Recently, I was granted an interview with “X,” a paranormal investigator from a television show. X could only speak if given total anonymity, as the contract X signed for the show states that giving an interview of this nature would result in litigation.
Because most of the individuals who read Swift are skeptics, it’s understandable to additionally be skeptical of the existence of X. I can only promise that X does exist, and was able, during this interview, to give a unique point-of-view of television paranormal investigation.
X: I am talent on a paranormal television program as a paranormal investigator. I utilize technology to try and document paranormal activity at the locations we investigate.
Alison: How does production get in your way?
X: I am granted extremely limited access to the locations that we investigate because we are always on a tight production schedule. I am typically only granted a couple hours at each location, and in my opinion, that is barely enough time to set up, let alone to investigate. I'm never allowed to choose the locations that I want to investigate. This is always predetermined by production.
Alison: Can you tell me what a shooting schedule is like? What kind of information it contains?
X: I'm presented with information for the cast and crew… A shooting schedule of what locations we were going to visit, at what time. The production notes contain a synopsis of the episode and what the objectives are at each location.
Alison: Like what?
X: We will go to such and such location and X will attempt to record an EVP session. X will go to the next location and take photographs.
Alison: Did you have information on why the location was supposedly haunted from the production book?
X: I was given details about the locations ahead of time, but never a reason why the location might be haunted.
Alison: Tell me about editing.
X: I feel that my true role and many of my most notable contributions to the show are always cut out of the final product. There are several techniques that I described in detail that I believe would give more credibility to the program – if people could see in-depth what I’m hoping to accomplish, and how things work. Nearly every instance of that; every bit of footage that has been gathered of me showing what I truly do is edited out.
Alison: So the show was going for drama?
X: I would have to say that the drama factor seems to outweigh the technical or science of investigation in the eyes of production. Yes.
Alison: Have you ever felt you were edited to say something you didn’t?
X: I think I’m edited out when nothing is occurring. I don’t think I've ever been edited out of context. I believe that when I was contributing anything noteworthy to the production (in their eyes), I was simply edited out and given less screen time because it wasn’t dramatic enough.
Alison: Have you ever voiced skepticism of something and had it not make it into the show?
X: Always. I've explained why orbs are considered, even amongst my peers, to be some of the weakest evidence of paranormal activity. I've gone into detail as to what would cause someone to get an ‘orb anomaly’ in a photograph. I've explained that electromagnetic fluctuations can be caused by other sources, including man-made sources. I feel that I really could bring a great deal of skepticism to the show, and I feel that if they would show that angle; if they would show a more skeptical side to our investigations, that it would lend more integrity to the show. But it seems that’s never part of the agenda of the program.
Alison: Has the show ever intentionally lied about your investigations?
X: Yes, but if I describe in detail, it would give away who I am. I'm contractually ‘gagged’ and I'm taking a huge risk just talking to you. This is why my identity is concealed.
Alison: Have you ever been encouraged to present something as paranormal when it wasn’t?
X: Once a production manager alluded that it might be good for me to make something happen on a quiet night. I flatly refused.
Alison: Has the production team treated your investigations as though they might have been of real hauntings, or of real value?
X: No. My role is to validate the claims. Not to question or conduct a true investigation.
Alison: Tell me about your contract. Are you allowed to talk badly about the production team? Are you allowed to give this interview?
X: No. And no.
Alison: What is the phrasing that keeps you from doing so? What are you prohibited from doing?
X: It generally says that I am expressly prohibited from talking in a manner that may be deemed damaging to the show’s integrity or to the network. And that if I do so, I face possible litigation. The way I read it, I'm not allowed to even offer up constructive criticism of anything I don't like about the show.
Alison: How would you summarize your role?
X: I don't feel I'm accurately portrayed as to who I am as an investigator. I'd welcome the chance to do that on screen one day, but I don't see it happening with this program.