Interview with Donna LaCroix and Robb Demarest
Posted 09 January 2008 - 05:30 PM
"Ghost Hunters makes the world go round as the TAPS team goes International
By Ian Spelling
How successful is the SCI FI Channel reality series Ghost Hunters? So successful that the network is launching a spinoff. Ghost Hunters International debuts on Jan. 9 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, and it follows ghost hunters familiar and new as they venture across Europe, checking out supposedly haunted locales and attempting to determine whether spirits lurk within them.
SCI FI Weekly recently spoke by telephone with Donna LaCroix, whom Ghost Hunters viewers know as TAPS' case manager, and Robb Demarest, who
joins Ghost Hunters International as one of its paranormal investigators after three years with the TAPS affiliate, Florida Ghost Team.
Let's go back a step. Donna, how surprised are you at how huge a phenomenon Ghost Hunters has been?
LaCroix: This has been a shock and surprise. We never knew or expected in a million years that it would be this popular and would have such an unbelievable following. So, for me, being there from day one and seeing it progress, I just pinch myself because I can't even believe it.
Robb, how did they tap you for Ghost Hunters International?
Demarest: I was actually contacted quite some time ago by Pilgrim Films to talk about a project. They knew I was involved with a TAPS-affiliated team in Florida, and they wanted to see if I'd be interested in a bigger project. And, of course, I was thrilled. I was absolutely enthralled with the chance to jump into something like this.
Donna, you were with Ghost Hunters for three years and have segued into the international edition. How eager were you to get back into the ghost-hunting game?
LaCroix: It's interesting, because I had taken a little reprieve from Ghost Hunters, just to do my own thing and to work on some poetry projects. I do a lot of writing, and that was starting to pick up. And then this came up, the opportunity to do Ghost Hunters International. I thought, "Wow." I really was missing ghost hunting, and I know they already had a new girl for Ghost Hunters; they had replaced me. When this opportunity came up I said, "I may as well check it out. I'd love to travel and go to all these places I'd never be able to go to in a million years and investigate."
How will Ghost Hunters International resemble Ghost Hunters, and in what ways will it differ from the original show?
Demarest: I think it's very similar in that both shows come in with the attitude of "We're going to try to disprove the idea of the haunting." We're not coming in totally wide-eyed and saying, "We'll believe whatever you tell us," because that's how you get up in a trap of not being skeptical enough, and not trying to find alternatives. So, just like Ghost Hunters, we come in with the attitude of "We have to seek out new ways to see if there's anything really going on in these incredible locations."
LaCroix: Absolutely, that's one of the investigative protocols we've adopted from Ghost Hunters, and we carry it through into our show. Just speaking from experience, I think we take it a step further. We have gone out of our way on all of these cases to find new pieces of equipment. I have to credit Barry FitzGerald and Robb for doing this. We're really looking into the theories of how better to capture paranormal activity (on film and audio, etc.). There are so many different theories out there, so many pieces of equipment that they have had built for them and that we use on the show. So we have been really proactive in having that established.
The team heads off to England and specifically to Chillingham Castle in the series premiere. Countless people were tortured there in its dungeons, and stories about its ghosts have been told for centuries. Give us a preview of what we'll see in the episode
LaCroix: It was a medieval castle, and supposedly it's the most haunted castle in England. They all say that, but it really was stunning. To give you a little background, one of the most unbelievable pieces of information we got about this place was that thousands of prisoners were tortured and slaughtered in the most horrific ways. So part of the castle that you see is a torture room, and then you see a dungeon room, and then, in terms of activity, we had the rumors of the infamous ghost of Chillingham, called the "radiant boy," whose cries are heard when the clock strikes midnight. Supposedly this boy was buried in a wall. So we had to check that out. And another famous ghost was that of Lady Mary Berkeley. She's said to wander the castle corridors looking for her beloved husband, who ran away with her sister. So we get the activity report and then we look at the history in terms of our initial research, and then we go in there and we do the investigation and we see what is fact and what is fiction."
In what ways has being involved in the show and seeing what you've seen firsthand affected your thinking on the possibility of paranormal activity? In other words, are you more or less of a believer now?
LaCroix: Doing the investigations over in Europe, I would say, has heightened my awareness of ghostly activity. I feel there's more going on over there than here. Maybe it's because of the ages of the places that we go to. You also have to keep in mind the same line of thought, that with these older places, they have a lot of age. We're talking about 800 years, 1,000-year-old castles. They have a lot of legends attached to them. So it's really, really important to keep that separated from your own beliefs of "Well, maybe this place is really haunted." However, I have had some crazy personal experiences over on these investigations that I have never ever had in my whole time of paranormal investigating.
Demarest: I just finished up three years with a Florida ghost team, and you kind of get into a routine. I don't want to say rut, but you're doing the same kinds of investigations, apartments, homes, a couple of historical locations. But you go in and you look for the same old stuff. But suddenly to be thrust into a situation in which we're in a 1,000-year-old castle, and to be dealing with things and the kind of activity that you've never seen before, yeah, it definitely tends to open your eyes a lot more to the possibility of what could be out there.
What's your sense of the audience? Do people want to see you debunk the claims of paranormal activity, or do they want to see you not be able to scientifically explain away something?
LaCroix: Believe me, whatever we don't debunk, they will. It's absolutely true that we go to all lengths to make sure that we can try every single possible means to debunk anything that happens. We know our viewers, the ones who are really into the show, they want to know, "Hey, this could be this. Did they cover that? Did they cover that?" Then you have a whole other team of viewers who just want to get scared. They just want to be freaked out. They want unexplainable answers. So, it's a fine line, but as a team our protocol is to debunk. We can't just leave events opened up that we could be explaining. We have to go the extra length to try to explain it. We know there are viewers out there who just want to sit on the couch and just be freaked out, and they will in many of these episodes, believe me. There are many things we couldn't explain, but we definitely go to all lengths to try to explain what goes on.
Demarest: The viewership runs the full spectrum. We have people who are definitely looking for the possibility of evidence of life after death and paranormal [activity], and there are other people who are counting on us to be skeptical and take a harder edge and try and find alternatives to these incredible locations. I think that we have done a pretty good job, to be fair to ourselves, to be skeptical and to find alternatives, but at the same time keep a certain open mind. When you get to a point where the alternatives we're coming up with make less sense than a ghost wandering around, then you know you've got something hot going on and you have to kind of relent and say, "OK, there are forces at work here that we just do not understand yet."
Posted 09 January 2008 - 06:13 PM
Posted 09 January 2008 - 06:51 PM
I think it's a safe bet she wasn't alluding to the taps forums. haha. In all fairness, there are many other sites that have very competently debunked much of what taps presents as evidence, such as http://www.skeptical....com/index.html .
Posted 09 January 2008 - 07:43 PM
I'm interested in what new kinds of methods or equipment that GHI will use and how well it will function.
Posted 10 January 2008 - 11:59 AM
Me too, but I suspect that it will just be repackaging of GH staples like thermal imaging cameras, night vision cameras, audio recorders, etc. Their new toys might LOOK different but they will still do the same things. That's my best guess. What are the chances that people on a show on the scifi channel could come up with better methods that already exist and don't work for catching paranormal phenomena?
Posted 10 January 2008 - 11:59 PM
Am I right in thinking that this is the same woman who went on Maury and said that they couldn't explain the Crescent Hotel thermal image? You know, the reflection of Grant? Their debunking of that was stellar.
0 user(s) are reading this topic
0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users