Saturday night I had THE best chat with Chris Hambright, the producer for the ghost hunting show Believers.
Some of you may be saying, “Haven’t heard of it. What channel is it on?”
Now before you pass judgment, just because they haven’t been picked up by a network (yet), amateur(ish) that does not make them. I’ll get to that. But first, some background…
Back in December, disenchanted with ghost shows but inspired by both Loyd Auerbach and the guys at GhostTheory, I set out on a quest to Haunt Jaunt behind the scenes of ghost hunting shows.
Sure, it was easy to bag on the shows, but that was only one perspective. What about the other side of the coin? What did the people involved with the shows have to say about them?
Chris was among those who responded to my HARO request looking for ghost TV show producers.
THE WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT
I had planned to bombard him with questions. I had visions (delusions) I was going to grill him like a hard-hitting news journalist and get the truth.
Which I was convinced would be that every paranormal investigation team with TV show aspirations is in it for the fame and fortune and all their evidence is manipulated if not downright cooked.
But this is me we’re talking about. I’m about as hard-hitting as a feather pillow –sans the pillow.
Also, Believers isn’t just any other ghost hunting show, as Chris soon made me understand.
BELIEVERS AT FIRST BLUSH
The first Believers episode takes place in arguably one of the West’s most notorious haunts: the Birdcage Theater.
Even though they broke up the episode into four parts for technical reasons to post on YouTube, their footage is as professional as anything you’ll find on any of the other ghost hunting shows. And then comes their “spin” on the genre.
Believers doesn’t set out to make anyone a believer. Their Facebook Group page description sums up their mission best:
Quite simply… we are believers of the paranormal! We have researched the field for years and continue to be fascinated by it. We’ve also seen all the shows about it.
In these shows we always felt something was missing, no where was the opportunity for people to really experience it, but more importantly form a solid conclusion based on facts, not what they were told. So that became our mission… Believers gives every day people an opportunity to work hands on with a very real investigation team and experience an actual “ghost hunt” if you will.
In turn, our hopes are for our guests to be able to form their own opinion on the possibility of life after death… not because we believe it does, or told them it did, but because they got to investigate it for themselves.
THE INVESTIGATORS OF BELIEVERS
As any ghost hunting show aficionado will attest, good investigations are one thing, but it’s the investigators that draw us back. The core group of investigators, the ones who make up the Believers “family,” are Jason, Raven (who is a very large man I would not mess with, but appears to have a heart of gold), Andrea and Dave (the husband and wife duo on the team…cool!), and Shawn.
I’d venture to say they’re some of the most likable investigators since Ghost Hunters. They’re all naturals in front of the camera.
As long as they’re investigating apparently. Chris shared a funny story about how as they were filming for the first show, they decided to interview each separately about their observations and experiences. However, they clammed up and became awkward, so they scraped that approach.
But then you get the added fun of guest investigators. Who can be anyone. Even me! (I told Chris I’m keeping an eye out for a spot here in Nashville. We have room to put him and his team up if they’ll have me along on an investigation!)
Guest investigators are shown how to use the equipment, help with set up, and then investigate with the teams. They get to see for themselves there’s no funny business (in the form of cooking evidence). They experience whatever they experience and can draw their own conclusions, which they share at the end of the show.
NOT JUST ANOTHER SHOW
Some may wonder, “Come on, Courtney, how many more of these shows can we take?”
Prior to my talk with Chris on Saturday night, I would have told you vehemently, “NONE!”
In fact, Autumnforest just wrote a great post wondering the same thing. As she pointed out, the flood of them may be causing apathy.
I was certainly getting as apathetic as they came. Actually, I like the comment Grim Wicked left on my Paranormal Cops write-up. He astutely noted I’d become “jaded” by ghost shows. Bingo! He pinned that tail on the donkey.
But talking with Chris revitalized me. More than just information and a glimpse into the life and times of a ghost TV show production, he gave me hope.
LIFE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CAMERA
Here’s what Chris enlightened me about: filming a ghost hunting show is no easy task. There are all sorts of factors a layperson like myself doesn’t take into account. I thought all there is to creating a ghost TV show is pointing a camera and filming. How hard could that be?
But getting great (usable) footage isn’t just a matter of picking up a camera or turning on a digital voice recorder. As Chris put it, “You’re at the mercy of the moment. If you don’t get it the first time, you don’t get it at all.”
Something he was very sensitive about was that “ghosts” were once people. Like the people they once were, they have moods. If they don’t want to talk, they won’t. If they don’t feel like being a performing monkey for you, they won’t.
And then there’s the technical side. Like non-spirit induced technical problems. Or human-induced ones.
For instance, he explained on their investigation of the Bayard House (episodes coming to YouTube soon I imagine) they called in an additional cameraman –who ended up not getting such great footage. He didn’t focus on the investigators when they were talking, so only about four hours of what he captured was usable.
And then there’s the content. As Chris put it: “content is king.”
He said the Birdcage was WOW! in terms of evidence they caught. But they’ve been places that weren’t active. He’s well aware without hard evidence, there’s no show. What to do, what to do?
Believers doesn’t cook any of their evidence, nor do they believe in cooking evidence for entertainment enhancement purposes. They get what they get and that’s all that they get.
Chris’s candor, enthusiasm, passion, and sincerity helped me unpin my apathetic tail from my jaded donkey.
Mr. Hambright, thanks so much again for taking the time to talk with me as long as you did and as in-depth as you did. I wish you and Believers nothing but many more successful Haunt Jaunts ahead!