If you didn’t already know, the Syfy spinoff Ghost Hunters Academy DVD hits shelves today, a couple years after the last episode aired in the second of its two six-episode seasons.
The show was the second spinoff of the pioneering success Ghost Hunters, and focused on training young, college-aged students in the art of the hunt. Though met with mixed Critical reviews, it went on to produce a second six-episode season before it finally stalled out and met with unofficial cancellation.
But it’s near and dear to my heart because I was on it. And I won the first season of it.
So if you’ve found my blog because you already follow me, because you were running a search about the show, or you tripped through a strange interwebz warp and found yourself lost, dazed, and mildly confused in this stark blogosphere landscape, I’ve written up a quick FAQ about the show to honor its release.
What did you get for winning?
This sweet sweatshirt.
I was given a chance to work with the Ghost Hunters International team along with the other winner, Susan Slaughter. I appeared on one episode in the summer of 2010 and was given the runaround by producers after that. Though I still don’t know what happened, I’m thinking they had too many cast members and didn’t like the idea of having two winners from their spinoff show. Anticipating the coming loss of their two female leads, I think they chose Susan over me.
What are you doing now?
I came back to Colorado, finished college with my degree in Creative Writing and a focus on Religious Studies. I worked with a few local teams here and there before I wound up regularly attending the Stanley Hotel’s weekend public ghost hunts. A few months later I began working there officially, and I’ve been there ever since. That’s been about two and a half years ago now. I also lectured around the nation for a short while about the varying philosophies and approaches to ghost hunting. And just this last October, I released my first novel, Hallowtide. It’s not about ghosts or the supernatural in any of the traditional senses, but it does have a psychological and mystical component. It’s about a young man who begins having nightmares of a journey into Hell. More can be found about it here.
What was your hardest challenge on GHA? -@DimitriNesbitt
There were many. The show was boot camp for ghost hunters, not so much a classroom. And in order to get as much drama from us, we were often left in the dark. For example, the first episode, we tour Fort Mifflin, and then they say, “Alright. Go get the equipment.” We glance at each other, confused, questions on our lips before deciding to turn back to the RV and explore the nooks and crannies for the Pelican cases. Sometimes the hardest challenge was putting up with team members that you found yourself butting heads with, sometimes it was trying to feel confident about doing something you’d had no training in, but could be kicked off at any moment because you weren’t doing it right. In a lot of ways, making it through and winning. That said, though these were challenges and stressful, I wouldn’t trade them for the world.
Greatest idiot moment? -@GAC_Ninja
There were plenty of those! With cameras on you and a million people watching at home, any error feels like the biggest idiot moment. From the one time I felt the gaze of every single viewer when Jane called me out for being inconsiderate at Buffalo Central, and I knew immediately that that moment would make the episode, to the time I forgot a voice recorder in a room we were investigating at Fort Mifflin, to the time in Eastern State when I forgot to log a tape with crew and Steve chewed me out for ten minutes. You always feel like an idiot when you’re under the gun and inexperienced.
What do you think would have saved it from cancellation? -Evie Warner
I think so long as the show was such that one winner was promised a slot on the TAPS or GHI teams, it was destined to end. They have only so many open slots that they need to fill at any one time, having too many seasons would stack up winners.
People love Ghost Hunters because of the characters and the ghosts.
The formula for Academy was essentially the same framework as Ghost; Race through the setup, get down to the investigation. Here I think their meat and potatoes was in turning the lens inward toward character interaction and behind the scenes, which was what established Ghost Hunters in the first place, and was emphasized in the Academy idea of the premise. This show needed emphasis on characters and ghost hunting. I think the competition side was important for getting return viewers, but the opportunity that was lost was in the education, the down and dirty, the running back and forth between buildings at Essex County in the pouring rain and yelling down from a busted out window three stories up that you’re going to toss cable down.
What really goes bump in the night? How have your experiences on the show changed the way you think about unexplained events in real life? What location was freakiest? -Mandy Rose
What really goes bump? Mostly people’s imaginations. The show taught me that most of the locations we went to, some of the most haunted in America, can have quiet nights. Working at the Stanley since then, I’ve seen how easily people scare themselves and how badly they want to believe. As far as what we’re actually dealing with when something does come through? The list is long; human souls, angels, demons, elementals, inter-dimensional beings, animals, time slips, energetic echoes, extra-terrestrials. Which are genuine and which aren’t? I’ve yet to know.
I grew up three years in the two months it took to film the show. I learned how to live life on the road, how to put my problems second to those people I cared about, how to put my head down and get a job done no matter what, how to stay humble, how to present myself to people, how to perform, and how to be a good critical thinking ghost hunter.
Essex County Sanitarium was by far the eeriest of the places. Though the activity wasn’t the strongest, being there in the epitome of fall, the last week before Halloween, where the weather alternated between glowing orange leaves and drizzling rain, the place had power; Run down, decrepit, and creaking with sighs and sounds of what could have been supernatural. Maybe it was lying in the body slabs at the morgue that finally did it, but there was no place I’d rather have been.
You can buy Ghost Hunters Academy, the complete series, at Amazon.com or in stores starting today, January 15.