By Don Bradley
Steve Scearcy, a Kansas City documentary filmmaker, leaves for Alaska to meet up with a woman who was attacked by a moose.
He opened the door of his Red Bridge home wearing new XPETI snow boots.
“I need to break them in,” he said with a chuckle.
He’s never been to Alaska and has never met the woman, in person. Her story is pulling him there.
Bridgett Watkins is a musher getting ready for the 2023 Iditarod, a grueling 938-mile dog team race through some of Alaska’s wildest terrain.
She’s done the race before. What’s different now, and what drew Scearcy to her story, is the attack last year when a moose attacked Watkins and her dog team, becoming entangled in the leads, and stomping the dogs even after Watkins shot the animal. The dogs survived.
On her Facebook page, she called the two-hour ordeal the most horrific time of her life and said she suffered post-traumatic stress. She had nightmares in which a moose would crash through her bedroom wall.
But now, she’s ready to go again, and Scearcy wants to tell her come-back story in a documentary film.
“Guts,” he said after thinking a moment. “I see her as a heroic figure and this as a hero’s journey.”
“Before she can conquer the trail, she has to conquer her fear.”
Scearcy, whose hundred-year-old house off Wornall Road house has a Jesse James Jr. connection, majored in political science and planned to go to law school.
But then all those Saturday nights as a boy watching “The Twilight Zone” with his grandma kicked in and he opted for a degree in theater at UMKC.
Now he does marketing videos for clients and more personal creative projects for himself.
His spooky “13 Midnights” which had actors telling real people’s scary stories could be streamed on Amazon Prime. Scearcy shot the 2020 series in black and white with eerie lighting and used the historic Alexander Majors house and the former Martin City Coffee building as sets.
The Iditarod musher project will be different.
Scearcy knows well the criticism from animal rights groups that oppose the Iditarod. He said his project is more about Watkins and her determination to return after last year’s moose attack that ended when a friend arrived and killed the animal.
His work with a client who makes health supplements for dogs led to him learning about Watkins, who is a nurse. The two have talked and since then he’s been cramming to learn all about the Iditarod. She’s agreed to keep a daily log for him to use in making the film.
The annual race through the Alaskan wilderness covers nearly a thousand miles, some along the Bering Sea, over 8 to 14 days. The sled teams, with a musher and 12 to 14 dogs, often face blizzards, sub-zero temps, high winds and white-out conditions.
Scearcy won’t travel the course. He will be at the race start in Willow, Alaska, and he will see her again at the first checkpoint.
“I’m not fond of the cold, but I am stoked about this woman and what she’s trying to do.”