Travel Channel’s Paranormal Caught on Camera (PCOC) continues to intrigue us with phenomenon captured from around the world! It seems nothing can escape the lingering eye of the lens and PCOC analysts are at the ready to offer up their expert evaluation. The truth IS out there… believing is up to you.
Fan Fest News had the opportunity to catch up with six of Paranormal Caught on Camera’s featured analysts. Check out their thoughts on our otherworldy obsessions…
Susan Slaughter: Paranormal Investigator
What would you like the fans to know when it comes to analyzing submitted videos for Paranormal Caught on Camera? What is your process?
When I receive videos for analysis the very first thing I look up is the general region of where the video is shot… What country, what state, what mountain ranges or bodies of water are nearby? It’s important for me to get a sense of geography which then throws me into the research of historical sites and major historical events. Then I research culture… What religions are practiced in that region? What type of belief systems are common? What type of belief systems are less common? And so forth. Because we review footage from so many different regions worldwide, it’s important for me to understand what the person shooting the video believes they are witnessing. Locals capturing footage of a UFO over the Himalayas in Nepal might interpret what they saw differently than a local capturing footage of a UFO in middle America. A person in Italy shooting footage of an exorcism might interpret spiritual possession differently than a person shooting a Santero ritual in Cuba. It is also very important for me to research the history of the particular paranormal sighting and explain the lineage of those types of sightings and how they might be interpreted.
Have fan responses to Paranormal Caught on Camera videos affected your thoughts on how society perceives the paranormal field? How so?
I find that most of the viewers are BIG believers of the supernatural and all it encompasses. I also find that most of the viewers either fear or antagonize the paranormal. I think it’s mostly because they are uninformed or have been fed untruths on what phenomena actually is. A lot of commentators on social media automatically see footage with poltergeist activity or investigators getting scratched and write it off as something scary and demonic. Maybe they see footage of otherworldly creatures or aliens and assume they are here to devour or mutilate us. There is such a fear of the unknown and people are fascinated by it. I honestly feel that there is no sinister intention to these strange phenomena. Phenomena is neutral until you project your own identity upon it. If you are a fearful or hateful person then you will get that projected back towards you. If you are a benevolent and inquisitive person you will get that in return.
Derek Hayes: Host, Monsters Among Us
You seem to be popping up a lot in Season 2 of Paranormal Caught on Camera, what do you feel is the key element in conveying your video analysis? What connects the fans to the show?
I’ve been studying these types of videos for years, after a while you know what telltale signs to look for to suss out the fakes. Often times the reaction of the people in the video, the framing of the shot itself, and the minutes or seconds leading up to, and after an encounter, all hold a lot of clues.
What advice would you offer fans as they watch the videos and attempt to formulate their own belief… or disbelief?
I would suggest viewers use common sense, look at each situation separately, and ask yourself what is more likely – something unusual but explainable happening? Or something unexplained and possibly paranormal happening? Fans should always be skeptical of every video they see, not all can be attributed to the paranormal, but on the upside, the ones that can’t be explained away become so much creepier.
Sapphire Sandalo: Creator, Stories With Sapphire
In our prior interview, you indicated that Paranormal Caught on Camera Season 1 was your first TV appearance. What impact has that had on your career in the paranormal field?
I work from home, which has its benefits, but it can feel isolating sometimes. It’s hard to feel like part of a community when you’re physically alone most of the time. But after Paranormal Caught On Camera, I’ve been introduced to some amazing and brilliant people, and actually feel like I’m part of the scene now. I didn’t have professional ghost hunting friends before! It’s also led me to other opportunities – I’ll be appearing in a new Canadian paranormal TV series later this year!
What have you learned from your fellow analysts? Has there been an instance where one of their statements has changed your outlook? Could you provide an example?
Paranormal phenomena are not an exact science. Theories are based on people’s subjective experiences, which is why you’ll see panelists on the show saying differing things. There was one episode where we were discussing a video that showed someone with three scratch marks on their back. I commented on how three marks is a sign of a demonic entity, and my comments were followed by Brian Cano saying that it doesn’t always mean that. Neither of us was there so we don’t know for sure, but this is just a small example of how paranormal activity is really up to interpretation! Which is why skeptics hate it, but why I love it.
Brian J. Cano: Paranormal Researcher
Given the numerous paranormal related TV shows, to what do you attribute the popularity of Paranormal Caught on Camera?
I think the show has been so popular with viewers because of its inclusive nature. The show is a conversation that invites the average person to weigh in on what they see, especially since the videos we review are coming from them. Unlike the other shows out there, we commentators have no personal stake in the videos we’re watching, there’s no motive to oversell them. We can be skeptical, we can be amazed, we can be dumbfounded – I end half my comments with, “What was it?” Which now has found life on social media as a hashtag associated with me!
There is also a wide variety of clips ranging from ghosts and spirits, to cryptids, aliens and everything in between. If you tuned in to see one type of video, chances are you’ll find yourself educated about several others as well. I know I’ve learned quite a bit since I started on the show.
Additionally, it’s a show that doesn’t take itself too seriously. I love that there is room for doubt. There is room for skepticism, as well as an opening for further conversations. Each of the panelists have different experiences in the paranormal and I find it interesting to listen to all of them. That, and I am consistently entertained by the puns used as the case names!
The paranormal field took a hit last year with the loss of expert researcher, and Paranormal Caught on Camera analyst, Rosemary Ellen Guiley. Having worked with her in the past, do you believe there is a way to fill that gap? How?
Rosemary simply cannot be replaced. That being said, I know when I sit in the chair during filming and I am asked certain questions, I often think, “How would Rosemary answer this?” and I do my best to pass on the information as I know she would have; comprehensively and accurately. Over the years, I had cause to work with her many times, on many projects and one thing she never wavered on was being a reliable bastion of knowledge. Even now, through her many books, she continues to teach us.
Lynne McNeill: Folklorist
You are a new face for Paranormal Caught on Camera Season 2. How did you become involved with the show? Had you watched the first season? If so, what were your thoughts?
My areas of expertise are legends and the supernatural, and so I’ve always been interested in the ways that popular culture takes on those topics. I’d seen clips of the first season and the thing I love most about this show, which has just grown since I’ve gotten to be involved with it, is how seriously it takes the reports of everyday people. A lot of times shows just want to talk to experts, and here, we’ve got the people themselves sharing their evidence and stories, and I just love how they’re put front and center.
Could you tell me where your interest in folklore emanates? What are its biggest misconceptions?
I discovered folklore as an undergrad, and from the first day of my first folklore class, I was hooked. All the things I’d ever been interested in–fairy tales, urban legends, even things like ESP and ghost hunting and hypnosis games that everyone plays as kids – were all housed under the umbrella of folklore. The biggest misconception that people have about folklore is that it’s synonymous with “untrue.” Calling something folklore doesn’t mean it’s untrue; it just means that it’s cultural information that we learn from informal sources -from each other, from word-of-mouth rather than from our institutions. We don’t learn about Bigfoot from biology class; we learn about him by talking to other people, hearing and telling stories and sharing experiences.
Could you explain your process when analyzing a video for Paranormal Caught on Camera? Has any of your fellow analysts swayed your thoughts on a given video?
One of the best things about being a folklorist is that you’re also a member of the folk! So, when I first watch a video, I do my best to just watch it and enjoy it, just as I would if it came to me in my social media feed. As a folklorist, I try to listen for the ways that the person who took the video contextualizes their experience. With the paranormal, the story behind the experience is often as important as the evidence that’s been captured. Only the person experiencing the haunting or the visitation knows what may be going on in their lives or in their homes that helps to make sense of the event. Sometimes it’s truly random, so we end up falling back on our knowledge of the supernatural to classify or identify the event, but the voices of the people who experience the events themselves – whether in the moment or upon reflection after – are so important.
I’m consistently impressed by my fellow analysts who gain their experience by hands-on engagement with the supernatural. I mean, I’ve been on ghost hunts and had my own paranormal experiences, but being an academic folklorist doesn’t often put me in the role of investigator. I love hearing how the others can connect the videos to their own similar experiences.
Aaron Sagers: Paranormal Jounalist
You are a new face for Paranormal Caught on Camera Season 2. How did you become involved with the show? What is your background as it relates to the paranormal?
I have always been fascinated with the paranormal, going back to when I was a kid devouring the Time-Life Mysteries of the Unknown books, and every collection of ghost stories I could get my hands on. My interest was spurred because I grew up in a house that seemed spooky, and I was a pretty frightened kid. Reading and researching at a young age empowered me, and alleviated those fears. As a professional journalist, I started writing about the paranormal around 2005 for the Chicago Tribune Company, CNN, and more. My particular focus was on folklore, and paranormal pop culture, and the influence of entertainment on belief, and vice versa. My ParanormalPopCulture.com site was then the basis for the Paranormal Paparazzi show I produced with Zak Bagans, and I ended up appearing on a lot of shows such as Paranormal Lockdown, and Portals to Hell. Paranormal Caught on Camera found me through my work as a journalist, and I was happy to step into a show that has featured my longtime friends and paranormal colleagues like Rosemary Ellen Guiley and Brian Cano.
What do you find most challenging when analyzing a video?
As a journalist, both the challenge and the joy is trying to think of the story behind the story when analyzing videos. I strive to have an open mind no matter how fantastic footage appears. It’s important to put myself in the shoes of the people filming and get inside their heads in the moment of the possible encounter. Since I may not be directly interacting with them, that can be challenging. So, I think of witnesses as clients with friends, family, or kids. What must they have been thinking when they witnessed this activity? Were they afraid, shocked, excited? What made them film so long, or why didn’t they film longer? Also, I try to remember a lot of case files I’ve reviewed, and it requires a lot of on-the-spot thinking to put these stories into a larger context of phenomena. I love it though because it’s like assembling a puzzle. Another challenge is watching footage of people, especially children who are terrified of the phenomena they are experiencing. It’s critical to maintain empathy, and think of the humans involved in this, so it can be difficult to see people shaken to the core by what they have encountered.
Have you analyzed your fellow analysts? What have you learned from them when it comes to conveying your thoughts?
Yes, I have analyzed them and I am certain one of them is an alien! Seriously, I delight in watching my colleagues on the show, and observing how they arrive at their conclusions. Of all the panelists, I have known Brian Cano the longest and knew Rosemary for a long time before she passed. (Although she wasn’t a close friend, she was always gracious in assisting me with research or providing a quote for my work, and was a joy to talk to.) That said, I enjoy seeing how each analyst thinks about footage – how they approach phenomena differently. For instance, Brian is an investigator and I am a journalist. So, when we approach things from our respective areas of expertise and come to similar conclusions – or even wildly different ones – it’s thrilling. As far as conveying my thoughts, I view phenomena as an exciting mystery, a paranormal riddle I have been trying to figure out since I was a kid and experienced weird things. In fact, I really value that each of us arrives with a wide array of skills, backgrounds, and specialties, and this project allows for a diversity of voices. And ultimately, no matter what we determine when we analyze videos, the viewer is empowered to come to their own conclusion.
A big thank you to Susan, Derek, Sapphire, Brian, Lynne and Aaron for taking the time to offer up their insider insights. Catch Paranormal Caught on Camera’s two-hour season premiere – Poltergeist at the Bar, Sasquatch Encounter, and more on its NEW NIGHT Sunday, April 5 at 9 pm ET/PT.