THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
Filmmaker Steve Shippy Unleashes the Latest Installment of his Haunted Saginaw Series Along with a Fascinating Museum on the Street Where it All Began
Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, , Culture, , From Issue 931 By: Robert E Martin
16th June, 2022 0
Since the first of the films in his ‘Haunted Saginaw’ series, A Haunting on Hamilton Street, first appeared back in 2010, filmmaker and documentarian Steve ‘Prozak’ Shippy has built his investigatory forays into a worldwide phenomenon as unique and seemingly inexplicable as the paranormal events that he and his team so deftly dissect with each new chapter that unfolds.
Now after a two-year forced hiatus because of the pandemic, he is making a major return on two significant levels with the debut of his eleventh film in the series, A Haunting on Adams Street, making its world premiere at The Temple Theatre on Friday, July 8th, while also opening a fertile new Haunted Saginaw Museum at 413 Adams on the corner or Adams & Hamilton streets in the location of the former Case Funeral Home.
In addition to serving as a shop where people can purchase previous films in the series, candles, and memorabilia, the new museum also affords patrons an opportunity to peruse an expansive exhibition of items and artifacts curated from his investigations not only in Saginaw, but from locations spanning the United States and beyond.
Prior to his investigations into the paranormal, Shippy began his career as an independent rapper and musician better known by his stage name, Prozak. As a national recording artist for more than 15 years, his music hit the billboard charts over 200 times, with his most notable album “Paranormal,” charting over 100 times alone. Interestingly enough, he says that even his music career was inspired in many ways by his childhood quest to solve the equation of what is on the other side of the vale of mortality.
Having the good fortune to know Steve since the early days of his musical career with his first duo, Bedlam, he has always possessed a fearlessness when it comes to turning over rocks on seemingly taboo topics, fueled by a belief that by shedding light upon the darker recesses of the human condition we can derive a greater understanding and comprehension about the fears and uncertainties that often hinder us.
Recently I had the good fortune to sit down with Steve for a lengthy interview about his latest film, the opening of the new museum, and his thoughts about the sources, implications, and meaning of the phenomenon he has spent the last 15 years digging into arenas so many of us are hesitant to frequent.
REVIEW: It’s been over a decade now that you started the “Haunted Saginaw’ series and two years since your last release ‘A Haunting on Brockway’, so tell me about your latest investigation that will be revealed at the World Premier of ‘A Haunting on Adams St.’ that will premier July 8th.
SHIPPY: A lot of people that attended the last of our sold-out premiers have wondered when the sequel will be coming out because with the first Brockway installment we had ‘To Be Continued’ at the end of the film; but then everything closed down because of the Pandemic and the next year we had the Delta Variant to deal with, so during that time span we also conducted an investigation of The Court Theater, finished one at a private residence on Oakley Street, and also investigated the USS Edson Battle Ship up in Bay City, as well as the location of our new Haunted Museum here on Adams Street.
I picked this investigation on Adams because now we’re at the point where we have so many investigations, I don’t want to put out just one film annually. For years people asked us to premiere one film earlier in the year and one in the fall, so this presents a perfect opportunity to see how that goes. We’re releasing Adams first and then plan on releasing Brockway 2 in the Fall.
REVIEW: So the site of this investigation is that of the former Case Funeral Home. Can you tell me the backstory behind the investigation?
SHIPPY: First off I want to make it clear to people that of course this was a mortuary for over a century, but at the same time we want to be respectful of the people who had the building before us, so we don’t mention any names in the film because they served so many families and people over the years that we want to respect their privacy and their business. It’s unavoidable to refer to the fact this used to be a funeral home, but the people who ran the operation were wonderful people who helped the community.
Mainly, we focus on this location and items we feature in the museum. When we first moved into the building the idea was to develop a shop for locals to browse items and avoid shipping costs; and frankly, because I live here in Saginaw we felt it was unique to have an area where we could showcase the museum collection as well as have a little shop.
As time went by we met other tenants in the building who have studios and space and got to know them and started hearing their stories. They would tell us things that happened multiple times to them and ask us if we encountered any spirits yet. The more we would hear about their tales and stories, we asked if we could possibly investigate their part of the building, studio, or work area, so we also venture out and get other peoples’ claims and encounters.
Additionally, apart from the fact the building served as a mortuary for 100 years, we go further back in considering what was on the land here before this building was constructed and encounter a lot of interesting history about the Native American culture. For instance right across the street where the parking lot of the Old Town Distillery sits there used to be an ancient fire circle. So we discover a lot of interesting things in this latest installment.
REVIEW: Without giving away too much what are some of the things you discovered?
SHIPPY: Lots of different things. You hear footsteps quite often, knocking doors and doors opening and closing on their own for many of the residents in the building; plus many often experience the faint smell of perfume - like somebody is walking by you in the hallway. There have been full body apparitions seen in the building, along with things moving on their own for no reason, or sliding over so when you go to grab something you’ve just been using suddenly it’s not there and sitting four feet away.
There weren’t any negative things that we encountered - mainly big double doors opening and shutting on their own, or the feeling of being watched, or sudden cold spots. One of the artists in the building asked if I’d smelled the perfume and when he first told me about it, I had experienced a similar sensation and didn’t know where it was coming from - it smelled like an old school perfume, is the best way to describe it.
REVIEW: So tell me about the concept behind the Haunted Saginaw Museum. Does it basically feature items you’ve assembled throughout the course of your various investigations over the past decade?
SHIPPY: Yes. Mainly we’ve collected various artifacts from all the films and even some from investigations and locations that weren’t in the films. We have quite a large Dice Road exhibit with lots of different things people can see from the ‘Hell House’ installment, which has proven to be the most popular film from the entire series to date.
We have a very large room dedicated to that and people can see things from the Dice Road home such as family photos and even some of the audio depositions from the 1970s that people thought were lost of tapes from members of the family being interviewed, which are pretty interesting. Actually, we have re-opened that case only I can’t say a lot about it, other than it will be on a much larger platform.
We also have the Finn Road display, the Brockway display, the Cursed Item display, and a broad doll collection that runs the gamut from the early 1900s to the mid-1950s. The oldest one is from around 1860 and originated from Germany. It’s pony tail is made of real human hair and that’s how they made them back then. A few of these were purchased from families on vacations in Central America and different locations and once they brought them home they started experiencing activity.
The museum is open on the weekends Friday and Saturday by ticket only. People can come and purchase a ticket here, or go online at hauntedsaginaw.com and purchase a ticket. We’ve just revamped the website and it has everything - they can stream films, visit our web store, and purchase tickets to the Museum and the July 8th World Premier of the new film. Also, during regular business hours, people don’t have to buy a ticket to visit the shop if they just want to just come in and buy something.
REVIEW: Having conducted these investigations for over a decade now, why do think Saginaw is so haunted? You’ve visited and investigated other communities throughout the United States with your ‘Haunted America’ series, so have you formed any opinions about all the activity you continuously discover here in Saginaw?
SHIPPY: Saginaw is definitely unique, however I do feel there are a handful of cities out there that are also unique in a similar context to Saginaw. I feel Savannah, Georgia is one and Holly Springs, Mississippi is another city with similar characteristics to Saginaw. Actually, it’ funny to hear people ask if I won’t run out of cases to investigate in Saginaw, because between social media and the emails we receive right now we have more cases than we could possibly ever get to coming in from all parts of Saginaw County.
Regarding why Saginaw is so haunted, I believe in large part it is historical in nature, although some believe it could have to do with water and the fact the Saginaw river flows into the Bay. A lot of investigators and experts believe cities surrounded by water act as conduits for activity, but Saginaw is rich in history and its unique. I bring people here from all over the country and for this new film had a gentleman come from California, but have had others from Buffalo, Idaho, and Connecticut visit and they all say they’ve never been anywhere like Saginaw before - just from the vibe they pick up.
REVIEW: Do you think it’s safe to say that spirits are will us all the time?
SHIPPY: I think so, definitely. The ‘other side’ is palpable and not always associated with a bad event. Some people are more able to talk about it than others and also more open and receptive to the experience. I also think in terms of consciousness as times goes forward the topic becomes less taboo. Many people in their 60s and 70s who come to the premieres say, ‘I grew up on such-and-such a street and had all these things happen, but nobody ever looked into it and I couldn’t talk about it because people might think I’m crazy or I might get kicked out of church.’ So in terms of the frequency and number of hauntings, over the expanse of time people are less hesitant to keep quiet about it and more willing to come forward.
REVIEW: Regardless of one’s religious background, I think it’s safe to say most of us believe in a higher power and more of us have experienced this type of phenomena than they care to admit. For me personally, as one example, I remember driving back from the cemetery with my Mother after my Dad’s funeral and all of a sudden the car lights started inexplicably blinking on and off. Has much changed since you’ve started your investigations in terms of common threads all these hauntings share?
SHIPPY: I think so to a degree. The problem is that by definition paranormal is something we simply can’t explain. It’s inexplicable. But through all my years of investigation, as well as people before me, there are a few things we can hang our hats on.
I do believe in residual phenomena - a residual haunting is not a ghost, but a replay of a past event - like a “recording” that can play many times, and the story always unfolds in the same way. The person in a residual haunting is completely unaware and unaffected by your presence. This is because it isn’t a spirit or a ghost, but the echo of an event that once passed. When a traumatic event occurs, a building sometimes absorbs these events, which are replayed. They often playback at the same time of day, or on the same day of the year.
Poltergeists are also real, which result from something traumatic that causes a sudden outburst of energy. Actually, these are pretty rare but we have run into them and as rare as they are they usually stem from a family dynamic. They’re like the wild cards and things we don’t understand because we don’t have the comprehension to absorb it. It may be that we will never understand these phenomena until we are no longer here.
REVIEW: How are things going with your ‘Haunted in the Heartland’ series, which debuted on the Travel Channel back in 2020 and allowed you to branch out and investigate other cities in the Midwest?
SHIPPY: Smack dab in the middle of the premier of that season was when the quarantine and all that chaos hit, so it was put on hold. Since then it done quite well and now I’ve got a series with the Discovery Plus channel network. We did one about Ed Gein called ‘The Real Psycho’ that we received two awards for and then we did another called Scream: The True Story, about Danny Rolling who was the real-life murderer that the horror blockbuster ‘Scream’ was based around. Many don’t realize that mega-blockbuster was based upon a true story, so we did an investigation about it.
He was known as ‘The Gainesville Ripper’ and was from Shreveport, Louisiana, where he committed a couple of murders there. He fled to Gainesville, Florida and was living in the woods and at night would put on a ski mask and kill young college student with a knife. For the longest time nobody knew who he was and they had no suspects or descriptions. That’s where the inspiration for the film came from.
REVIEW: Over the past 12-years since you’ve been investigating and making these films, what have been the most nerve shattering experiences you’ve encountered. Have you ever felt truly threatened?
SHIPPY: Yes - on a few different occasions. The Haunting on Finn Road was certainly one very bizarre experience that left us all eager to be done with it, and another time was when I was down in Greenville, Tennessee, investigating a notorious high profile crime spree involving an occult and a lot of weird things were happening at the time.
REVIEW: Is there anything else about the world premiere of the new film or anything else you might like to tell our readers that we haven’t touched upon?
SHIPPY: Regarding the film, we have a lot of different experts from all over the world that have come to this area and I’m sure they’ll be attending the premiere. Tickets can be purchased at TempleTheatre.com, on our HauntedSaginaw.com website, or at the Temple box office.
I would also like to mention that for many years people have asked if we’ll ever do an investigation personally for them on location, so now people have the opportunity to purchase a ticket to an investigation event, which we will conduct from time-to-time based upon my availability.
We have a lot of followers in places like Australia and the U.K. that can’t afford to make the journey to the world premiere, so are offering a live investigation with myself that people can participate in virtually while I go through the building, ask questions, and have the video. I’m not sure if this has ever been done before, but once we have everything set up they can log on and watch what our cameras capture, ask questions, and get involved. If people are interested, we have more about this on our website.
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THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)