THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
Posted In: Culture, Community Profiles, News, Local, From Issue 713 By: Robert E Martin
21st October, 2010 0
The timing couldn’t be better than Halloween weekend for rolling out an unprecedented investigation into inexplicable paranormal events, experiences, and testimonials that add to the nefarious folklore of Old Town Saginaw and dimple the aged architecture of the Hamilton Street area like faded stains from poison apples.
And the team known as The Seekers, which consists of Saginaw rapper Prozak (aka Steve Shippy, Tim Rooney, Adam Eugencio, and Executive Producer Morris Robinson are busily battling the clock to finalize editing over 760 hours of footage into an 80-minute final version of their landmark film, The Seekers (Vol. 1): A Haunting on Hamilton Street.
Over two years in the making and unprecedented in that most paranormal investigations rarely invest more than 24 to 48 hours researching alleged hauntings, the film takes an in-depth focus at three Old Town locations – The Stable ski shop, the former Comedy Club/Moose Lodge on Niagara Street; and the notorious Schuch Hotel – all built back during the lumbering era of the 1800s, which was known for its violent and lawless past, from an area that is steeped in history and mythology that often manifests itself into inexplicable occurrences. These experiences are explored both through interviews from people that have experienced them, as well as the filmmakers spending countless nighttime hours in each of these locations with high-tech equipment, filming and documenting their own experiences as they happen.
Premier at The Temple Theatre on October 29 & 30, with 8:00 PM showings on both nights.
Brian Harnois of Ghost Hunters/Ghost Hunters International joins the team of investigators on their 24-month foray as they explore prohibition-era tunnels, a former mortuary (The Stable) and a former hotel/saloon/brothel (The Schuch) that is inhabited by such a malevolent demonic entity that an ordained exorcist is flown in for assistance. The result is a compelling, powerful, and bone-chilling excursion that leaves both the viewer, and the paranormal experts interviewed from around the world, to conclude that Old Town Saginaw may indeed be one of the most haunted places in the United States.
Each evening of the World Premier will include a Meet & Greet/Autograph signing hosted by Brian Harnois and Prozak, along with a lecture by Father Andre Calder, Paranormal Research/Exorcist as seen on Paranormal State.
A year ago when I interviewed Prozak 12-months into his shoot, enough evidence had been documented to warrant the interest of investors. This year when we sat down, new evidence that surfaced was close to overwhelming. “A year ago if you asked how the film was coming along I would say ‘great’; but now a year later, much of it has been re-shot, and we continue to catch new stuff by using new techniques,” he explains.
“The biggest impact we experienced at The Stable was catching what appears to be a full body apparition walking out of a wall, which crosses the room half way, goes backwards, and then disappears, continues the rapper. “At the Comedy Club we caught a door flying open and smashing against the wall, along with some very weird audio that consists of a woman’s voice that is quite inexplicable.”
“But the grand finale by far occurred at The Schuch Hotel, which prompted us to bring Father Andrew Calder, an ordained priest, into play,” he continues. “We flew him up here to perform an exorcism this weekend, so are still shooting more footage. Needless to say, I’m spending entire days and nights in the editing room.”
For Executive Producer Morris Robinson, this is his first venture into filmmaking, and while his forte is also centered in the music business, once he flew up to Saginaw to join Prozak on some investigations, he got “really hooked.”
“The first night I was here I witnessed an experience and was looking around the place for wires and people in sheets,” he laughs. “But after listening to the audio, I was on board with the project,” he explains.
“At the beginning we had six cameras on tri-pods running at all times,” explains Prozak. “Each camera has enough memory to last 10 hours, so typically we would review the footage after each night and break down what was needed to establish evidence and what was necessary to tell the story. I’ve watched the seasons change 8 times while making this film over the past two years.”
As for Brian Harnois, what specific instances stand out in his mind that distinguish Hamilton Street from other expeditions that he’s researched over the expanse of his career?
“Well, the one thing that was really weird while I was investigating was that the whole time we were walking around it seemed like someone was always following us and always just around the corner. You would get a glimpse of him/her every once in a while, but never full on. The other creepy thing was a lightbulb appeared out of nowhere on the floor. The camera man kicked it after I passed, and I know that the lightbulb was not there when I walked by 2 seconds earlier.”
With a reputation as a world-class Rapper, does Prozak find filmmaking more challenging than the issues confronted in the world of music? “Yeah, this is a lot harder than music, which is more instant gratification,” he reflects. “I used to think the entire process of making a record from top to bottom was difficult, but this is a hundred times the job. There are many more dimensions to deal with.”
“What I’m most proud about is that to our knowledge this is the most thorough paranormal investigation ever conducted,” states Prozak. “We would spend over a month at one location and if you look at most paranormal shows like Ghost Hunters or TAPS they might spend 3 to 5 hours max, say whether the location is haunted or not haunted, and move onto something else. Most groups spend one night at a location and we were logging over 30 nights at 3 locations, not to mention two years of research for one documentary, so I do feel this is a groundbreaking film in that sense. Plus, we brought in well over 40 investigators, psychics, priests, and well-respected paranormal people.”
After such a diligent investment of time and resource, I am curious as to whether Prozak’s thoughts about the origination of these phenomena have changed or evolved. In short, are these experiences physical or spiritual in origin?
“It’s funny,” answers Prozak, “because it depends upon how you look at it. We have these paranormal events and everybody knows, or should know, that it cannot be scientifically explained. Where do these pieces of audio that we captured come from? You can say its audio waves and catching signals in the air, but what about when the signal is in response to a direct question that you ask? Or what about when the camera catches something that cannot be explained? This poses a serious question. Religious people look at it from the aspect of religion; science looks at it differently, so it depends upon what your belief system is. Personally, I try to have no belief system and take it for what it is. If you look too closely it can drive you crazy, trying to answer these questions about the world unseen.”
As for Brian Harnois, I’m curious as to whether he has fashioned any theories or opinions about the source of these phenomena?
“There really is no explanation you can give to this sort of phenomenon,” he reflects. “The field is full of different theories, but no scientific data has ever been collected about this. My opinion is that there is something out there that can be classified as a ghost, but there is no real proof. As for it being physical or spiritual, I think it is a little of both. The physical aspect is always there, but you can put in some spiritual elements when dealing with inhuman (demonic) entities as religious provocation has a real effect on them.”
“When I first started this project I wasn’t sure what to think,” admits Morris. “The first night out I thought these guys were messing with me and that it was some prank or set-up involved; but then I experienced this one incident where chairs were moving and something was knocking and didn’t know what to call it.”
“For me the most compelling incident was when both teams were upstairs at The Schuch Hotel and suddenly this old vintage radio goes on in one of the rooms,” he continues. “The signal started on a radio station and started turning to static and we were trying to figure it out, because the closer we got to it the louder the radio would become.”
“At first I thought it was interference, but then a voice started coming through the radio and then all the music stopped and you can hear a clear sound where it’s almost like a roar.”
“We started talking to it and the voice became responsive to a point where you’d ask a question and everything would stop, only to start back up again. Then we noticed a second voice – a female – and it sounded like she was saying ‘Help me’, but we weren’t too sure at first. Then we asked ‘What’s your name’ and the static stops and in a clear sound you hear the word ‘Monique’. It kept asking us to help, so we picked up a piece of evidence that we thought might be linked and asked if she wanted us to place it hear the radio, and the voice responds, ‘No’, as clear as day.”
“Everybody knows that The Schuch was once a brothel, so who knows where that comes from,” adds Prozak. “But it’s all true.”
“Another thing we dealt with at The Schuch was one of the most compelling occurrences we recorded,” relates Prozak. “Father Andrew Calder was there to perform a blessing and Tim Rooney suddenly had a 3-claw scratch all the way across his throat as wide as my thumb. When it happened he let out quite a scream. We were on the second floor and he wasn’t alone, but in the ‘radio room’ at the very end of the night.
We were all finished and ready to leave and Morris was asking Father Andrew to come down to the room and perform provocation. He was ten seconds into it and all of a sudden Tim, who’s standing outside the door, gets this massive scratch on this throat which we recorded on video.”
“Four hours later those massive scratch marks were reduced by 70 percent and the next day they were gone,” concludes Prozak. “You hear about stuff like that and it sounds like bull crap, but we know Tim and he’s not a pain kind of guy. He wouldn’t do anything like that to himself. Plus there was no blood or redness. It looked like scar tissue from massive heeled wounds.”
Does Brian Harnois have any thoughts as to why these occurrences filmed within a 4-block stretch of Hamilton Street happen so close to one another?
“I’m not really that familiar with the history of the area, or all the hauntings of the location, but it is one of the oldest parts of Saginaw, so that might be a big part of the reason for all the hauntings clustered in the area.”
Of Red Carpets & Roll Outs
The fact that the World Premier for A Haunting on Hamilton Street is happening in Saginaw is significant for Prozak, who similar to artists such as Eminem and Kid Rock, is dedicated to his hometown.
“We’ll be showing the film and flying Brian Harnois from Ghost Hunters in for a Question & Answer session, and we’ll also be flying Father Andrew in as well, because I think people will have questions after viewing this documentary.”
“We’ll also be doing an After-Party at The Schuch Hotel on both nights.”
“Tickets will only run $13.00 which is in appropriate number and people can get them at the Temple box office Monday through Saturday from 8 am to 6 pm, as well as at the door both nights.”
“When you think that the average cost of a haunted house is $15.00 and the average time of entertainment is 25 minutes, this is an 80-90 minute film with special guests and a world premier event at one of the best theatres in the country. It’s all about a film shot in Saginaw about Saginaw people, so we’re hoping people come out and show their support. Plus it’s a great time of year to roll it out. All in all, it’s an incredible value.”
“The film will be available shortly both on-line and for digital downloads, as well as physical copies,” explains Prozak. “We’re looking into Blockbuster and Netflix and even the ‘on-demand’ options and will be entering some film festivals. Frankly, its hard to see that stage of it until after the premier.”
“We’re already talking about a location for Volume 2, which is going to be a lot different,” concludes Prozak. “We’ll be at one location and lock ourselves inside for a week, staying on the premises of the place we’re investigating. The place we’re looking at has a lot of activity, but the owner doesn’t want us to say which state of the country its in, because he wants to remain anonymous.”
“But this whole experience has been really interesting for me. One thing I would like to say is that the film contains a lot of history besides paranormal investigation. People will definitely learn things about the area that they may not have been aware of.”
“People are already embracing this and we’re now hearing about haunted tours of Hamilton Street, so the film is already having an impact.”
“On thing is for certain: I guarantee nobody will look at Old Town Saginaw the same way once they watch this film.”
Tickets for The Seekers (Vol 1) A Haunting on Hamilton Street can be obtained by calling 877-754-SHOW or by going to www.templetheatre.com or in person at 201 N. Washington Ave., Saginaw.
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THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)