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‘Ghosts’ screening held for cast, crew

By Staff | Jun 20, 2016

The first episode of “Ghosts of Shepherdstown” aired Sunday night, but a special screening was held beforehand for people involved in the production.

Local resident and location manager for the show Barbara Hamilton wanted the evening to be special for cast members and production staff. She organized the screening at Reynolds Hall and arranged an after party at Black Box Arts Center.

Mayor Jim Auxer and police chief Mike King welcomed attendees and said they hoped everyone would be entertained by the program.

Shepherdstown was lauded for its patience, hospitality and friendliness by some of the crew that was present.

“There are some extremely, genuinely amazing people here,” said Haley Press, drone operator who captured the scenic aerial footage of the town and Potomac River. “Filming here was the best summer of my life. It felt like home and made for a wonderful experience.”

The show’s interest in Shepherdstown came in 2014 when producers had seen a Smithsonian documentary featuring then police chief, Dave Ransom. They came to Shepherdstown and met with local residents at the Entler Hotel to hear of the many experiences with unexplained or perceived paranormal phenomenon.

Since then, according to current police chief King, the number of unexplained emergency calls in Shepherdstown has spiked dramatically. Chief King states in the episode that he is doing what no other police department has done before by calling in paranormal investigators.

There were a few chuckles from the audience at the beginning of the show, but as the episode wore on, it appeared as though everyone was engrossed in the content. In the opening aerial footage the screen reads, “In Shepherdstown, West Virginia, emergency responders are being flooded with calls reporting terrifying hauntings.”

A call from frightened Megan Pine, night baker at the Sweet Shop, prompts the paranormal crew’s first visit. Pine recalls hearing noises and seeing objects fall past the window of the shop. The paranormal crew, consisting of renowned paranormal investigator, Nick Groff, paranormal sensitive, Elizabeth Saint, and the tech guru, Bill Hartley spend the duration of the show trying to figure out an explanation for the occurrences. They get help from local historian, Dana Mitchell, and even call in psychic medium, Lorie Johnson.

At the end of the show, there is audio from more emergency calls, foreshadowing subsequent shows and Chief King is heard saying that the number of unexplained calls has not abated.

The viewers at the preview agreed that the show was really well done. Despite being involved in the production, the cast and crew did not know how it would all be edited and finalized until actually viewing the completed episode.

“I was very impressed,” said Mayor Auxer. “The show was very professional and the scenery of the area was beautiful.”

Like every reality show, there are some aspects that are scripted and people were compensated financially for their involvement, which makes some viewers skeptical about the truth behind the show’s content.

Tech expert, Bill Hartley said that they filmed for 12-hour shifts at the Sweet Shop, but of course, content has to be edited for time.

Hartley couldn’t divulge any info about upcoming episodes, but he said he did have a favorite episode location and said it was a new experience doing a show like the one in Shepherdstown.

“As a paranormal investigator, and as someone who traditionally investigates one location at at time, to be told you’re going to investigate a whole town is crazy. You’re thinking everyone in the town is going to have something going on. And it literally was-something happened at every location.”

Hartley went on to say “I know this is television and there has to be stuff that’s filmed (recreated) to tell the story of the show, but I was adamant that I didn’t want anybody to mess with me or make things happen that weren’t there. I have a reputation. I didn’t want someone to come up to me later and say the investigations were fake. I wanted everything to be on the up and up. So at one particular location stuff was happening that was pretty shocking. I don’t ever really get scared during an investigation, but shocked for sure. That was one of those episodes.” Viewers will have to tune in to see what he’s talking about.

The remaining shows will feature more familiar faces and will air on Sundays at 10 p.m. on Destination America. Check your local listings for channel information.