Paranormal Wonder Women! Travel Channel’s Leading Ladies Step-Up At SDCC. (Interview)

Fearless females unite! Four of Travel Channel’s top-notch paranormal pros came together and discussed their roles in the often misunderstood world of the supernatural.  Katrina Weidman (Portals to Hell), Amy Bruni (Kindred Spirits), Cindy Kaza (The Holzer Files) and Chelsea Laden (Destination Fear) participated in a virtual panel for San Diego’s [email protected] weekend. Earlier in the week, I was given the awesome opportunity to take part in a press conference panel preview. Check it out…

(Note: Transcript provided by Superjuice)

Introductions…

Amy Bruni: Hey, guys. This is Amy Bruni, and I am a paranormal investigator and historical researcher on the show Kindred Spirits.  We’ve been with Travel Channel now for… going on five years, and I’m just thrilled that we have so many lovely ladies of the paranormal available for you on Travel Channel currently.

Chelsea Laden: And I am Chelsea Laden, and I am a paranormal explorer on the TV series Destination Fear, where we road trip to some of the most haunted places in the country and spend the night there.

Cindy Kaza: Hey, everybody. I’m Cindy Kaza.  I’m a psychic medium on the show The Holzer Files.  I’m super excited to be here.  I’ve been a psychic medium professionally for 13 years, and it’s been a great opportunity to be part of the paranormal field.  And thanks for having me.

Katrina Weidman: Hey, everyone. I’m Katrina Weidman.  I’ve been doing this for about 15 years, currently on Portals to Hell with Jack Osbourne.  We go around looking for kind of the biggest, baddest locations for the paranormal.  And definitely excited to be here, and thanks for having me as well.

Fanboy Nation – R.C. Samuels: Paranormal has been a huge part of human history, dating back to Mesopotamia and dealing with polytheism and… as well as even Biblical times in kings trying to summon up past prophets.  What is the phenomena of human beings trying to reach over into the other side?  And what has been some of the most frightening things that you’ve experienced because sometimes people don’t realize what they’re contacting and end up contacting an evil spirit or a demon or something of that sort?

Cindy Kaza: I really believe mediumship is just the ability to be an intermediary between one dimension and the next. So, it’s not surprising that we’ve seen mediumship throughout history.  I really believe it’s part of just being a human.  People trying to contact angels or whatever…it’s all technically mediumship.  I do think that there is fear with people not understanding sometimes what they’re contacting. And any time you’re opening yourself up to experience something from another dimension, you have to be mindful because you don’t always know what you’re going to encounter.  But, when we look back at the history of religion, mediumship is looked at as being something that’s against God.  But, if you look at, you know, prophets speaking with angels and people speaking with saints, that’s all really technically a form of mediumship because you’re contacting or you’re connecting with something from another dimension.  So, humans are the intermediary between this dimension and the next.  So, I look at everything in that realm as actually being mediumship.

The Holzer Files, Cindy Kaza
Image: Travel Channel

Amy Bruni:  And I just wanted to add how prevalent it is throughout history.  I mean, clearly, people always have an intense interest in the afterlife and interest in ghosts and spirits.  You know, while there are definite religious connotations, it also has kind of become a belief system on its own.  And you also see historically that the interest in the paranormal really increases after like traumatic historic events, like after the Civil War, for example.  And I feel like right now it’s probably going to happen after all this as well.  And so, that’s just really a trend that we’ve seen throughout time because it is that one thing we can’t control.  We’re all going to die one day.  But, we also have no idea what happens on the other side.  So, I think belief in spirits and ghosts is another way people kind of fill that afterlife curiosity.  And clearly, it’s gone on for, you know… it’s part of pop culture even now.  So, it doesn’t seem like it’s going away any time soon.

Katrina Weidman: I’ll also jump in on this one.  I think it’s an awesome question, number one.  Number two, this is something I know a lot of us talk about in the field.  And kind of piggybacking off of Amy’s answer a little bit, something I find really interesting historically and culturally is, when you start looking into this stuff, what humans are really good at doing is finding reasons for why something happened.  We want to put all the puzzle pieces together.  And when we look back at more ancient cultures, for example, like, you know… like an Aztec, Mayan culture, something like that, when they experienced something they didn’t understand, they automatically went to the supernatural.  And what I find really interesting about that is that it didn’t mean that they weren’t having these experiences.  They just didn’t know the reasons behind them.  So, I think that’s what’s really exciting about the field is we’re exploring all the possibilities of what could cause those experiences.

Chelsea Laden: I think you guys did a fabulous job answering that question. I’m more of like an everyday person.  I’m, you know, compared to the other ladies on this panel, I’m more of like an explorer.  And so, I think that they did a great job answering that question, and they were probably better fit to answer that question.  So, great job.

Down and Nerdy – James Witham: You all have been able to do a lot of amazing things in this field that’s predominantly dominated by men and has been for years.  So, what are some of the common misconceptions that you think people see about women in this field that you can debunk for us?

Amy Bruni: I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that it is very male-dominated.  I think that, for a long time, on television, it was heavily represented by men.  But, I think that when you actually get out into like, you know, paranormal conventions and events and see the faces out there, it’s actually a very female-driven field.  I find that it’s probably, you know, at events and things, like 75 percent women.  I know even on all my social media statistics, 75 percent of my followers are women.  It’s so interesting that something that is so female based would be, for the longest time, represented by men in the public eye.  So, I’m so happy to kind of see that changing and to see Travel Channel, in particular, representing and, you know, making sure that there are plenty of female researchers on their shows as well.

Cindy Kaza: Amy, I agree with you.  The field of mediumship is very female-driven as well, and I know a lot of the shows that we see on television, just specifically around mediumship, are very female-driven.  So, I’m really excited to be part of a paranormal show, bringing mediumship to the table, because it really shows how the two worlds can really work together with having the mediumship being, you know, in conjunction with all the tools and the technology of the paranormal.  So, I’m really excited about the opportunity.  And I think there are a lot of women, like I said, in paranormal and in mediumship.  But, I’m glad that we’re finally being represented on TV.  So, it’s great.

Katrina Weidman: Something to add about the misconceptions of women in the paranormal… I think, culturally, we’ve been kind of inundated with these messages for a very long time that women can’t lead, women can’t be brave, women have to learn from men.  I think that’s definitely bled into this genre for a really long time.  And my work in the field, at least I haven’t found that to be the case, I haven’t found any of that stuff to be true.  And, of course, there are women who don’t want to be in those positions of leadership in the paranormal, and that’s totally fine.  But, there is definitely a lot of women who are qualified for it and who want to be in this position.  So, I think that whole misconception of the scared woman in the scary place, although maybe that’s true for some people, I don’t think that’s the standard of what is the normal really… I think what we’ve all seen is that it’s not.  It’s a lot of really brave women in the field who are more than happy to step forward and take on that role.

Chelsea Laden: Kind of going off what Katrina said, kind of like on the flip side of the coin, I can humbly say that I am one of those girls who gets a little freaked out at times, and, you know, I scream when I’m scared and all of that.  But, I also wanted to prove that, you know, women can do what guys can do, even when that fear is there.  I had a conversation with the guys, and I told them, you know, “I might be the most scared person of the group.  But, I don’t want that fear to dictate what I can and can’t do.”  I didn’t want to be like this (inaudible) what the others were doing just because I was a girl or just because I was scared.  I want to, at the very least, try to hang in there and do what they were doing, even if, you know, it involved doing things that you don’t typically think of when you think of women on a TV show… like being put in a dungeon alone or a hallway that was notorious for women having experiences there.  I just wanted to prove that we can do what the guys can do even if there is more emotion tied to it.

Amy Bruni: I promise you the guys are all screaming on TV too.  So…

Chelsea Laden: You’re right…

Amy Bruni: It’s not just the ladies. I thought about that too.  Actually the guys do their fair share of screaming and being scared.  So, it’s all good.

Chelsea Laden: That’s great. Very true.

Cindy Kaza: I think I screamed the least on Holzer Files. So, that’s funny.

Chelsea Laden: That’s awesome. I mean, I can picture Dave screaming, a little bit, to be honest.

Key Smash – Allison Jorlin: I really loved the answer to that last question, and my question is going to follow on with that.  Because…many of you might not know…and I bet some of our panelists know though that the original ghost hunter was a woman.  Her name was Catherine Crowe and she went on the first ghost hunt that we would recognize as similar to the hunts that you see on TV today in 1854 in Edinburgh, Scotland.  So, my question, to all the panelists, is who is your female role model?

Katrina Weidman: For me, it was definitely Lorraine Warren.  I had the opportunity to work with her for a number of years.  She was a religious investigator, which I am not.  But, there was a lot of things that I was able to take away from her, I think most notably thinking outside the box, being that objective person but also being willing to look at the unexplainable in a way that other people aren’t and also really being there for the people that are going through a haunting and might just need that guidance and just that one person to tell them that, “I believe you, and it’s okay.  We’re going to see what we can do to help you.”

Amy Bruni: I have to agree.  I would have to say Lorraine Warren.  It’s funny because we do not share the same methodologies.  But, just the way that she always carried herself and the way that she approached the field, I always felt she was a very strong-willed person.  She didn’t waver.  You know, no one looked at her as any weaker because she was a woman.  And she was constantly trying to use what tools she had on hand to, including her mediumship abilities, which I do not have at all, to prove the existence of the paranormal and help people.  And I often wonder if Lorraine was still alive today and in her heyday and had all the tools that we now have, especially in the field of research and everything, just because everything has become so electronic and so much more accessible, what she could have done with that.  So, yeah, I would have to say Lorraine Warren as well.

Kindred Spirits, Amy Bruni
Image: Travel Channel

Cindy Kaza: I’m on board with Lorraine Warren as well being that she’s a medium and just a really kind, amazing person.  And I have to say, I love her fashion sense too.  I’m a medium on TV that wears dresses and heels.  It’s just empowering to see that.  I guess I look at it kind of like you can still be in the field of paranormal, feminine and wear makeup and wear heels and do, you know, do badass things.  And I feel like she represents all of that.

Chelsea Laden: I grew up watching shows like Ghost Adventures and Ghost Nation, at the time it was called something else.  I got into it through a lot of male paranormal investigators.  … ironically, one of the first people that was a woman who I actually watched was Amy, Amy Bruni.  I know this is so funny because she’s actually a panelist with me, which kind of makes it full circle.  But, I just really admired her by her grace and how, you know, she was just so calm, cool, and collected, which is something I’ll never be.  But, I just really…

Amy Bruni: That’s not true.

Chelsea Laden: …I really appreciated how Amy just, you know, did her work. And it actually instilled confidence in me that I could do something like that.  Although, it might not be exactly the same.  So, yes, Lorraine Warren is on the list.  Although, for me, Lorraine Warren was someone who I actually saw in like movies.  So, it wasn’t that I actually got to really research who she was, you know, on paper and in real life.  I was more seeing her amplified on actual movies like The Conjuring and stuff.  So, for me, the first real paranormal investigator that I really got to see in action was Amy Bruni.  So, kind of fun.

Amy Bruni: Chelsea, you’re going to make me cry.

Chelsea Laden: It’s true.

Amy Bruni: Thank you. Chelsea is one of the sweetest people, you guys.

Thinking Outside – Gabriel Lennox: Are there going to be changes that you see on your shows going forward because of the pandemic?

Cindy Kaza: Currently, we are, luckily filming season two and almost through season two.  And going forward I guess it’s something that we don’t know.  I hope not.  But, what I find interesting about the field of mediumship and paranormal, at least mediumship is, I’m able to work remotely.  I don’t actually have to be in a location to sense the energy in a location.  So, you know, I feel like there can be things that can be done creatively where if in the worst-case scenario, nobody can film for a year, everything gets shut down, I really feel there are creative ways and things that can be done to still continue to make shows.  I think that there’s something there that can be done. I do readings remotely all the time. So, I think it’s possible.  I hope it doesn’t come to that point.  But, I think that people are so smart and creative in the industry.  I think it will survive and go forward, and creative things will be done.

Amy Bruni:  I can tell you that we, without giving away too much, things are happening, and, you know, I just think a lot of productions are staying as local as possible, really small crews, aggressive COVID testing of crew and cast.  We are doing a lot of Skyping and remote interviews, things like that.  So, it will happen.  I just think it might look a little different.  But, I think people are going to be really understanding when these shows come out.

Chelsea Laden: The COVID protocols are very expensive and very thorough.  And I know that no one would be going back to work if it wasn’t the most safe environment possible.  But, in addition to that, we are very blessed because we get to, you know, go to places where a lot of people wouldn’t even like be paid to go to, to be honest.  Like a lot of my friends say that at times, “You couldn’t even pay me to go there.”  And so, that actually works in our favor because these are probably the least touched locations out there.  So, I think we have that to at least look forward to and be hopeful for.

Drop the Spotlight – Vic Pena: Prior to visiting a haunted location, is there a ritual you do to get into the mindset of visiting that location?

Katrina Weidman: For me, I don’t necessarily have a ritual in any kind of, you know, magical or religious sense.  If it’s a place where I’m going in knowing what’s happened beforehand, it’s that I have my research, I have everything lined up, knowing who I’m going to meet with, that kind of stuff.  But, I think more on an energetic level, it’s really making sure I’m not in any kind of negative headspace.  And I know even if you don’t believe in the paranormal, you’ve experienced that in your life.  There’s negative people, negative situations that can really infiltrate every area of your existence.  And so, for me, it’s really making sure I’m in that right frame of mind because… I think, the paranormal field, specifically, it can really have an outcome on your work.

Amy Bruni:  People always ask, “What do you do to prep?”  And kind of like what Katrina was saying, one thing is just being ready with research and things so we know we’re going to gear our investigation.  You need that information ahead of time.  But, as far as a way to protect myself… many people like to carry a religious medal, or they say a prayer, or they rely on crystals.  I always tell people to go into a space just yourself, knowing that you are strong enough.  And, again, kind of what Katrina said, make sure you’re in a good headspace.  But, if you’re relying on something to protect you, and if, at some point, you forget that, or it gets taken away from you, suddenly you feel weaker, and you are put into that headspace of, “Oh, I don’t have my normal protection.”  Where if you go in knowing that you’re strong enough and you’re of sound mind and you’ve got a strong heart, that should be enough for you.  And so, that’s what I always tell people is just pump themselves to go in and be confident in yourself.

Cindy Kaza: I totally agree with Amy and Katrina.  Although I don’t have any knowledge of what I’m walking into.  So, for me, it’s a little bit different because I don’t know the case.  I’m going in blind through the baseline.  So, I always walk in trying to be in the best headspace I can be in while being open because I have to allow myself to be open to have the experience.  But, I never walk into a case in fear.  That’s not how I operate.  And I think that’s really important because once you walk in being in fear, then that can really shift a lot of things.  So, I just always trust that I’m safe and I’m protected.  If something feels weird, then I acknowledge it, and I do things to take care of myself.  But, I think it’s really important to be in a good headspace and be positive and to not walk in fear.

Chelsea Laden: Although I’m not going into locations blind like Cindy is, the unique part about our show, Destination Fear, is that I actually don’t know where we’re going until the very night before we arrive.  So, like Amy and Katrina mentioned, I try to get in the right mindset, be in a good headspace.  And during that 24 hours, I really do try to study the information that I was given, obviously being prepared and also just be aware of how I feel too.  The dangerous part about that is I really have to trust the information that I’ve been given because, within 24 hours, you can only so much research.  So, it’s kind of unique how we all have different ways that we approach the location.  But, there’s a lot of similarities too.

Crooked Llama – Linda Marie: My question involves social media.  Do you feel that it has helped or hindered progress in the paranormal field?  How would you handle comments from skeptics? Has it impacted you on a personal level?

Cindy Kaza: Yeah, yeah, that’s a great question.  I’ve really tried to make it a point with social media to not… for example, with Twitter, I do the posts I need to do but I don’t read through every tweet because I need to protect myself emotionally.  So, I don’t engage in that and I try to not let it get to me.  I mean, granted, I’m a medium.  There are skeptics.  There are people that hate what I do.  It’s par for the course.  It’s expected.  It’s part of the territory.  But, I really try to just stay in my lane and not engage that sort of stuff because I think if you let it get to you or you engage it too much, then it becomes overwhelming.  But, I do feel like, in general, social media has been great for the field of mediumship because people are able to post videos of their work, and I’m able to access people that do all different kinds of things in the field like trance mediumship or psychometry or remote viewing.  I mean, there’s a lot of access, and the community is growing.  So, I guess, all in all, I think it’s great.  As far as social media negativity goes, that’s just what it is.  It’s the world we live in.  I suggest for anybody going into the field that’s in the public eye to just not engage it.

Katrina Weidman: I love this question, number one, because it’s so, so important and such a very huge part of our lives today.  And as far as, has it hurt or helped the paranormal… I think it’s both.  The positive side about it is that it’s exposing more people to this field.  It’s making it less taboo.  It’s inspiring people to get involved.  And maybe that, seven year old who’s watching these shows today in 20 years will come up with some sort of device that can help the field or a theory that can move the field forward.  And I think that’s really exciting.  And the negative side of it, I think, that I have seen, since I’ve been in the media side of the field is that it just sometimes gives a very limited picture of what it is that we actually do.  So, people don’t always see a full investigation, actually, on television.  You see parts of it.  You don’t hear every conversation we have.  I think sometimes it paints a picture that it’s really easy work.  And it’s like the complete opposite.  I don’t know for all the other ladies.  I’ve been injured.  I’ve been sick.  I’ve been, oh gosh…  it’s just very tiring work.  And you’re also working in something that’s not proven, which makes it all that much more difficult.  As far as the negative side of social media, how to handle that.  For me, I am a very sensitive person.  So, I have no problem taking a break from social media if I need to, and I do that quite often just to kind of collect myself so I can be me and go through the world without being sad.  But, I think the other part of that that you asked about the skeptics, personally, I love talking to skeptics.  And I want to point them in any kind of constructive conversation.  You, of course, have people that are just very negative and will not hear out any other thought but their own. But, people who just really want to engage in discussion, I’m all about that.  I think something for me personally that’s maybe not very well known is that I think I lean more towards the skeptical side.  Even if you’re a 100 percent believer, there’s no other answer for all the stuff that happens, you need the skeptics because, again, nothing in this field is proven.  So, how do we move the field forward?  It’s by having those discussions and exploring all possibilities.

Portals to Hell, Katrina Weidman
Image: Travel Channel

Amy Bruni:  I love this question.  I loved your answer, Katrina.  It’s so funny because social media, to me, has…I have like a love-hate relationship with.  The reality is I wouldn’t be where I am today without social media.  Years ago, the way I started down this path [is] I was part of a paranormal team, doing my own thing.  And I met Jason and Grant from Ghosthunters on Myspace, which tells you how long ago that was.  But, without that introduction, without that online community of the paranormal and me feeling comfortable talking to people about the paranormal at that point, I would not be where I am today.  But, the flip side of that is now fast forward to 2020 and social media is a huge part of promoting what we do, and it’s given people these kinds of opportunities to meet likeminded people.  There’s a lot of private Facebook groups and things that I think have really, especially right now when people can’t see each other face to face, have made people so comfortable just talking about the paranormal because it was, for the longest time, looked at as kind of such a taboo subject.  But, it does open yourself up to a lot of negativity. I’ve personally really struggled with that.  It’s hard for me. Adam and I always make this observation why [my] social media tends to attract a lot more negative comments than his.  And I don’t know if it’s because I’m a woman or because I’m a mom.  I don’t understand it. But, it does.  Everyone feels the need to kind of weigh in on everything that I do, which is strange.  But, as far as skeptics, I, like Katrina, I do enjoy talking to rational skeptics who actually want to have the conversation.  But, there are some people that just come at it and talk to you as though what you do is so ridiculous and don’t realize how much heart and soul and work you have put into it.  And I’ve just long learned that I don’t have to prove myself to anybody.  It’s not my job to prove the existence of the paranormal to someone who will never believe it exists no matter what I present to them.  I’ve long been able to just kind of see those people right away and pass them by.  But, if anyone wants to engage in a respectful space, then I’m absolutely open to it.

Chelsea Laden: And I agree with what everyone else is saying.  This is such an important and relevant topic for so many reasons.  No matter what you are doing, even when you are not on a TV show, you’ll have people with a disagreement.  People who are not fans of you, skeptics who immediately shut you down before conversation and people who are straight-up having a bad day, honestly.  It has really taken me time to adapt to this platform.  I’m the newest into the social media shark tank, and there’s really so much going on out there.  There’s communities being built, friendships that are being made.  Then, there’s that one person who might say something out of just negativity or is just being mean.  I personally just try to disconnect from it, just disengage from that energy, like the negative energy because it’s really not helping anyone, whether you feed into it or you read it, or you dwell on it.  I’ve been down that path, and it doesn’t get you very far.  But, I do think, overall, social media, like Amy was saying, especially in a time where everyone feels so disconnected and so distant, it really is a good thing when it’s used appropriately and when it’s used with consideration of other people.

Drop the Spotlight – Vic Pena:  What kind of expectations do you think the next woman researcher [needs] to know–that wants to be involved in paranormal and be like you?

Amy Bruni: That’s a good question. People always ask how to kind of pursue this.  And it really is… it is a very intense hobby.  And it’s rare for it to actually become a living.  I pinch myself on a regular basis.  I always intended it to be this… when I was a project manager years ago, I would go look for ghosts on the weekends.  I would read everything I could find.  I was part of a paranormal team.  So, I always tell people, do it for the love of it first.  And if it becomes more, that’s amazing.  But, always do it for the love of it.  Make sure you’re reading up, not just on the paranormal, but make sure you’re reading books on psychology and sociology and history, just things that will benefit you as you get into the field more and have to really start interacting with people.  That’s the biggest thing that I tell people… I say as long as you’re going into it for the love of it, you will always be happy because you’re doing what you love.  But, yeah, beyond that, it’s an interesting field because we, I’m sure like these ladies can attest, we meet people constantly who are kind of like weekend warriors, and they have forged these amazing relationships.  They’re part of teams.  And I love watching it.  And I almost miss those days.  So, if you can get into it that far, it’s a really great field, and it’s a lot of fun.

Katrina Weidman: I agree with Amy.  And I’ll add to that… a couple years ago, I was emailed by a dad who was very upset because his daughter wanted to get into the field, and that’s not what upset him.  He was very encouraging and supportive of that.  But, I guess they had some sort of like career day at her school.  She was maybe 13 or 14.  When the student disclosed that she wanted to be a paranormal investigator, the teacher said to her, “That’s not a real job, and you need to find something else.”  And he (the dad) was so upset by that answer.  And he asked me, “Can you please just like tell me like is there something that will take her somewhere?  What can she do?”  It upset me because I’m like, that’s a ridiculous, very close-minded answer for somebody to give because, kind of touching on what Amy was talking about, I think we’ve all met psychologists and scientists who maybe don’t make their living from working in the paranormal, but they certainly work within the paranormal range as well.  They do it as a part of their work.  There are different universities who definitely have departments that study the supernatural or things within the fringe sciences.  You can’t discount what we don’t know [in] the next 20 years.  So, maybe when this young woman was out of college and grew up, there might be more opportunities for her, or maybe she could start something herself.  Duke University, very famously, had a parapsychology department for a long time.  I just find it really interesting that that one teacher was hellbent on saying, “You know what?  That’s stupid.  Don’t do it.  There’s no future in that.” Just maybe there’s not a direct future as far as making money from being a paranormal investigator but again, who knows?  But, there’s all these other careers that support that work that you can work in.

Cindy Kaza: Katrina and Amy, I agree with you.  It’s so important… the topic.  And I agree that doing this for the love of doing it, having a love for the work is really key and important because success… it can come and go.  TV can come and go.  But, if you have that love for what you’re doing, I feel like you’ll always be in the field.  And I always tell people that come to me and say, “Well, how do I do what you do, how do I get here, what’s next?”  And I always say [to] diversify in your field.  You know, I’ve been doing live events for a long time.  I’m now doing TV.  But then, I think about teaching.  And it’s about finding ways to keep yourself engaged in what you love in so many ways where you can make it sustainable.  And also, because, I think when TV comes and goes, sometimes that’s a tough wave.  But, how can you maintain, you know… keep yourself whole through that whole ride?  And that’s really where I’m at… what I would tell people is look at what you can do to keep yourself whole through the whole ride.  So, when the TV does end, what do you have after that?  And education is super important too in the field of mediumship for me and for people.  What I would tell them… study mediumship.  But, also in other ways too, so, I think there’s a lot to it.  I think being grounded is super important, and that’s the advice I would really give somebody who wanted to do this is maintain your emotions, try to be grounded, and stay focused.

Chelsea Laden: That’s awesome. For me, it all comes down to, like every other decision in life, what you want to get out of something with a big why in what you’re doing.  You know, you have Cindy who has the gift that you can actually use to make a difference in people’s lives.  If you want to use your experiences and your expertise to help scared and compromised families from spiritual issues like Amy and Katrina or you want to do it more as a hobby, something you do outside of your professional life, a personal challenge to face fears of something you never thought you could do, there are really so many roads, like everyone else mentioned, that you can take.  That’s what’s really so cool about it.  Like Amy said, regardless of how you approach it, do it for the love of it, and like Katrina mentioned, don’t be derailed by others’ opinion of what you’re doing.

Down and Nerdy – James Witham: Do you feel like the act of actually getting ready for the investigation is just as important as the investigation itself as it’s occurring?

Katrina Weidman: I think for everything before the actual investigation is most of the work we do, if that makes sense.  I don’t think I’m putting that into words exactly how I want it.  I think the bulk of the investigation is the pre-investigation and the post-investigation, to be honest.  And, unfortunately, a lot of that stuff isn’t shown in the final product.  It’s because it’s done off-site.  It’s done before we go, or it’s done after we go.  We only have a certain amount of time to be able to review that stuff, and sometimes things are missed.  Sometimes things are misidentified.  It’s really important, the post-work that happens to kind of get the full picture of the investigation together.  And, again, since we’re not on-site anymore, a lot of that stuff doesn’t always make it to camera.  So, I agree with you.  I think it does a pretty good job.  But, there are those key points that miss out sometimes.

Amy Brun: I always tell people that the research especially, to us, is just as important as walking around in the dark trying to talk to ghosts. So, we do a lot of that prep beforehand because it’s so huge for us when we get some sort of activity or evidence that actually aligns with something that we have found in research or maybe sometimes it will lead us to further research.  So, yes.  I think that prep beforehand and just kind of the knowledge of the case in general so you know what equipment you want to use, you know who you want to talk to… kind of like what Katrina was saying, I don’t think people understand the amount of work that goes into an actual case and how many moving parts there are and how hard it is to fit that into 43 minutes of television.

Cindy Kaza: I really think that camera setup is so important.  I really admire the production and how they deal with the equipment.  That’s not my thing.  But, looking back, the way the cameras are in all the rooms and set up and how we’re able to capture all of these things and rooms when we’re not in there… I think that’s so important, and there’s a lot of work that goes into all of that.  The tech stuff is so fascinating to me because it’s fairly new to me, and I hadn’t worked with it until I had been on a paranormal show.  So, I’m really happy to be working with people who are so knowledgeable about all of the different tech stuff that is in the field.  And I’ve been learning from that.  Also, I think it’s cool because people can see what goes into it.  People that do paranormal investigations on their own that are fans of the shows… they can learn new techniques and have new ideas when they’re going into their own investigations.  So, I think it’s a really important part of all of it.

Chelsea Laden: I totally agree with you guys when it comes to this idea that preparation is key. It really does help make for a more successful night, kind of knowing what you’re up against or what you’re going to possibly experience. I don’t get to see interviews until after the show airs.  So, I think the most wild moments are when someone who’s been interviewed, that I’ve never seen the interview, had something that they experienced that was the exact [or] almost the exact same thing as we did.  And I think that’s a really cool element to it, just being on the other side of it.  It actually makes those things a lot more scary when I watch them because I’m like, “No way.”  So, there’s a part of this whole process that’s actually really, really entertaining for me too.

Destination Fear, Chelsea Laden
Image: Travel Channel

Crooked Llama – Linda Marie: To what do you attribute the increased interest in the paranormal field?  Do you think because it’s [now] more accepted? 

Katrina Weidman: I think you hit part of it on the nail.  Over the last 20 years, since it’s been talked about, I think the taboo of it has kind of gone to the wayside.  I think because people in the field have had more of a platform, we’ve been able to talk about what the field actually is about and what it isn’t about because, again, before, there were all these misconceptions.  For example, it wasn’t uncommon for places that I went to be picketed as far as people saying, “We don’t want you here.  This is against God.  This is against nature.”  And now, they kind of understand… that’s not really what we’re there to do.  And, you know, this might not have anything to do with religious beliefs.  We’re merely trying to collect objective documentation of things. I think the other part, Amy touched on it earlier, that during times of stress and trauma, you usually see an increase in people being interested in the field… the first time you really see that is with the Fox sisters after the Civil War.  We also see an increase after WWI.  So, I’m not surprised at all that there’s more of an interest going on right now.

Amy Bruni:  I also feel like there’s just a lot more of a platform at the moment.  You know, back a long time ago when I was on Ghosthunters there weren’t nearly as many cable networks.  DVRs didn’t exist.  Now you have the opportunity.  There’s so much more content out there involving the paranormal.  And it makes it so much more accessible to people.  And now, the content isn’t just one way of thinking in the paranormal.  It presents a number of different ways of thinking in the paranormal.  And so, the conversation is just always happening.  I think people are starting to kind of wake up to the idea that maybe the idea of ghosts wasn’t so cut and dry and that there is a lot more to it than just thinking that ghosts are something spooky and scary but that there’s actually a lot of theories behind this and reasons of belief that spirits exist.  I love hearing these conversations happen, and I think, again, with social media, it’s a lot easier to have them that way as well.

Chelsea Laden: Mine’s kind of just reiterating what they said. This is something that’s being talked about a lot more now, and there’s a lot more open-mindedness about the topic and just simply the fact that it’s being broadcasted and talked about more on the large platforms now.  Being the newest member of the Travel Channel squad, I have to thank the pioneers who paved the way, who went through the difficult process of making this more of a comfortable topic so I get to do what I get to do.  It’s important to take a step back and look like, why is this happening?  It’s because other people made this more of a discussion rather than something that was frowned upon.

Cindy Kaza: I agree with all of you, and I also really believe that most people have had some sort of an experience with the other side that they can’t quite explain, whether it be feeling the presence of a loved one or having a vivid dream of a loved one or feeling something in a location.  Although people may be afraid to talk about it, I think the interest is really high.  I think it’s true that this is less taboo now and especially with social media and all of the shows.  I think people do feel more comfortable talking about it and also talking to other people about their own experiences.  So, I think there are a lot of things that tie into it.  But, I really feel that, you know, we’re all intuitive.  Human beings are born with the intuition.  I really believe that most people have had an experience they can’t quite explain, and they really are interested in understanding what that could have been.

Keysmash Blog – Allison Jorlin: What has been something that’s been inspirational to you that you would want to share with other historical researchers or paranormal investigators?

Katrina Weidman:  One of the things I love, Amy touched on this earlier, that articles and everything are digitized now, and they’re so much more accessible, which makes our jobs a lot easier.  And we certainly utilize a lot of the local historians.  But, one of the things I love to do when I show up for an investigation is, and it sounds funny… but [I like to] hit the local bar and talk to quote-unquote, the old-timers because they have so many stories that really did not make it into the newspapers and you’re not going to find from doing historical research that way.  I have found that stuff to be invaluable when you get to have those conversations.

Amy Bruni: I really want to hit on historical societies and how invaluable they are and how they’re dying. It’s really sad to see.  They’re my favorite thing about historical research because you usually walk into a historical society, and it’s usually an old-timer, like Katrina said, some wonderful person in their eighties or nineties running the place with a wealth of information, with a love for their community with all of these artifacts and records at their fingertips.  They’re so eager to share it with you.  It’s extremely rare that you see anyone younger than that in a historical society.  My local historical society is now open two hours a week, which I think is a travesty.  And so, that’s one of the things on Kindred… we always try to highlight the local historical societies.  It breaks my heart and I just really would love for people of the younger generations to just take an afternoon and walk into a local historical society and ask some questions and look at everything, look at where your community came from.  Even if you’re a transplant, which I think has a lot to do with it, people don’t feel that connection to their community any longer because we have become such a transient society.  I’m hoping that maybe we can just share that wealth of information that’s available to us and keep them going for future generations to enjoy.

Cindy Kaza: I’m going to come at it from a little bit of a different standpoint as a medium because I’m not involved so much in the research.  But, for me, it’s been really helpful to explore different cultures and how they experience the spirit world.  I’ve spent a lot of time traveling, especially in southeast Asia and working with different healers.  And what that’s done for me is to really open my eyes to all the possibilities on the other side because I think that we tend to, based on our cultural background, interpret the spirit world in our own way.  But then, when you go to these other cultures and they have all these different spiritual, different names, it’s fascinating.  Once you’re aware of it or you’re open to it, you can experience more.  So, I found that reading about different religions and the spirits in the religions and how they communicate with people in those cultures has really expanded my awareness.  Like I’ve really been open to a lot of things I don’t know that I would have been open to had I not traveled and met with those healers.  So, that’s something I think is really important to anybody wanting to go into the field of mediumship is to understand the differences in cultures and religions and the experiences.

Chelsea Laden: Well, I can’t top that. Those are great answers.  I do think people’s experiences alone are incredibly powerful and just the importance of retaining historical documents and the authentic history of each location is so important.

Thinking Outside – Gabriel Lennox: What’s your favorite like gadget, for lack of a better term, to use when you’re out on an investigation?

Amy Bruni: When I first started, I was obsessed with the technology involved in paranormal investigating.  And now, as I’ve been doing this for over 20 years, which is scary to think, I have become more…. my favorite piece of equipment is just a digital voice recorder because I can get straight answers.  I collect EVPs that way, which is electronic voice phenomena.  I’ve really kind of scaled back from all of the gadgets and have more focused on getting direct answers and also kind of listening to my own feelings and my own reactions and my own experiences.  So, I don’t know if that’s necessarily the answer that you want to hear.  But, I just feel like I kind of evolved back from all of that.  We do still use a lot of tech on Kindred Spirits.  We more use our technology by spreading it out around us because we want to walk into its space and not seem threatening in any way.  That’s how we use our tech in a way that when we walk in a space we don’t want a spirit to see us holding all these unfamiliar gadgets.  We walk in with just the recorder and have everything set off in the distance.  So, I’d say the recorder is probably our key piece.

Katrina Weidman: And for me, I’m with Amy.  I don’t really like to use a lot of tech.  But, I work with people who do.  So, I kind of use it by proxy.  But, I guess the pieces that I have had the best results with is what I’ll speak to.  And those have been certain recorders.  Again, I don’t really know that one recorder is better than the other but there definitely seems to be some recorders that get more answers than others.  I used to work with occasionally Debby Constantino who has since passed away.  But, her theory on that was that the more you use one particular piece of equipment, the better it becomes.  So, she believed there was some sort of energetic association with it from your energy being used.  I like to [use the] GeoBox by George Brown.  That’s one of my favorite pieces of equipment that I’ve had good results with.  It is what people call a spirit box, essentially. And I also like a really good camera.  We had a camera operator that I worked with before who purely from a cinematic standpoint… he worked with the camera company to change the sensor of his camera.  We tapped into being able to pick up figures, I wouldn’t say all the time, but there were at least five really solid figures that we’ve captured using his camera.  So, I find that fascinating.  I’m excited to see where that can go in the future.

Cindy Kaza: I was just going to add, because I don’t use a ton of technology, but I do love the digital voice recorder.  That is one thing that I do have with me on the show in the main investigation.  I think it’s just so awesome when you capture a really clear communication through that.  I think that’s my favorite, personally.

Chelsea Laden: I have to admit the digital recorder is pretty mind-blowing at times. It’s a very bizarre feeling when you playback the digital recorder, and there’s something clearly there that was not in the room with you while you were recording out loud with your own [voice].  So, it’s definitely in my top.  But, I’m in the phase right now, where Amy mentioned, where she experienced at the beginning of her career, where I totally geek out over the technology.  Personally, my ultimate favorite is the [Ghost Box].  And, you know, it’s that device that has a word database in it.  And when a word is selected, actually vocalizes the word so it actually speaks it out.  So, it’s pretty creepy.  And since our show is focused around fear, it’s safe to say that a device that’s giving you like this vocalized response that that may be manipulated by a spirit really does amplify that fear for sure.  It makes you feel like there’s something right there in communication and in direct conversation with you.  So, I’d have to say [Ghost Box] is my favorite.

A big thank you to Amy, Katrina, Cindy and Chelsea for taking the time to participate in this media session. Catch them all on TRVL Channel! Want more now? Check out what they had to say during their virtual panel for San Diego [email protected]

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