I wanted to address the “style” I used while filming this documentary. Hopefully this doesn’t sound like an apology, because it isn’t; I’m proud of the way it was filmed. Yes, the shot framing could have been better, the lighting could have been more even, the sound could have been cleaned up, etc.
Some may not realize that this really is a zero-budget production. I have no crew to lug around lights for me, or sound techs, or anything else. This was filmed much like an embedded reporter in a war zone would film a report. I became part of the paranormal investigators I have been following. Anything else would have been distracting to the process.
What you will see and hear in “Night Stalkers” is raw audio and video. I will not clean up most of the audio because of something I learned from the investigators early on – EVPs happen largely in the white noise generated by the recorders themselves or the outside noise of the environment. When audio is enhanced to clarify a captured EVP, it will be stated onscreen. Many of the nightvision scenes will be adjusted for brightness, but where there’s unexplained phenomena present, I will show the unaltered footage as well. (So far, I’ve found none.)
I’ve often claimed to be an open minded skeptic, which I still am. This documentary isn’t an expose in a sense it will have any set agenda either way. I’m aiming for unbiased reporting on the subject. I don’t ask “hard hitting” or confrontational questions because it’s not my place to do so. This documentary is about the investigators themselves, and what they feel comfortable with sharing. No one was ‘put on the spot’.
Will that kind of approach make this a boring documentary? That’s up to the viewer. What it won’t have are jump cuts, dramatic music, special effects of scary this jumping out at the audience; etc. What I’m trying to say is, it won’t strive to look like the paranormal TV and movie documentaries that are out there today. Even if I did have the budget and crew to make “Night Stalkers” as slick looking and polished as other films on the same subject, I wouldn’t do it. I feel that the approach I took was an honest one.
Since I’ve neglected this blog for so long, I’ve forgotten to feature the long form trailer I released several months ago, so here it is!
I just saw “Insidious” tonight, and I promised a report to several people on Facebook! I’ll keep my review as spoiler-free as possible, but it would still be too spoiler-ish for a Facebook update. The movie is a great, scary horror flick. It has a few cheap scares, but it is intelligent with only a couple of silly bits. The characters are solid, but a few of my new friends might take exception to how the paranormal investigators are portrayed.
The movie revolves around a family of five, who have just moved into a new house. The husband and wife have two sons who look nothing like one another. I honestly thought the second son was a neighbor kid when he was introduced! They also have an infant daughter that cries. And cries. And cries.
Soon strange, hauntings revolve around the older son, and the couple decide to move to a different house. This doesn’t help matters at all. The couple finally call in a paranormal team at the urging of the husband’s mother, played by Barbara Hershey. (Who’s still hot!). The paranormal team consists of two nerdy guys who dress like Mormons, and are basically comic relief in the film. They are joined by a psychic who is played serious. The team uses offbeat equipment in their ghost hunting, which I’m sure real paranormal investigators will have fun debating. I didn’t see an EVP recorder, K2 meter, or infrared illuminator anywhere in the film.
The investigation proceeds to stir up the hauntings to 11, there are a lot of interesting theories thrown about that tries to explain the Afterlife and possession. The movie is smart and very well put together, and doesn’t settle for the typical conclusion, which is refreshing. Remember to stay until after the credits finish rolling!
It’s been a while since I updated. Time to dust off the blog!
Things have been moving along great for the documentary as we enter the final stretch of major filming for this year. I’ve met more incredible people, and caught up with some familiar faces. I’ve also discovered that there is a metric ton of drama in the paranormal community. I was swept up in one of the currents shortly after the GHOULA event at the Aztec Bar.
That night I met a couple members of BHPP, or the “Boyle Heights Paranormal Project”, and I also met former members of that group. One particular member was about to start her own para-group, and asked if I wanted to include them in the documentary. I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to capture the formation of a new group, and immediately said yes. This person introduced me to some of the ex BHPP members, who were going to join her group, who also wanted to speak about why they left BHPP. One was a very young kid, probably not even 20 years old, who introduced himself as the new group’s demonologist. I’m pretty new to the paranormal field, but I have done a bit of homework. It surprised me that someone who didn’t look old enough to shave would label himself a demonologist.
That whole matter fell through due to an influx of drama, which I decided not to escalate even after a threatening phone call. While that negative experience was unfortunate, the groups and people I’ve met since then have been terrific. In August, Scott Gruenwald of the internet TV show “The Paranormal STU” threw a paranormal convention called “STU-Con” in Porterville CA.
It was almost a parody of an actual high priced paranormal convention. Scott charged $2.00 for the convention, and $.50 cents for the paranormal investigation! However the attendance was through the roof, and people had as good a time or better that I’ve seen at more expensive gatherings. What may have started out as a joke instead proved that a paranormal convention doesn’t need to cost the attendee an arm and a leg. This one was held at a paranormal hotspot (“The Barn Theater”), and included some high profile guests in the paranormal field, like Syd Schultz and Rex Williams.
The night before the convention, I met 3am Paranormal and Louis Gonsales at the front of the Barn Theater for an impromptu I.T.C. session. Very cool!
At STU-Con, I met Boyle Heights Paranormal Project founder Richard “Standing Bear” Berni. I asked about setting up a future profile of BHPP for the documentary, and Richard agreed that we’d make that happen. He also told me a few quick tales of the drama BHPP has weathered, which sounded like the other side of the story of what I heard at the Aztec Bar. A full interview will be very enlightening I’m sure.
In June, BHPP had taken over as stewards of Linda Vista hospital, which caused a bit of concern in the paranormal community at first. Some felt one particular group being associated with one of L.A.’s most haunted location was unfair, but the BHPP crew have provided much better security for the location that was absent before. Many times, paranormal groups would pay good money for exclusive access to investigate the hospital, only to find that the former security at the location would allow unauthorized persons to wander into the hospital at their whim.
I met the Porterville Ghost Society while I was there. A very friendly group, who took me on an exclusive tour of the Zalud House. I really have to thank Louis Gonsales for setting that up for me on my last night in Porterville! The house has a very rich history, and it is reportedly haunted by the former owners. PGS members Kathy Guinn and Bruno Huerta are very knowledgeable about the house, and enjoyed sharing tales of their ghostly encounters there.
Bruno Huerta and I at Zalud House. Porterville, CA
In October, Jessica from the So Cal Ghost Crew hosted a bigger paranormal convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center, So Cal Para-Con. I interviewed Jessica briefly before STU-Con, as she reformed her paranormal team. It was held in a Denny’s with very loud muzak, so I’ll have to see how much can be salvaged from that!
The Para-Con was ok, with Scott Gruenwald as the emcee. Jessica put together a very professional gathering, which I understand was her first, and did a great job. BHPP I understand helped out enormously with making the convention run smoothly. High profile paranormal community members attended, including David Harvey, Christopher Saint Booth, and Rex Williams. Both Booth and Williams were slated to lead a paranormal investigation into Linda Vista hospital. Unfortunately, both were no-shows, which was disappointing to me, since they were the sole reason I bought the investigation part of the ticket.
I didn’t know it at the time, but a skeptic group also attended So Cal Para-Con. Afterward they wrote a couple of very scathing blogs about the convention, one from Skepticblog, and another from the Monterey County Skeptics. I’m currently trying to set up an interview with them for the documentary. Being a skeptic myself, the tone of their blogs is something I’d like clarification on.
I’ll be entering the last month of filming soon. Hope I’ll have enough footage to put together a documentary people will enjoy watching!
June was a very interesting month for the documentary. Since Queen Con, I have become more integrated into the paranormal community. It’s more vast than I ever thought it was, and I’ve made a lot of good friends. I’ve become a regular viewer of The Paranormal STU, Donn Shy’s The Green Room, and Wolfe Manor Live
On June 13th, I attended my first GHOULA event. This get-together is held every 13th of the month, at a haunted location in and around Los Angeles. I had a great time, and met a lot of new friends including Dawn Gomez, who is assembling a new paranormal team, and Jeremy and Michelle from Dark Realm Paranormal Investigators. I also spoke to Joe Mendoza from 3AM Paranormal, as we shared stories about what else? The paranormal! The paranormal community is very friendly and welcoming, and I can see myself involved with them long after the documentary is done.
On June 17th, I was invited by Marsha Covert of 3AM Paranormal to explore one of the most haunted locations in LA, Linda Vista Hospital. It was a very eerie experience walking through an abandoned facility like that; completely devoid of activity a hospital would normally have. It was almost as if I were exploring something from everyday life after a nuclear war! I shot some great footage with Marsha and a few other investigators. I brought along my nephew Lawrence, who shot some great “B” roll footage, and even manned the main camera few times.
On the 18th, I was able to profile 3AM Paranormal for the documentary. I’ve watched all their videos on Youtube, which are edited into 10 minute “mini episodes” of their adventures. They’re yet another group that is unique in comparison to the other groups I’ve documented. 3AM doesn’t have a large amount of equipment, but they do employ very innovative techniques in order to communicate with the entities they seek out. Joe and Rebecca are very friendly and a lot of fun, and they jump right into an investigation and are “on” as soon as they get there.
I was invited to a location that was said to be even more haunted than Linda Vista. Again a incredibly fascinating experience; and watching the team attempt new things to reach out to the Other Side was incredible. I also met Louis Gonzales, founder of the Southern California Society for Paranormal Research. Louis was very helpful to a newcomer to paranormal investigations by keeping me up to speed on procedure and lore.
Joe reminded me of an aspect of the documentary that I haven’t filmed yet. I need to include the hours upon hours investigators spend poring over the evidence collected; both from cameras and digital recorders. I’ve also learned two things about my process. The nice 150.00 Rode mic that I bought pops like crazy while tape is being digitized, but this seems to disappear during playback on the computer. Also…I sometimes forget to turn the mic on…!
The second thing I’ve noticed…my camcorder is embarrassingly LOUD! This usually isn’t an issue, but when I’m filming investigators collecting EVPs, the constant droning of the tape’s drive mechanism is just too distracting. I have a Sony Digital 8 DCR-TV740 I’m using for my main camera, and this is a known problem with this model.
The group was extremely friendly, and welcomed me right away. CPPI has the distinction of having the most tech of any group I’ve been with so far: IR static cameras, “EM pumps”, a computer monitor station for the static cameras, etc. Just about everything you’d see on the tv shows. With the exception of one member, CPPI is largely female, which also sets them apart. They strung cable throughout the two story restaurant without any difficulty.
The group has investigated this restaurant in the past, and their rapport with the owners is such that they are left alone after closing and are trusted to lock up the restaurant when they are done. The group had at least three sensitives with them. There wasn’t much in the way of activity that I witnessed, but an interesting thing did happen. One psychic, Kd, claimed that the EM pump drained her of energy, and didn’t like being around it. An “EM Pump” emits a low-level magnetic field, which is supposed to attract spirits and allow them to manifest themselves. The theory is that since batteries are reported to be drained in the vicinity of ghosts, this “EM Pump” is supposed to act as a high enegy source for them to use.
She stated that if it affects her negatively, it may do the same to any spirits. This concept was backed up this past weeked at “Queen Con”.
Queen Con was held on the Queen Mary. It seems like paranormal people are one of the friendliest bunches on the planet, even those with a bit of fame. All of the guest speakers were very approachable and had no problem interacting with paranormal enthusiasts. I spoke to Philip Adrian Booth of the Booth Brothers for a good 20 minutes about their next project, “The Haunted Boy”.
I filmed a lot of mini interviews, which I can hopefully use in the documentary. I told everyone I filmed about the doc, and handed out a ton of cards. I also met Scott Gruenwald of Wolfe Manor Live and The Paranormal Stu. Very funny and outgoing guy.
Of the many lectures, the one by EVP experts Mark and Debby Constantino was the most interesting. They played several EVPs they have captured in many locations, including their home. A few EVPs spoke about the EM Pump, and one spirit said “it burns” them. The Constantinos said paranormal groups should consider no longer using this device if it harms the ghosts.
I had a great time at Queen Con, and was able to make a lot of new friends.
This Friday I’ll be accompanying a new group of investigators. This is a different location than the rest; not a private residence or outdoor public place like Suicide Bridge. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to talk to the team members between the investigations and setting up. It’s interesting to see what equipment different groups use.
The costume shop investigation last month was called off at the last-minute, and I haven’t rescheduled anything with that group as of yet. There’s a big paranormal convention coming up soon that I have to make a decision on ASAP, and yet another new group has invited me along with them in May.
I put up a Facebook page for Seventh Planet Productions, which you can check out here. I’ll be adding a lot more photos soon, and I’m going to begin uploading pictures during investigations to that page as they happen.
This group brought along an Ovilus. At one point on the bridge, the device said “jump”. It was a general first meeting, and I plan to interview them further in the near future.
Next week, I visit a haunted costume shop with another new group!
Until recently, my friend Mike worked at a VFW post as a bartender for many years. It’s an old post that has served veterans since the late 30’s. There’s been many stories about alleged haunting there. I visited Mike there in 2007 to have him relate a few stories on video.
The project is coming along great. I’ve contacted a few other groups, and will be going on new investigations this weekend.In January 2008, I stopped by the haunted Adelaida Cemetery in Paso Robles, CA. It was difficult to find, but the many tree lined, windy roads made for great atmosphere.
The new mic arrived last week, but I’m still waiting for the IR illuminator. There’s no huge rush, as things have slowed a bit for the documentary. I was going to accompany Psy-Paranormal on an investigation this weekend, however I was informed that the disturbance was so strong, that the team decided the investigation couldn’t wait. The team took care of the problem this past weekend.
This leaves me with a rare free weekend coming up! This past Saturday, I attended the Great Los Angeles Air Raid Of 1942 at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro, CA. I’ve been to Ft Mac quite a few times, but never attended this annual event. It was a great time.
I found a paranormal group in the San Pedro area that conducted an investigation at Ft Mac, but they found nothing of paranormal significance. I have contacted several other groups for the documentary, and a few have responded positively. So far, only one group I have contacted has not responded.
Many of these groups I have contacted have upcoming investigations, but none seem to be in the near future. I’ll continue to contact others because fortunately for the doc, there seems to be a large amount of paranormal investigators in So Cal!