21 Behind-The-Scenes Stories From People Who Worked On Ghost-Hunting Shows That I Honestly Found A Little Shocking
"99% of the spooky sounds and whatnot are added in post."
Maybe it's just 'cause I'm a big scaredy-cat, but I'm a huge sucker when it comes to those ghost-hunting shows.
So when Reddit user u/Metakwaza recently asked "People who have worked on those fake ghost-hunter TV shows, what goes on behind the scenes?" I was super eager to jump in and read some responses to see if my fear is unfounded.
1. "One was done on a bar near my house that was supposedly haunted. Everything was based on falling/'flying' things (glasses falling off shelves, beverage hoses 'flying' off their places they're held). The crew 'proved' there were ghosts by setting up a mock bar scene and putting salt around the bottom of all the glasses and leaving for the night."
"Sure enough, the footage showed all the glasses/cups moving around, and the salt barriers were all disrupted. It was like 100% of the glasses had moved in some shape or form. What the fucking show failed to mention is that the bar is literally under an overpass for a train. ... The 'moving' items are just because trains are coming by, and the building is about 50 feet from the train tracks."
2. "I dated a guy who worked on Paranormal State and he told me that 99% of the spooky sounds and whatnot are added in post."
3. "I met with an audio engineer once and watched him do some audio post production on some big name ghost-hunting show, and he literally had folders of every sounding audio that he would just layer in as needed. Everything from the ambient background noise to random bumps and creaks in the night was all fake and pulled in from his hard drives of spooky sounds."
4. "I worked on one for a week; this was about four years ago. The hunters invited a psychic. ... Big ego. Anyway, they were hunting in a haunted house, and this guy was doing a walk-through before taping. He went into the whole routine. Cameras were not rolling; it was just for staging and getting acclimated. During this time, I was at video village and could see/hear what was going on. He was in an upstairs room and began to feel a cool breeze. He made a big deal about it and insisted we start rolling."
"We did, and he went on and on about the room temperature dropping means a spirit. He started asking crew if they felt the breeze as well; they did. Finally the first AD (who was sick of this guy's shit) told the guy that the breeze was coming from the open window in the other room. The psychic threw a fit and stormed out, saying we were all amateurs."
5. "I did a tour in the Portland Shanghai tunnels. Our host told us that one ghost show put dirt on the floor and squeezed against the brick walls of a completely open, finished basement to give the illusion of narrow, decrepit tunnels."
6. "One of our friend's boyfriends was the cameraman on most of the UK Ghosthunters. He had to sign a legal document to never reveal the filming process. All he said was...there are no ghosts."
7. "Crew farts. 99% of the sounds are the crew farting to see if it’ll make it into the cut. It’s a contest."
8. "It was, like, Alaskan mysteries or something. It was really dumb. One time I had to shake a puppet around in some bushes. The show claimed it was all done in Alaska, but only the interviews are — everything else was shot in LA for real cheap."
9. "I used to work as a gardener near a foreclosed...asylum. ... A bunch of asshole kids were making a TV show about hunting ghosts or something and they tried to get me to give them an interview about all the spooky shit that I've seen. I told them I've seen nothing and suggested they fuck off. Then they gave me 20 bucks, and I did give them an interview saying that I've seen a ghost."
10. "What's behind the scenes: massive egos. These people are told they are special because they have 'a gift' and then get put on TV, which is tantamount to Olympia for this day and age, even if you are relegated to the extended cable package."
11. "Ghost Hunters filmed at a historic site I used to work at. A lot of people died there and creepy things happened all the time. A lot of material to pick from, and they used NONE OF IT AND MADE UP THEIR OWN CRAP. Only one of the ghost stories was consistent."
12. "Not my story, but an ex-boyfriend's. They were filming an episode of a ghost-hunting show many years ago and needed a Native American 'medicine man' for a scene to bless a house. So they dressed him up in native garb and gave him an eagle feather to wave around and some sage. He’s Taiwanese."
13. "The Dead Files did an episode in my family's bar. I was interviewed for it because weird shit has gone down there while I was there alone — things like doors slamming with no drafts, [and] things just falling off tables where they had sat just fine for weeks. My 45-minute interview and b-roll was trimmed to one sentence and they really played up a lot of the things that were said to make it as dramatic as possible."
14. "I only worked on one, and we took a 'true story,' changed it to make it scarier, then hired actors to pretend to be the 'real people' because the real people didn’t actually want to be interviewed. Then we hired other actors to be the 're-creation actors.' There wasn’t a damn thing on that show that wasn’t faked, manipulated, or altered."
15. "Years ago, I was a PA on the Scariest Places on Earth that Fox Family ran during Halloween. I was involved on the 'Jersey Devil' episode. There was a spot where the 'hunters' found devil hoof prints — but they were added in secret by our local guide. We laughed our asses off as the hunters started freaking out over their 'find' on camera."
16. "I forget what show it was, but one of the paranormal investigation teams checked out a 'haunted' site in our town. Basically, everything was staged. There was a group of volunteers (including myself) who went to the site a day or two before and dug out some of the 'creepiest' stuff from the basement and placed them in various rooms to create ambiance. The biggest task we had was clearing the walkways so the hosts of the show wouldn't trip over anything while filming and painting over the graffiti so there wouldn't be any big swear words or gang symbols that would need to be edited out in post."
17. "We had one of those shows at an amateur theater I spend a lot of time at. We weren't allowed in during filming, but my boyfriend passed by while they were in there. They were in the bathrooms and had an open window (seems kinda dumb to leave one open if you're recording ghost sounds, but what do I know?). When my boyfriend passed, he heard someone yell 'What was that? I think I heard steps.'"
"When he got home, we laughed it off, but figured they would find out about the open window. But no, when we watched the show and got to the part where the guy said 'What was that...', they played it up as one of the big, dramatic ghost moments. They said the sounds clearly came from the bathrooms, and definitely from a ghost. You could literally see the open window in the shot. I didn't believe much in it before, but that was just insanely stupid, and they lost all credibility for me."
18. "My godfather was the director of Britain's Most Haunted. Popular show in the early 2000s. He used to tell us that nearly all of it is made up with camera tricks ... but he says there has been some shady stuff. ... One story he told us is that after shooting at the set of an asylum in the UK, one of the sound engineers completely freaked out and smashed his face into a mirror whilst screaming his head off. ... The dude didn't know why he did it and was completely in a good mental state beforehand. Wish I could pick his brains about it now."
19. "I actually did a full season of one of these. ... On our third or fourth location shoot, I realized that there was a person on our crew who I had no idea what their actual job was. ... Apparently, the dude's job was to make things happen while we were filming and doing walkthroughs of buildings. Anything from making lightbulbs explode to creating creepy sounds to causing a bunch of stuff to fall off a table."
"He was VERY good at his job, because I never saw him and some very creepy shit would happen without warning and he never told anyone what he was planning for each location. I genuinely can't believe one of the things that happened wasn't real. It involved digging up something that there was almost no way he could have buried without making it look like it had recently been buried. There was full undisturbed grass grown over the spot they dug into. To this day, it still creeps me out thinking about it."
20. And finally..."I sat next to Paul Bradford on a plane ride about eight years back. ... I asked him about his experiences and asked if he had legitimately had any real experiences that he thought were paranormal. He said that there's obviously a lot of cinematography involved as far as trying to create compelling TV for people to watch but that he had had some experiences on the show that he truly couldn't explain. He mentioned that he didn't believe in 'spirit orbs' and mentioned that electronic equipment and meters could be faked to give off 'readings' and whatnot. He did say that he believes that the St. Augustine lighthouse is 100% haunted. He mentioned several instances he witnessed while working on that episode that simply could not be explained."
Submissions have been edited for length/clarity.