Monday, 8 December 2014

Got anything to report, at all..?

Well, it's fast approaching the time to bid farewell to 2014. And a busy year it was, to be sure.

Over the last twelve months, the project was very graciously invited to make quite a few guest appearances at conventions, nationwide. In April, the inaugural Sci-Fi Scarborough event kicked off, all the way Up North. In October, we made a return appearance to Autumn: Horror in the East, almost as far away, but Down South. And between them both, in July, Behind the Curtains descended upon the London Film and Comic Con where we shot the short follow-up Behind the Table, which was released entirely free, gratis and for nothin' on YouTube.


By far the saddest, and most unexpected news of the year centred on the sudden losses of lead actor, Mike Smith and Executive Producer, Richard Broke. Both gentlemen were invaluable not just to Ghostwatch, but also Behind the Curtains, and it was a real honour and a privilege to have them involved in the project. They remain sorely missed.


In June, a full transcript of Behind the Curtains was released on Lulu in response to requests for a doco-centric subtitle track. A huge hand of thanks must go to everyone who has picked up a copy, and also the companion book. As always, we really appreciate your comments and reviews (if you have a mo, leaving us a rating on the product page, or Goodreads would be hugely appreciated).


In October, our fourth National Séance event went rather splendidly. Thanks again for all your comments and pictures! It was great to be part of the fourth iteration of our annual tradition. This year, in addition to another wonderful turn-out, we were also gifted with a rare glimpse of the fabled, original Ghostwatch trailer, presented by Sarah Greene.



But what of this so-called '2015'..?

http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/whats-on/film-news/birminghams-electric-cinema-under-threat-8223237
First off, The Electric Cinema, where we wrapped the doc, is currently under threat of closure owing to a recent planning development. This truly is worrisome, least of all for the venue's connection to the doc, but also its valuable heritage.

To help support Britain's oldest working cinema, you can visit its Facebook page here, or better yet, pay it a visit the next time you're in Birmingham!


http://spectralpress.wordpress.com/2014/10/24/leytonstone-pr/In March of next year, a new novella by Stephen Volk entitled, Leytonstone, is set to hit bookshelves.

In Stephen's highly-anticipated follow-up to Whistable, which was published to coincide with the centenary of actor Peter Cushing’s death, Leytonstone similarly elevates fact (in this case, an anecdote the famous director told repeatedly throughout his life) into resonant and poignant fiction. 

Whitstable and Leytonstone are the first parts of Volk’s putative series of thematically-related but separate fictions, to be called, The Dark Masters Trilogy.

In other news, ITV Encore has also commissioned a three-part drama entitled, Midwinter of the Spirit, based on the books written by successful novelist, Phil Rickman, to be adapted by Stephen. Filming will begin in the Hereford area in April.


Our very own Arfon Jones has been invited to join a group of other artists to celebrate the universe of Doctor Who in the upcoming art show, Mostra: Doctor's Universe opening at the Oratory of Saints Ambrogio in Milan, Italy on December 15th running through to the 21st.

Arfon's fantastic submission for the show is a piece entitled, Rules are made to be broken, an acrylic & pen on A3 card, featuring the series' current Doc, Peter Capaldi staring into a cracked mirror, ominously surrounded by his previous Regenerations...


http://ianevansmusic.com/BtC musician Ian Evans, has released a great eight-minute track entitled, The Start of the Spell, of which all profits shall be donated to Mind, the mental health charity.

The Start of the Spell describes a walk around central London lead by a fox spirit guide. You can take the walk for yourself as the download comes with a free map and a booklet of the lyrics and references!

For more on Ian's truly spellbinding music, you can visit his site here.


An upcoming project from Molly Manning-Walker is continuing to gain momentum in the art world, and beyond.

Written by Molly (who is also serving as cinematographer), More Hate Than Fear is set to start filming next February, and will delve into the world of a graffiti artist serving the first months of a three-year prison sentence.



Not content with having made one film in his life (well, 1 & 1/2, if you count Behind the Table), we can exclusively reveal that director Rich Lawden is now gearing up to make his next feature, Alone / Together, an adaptation of his fleeting novella of the same name. A self-styled 'Love-Hate Triangle in Space', the story follows a doomed expedition to the nearby Sirius twin star system.

When the trans-stellar vessel, 'Chione', suffers catastrophic damage en route to its stellar destination, a handful of the hibernating crew are roused from their cosmic slumber, and must work together in the hopes of safely returning home. But not all on board are quite as dedicated to the notion of cooperation and teamwork as others...

The film, intended to be "The most depressing comedy, ever made" is currently under development at P2P Pictures, with a concrete release date of 'Sometime Before 2085'. For cast/crew applications, please feel free to make use of the contact page above, or get in touch with the producers direct at their Facebook page, here.


And with that, another year has all but come and gone. Already looking forward to next year's promise of barcode license plates, dust-repellent paper, Jaws XIX, Black & Decker pizza hydrators, Nike power-laces, low-emission hoverboards, flying cars, Pepsi Perfect, and of course most exciting of all, self-drying jackets. Until then, fellow Ghostwatchers, sleep tight, thanks for the continued support... and try not to have sleepless nights.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Chattin' away...

Huge round of thanks to everyone who joined in last night's fantastic National Seance 2014!

How on Earth I'm expected to describe my own personal Woodstock year after year, however, still eludes me. We laughed, we cried, we shivered, we vomited in unison. It was all really lovely.

In fact, don't take my word for it, here's just a smattering of the tsunami of Tweets that rolled in, marking the event... Now, time for hibernation. See you all next year for NS15!
































Friday, 31 October 2014

What's the matter..?

After coming home from school on October 29th 1992, I can't recall precisely what I did next. I imagine I probably either sat down to watch some TV, chat about my day with the folks, or play some Monkey Island on the Amiga. But what I remember most vividly about that afternoon is that the following trailer caught my eye, alerting me to a special television event set to take place two days later. I didn't know what was to come, but it was then that I decided to check it out. Until now, I could only recall the flashlight dropping beside the lens.

Suffice it to say, I have been searching for this for twenty-two years. I cannot thank the uploader enough. This has made my Hallowe'en. And National Seance is still to come!


Wednesday, 1 October 2014

National Séance 2014

Greetings Ghostwatchers!

Another year has all but come and gone... But now, it's almost National Séance time, again. Hoorah!

So, how does it work? Well, for the past four years, we've asked fans across the globe to play their copies of Ghostwatch at exactly the same time on Hallowe'en Night, and Tweet about the show as it happens on Twitter to help mark the anniversary of its first and to date, only UK television broadcast.

It's great that National Séance has now become something of a tradition since our first event way back in 2010 - mostly as it's a genuinely fun way of connecting with other fans and celebrating the show and its legacy. For the show's Twentieth Anniversary, you might recall, we even made it onto the fabled UK Trending Board, officially reaching as high as Sixth Place. Wowzers.

As always, the spooky festivities kick off at 21:25 GMT. To fully complete the effect of a repeat viewing, you can also watch the original BBC Continuity Announcement and Screen One Ident first:


Now, here's where it gets tricky. Depending on whether you plan on using the BFI or 101 Films release, you may need to start your DVD slightly earlier/later than 21:25.

If you're watching from the BFI DVD, you can start playing the above video at precisely 21:24:14 and then start running Ghostwatch immediately after. If you're using the newer 101 FILMS release, you can do exactly the same, but only need to watch the opening Continuity Announcement. As soon as you see the retro, blue-tinted TV Screen that heralds the start of the classic Screen One ident, that's the moment to hit 'Play' on your DVD menu.


Adding the hash-tag #Ghostwatch to the end of every Tweet can be a handy way of keeping track of the evening's conversation. In addition to your personal tales of terror, we're especially on the lookout for artwork, photos, audio or even video, perhaps of your own personal screening. The more creative and fun your message, the better!

After logging into Twitter, you can also head over to the following page...


...which should update and display all new Tweets as they come in. Keep 'em peeled for rare sightings of Pipes the Poltergeist. If you do see him, be sure to mention when and where, and add the #PipesWatch hash-tag alongside the #Ghostwatch tag. Who knows, we may even find one of the elusive five remaining sightings hinted at by director Lesley Manning in the doc...

Until then, look forward to seeing you there, and try not to have sleepless nights...

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Behind the Table at LFCC

A lot has happened since the weekend of 11th July. It's hard to believe almost a whole month has passed since we were manning our very own Ghostwatch table at the London Film & Comic Con in the heaving halls of Earl's Court 1.

Here's an exclusive look Behind the Table at the event, featuring brand-new interviews with creators, Lesley Manning and Stephen Volk, Fortean Times cover designer, Hunt Emerson, plus fans and contributors, Stephen Freestone, Julian Hazeldine, Arfon Jones, Alex Newsome, and Seb Patrick.

In retrospect, this can almost be considered a quasi-sequel to the doc, itself. Thanks to everyone who braved the sweltering heat to take part! It was great fun speaking with you all, and hearing a fascinating range of new Ghostwatch stories. A special shout-out must go to musician, Ian Evans for use of the track, Lord Frith, from his fantastic E.P., Everything is the Same Subject.

Hope you enjoy, Ghostwatchers. Just try not to have sleepless nights...

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Mike Smith (1955-2014)

Lead Ghostwatch actor, Mike Smith has passed away at the age of 59.

Best known for his work as a radio & TV presenter, Mike, or "Smithy" as he was often known to friends and fans, was also a race car driver, a pilot, and a keen businessman. His career as a broadcaster began with hospital radio, and later, Capital Radio and BBC Radio 1 in the early eighties, often as the morning presenter.

An accomplished driver, between his radio and TV broadcasting, Mike also took part in numerous BTCC races, winning the Willhire 24 Hour at Snetterton. His team, Trakstar, also won the British Touring Car Championship in 1990. A qualified helicopter pilot, in 2003, Mike later founded Flying TV, an aerial photography-based production company. Not just the M.D., Mike also served as an aerial cameraman.

We interviewed Mike and his wife, Sarah Greene, for Behind the Curtains at Flying TV. It was a great day, and I vividly recall excitedly running up the stairs ahead of the rest of the crew to meet two of my childhood heroes. Unexpectedly, the first thing I saw was Ghostwatch being projected on the wall outside Mike's office, kindly organised for us as a nice surprise.

I cannot say enough about Mike. He could balance playful and professional in perfect measure, often joking with Sarah and the rest of us, as he candidly and eloquently discussed his singular contribution to Ghostwatch. It was a real pleasure and a privilege to have known him for such a short time, and the truly heartfelt and profound response to this sad news on Twitter is a testament to his remarkable and enduring talent.

My thoughts go out to Sarah Greene and the rest of the family.

- Rich Lawden

Sunday, 6 July 2014

London Film & Comic Con Incoming!

www.londonfilmandcomiccon.com 

Greetings Ghostwatchers! It's now less than one week to go until Behind the Curtains is set to grace the halls of Comic Con at Earls Court, with a table of our very own, ably manned by Rich Lawden, Lesley Manning and Stephen Volk.

Commitments permitting, Lesley and Rich are expected to be present all weekend, while Steve is due to join us for the Saturday only. There shall be some copies of the doc, companion book, and transcript available to pick up, all featuring our special-event reduced rates, plus the rare chance to get your future antiques signed by the show's creators.

The event kicks off Friday 11th July, and lasts until Sunday the 13th. For more info on tickets and opening times, check out the website at www.londonfilmandcomiccon.com

Look forward to seeing you there!

http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/displayProductDetails.do?sku=10709087UPDATE:

Another quick heads-up - Stephen Volk has a book launch on Friday 11th July at Waterstones, Covent Gardens (6:30pm-8:30pm) marking the arrival of 'Best British Horror' - a new anthology published by Salt Publishing and showcasing amazing British talent.

There will be readings, a Q&A session, a signing and wine!

Saturday, 14 June 2014

It's not appeared in print, one single time, I assure you!

http://www.lulu.com/shop/rich-lawden/ghostwatch-behind-the-curtains-the-transcript/paperback/product-21660722.html
Greetings Ghostwatchers!

A bit out of the blue, I know, but we can officially reveal the entire doc has been transcribed into a second book, which is now available to pick up over at Lulu.com!

Rather snappily entitled, "Ghostwatch: Behind the Curtains - The Transcript", this brand-new publication mostly comes in response to several messages sent in to the site, requesting a subtitle track for the doc, in particular for the hard of hearing. Unfortunately, we just didn't have the time or resources to implement such a feature on the DVD, but hopefully, this will make for a fitting accompaniment. For those who are planning on making the trip, a few copies should be available to pick up, and be squiggled on, at the London Film & Comic Con in July.

Again, hope you enjoy, thanks for the support, and until next time, try not to have sleepless nights...

Limited copies of the doc are available while stocks last from LawmanProductions.co.uk
The original companion book can also be found over at Lulu.com

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Richard Broke (1943-2014)

It is with great sadness that we report the passing away of Ghostwatch Executive Producer, Richard Broke. He was 70.

A true legend in his field, with a plethora of credits to his name, Richard was responsible for heading some of the most innovative and highest-rated television productions of all time, including the acclaimed, The Monocled Mutineer (1986), and multi-award winning, Tumbledown (1988).

He was both nominated for, and won several BAFTA and RTS Television awards, alongside many other accolades, and considerable high praise. A greatly-respected figure in the TV and Film Industry, in the late 1980s, he (in)famously helped develop a six-part supernatural serial by Stephen Volk entitled, 'Ghost Watch', into a radical, single drama, with Ruth Baumgarten and Lesley Manning, for the successful Screen One drama strand, which he also Executive Produced for BBC1. Following transmission, he staunchly defended the show when it came under fire, even going so far as to make a personal appearance on the discussion show, Biteback, hosted by Sue Lawley. For BAFTA, he served on the Television Committee, and was also the first-ever Chair of the Interactive Committee.


All of us who worked on the Behind the Curtains project are deeply saddened by this news. Richard was a personal friend to us, and his support and graciousness in helping finally get the doc made and out there, is and forever shall be hugely appreciated.

Here are some thoughts from the cast and crew...

____________________________________________________________

"Working with Richard was a constant joy. He had a singular ability to story-tell, and was gifted with that rare, magical quality to keep one consistently engaged in any discussion. He was also one of the most precise, and eloquent writers I have ever known.

Renowned for his perfectly-balanced, keen sense of humour, and straight-talking demeanour, I recall once asking his thoughts regarding the filming of Ghostwatch at Television Centre, which had long been reported as one of the film's two main shooting locations. Calling him back, soon after, on realising that despite being set at TVC, the drama was in fact recorded at BBC Elstree, he replied, 'I thought it was filmed at Elstree but didn’t dare contradict the Mastermind', and so I was nicknamed, from then on. Despite having since acquired the name-badge to (apparently) prove it, I have been very careful not to claim to be any kind of 'Ghostwatch Expert', since..!

When the time came to screen the first rough cut of the doc, Lesley and I both agreed that Richard and Stephen Volk should be the first two people to check it out. This was a no-brainer, given their selfless dedication to the project (Richard’s interview was actually filmed in a hospital car-park, during his recovery from a then-recent op). His reactions during that first cut were priceless, and he genuinely seemed to enjoy all the various anecdotes and revelations raised by our guest speakers. His notes, following that inaugural showing, were invaluable, and really helped shape those few crucial sequences he recommended we tighten up.

One of the proudest moments of my career to date, was when Richard wrote to congratulate me on viewing the final cut of the doc, signing off by saying, "The first of many 'Rich Lawden' films, I'm sure". When I say that he was a mentor to me, during the making of the doc, that is quite an understatement. I couldn't have hoped for a more genial, intelligent, and supportive fellow to guide me through the spooky corridors of the BBC, circa 1992. He will be sorely missed as an invaluable collaborator, and even more so as a friend."

- Rich Lawden

____________________________________________________________

"Richard's credits speak for themselves. He simply championed what he thought was the very best work, and though he'd worked within the mysterious but strangely enabling corridors of the BBC during a wonderfully productive era, he nevertheless had a healthy irreverence for authority and pomposity. I think the values of this terrific man shine through in the great drama he produced, and the fond memories we have of his doggedness and good humour."

- Stephen Volk

____________________________________________________________

"I am so sure Ghostwatch wouldn't have been made without Richard Broke's maverick spirit. A big man in television."

- Lesley Manning

Monday, 31 March 2014

Now, you got involved in your professional capacity, I believe?

http://www.scifiscarborough.co.uk/
Greetings Ghostwatchers!

Sorry to drop this on you at almost the last minute, but... how does a Behind the Curtains screening in Scarborough sound? Well, if your reply was even just a momentary, intrigued-sounding murmur, then you might be interested to hear that perhaps as many as two shall be taking place, next weekend...

Final schedule is still TBC, but at last, we can finally reveal that the inaugural Sci-Fi Scarborough event shall be holding a live showing of the doc on 5-6 April at the Spa Complex. Director, Rich Lawden will be in attendance, not only heading a Q&A at some point, but also signing some DVDs, and even a few increasingly-limited copies of the companion book of the same name. If that wasn't enough, fellow GW/BtC alumnus Craig Charles is set to funk things up on the Saturday night with his inimitable DJ set. In addition to a Trading Hall, there shall be an Artists' Alley, a Jedi Fight Academy for all you wannabe Skywalkers out there, and the chance to meet some of your favourite genre stars (Rich, included!).

More details concerning the weekend, ticket prices and guests, can be found at http://www.scifiscarborough.co.uk/

Friday, 7 March 2014

For Lewis

Yesterday, we learned the very sad news that Lewis, the young son of Ghostwatch.info creator, Stephen Freestone, had passed away.

Let's keep this simple. There are two organisations dedicated to helping kids, parents and carers of children like Lewis, affected by rare genetic disorders, and they need our help:

JSUK.org
Dandy-Walker.org

All donations would be gratefully received in memory of this amazing, and inspirational young man, and we wish Stephen and his family all the very best during this difficult time. Come on guys, let's make a difference!

Monday, 24 February 2014

Let's See What Happens When We Take Away The Puppy...

It's a rare and precious thing to feel such a degree of sadness and sorrow following the passing of somebody you hadn't yet had the good fortune to bump into someplace and share a smile, but even so, the recent passing of Harold Ramis still hit me as if somehow losing an old friend.

I shall try not to ramble, particularly as I don't need to convince fans of anything they already know. I just felt compelled to mark this truly sad event in some small way.

The legacy and influence of arguably, his most beloved character, Dr. Egon Spengler (so named after historian and philosopher, Oswald Spengler, and Hungarian refugee/classmate, Egon Donsbach), is as globe-spanning, as it is undeniable. I wonder just how many positive vibes have stemmed from us watching the adventures of this renowned, bespectacled, spores-moulds-and-fungus collector. Enough to bring the Statue of Liberty to life, and take her for a stroll down Fifth Avenue, at least.

I vividly recall my mother first bringing home a Ghostbusters rental cassette from our now long-since vanished, local video store. Then, under five years old, I remember being so excited at the prospect of seeing a live-action adaptation of my adored cartoon series (...ahem). Shortly thereafter, came one of my first attempts at correspondence, as I requested delivery of my very own proton pack, in mind to protect myself from troublesome spooks. The considerate response I eventually received (from whom, I'm afraid I now cannot recall), politely denied my request, owing to the inherent dangers that can arise from untrained usage of such hazardous equipment. "A proton pack is not a toy", indeed.

Now, hurtling towards thirty, I still remain truly fascinated and in awe of the prop design and craftsmanship featured in those first two movies. So much so, that I only very recently returned from a trip to B&Q, which is currently stocking the odd accurate washer, bolt and screw that shall one day hopefully aid me in completing my own piece of (fan) art to admire and cherish.

With this being a rather time-intensive hobby, I doubt it shall be ready to bring along to Comic Con in July, but I do intend on wearing the jumpsuit in any case, now regardless of whether we hit the aforementioned 1000 likes, or not. Also hanging from my trusty utility belt shall be one of Egon's creaking 'spectral detectors' (in actuality, a re-purposed, Realistic brand, Sound Level Meter), which the character ably used in the sequel, shortly before his and the gang's final battle with Vigo The Carpathian.


One of the first docos I ever saw, and briefly mention my appreciation of in the BtC book, was entitled, Slimer Won't Do That! - an amazing, CITV special that for my taste, still rivals many contemporary making-ofs, in terms of elucidation, education and watchability. At one point, Mr. Ramis mentions how he delighted in receiving letters from parents and schoolteachers, who often praised the films for their collaborative, non-exclusive message. Playing Ghostbusters in the yard wasn't quite the same as playing Cowboys Vs Indians or Americans Vs Russians. In fact, he described it as being more like, People Defending Themselves From The Unknown. A noble and fun message that remains just as pertinent today as it did in 1984.

Caddyshack, Stripes, Groundhog Day, Heavy Metal, to name but a few. The chances are, you've seen them before. Tonight, I believe I shall sit down to watch Ghostbusters with the audio commentary on, during which, Harold expresses his annoyance at Slimer's popularity over the main cast - according to him, the little spud apparently even having "Married and divorced, twice in Hollywood." :)

Thank you, Harold, particularly for Dr. Spengler, but least of all for so much more. I'm sorry I won't get to see you grace the Silver Screen again, but will always cherish those times you did. Your work and inspiration on Ghostbusters not unnaturally contributed to me being able to fulfill my own dreams of making a film, and for that I shall be forever grateful.

See you on the other side, Sir.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Low and high frequencies...

https://www.facebook.com/ianevansmusic
Greetings, Ghostwatchers!

There's a curious, repeating phenomenon that is often reported during screenings of the doc (which began during our very first event, no less). It seems to occur around the same time the end credits roll, with members of the audience nodding their heads and tapping their feet in tune to Ian Evans' inspired closing number, 'Ghost Watch'. Then, the compliments/questions start pouring in. "This sounds great." "What's this music?", "How did you get hold of that?", "Who wrote this, then?", "When's this from?", and so on. It even marks the first topic to grace the film's IMDb message board.

So, you can imagine our building anticipation on catching the news that musician, Ian Evans is currently gearing up to release his follow up E.P. to 'Ghost Watch'. Entitled, "Everything is The Same Subject", the new Extended Play is due to hit, February 14th. To check out more of Ian's work, check out his site here.

While we cross off the days on our calender until release, here's a taster of what's set to come, and congrats to Ian on his new record!

 


www.thecultden.com
Also, the nice folks over at The Cult Den are currently running a rather fantastic competition that expires soon (this Friday, 31st Jan). Up for grabs are a pair of Behind the Curtains DVDs and theatrical posters signed by the producers, Rich Lawden (who?) and Lesley Manning (director of the original film).

You can enter by clicking the logo, left, and leaving a spooky comment underneath the article...

Friday, 24 January 2014

As a friend, I gotta tell you, you're really goin' round the bend on this ghost business...

Conventions. They're a big deal, these days. I remember going to one of the early Memorabilia fairs at the NEC in the late nineties, and it was actually... cosy. Now, many of the present-day events have room for a plethora of dealer tables, celebrity signings, imaginative costumers, and even... wait for it...

www.londonfilmandcomiccon.com

Us! Yes, this summer, Behind the Curtains shall be descending upon Earls Court for the gigantic London Film and Comic Con 2014 from Friday 11th to Sunday 13th of July.

Rich Lawden'll be there, Stephen Volk'll be there, and Lesley Manning'll be there (commitments permitting, and each likely appearing on alternating days) to sign all your wonderful Ghostwatch stuff, and chat about how great both the show and doc are, on a strictly-wound stopwatch, in exchange for your cold, hard cash.

Nah, only joking. We're planning on using a clock, not a stopwatch. Currently, we've a banner printed, and a few DVDs, books and posters set aside. Recently, a number of calls have come through requesting a twin-pack be made available comprising the book and DVD, so I imagine that option shall be on the table. At the moment, it's just not practical to offer this over at Lawman Productions, as it's still quite a bit cheaper to purchase both items separately (keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter feeds for special offers on postage, which do occasionally come through). Hopefully, we may also have some kind of exclusive item available to pick up for Ghostwatchers to add to their collections, too.

Looking forward to seeing you there! With the event being a fair way away, time-wise, there's a fun thing going on with our Facebook page at the moment. If we can get up to 1000 likes before the day of the convention, doco director, Rich Lawden has promised to turn up, in the spirit of the event's truly wonderful and dedicated fraternity of 'cosplayers', wearing an authentic, replica Ghostbusters flight suit for at least one of the two days. If we can get considerably over that figure, he'll be donning said garb for the entire weekend.* It's even got his name on, and everything, see?

*In fact, not a transparent attempt at finding a good excuse to dress up, but a legitimate business incentive.

Behind the Curtains is also currently available to attend other conventions. Following the wonderful Autumn: Horror in the East con in Lowestoft, last year, you might say we have developed a taste for it. So, feel free as always to drop us a line on our contact page above, if you'd like us to drop by yours.

To find out more concerning tickets and prices for London Film & Comic Con 2014, click here.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

The Most Haunted house in Britain...


Despite on face value, Ghostwatch and Living TV's Most Haunted bearing more than a few striking resemblances, they are in fact, very different programmes at heart. One of the many long-running rumours connecting the two shows is that fellow Blue Peter host Yvette Fielding was once considered for Sarah Greene's 'Reporter' role (not true).

A familiar face, particularly to fans of the cult, investigative series (which ran for eight years, and now continues to air online), and also kids' TV classic, Knightmare (his team being one of only a handful of winners in the show's history, no less) we recently spoke to presenter and self-confessed Ghostwatcher, host Jason Karl concerning his appreciation of Ghostwatch, and own experiences with the Paranormal... 

Hi Jason, so how, where, why and when did you first check out Ghostwatch, and do you recall your initial reaction to the show? 

I remember clearly the day when Ghostwatch was broadcast – I was busy that night and recorded it on video.  I watched it the next morning, with the prior knowledge that it was a dram and not ‘real’.  Despite this it scared me so much that at one point (where the real vox-pops) are shown, and the tape ‘jams’ I had to switch it off as it terrified me.  Its ability to make the viewer sit on the edge of their seat with carefully constructed and perfectly executed tension meant that despite knowing it wasn’t real, it was very, very frightening.  I recently watched the DVD of the programme and enjoyed it all over again.  It no longer has any real scare factor for me, but is still a benchmark in televisual drama presentation. 

How did you get involved with Most Haunted? 

I was asked to join the original cast of the show when it was commissioned by Living TV (as it was).  I spent a year working as a location researcher and then as the ghost hunter on the first series, which was subsequently re-edited into a longer version and re-broadcast as Most Haunted Unseen.  As a result of this I was approached by a television production company to present the UK’s first ever live investigation into a haunted house on ITV1 and ITV2.  The programme was called Haunted Halloween Live and was the first real live investigation of a haunted house on UK terrestrial television to my knowledge. 

What's your take on the Paranormal, and did that (plus, your appreciation of Ghostwatch) factor into your work presenting Most Haunted? Do you have any personal spooky stories?

Having spent much of my life being involved with paranormal television in various territories, I have been fortunate to spend a lot of time in hundreds of ‘haunted’ locales.  Having reflected on many ‘happenings’ I believe that my more personal experiences (off TV) hold more credibility as being truly ‘unexplained’.  I take the stance that you should form your belief on what you have personally witnessed, and I have personally witnessed several things which I am still unable to explain, and that I personally believe are beyond our current understanding of the world we live in.  In simple terms – I believe in ghosts. 

Dr. Ciaran O'Keefe (one-time Most Haunted adviser), and many other fans have pointed out the many similarities between the look and presentation of both shows - silver-haired presenter, blond reporter, night-vision footage, etc. Do you think this is a possible reference/homage to Ghostwatch, or just a coincidence?

I am not aware of any direct reference to Ghostwatch during my time with Most Haunted, having said that, in literal terms of course there are similarities, as there are with many forms of entertainment or television.  Whether or not this was intentional or coincidental I would have no idea. 

Do you feel that Ghostwatch and Most Haunted have influenced how the paranormal, and also Reality TV is perceived since first airing, and if so, how? Also, what is your take on the similarities/differences, and fandom that surrounds both shows?

The history of paranormal research stretches back much further than modern day entertainment television, but I think it is fair to say that these shows, and many others like them, have informed a generation of viewers about the possibility of the paranormal world, and inspired many of them to actively go out and seek ghosts themselves.  The growth of the paranormal events industry is a perfect example of this.  With regards to the similarities and differences in the two shows mentioned, Ghostwatch was a contrived dramatic presentation intended to scare viewers, while Most Haunted is an entertainment programme which intends to show real investigations – the two are therefore fundamentally very different.  Likewise the viewer base for each is very different.  With regards to the fandom legacy from each programme, I cannot speak for Most Haunted as I have no connection with that world, but with regard to Ghostwatch I think it is fascinating that a BBC special, broadcast only once, over 20 years ago STILL carries a fan-base. 

What do you think is the future of paranormal/reality programming, particularly as entertainment? Also, what are you working on, at the moment?

Observing the trends in paranormal television, the audience has significantly diminished in recent years, meaning that many shows and series’ which have followed the same basic construct of ‘ghost hunting’ in various guises, have ended.  There are only so many ways you can present essentially the same thing.  I moved away from paranormal television many years ago, and now work as a freelance presenter for a variety of channels and programmes.  I am also Chief Creative Executive for AtmosFEAR! Scare Entertainment, which is Europe’s biggest producer of location based live scare entertainment attractions.  We work with theme parks, heritage attractions and tourist attractions.  My job takes me all over the place designing ways to terrify guests using the latest technologies and scare tactics, I am currently leading the creative team behind one of Europe’s biggest new permanent scare attractions in Portugal.

Thanks again to Jason for taking part in the interview! To find out more concerning his work in Horror attractions, follow this here hyperlink to www.atmosfearuk.com