean begins by telling us about the main protagonist in the story, reporter Danny Gordon. He then recalls how Gordon was tipped off about a UFO sighting in Wytheville that was seen by police officers and how his report on the sighting led to an inundation of UFO reports from people in the area. Sean shares some of the more bizarre UFO reports to come out of the area from the time, including a glowing orange box and a silent, floating school bus.

Continuing the narrative, Sean talks about how Gordon had his own UFO experience, which complicated his role in the story even more. Sean then tells the story of how Gordon was joined by two strange characters who accompanied him on his next UFO search, which resulted in some strange events following their trip. Sean details how one of these characters was a well known fashion photographer who took pictures and video of a UFO they saw, but then promptly disappeared with the materials.

Sean then discusses some of the pushback that happened to witnesses in the area after they reported their sighting, including the story of a construction worker who had his equipment defaced and was ridiculed for his experience. Sean muses about why this kind of negative response seems to happen to UFO witnesses. He then returns to the narrative to tell us about the press conference held by Danny Gordon where he unveiled his UFO information to the media and the government subsequently 'solved' the UFO flap. Sean explains how Gordon investigated the spurious 'solution' and how it did not hold water.

We then learn about how the government explanation, despite being faulty, led to the media losing interest in the UFO flap. We also reflect on how the nature of the Wytheville UFO flap may have led to media disinterest, since the townspeople were relatively calm and the sightings, while plentiful, were not particularly dramatic. However, Sean explains, Danny Gordon's role in the story grew as he became the central figure for people to report UFOs, a situation which occurred at all hours of the night and made his life extremely difficult.

Next, Sean details how Danny Gordon captured photographs of a UFO in December of 1987, which constituted the 'watershed' moment in the story and also led to the negatives of the photos disappearing under mysterious circumstances. Sean goes on to talk about weird events which began to plague Gordon's family during the flap. In light of these events, we find out if the flap gained national attention from the media or the UFO research community. Sean shares a truly bizarre and troubling story about two men who visited Gordon posing as reporters and one of them snuck off and ransacked the family's bedroom. We also speculate on who these shady visitors may have been.

Getting back to the narrative of the UFO flap, we find out about, in November of '87, Danny began to see a myriad of UFOs and doggedly pursued answers to the source of these mysterious lights. This leads to Sean sharing a truly chilling story of a mysterious man who called Gordon in the Spring of 1988 to warn him against investigating the UFO flap any further. Next, Sean reveals the astounding number of UFO reports that Danny Gordon received during the flap as well as how government officials, police officers, and tourists all had sightings.

Beyond the UFO events, Sean also tells the story of a 'Lizard Man' sighting which happened during the flap. This leads into some of the even weirder stories that happened during the flap, including a mysterious man who wandered off the highway in tattered military fatigues, claiming to have walked there from Texas and that the UFOs were part of a secret project. Sean also tells us about the various psychics who contacted Danny about the UFO flap and how one contended that Danny was 'special' and the center of the entire story. He also explains how the Wytheville flap was particularly interesting to the New Age movement, since it was the first big UFO flap after the Harmonic Convergence.

Winding down the narrative, we find out how the story of Danny Gordon's Wytheville experience unfolded at the end. Sean traces the many ways that Danny Gordon attempted to extricate himself from the UFO phenomenon but kept getting pulled back into weird situations, including a strange phone call where a man appeared to read his mind. Sean then revisits the strange events which then surrounded the shooting of Danny Gordon's son, whether it had anything to do with the UFO flap, and how it played a role in Gordon essentially giving up the chase for UFO answers.

Reflecting on the overarching story of Danny Gordon and the Wytheville UFO flap, we ponder how it acts as a cautionary tale for 'outsiders,' and ardent believers, when it comes to pursuing the phenomenon. We also learn about how the town of Wytheville reacted to their stint in the spotlight of Ufology. Discussing what may have been behind the Wytheville UFO flap, we talk about how discerning if it was a secret military project is particularly hard, given the time frame of the story. We also return to the story of a strange outsider who appeared in Wytheville at the height of the flap and alleged to have inside information from the government.

Looking at Ufology as a whole, we theorize on why the Wytheville events seems to have fallen through the cracks amongst 'famous' UFO cases. Sean also talks about other odd and serendipitous events that surrounded Wytheville including a Senator's wife who claimed to interact with 'cat aliens,' an out of place NASA truck that 'randomly' visited the town, as well as a famous esoteric researcher who just happened to be living in the area during the big flap. Ultimately, we find out if Danny Gordon regrets his decision to pursue the UFO phenomenon. In light of Danny Gordon's leaving the UFO field, we find out why he decided to return, in a sense, to tell his story to Sean and help to make the film.

Heading towards the close, Sean reflects on his experience interviewing UFO witnesses and how it changed his perspective on the veracity of their sightings. This leads to some discussion on the ways people share their UFO experience, either reluctantly or enthusiastically. We also talk about UFO enthusiasts who have more 'extreme' beliefs about the phenomenon. Staying in the meta realm, we talk about how a UFO experience can lead to obsession. Sean also muses on how the complexity of the UFO phenomenon reveals more about humans than answers about the mystery.

Closing out the conversation, we find out what the status is on Strange Country: A Different Kind of UFO Documentary, how the producers have an Indie Gogo campaign to help raise funding for the project, and when the final film may be completed. We also learn what may be next for Sean Kotz beyond Strange Country and if he expects to return to the paranormal realm for another film. To that end, he teases us with the story of the 'Mad Gasser' of Virginia in 1933.

Sean Kotz Bio

For 16 years, Sean Kotz taught writing, literature and film at his alma mater, Virginia Tech. In 2005, he reconnected with an old friend, Chris Valluzzo, who studied at the New York Film Academy, and the pair founded a documentary film company, “Horse Archer Productions.” In 2007, they released their first documentary, HOKIE NATION, about Virginia Tech’s devoted football fan culture. With the success of that film, Kotz left his teaching post to pursue creative projects full time. From 2008 through 2011, Kotz worked as a freelance journalist, largely with the Roanoke Times, and will complete his first novel this year. With Valluzzo, he has written, produced and directed five feature length documentaries with at least three more on the way in 2012, including STRANGE COUNTRY: A Different Kind of UFO Documentary which should be completed in October of this year.

Next Week:

Kenn Thomas

The godfather of parapolitics, legendary Kenn Thomas, joins us for a July 4th conspiracy jam session. JFK, 9/11, UFOs, life after death, the New World Order, Occupy Movement, Tea Party, and a whole bunch of other stuff gets examined in this 4th wall smashing conversation that looks at the world of conspiracy theory from beyond the looking glass.

BoA : Audio, Season 7 archive