Ghost Stalkers: Beyond the Show
I try to be an advocate of people having as much information as possible. With that said here are some notes, thoughts and behind the scenes information about every episode of Ghost Stalkers.
Episode One: Whispers Estate
What you didn’t see on the episode.
- Chad and I always do a daytime investigation. None of this was shown. We spent a significant amount of time in the house during the day and seemed to have some interaction with friendly energies.
- Most of the night investigations. Chad and I are in the house all night. What you see on TV is only the most interesting parts of the night investigations.
- Chad and I trying to duplicate my scratch. In the morning after my investigation Chad and I experimented to see how we could duplicate my scratches.
- The moving of the cameras. Some of the cameras Chad and I use during our investigations stay in a specific locations but since we are in the location alone we sometimes move cameras around if we think there are better areas to film. Also, we have to move cameras to swap out batteries. There is a table inside every location with extra batteries and extra cameras just in case something breaks or ceases to work.
- Chad and I both, yet at separate times, after our individual investigations visited the church down the street. Both Chad and I independent of each other walked down the street and tried to unwind at the church on the opposite corner of the street from the location. Chad actually interrupted a Sunday service and got blessed by the attending priest.
- Bathroom breaks. Obviously we have to go to the bathroom sometimes. Thankfully Whispers has working indoor toilets. Thankfully editors edited that out.
- Sleepiness in the RV. I drink a lot of coffee to stay awake out in the RV. Investigating keeps you awake, sitting in an RV alone all night can be crazily tiring.
When doing the narration for the show I did a lengthy monologue about the folkloric nature of human-animal hybrids and therianthropy while I discussed what the half-man/half-goat entity might be. This long narrative about pre-Christian animal totems, and ancient tales of distant belief systems was edited down to what you heard in the episode which was only, “In some cultures a goatman can represent demons or even the devil himself” The full narration includes many different aspects of what creatures might be and how they have been represented throughout the world dating back to the earliest of human times. None of that made it into the episode.
Hugs. Before Chad or I go into any location for our individual investigations we hug each other. We always hug when we finish the investigation too.
Other things you might not have known
When I first met Gwen, the estates caretaker, she told me that sometimes one or more of the energies in the location will not interact unless they are provoked to do so. Everyone that knows me knows I am not a fan of provoking but after hours of being in the house and nothing happening I took Gwen’s advice. On the show you do not see the hours of investigation I did while not provoking but Gwen was right, and you see that on the show.
Whispers Estate holds tours of its location and so there are “spooky” items all over the house. Plastic skulls, Ouija board, etc. We brought nothing into the house to “set dress” it, everything you see was put there by the owners.
Episode Two: Springfield Hospital
What you didn’t see, or might have missed, on the episode.
- Again, Chad and I always do a daytime investigation of the location. Some of this was seen as we discovered the steam tunnels. Finding an entrance to the steam tunnels took awhile but once inside we found multiple ways in and out. You can see this in the episode by the fact that we discovered the tunnels as a covered hole in the ground, which thankfully became noticeable because the city had recently mowed the lawn, and we leave through an access door.
- Cemetery Daytime investigation. When Chad and I visited the cemetery, where the unclaimed bodies had been moved to, we sat and did an EVP session and paid our respects. Only a brief moment of this was shown.
- The crew freaking out. Although Chad and I investigate and are completely alone at night during the day there is a small camera crew helping set up cameras and doing “B-Roll” which includes time-lapse shots, shots of the location and helping with witness interviews. It was at Springfield that many of the crew, highly skeptical of paranormal phenomena, started freaking out and getting scared from strange happenings around the location.
- Bathroom breaks. Springfield does not have running water but there is a porta-toilet on sight. It was gross.
- My overly long, but interesting, narration about ions. In this episode you only get brief snippets of my overly long monologue about positive and negative ions. What you don’t hear is when I discuss how human physiology can potentially be affected by negative ions, they are thought to reduce stress, lower blood pressure etc. while positive ions, caused by “dirty” EMF fields, can perhaps cause headaches, nausea, etc. Someone experiencing these contrary conditions might feel as though they are experiencing something supernatural.
- There is a larger monologue about water-filled places, not just the Bermuda Triangle, which have reported anomalistic phenomena. You only heard the Bermuda Triangle part.
- Chad and I opening the Starr building. During the first day on site Chad and I had to literally pry boards off the door of the Starr building to get inside. It took forever.
- Bats. When I was in the steam tunnels at night I went down a tunnel exploring and crawled into a portion that was inhabited by hundred of bats. That portion of the tunnel was so small I had to crawl backwards about 50 feet to get out. BATS!
- The immensity of the location. This location was huge and the buildings were enormous. between all of the buildings, tunnels etc. It was really easy to get lost…especially at night in the dark.
- Black Mold, Asbestos and Lead Paint. Chad and I carried around little face masks with us because the buildings were filled with toxicity. We chose to investigate most of the time without masks so that we could be understood when we talked to the camera.
- I almost fell through a 2nd story floor. One of the buildings had a very sketchy floor, no one has been in the location in so long that no one knew about this. During my night investigation I realized I was standing on a 2nd story wood floor that was crumbling beneath my feet. I left before I plunged through it.
Other things you might not have known
The city had prepared to renovate the W building, where we experienced most of the activity. It wasn’t too difficult to seal the building again air leaks and drafts due to the fact that some prep work had already been done by the city since the building was filled with asbestos and mold.
Sykesville, the city that Springfield is located near, has legends of a bigfoot-like monster. Chad and I discussed this but none of it made it to the episode.
The Police. At least once on each night the local police showed up to check on whoever was in the RV.
The moving image caught by the check-in camera after Chad leaves the room was discovered the next day. My bad, I admit I missed it when it happened. Although I narrate as it happens, in the episode, Chad was the one who caught it while reviewing the video; this is why he shows it to me at the end of the episode. The image is really weird in the fact that not only does it block light from the laser grid but it also seems to reflect or create light. If you go back and watch the footage it looks like part of “it” shines or reflects light. hmmm.
Episode Three: Old Taylor Memorial Hospital
- The daylight investigation was actually pretty crazy and it’s weird that it didn’t make the final cut into this episode. An earlier cut, that I saw, did have part of our daytime investigation but in the final cut it is gone. When Chad and I were upstairs in the hospital’s attic something threw a tin can at us. As we entered the room you can see the can on the floor and as Chad and I walk by it something hurls the can at us. I was surreal but awesome. Maybe someday it will be a web-clip or extra content.
- David getting shocked by sitting too close to the Tesla coil. While we were setting up the experiment in the day David moved too close and got a little “zap”. Everyone had a good laugh.
- A small part of the hospital has been used as a “haunted house” for Halloween, so there were some decorations in part of the main-floor rooms. We tried to stay out of those rooms because like most Halloween attractions the decor is pretty dumb looking.
- Securing the location. Because the location has a lot of doors everyone on the crew checked and rechecked to make sure there was only one way in or out. It literally took us hours.
- Bathroom breaks. Old Taylor does not have running water so during both Chad and my night investigation we “held it” the only bathroom available was in the RV.
- Everyone’s concern that I might get really “zapped” trying to touch the Tesla coil. I talked to everyone on staff about it before they left for the night and we talked about the possibility that I might get shocked but we took precautions to make sure I wouldn’t. Also you don’t see me, during the episode, tell the camera “Kids don’t try this at home” which I said multiple times. Also I did get shocked a couple times. HA!
Now let’s get to the meat and potatoes of this episode…
The walking figure.
Honestly, I don’t know what it is.
I took the footage to our head of photography for the show and had him check it out. I wanted fresh, skeptical eyes to see it. Our DP, Director of Photography, has worked on hundreds of paranormal reality shows and after seeing this footage and running it through all normal image processing software eventually told me, “This is the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen working on a paranormal show”
The building was sealed off and “sweeped” by the crew before they left, we do this at every location to make sure no one is in the building. Since Chad and I are alone when we investigate it is a safety measure we take to make sure there isn’t anyone who might hurt us when we’re alone in the building.
I saw the figure. I saw it in real time. Although it’s often mind-numbing to stare at the check-in camera monitor all night long it’s necessary and in this case it was worth it. I honestly didn’t even know if I saw what I saw. By that I mean the camera is a live feed I have no way to go back and look at it until the morning. So I saw the figure and then I was like, “what did I just see?” It wasn’t until the morning after Chad was done that I could go retrieve the camera and check for what I thought I saw.
The figure is soundless. The check-in camera has a microphone on it and although the hospital is loud and echo-filled when the figure walks through the hallway it does not make any sounds associated with movement or walking.
The figure is walking around in total darkness. People forget that everything you see on the show is illuminated by IR lights, which cast no visible light and therefore everything you see is happening in total darkness. The figure is walking around in total darkness. I can tell you one of the things that get edited out of every episode, of not only our show but most paranormal shows, is all of the stumbling, tripping and walking into stuff that goes on when you are in the dark. The figure we catch almost looks like it’s assuredly walking around yet it is doing so in complete blackness.
Naked? This is just my perspective but the figure, to me, looks naked.
Episode Four: Holmesburg Prison
- The daylight investigation is not shown although in this episode it’s clearer, while watching the experiment with David, that some kind of investigation probably took place during the day. As well as Chad, I also, stood in the middle of David’s EMF Quadulator and tried to get a response but took a more quiet approach than Chad and I got no response. During our day-time investigation Chad and I took turns trying to open and close cell doors, which was close to impossible as they had all been opened when the prison closed and their hinges had rusted into position.
- Dave Adams the former Warden, wanted nothing to do with Holemsburg. He hated the place and had to laboriously be talked into coming back to do the walk through with me and Chad. I don’t blame him for not wanting to come back to the prison.
- Two of the former guards we wanted to interview never showed up. For whatever reason two of the former employees chose not to show up.
- Securing the location wasn’t as hard to do as other locations since was a prison.
- Bathroom breaks were easier since there are 2 working toilets.
- The electrical problems were shown in the episode but even so to a much lesser degree. We’ve never had as many electrical problems at a location. Everything refused to work. We brought into the location a massive amount of extra batteries, extension cords, fuses, etc.
- Most of Chad’s night investigation wasn’t seen. Of course since we investigate from about 9pm until 6am you don’t see most of our investigations on any episode but only the most “engaging” parts. At Holmesburg Chad went all over the prison from the sub-basement tunnels to the very top of the guard tower. At one point during his investigation I heard Chad laughing and I went outside and saw him at the top of the prison tower! For as much as Chad is portrayed in the show as being a nervous person he is one of the most thorough explorers I have ever met. I didn’t even get to the top of the guard tower.
The day before we arrived at Holmesburg I had a vivid nightmare in which I murdered the entire crew with a hammer. I jokingly told the crew to not be alone with me and everyone had a good laugh. The first day we arrived at the prison I was doing a walk through with Chad and the crew and when we were in the basement I walked up to a closed cabinet and opened the door, the only thing inside was an old hammer. We all got somewhat nervous but fortunately I didn’t murder any of them.
I’m generally in good health but filming an episode can wear almost anyone down. A shooting day for Chad and I is usually from 11 a.m. to 7 a.m. which means he and I are getting about four or five hours of sleep a day. This can run havoc with your physical and psychological health. We’re also eating pretty terribly and randomly. Ever since my NDE I have suffered from panic/anxiety attacks and will always have a certain amount of PTSD. Whether it was “something” in the prison or just the natural cumulative effects of stressors I felt what I thought was the tell-tale signs of “something” bad beginning to happen. You also don’t see me yelling at Chad to “turn the cameras off!” I became even more disturbed when I realized that although I was outside of the prison I was actually still inside the prison walls, this of course added another level of feeling like I was trapped. Once outside you don’t see me trying to call friends and family. There was no safety contingent for something like this happening and the next day there was a long discussion about whether or not I even wanted to continue filming the show until some kind of safety measures were established. When I got home I did visit a doctor and my EKG showed no changes so there had not been any heart incident.
Episode Five: Wheatlands Plantation
- Daylight: The day-time investigation is actually shown. Well, part of it but at least it was shown. The area and property have so many different portions you only see snippets. You also only see us talking about the RF fields and Gamma detector. The reality is that during the day we do baseline readings for the property so that we can see if things change throughout the day. Some of this is shown but in the final version it was pared down to RF and Gamma.
- Chad in socks? Did you notice Chad was wearing his socks while investigating inside the house? The property owners told Chad and I we couldn’t wear shoes in the house. The day before my investigation, after Chad had already done his, they changed their minds and I was allowed to wear my shoes.
- The former slave quarters: Chad and I both did pretty extensive investigations in the former slave quarters. None of this was shown. Also we investigated the barn together during the day and at night separately, none of that was shown.
- Evidence: For some reason, the choice of the network, there was some weird data collected that didn’t make it to air. One was an EVP that Chad picked up on his voice recorder that sounded like drums and chanting, and one which was an EVP picked up not on Chad’s voice recorder but on the static camera placed outside near the native American burial mound. Chad was doing an EVP session and didn’t get a response, when we looked that the footage from the static camera in the morning he did get a response but only on the microphone from the camera.
- Animals: One of the scariest moments filming this episode was my investigation outside near the slave cemetery. I kept hearing something walk toward me from the darkness. I couldn’t see it even in my IR camera’s screen. Then, WOOF! a dog had some how snuck up on me and was about 7 feet away in some grass and barked. Seriously I lost my mind. Whew, just a dog; I’m glad it wasn’t a bear or coyote. haha
- Fighting for the poke: Although I seem to be pretty provoking of Big Tim in this episode the much larger dialogue I was having in the house never made it to the episode. I was trying in a variety of ways to connect with Big Tim and Little Tim by explaining my personal history with my own father. Growing up my father was Big John and I was Little John and my father was a heavy drinker. Our relationship was strained and explosive. I tried to use that as a means to personally connect with the energies in the house. You only hear portions of me talking about this and it is edited to sound like I’m trying to provoke, which I am, but not so much in the manner it was shown. When it comes to the poke on my stomach I told Chad the next morning, which is not shown in the episode, that I think I probably manifested the abrasions on myself. Much like stress acne, or rashes can be created by intense psychological factors I think it is very probable that my thoughts and emotions created the redness on my stomach. Indeed the redness, and what looked like pokes and cuts, completely vanished within 24 hours. When the episode was being edited I was told that the pokes and abrasions were not going to be used in the episode. That the network thought it seemed fake to have me constantly being poked and scratched. I, with the help of another editor, fought to show it. It happened so show it, it’s not fake, so show it. Eventually I won and you saw it.
- Safety: There is actually a good deal of footage, somewhere, which shows Chad and I discussing how we keep ourselves psychologically and spiritually grounded. Chad talks about the protective stones he wears around his neck and his personal rituals for staying balanced. I tell stories about my necklace and the objects I carry with me to make me feel comfortable. We also discuss what we do after investigations to make sure we leave anything “bad” behind. I thought it was super interesting but obviously someone at the network did not and needed to hear “portals” said some more. HA!
- Talking: By now you should all know there is a great amount of me explaining things and discussing ideas with Chad that no one ever hears.
- Lack of Evidence: Although there are some interesting bits here and there throughout the show, my “poke” etc., there is actually not too much evidence in this episode which I actually love. Most investigations only produce a small amount of data. In this episode you get to see that aspect. Of course you hear strange footsteps and some odd interactions with whatever, but just like most investigations of locations there is not a lot of supporting evidence. I was really happy that this comes through in the episode. Not every location will perform on command and audiences need to see that.
- The Historic/Appropriate Conversation. Chad and I had a lengthy discussion, on camera but never shown, about whether or not it was even appropriate for us to investigate a sacred burial site and former slave plantation as well as the actual horror which has taken place throughout America’s history, and in many cases it still does occur throughout the world.
Funny story maybe:
On our way to Wheatlands the forecast was heavy rain. I jokingly told the crew I would talk to someone in the “secret government weather control center” and have them hold off on the rain; we all had a good laugh. Nick Groff then said, “When you call them tell them “no rain but lightning.” Again we all laughed and I pretended to make a phone call. Then it didn’t rain and we had lightning. No one laughed. hahaha
Episode Six: Farrar Schoolhouse
The series finale.
- The daylight investigation is partially show as Chad, David and I experiment with the biometrics. Chad and I, as in every episode, perform a larger more thorough daytime investigation getting and setting baseline readings and in this episode checking out our biology in different locations. We also switch equipment around the school to check my heart-rate/blood pressure and Chad’s brainwave patterns. Chad and I actually did a second daytime investigation on the last day after our solo night investigations were over none of that was shown even though we caught a really awesome, and funny, EVP in the boiler room.
- The crew getting freaked out. Once again a location where the crew, who were mostly hardcore skeptics when Ghost Stalkers first started filming but that didn’t last long, were constantly being touched and “teased” around the school. I wish we could do a behind the scenes with our crew so they could tell you their stories, alas contracts, on-screen time, blah blah etc. Maybe in a season 2 we could get permission to show them on camera and let you hear their stories first-hand.
- I wanted to go back to Farrar. I had been to Farrar a year earlier and wanted to go back. When I was first there I was so intrigued by the amount of stories and experiences I’d heard about I thought it would be an awesome location for me to re-visit. I was right.
- Bathroom breaks were easier since there are working toilets. We were very excited about doing another location that had electricity and plumbing! Not only is having bathrooms a bonus but knowing that the structure wasn’t going to collapse around us allowed Chad and I to focus more on our personal experiences. In this episode one of the people interviewed is William Conkel, he has spent countless hours renovating the building and helping maintain the integrity of this historic structure.
- Localized cold. We talk about this and you see some of it in the episode but what doesn’t come across is the fact that although Chad and I both experienced “cold” spots it wasn’t the ambient room temperature that changed at all. The cold was happening to us. Almost every time we got cold we checked the room temperatures and it wouldn’t change whatever was happening it was happening directly to us.
- Digging a hole. If you watch episode one of Ghost Stalkers, Whispers Estate, there is a cut-away in that episode, when Gwen is talking about a “medical waste pit”, the clip of that recreation was actually done at Farrar.
- My recorder. You get to see this strange phenomena happen but you don’t see me testing it out all over the school. This is one of the awesome moments when it benefits the show that we are not “locked” into the location. If I had been locked in I wouldn’t have been able to go outside to test the recorder and get the results that I got.
Now, let’s get to the meat of the episode shall we?
Obviously networks want what they want and once the episode is done being filmed Chad and I have very little say in how it is edited. With that being said I can tell you I flexed every ounce of influence I have to make sure this episode didn’t end up portraying Farrar as an “evil” place or even that “The Principal” was “evil”. Anyone that knows me also knows that I think spirit boards are simply tools like any other tool whether it be a hammer or a digital recorder. I think I made this clear in the episode when I talk about the intent of the user being more important than the tool. A hammer can build a house or can be used to kill someone but it’s not the hammer it’s the person holding the hammer.
I do not think in any way that Farrar is evil or bad or dangerous. Again, and I can’t say this enough; I fought to make sure Farrar was shown in the most positive light the network would allow. I was really frustrated when I saw the first rough-cut of the episode because I saw the network taking it down the wrong path. I called, argued and eventually got the episode to be what I think is the smartest episode of Ghost Stalkers and indeed my personal favorite episode out of the six. I think Farrar gives you what you give it and I also think the school is what it always as been, a place for people to meet, grow and learn.