Close Encounters

Something is Under There – Dundee UFO Documentary Devlog #1

Bill sits on the seat of his mobility walker beside the pool table on the edge of the crowd. He’s chatting, smiling, laughing. Answering questions for family members who are covering the bar for him today, since he’s unable. Bill’s usually busy behind the bar, keeping the drinks flowing for patrons in elaborate tinfoil hats, while plastic flying saucers and inflatable extraterrestrials dangle from the ceiling overhead.

I’m hoping for an opportunity to ask him a single question.

People wearing tinfoil hats at UFO Daze

Creative tinfoil hats at UFO Daze 2018

My son and I linger with the crowd in the dining room for a while where an old man at the podium is slowly recounting the time he saw a light in the sky. Enraptured listeners are gathered around at the tables where you’d sit down for a beer-battered fish fry on a Friday night.

At one end of the room, another of the day’s guest speakers stands beside a table displaying his books and other merchandise. White hair. Hunched shoulders. Considerably older than the version of himself in the promotional banner on the table. Raymond “The Cosmic Ray” Keller. I buy a copy of his book Venus Rising: A Concise History of the Second Planet, which details the history of life and politics on Venus. Ray gives me a bumper sticker that says “My other car is a Venusian scoutship.” He hands a vintage, unopened wax pack of trading cards from the 1984 movie Supergirl to my son. The actress who starred in that film, he says, is from Venus.

Eventually I see an opportunity to talk to Bill, so I move in and introduce myself. I’ve wanted to interview him for years. Now wasn’t the time for any in-depth discussion, of course, but I should be able to ask one particular question without being too much trouble.

There’s Something Under Dundee Mountain

Dundee is an unincorporated town deep in the heart of Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine State Forest, an area of hills and valleys carved out by glacial movement during the last ice age. When the Laurentide Ice Sheet melted some 10,000 years ago, it left behind a unique feature: A 270-foot-high moulin kame known as Dundee Mountain.

A kame is formed when shafts form in the melting ice, allowing water to flow down and carry debris with it. The debris accumulates over time, slowly forming mounds of varying sizes.

I didn’t learn this when I should have, during the 3-day camping field trip in 6th grade which included a visit to Dundee Mountain and the nearby Ice Age Center, because I got in trouble and was busy cleaning the dining lodge as punishment.

I only learned about it later when researching the rampant number of UFO sightings and other seemingly paranormal phenomena in the area.

Bill Benson began hosting the annual UFO Daze event in the 1980s at his tavern Benson’s Hide-a-Way on the shore of Long Lake following a particularly bizarre series of unusual events in the area. Among them was a rare crop circle-like formation that appeared in the reeds of the lake near Bill’s landing, in which the reeds were so tightly interwoven that locals were able to walk on them without falling into the water.

Bill Benson's binder of Dundee UFO photos

Bill Benson’s binder of Dundee UFO photos

I spent most of my life living near Dundee, hearing vague rumors of UFOs often relayed so nonchalantly that I didn’t think much of it.

Numerous mass sightings started garnering media attention in the early 2000s, and that’s when I started paying attention. Bill became the spokesperson, being interviewed many times by local and national media over the years. His bar became the UFO headquarters of the Kettle Moraine, and Bill himself was dubbed by at least one source as the official registrar for sightings.

Locals seemed to believe that Dundee Mountain was somehow the nexus of the activity, since the majority of the area’s unexplained phenomena happened in its vicinity. Strange colored lights were often witnessed and photographed hovering over its summit.

“Something is under there,” Bill told a reporter.

That’s an ominous thing to say, and I know I’m not alone in that it piqued my curiosity.

Some writers concluded there was a UFO base hidden beneath or inside of Dundee Mountain. And maybe some local residents believed that. I haven’t had the opportunity to ask them yet. But when I got the chance to talk to Bill, if I only had time for one question, I had to know.

What’s under Dundee Mountain?” I finally ask him when the opportunity arrives.

Benson's Hideaway UFO Headquarters

Benson’s Hideaway with Dundee Mountain in the distance

Dundee UFO Documentary

That was July of 2021, which would unknowingly become the final UFO Daze celebration. Bill passed away later that year. Beloved father, grandfather, friend to many. A staple of the community. Legend.

A man with a binder full of local UFO photos and an alien fetus in a jar behind the bar.

Bill is gone, along with Robert “UFO Bob” Kuehn and likely many others who had firsthand experiences with some of the most baffling mysteries of the Kettle Moraine.

But the legends live on. They’re always rattling around in my head. And I want to tell them. I’ve written about Dundee UFOs many times, but I’m a filmmaker at heart.

I recently put on the 80s Spielberg classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The night shots in the first 15-20 minutes reminded me why I wanted to depict the eeriness of the Kettle Moraine legends in motion rather than just words.

I don’t have the necessary gear to film proper interviews, nor do I have any interviewees yet. But last year I created a 3D mockup of Benson’s that I could fly a CG UFO over. Plus, the recent work I’ve been doing with Voyd Studios has opened doors to achieving higher levels of production.

3D Render of Benson's Hide-a-Way, UFO headquarters of the Kettle Moraine

Work in progress: 3D Render of Benson’s Hide-a-Way, UFO headquarters of the Kettle Moraine

So I’m going to start piecing my long-dreamed-of Dundee UFO documentary together one step at a time, no matter how slowly it takes, and see what comes of it.

I need to do some test shoots to determine how viable it would be to shoot day for night, because I definitely don’t have the gear or budget for night shoots. If that works, then I’ll test the workflow for compositing UFOs into that footage.

Then, a concept trailer.

Hopefully, I managed to encounter some witnesses along the way who are willing to share their stories. I would also love to film Bill’s photo binder, the interior of the bar – if it remains (I haven’t been there since Bill passed and the bar closed) and maybe even film interviews with his friends and family.

I’m going to keep a log of my progress on this project here, as it may help me continue moving forward, so be sure to sign up for updates if you want to follow along.

If you’re interested in sharing your stories of Dundee UFOs or being involved in this project in any way, I’d love to hear from you. Contact me here.

Get future posts by email: