THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
With his Second Installment in The Seekers Series, Prozak & Crew Dig Deeper into the Paranormal Ether Population Saginaw's Historic Hamilton Street
20th October, 2011 0
In perfect timing with the Halloween weekend, Steve 'Prozak' Shippy, national recording artist and director, is presenting the second installment of his Seekers series, with the worldwide premier of A Haunting on Hamilton Street 2 at the historic Temple Theatre at 9 pm on October 28 & 29th. Last year nearly 4,000 people attended the worldwide premier of the first installment, so according to Prozak, it demanded a sequel.
With the first installment, the focus was primarily upon the Schuch Hotel; whereas with Volume II, the search is focused exclusively upon the historic Benjamin Stable, where a new thorough investigation was conducted by The Seekers investigative team of Prozak (aka Steve Shippy), Tim Rooney, Adam Eugenio, assisted by Father Andre Calder and Brian Hanois of Ghost Hunters/Ghost Hunters International.
As for what can be expected from this second outing, Prozak finds it difficult to explain. “Let me say in comparison to Haunting 1, people will see a lot more action this year. Within the first 8 minutes we're right into the ghost hunt, whereas with the first installment we had a lot of background information, because we wanted to educate people about Saginaw and Hamilton Street and what these things were that we wanted to investigate.”
“We also wanted to explain the difference between an intelligent and a residual haunting and show the type of equipment that we used and how it worked,” he continues, “whereas with Haunting 2, we get right into what we do. The thing is that after the premier of Part 1, we learned a huge piece of Saginaw wanted us to investigate The Stable, so this is what we did.”
Formerly the Benjamin Mortuary, this structure of The Stable casts an ominous shadow over the infamous Hamilton Street of Old Town Saginaw. Shrouded in urban legend and folklore, the chilling, three-story structure becomes a riveting focal point as the crew uncover more than they bargained for - including disturbed Indian burial grounds and hostile and territorial entities.
In 1962, The Saginaw Road Commission accidentally unearthed an ancient Indian burial ground below Hamilton Street. Hundreds of bodies were processed at the old mortuary, including some of Saginaw's most prominent figures of the past. Historians agree that the atrocious injustices and thousands of untimely deaths due to malaria and territorial murders could very well set the tone for paranormal activity in Old Saginaw City.
Last year's Haunting 1 debut at The Temple Theatre was a phenomenal event in itself, selling out on both nights with close to 4,000 people attending. Additionally, the DVD of the first installment did equally well. “The odd thing is that nearly all of the DVD sales were out-of-state- and out of the USA,” notes Prozak, “with maybe 1 percent of our sales coming from Michigan as a whole. I think a lot of that was driven by my music fan base gravitating towards the film, but it was cool because we spread word of this community all over the place.”
Without giving too much away about the film, what were some of the more notable things that The Seekers captured and documented on this second outing at The Stable?
“We definitely have a full body apparition caught on video,” states Prozak. “It seems to kind of walk through a wall, passes a window, and then goes through another wall. We also captured a lot of voices, but the biggest thing happened in the casket display area. Because it was an old funeral home years ago, the casket display area is still set up. We placed a camera on a tripod and left it there and at one point a flowing, glowing white mass travels down the center of the casket display in mid-air and goes all the way down, comes back a few feet, and then just disappears.”
Prozak notes that shooting on Haunting 2 began a month after the first world premier of Volume 1 back in December, 2010, which turned out to be ideal timing, with a lot of dark hours in the winter and the streets more quiet than normal.
While viewers of volume one may recall investigator Tim Rooney receiving a large unexplained scratch along his neck from the investigation at The Schuch, a similar occurrence happened to technical director Adam Eugenio at The Stable.
“ I was investigating outside the casket display area and had a camera shoved into my face, hard enough to make my nose bleed quite badly,” he explains.
“It was unexpected, that's for sure,” continues Adam. “It was kind of like if you try to film somebody that doesn't want to be recorded, and they reach out and grab your camera; but I felt this force in the middle of the blackness, which is all I can say. I'm not really sure what that's all about.”
For Volume II The Seekers gathered close to 50 hours of footage that was condensed into 90 minutes. “It was quite a dig,” comments Prozak. “We were doing 10-12 hour investigations, but also leaving the cameras behind to record all activity, so we had a lot of film to go through. The cameras were running for 24 hours for quite a while and it took us about six months to edit, putting in 50-50 hour workweeks. We wanted to make sure this latest installment was the best it could possibly be. Plus, due to the success of Volume 1, we were able to upgrade everything with better cameras and audio, so the production value is extremely higher than the first film.”
Additionally, Volume 2 was recently accepted into the 36th Annual American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco, and will premier there on the West Coast on Wednesday, November 9th at The Landmark Theatre in the Embarcadero Center.
“This is pretty exciting,” adds Prozak. “We focused a lot on the fact that Hamilton Street used to be an Indian burial ground, and actually had a native American, Justin Leavitt (also Executive Producer of Volume II) fly into Saginaw from Oregon to give us a lot of education on the Ojibway Indians.”
Even with this world premier of Volume 2 looming, The Seekers are not content to sit still for a minute and, indeed, are also now at work on Volume 3 in the series, which is taking their investigative team to Saginaw's historic Potter Street Station.
“The funny thing is, we always wanted to shoot at Potter Street and shot a lot of still photographs of the exterior,” explains Prozak. “When we were buying ads at Charter for the Haunting 2 premier, one of the representatives at Charter is also on the board of the non-profit Potter Street Station group. I made mention of our interest and he said that he could get us inside, so it fell right into our lap. Once he said we could do it I met everybody and we had to become members of the non-profit to step into the station, but it truly is an incredible place.”
“When you walk through it you can see how nice it was in its heyday,” continues Prozak, “and its still incredibly ornate and absolutely massive. It goes on forever. I want to say it's close to 30,000 square feet. We've been investigating there for about a week, conducting preliminary safety inspections and deciding how to go about the investigation.”
According to Prozak, paranormal activity has been prevalent everywhere they've walked inside Potter Street station. “It's not letting us down in any way. We couldn't even get set up without things happening. When the President of the Society was giving us the tour, all our walky-talkies started going off simultaneously, with some of them beeping and others having voices coming through, with one voice saying 'Margaret'. It scared the hell out of everybody, but was actually pretty cool.”
“Another time I tried to get an interview with Keith Wizner down there and while we were setting up, a camera kept falling down and you could hear a scream upstairs. It was insane - almost to the point if we started wondering if somebody was playing a joke on us. It's too early to tell, but all I can say is there's a lot of activity over there, and I'm not quite sure what's going on.”
With now a third installment in the works does Prozak seek an end to the Haunting series or doing different investigations outside of the state with it?
“I think it's going to keep going,” he responds. “We're getting so many offers right now it's crazy. We get tons of people giving us locations and offering to pay for the film, but are trying to keep the focus here in Michigan. That's the goal. I'd like to do as many as we can within this area of Saginaw.”
As for other locations in the state that sound potentially promising, Prozak sites an old train station in Detroit, as well as the Presque Isle Lighthouse. “There's also an old court house and abandoned city jail in Charlevoix that has potential, along with an old hotel on Mackinaw Island.”
“But other than that, we also have a lot of potential out-of-state investigations that look promising. The Shanghai Tunnels in Portland are intriguing, because they have a devastating history and background. Americans were kidnapping other Americans and selling them off to the Japanese as slaves. They had an option of working on slaves ships or getting thrown off the ship. The jail cells and cages where they'd keep these people still exist.”
Insofar as he is also a successful Rapper with a worldwide following, what has Prozak been up to musically of late, or has his work with The Seekers sidetracked his musical endeavors?
“I just signed a new deal with Strange Music, which is the biggest independent Hip Hop label in the world,” he explains. “Their main artist is Tech9, and I've been on that label a long time, but resigned recently and became an exclusive artist there. I've been playing a lot of shows and did Tulsa and Dallas last month and Indiana last weekend, and am playing Wooster, Massachusetts on the 23rd. I've got a lot of music videos shot all here in Saginaw for the most part and will be dropping my new disc probably around May 2012.”
Given that he is so singularly committed to Saginaw and promoting it worldwide, what does Prozak feel about the current climate and feel of the state? “It's a mixed bag,” he sighs. “It sucks that we have all these negative titles - high unemployment and high crime - but I guess that's what makes Michigan people stronger. All these things may be true, but we also have some of the best talent, performers, and artists in the world that come out of this State. Plus we've always had the Red Wings and now it looks like we have the Lions!”
Tickets for the Haunting on Hamilton Part 2 world premier are only $15.00 and each ticket holder will also receive a copy of the Part 2 DVD free with their purchase.
“All the same cast will be making guest appearances both nights and we'll also be doing a Q&A session after the showing,” notes Prozak. “There is adult language in the film, but no age restriction. This will be a Red Carpet event and the searchlights in the sky will be out. There's no dress code and a cash bar.”
“Last year was wonderful. We had a ton of people all ages, from teens to 70-year-olds, so it was a broad mixture of people. It's a great deal because $15.00 gets you a two-hour movie premier with special guests and then you also get a copy of the DVD. The average cost of haunted house is $20.00 for 12 minutes of entertainment.”
As an added bonus, the DVD of Haunting 2 includes nearly 50 minutes of additional bonus features, including special guests like Sid Wilson and DJ Starscreen from Slipknot sharing their own experiences on the paranormal, along with Justin Leavitt explaining some of the ancient Indian ceremonies in the film and why he conducted them.
Additionally, the Premier is being sponsored by the non-profit Voice of Warriors, which was put together by The Bunker Military Surplus store on Court Street. “This is a non-profit that spreads information and awareness for soldiers coming home and wounded veterans not getting help,” explains Prozak. “It's for soldiers being abandoned after receiving all forms of injury, plus it brings awareness to military suicides and post-traumatic stress. It's a great cause and I'm trying to help their cause. People can check them out at voiceofwarriors.com.”
Finally, one cannot help but ask if Prozak's thoughts have changed or evolved about the source of these paranormal phenomena that he documents, or why some of these places are haunted and where it originates. Does it have to do with sacred ground or some type of historical connection with something that didn't get resolved that causes spirits to linger?
“It's hard to figure the answer to that question out,” concludes Prozak. “When you hear the voices that are caught on audio, you can't really say. Plus even though we are investigating Indian burial grounds, most of the voices we've received are in English, so there is no rhyme or reason to it.”
“I do believe there are two different kinds of hauntings, whereas some argue there are hundreds. But basically I think it can be divided between intelligent hauntings and residual hauntings. Residual ghosts of the past do what they do. They walk up stairs every so often and do a repetitive behavior that doesn't know you're there, or doesn't care if you're in the room. You're just catching something that repeats over and over. Intelligent hauntings are more focused and are aware of your presence. When you ask if they are present, they will respond yes; and if you ask their name, they will give you one. Why and how does that happen? People like to believe a million different things, but I honestly can't say.”
People interested in purchasing tickets for Haunting on Hamilton 2 can go to templetheatre.com to get tickets, or phone 989-754.SHOW, or go to the Temple Theatre Box Office from 8 AM - 5 PM daily to buy tickets in person. People interested in purchasing DVD's of Haunting on Hamilton Street Part 1 or 2 can go to ahauntingonhamiltonst.com.
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THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)