The great bump in the road

For the past couple of months we have been rather quiet regarding In Search of the Dead. Far from purposefully leaving you all in the dark, we have been navigating great stress and upset.

In early March a Windows Update forced itself onto our computer, right in the middle of our working day. We were in the process of backing our work up onto an external hard drive at the time. When the computer restarted it was immediately clear that something was not right. The computer was sluggish and slow to response. Yet, the extent of the damage was not yet apparent. After wrestling to restore it to normal speed by uninstalling the update, we realised that much more had been damaged. Our files – both on the computer and on the external hard drive – had been damaged. All our In Search of the Dead files (and strangely, nothing else) were completely inaccessible.

Since that time, technicians have been working hard to restore the files. Yesterday, we received the salvaged files. All of our raw files have been either partially or entirely damaged. Our project files are entirely gone. Our post-production work has to be restarted, using whatever remains of our footage.

However, we will still be able to make In Search of the Dead.

At times over the last few weeks we thought that everything we had been working on for the past year was lost. Figuring out how to tell you all was the hardest part. So, we are so very happy to be able to share this with you. It is still bad news, but not as bad as we were preparing ourselves for.

We cannot wait to get this project finished and present In Search of the Dead to you. It has been the most incredible and challenging venture we have ever embarked upon – far in excess of what we imagined.

Thank you all for your support and patience. We read every kind comment left on our videos and websites, and are always especially touched by those expressing enthusiasm for this project.

Gallery of screenshots: Our vision for In Search of the Dead

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Post-production and composing a soundtrack

Now that we are back home (and finally at the end of our filming!) we have a lot of work to do.

Post-production for a two-person team is proving challenging, time-consuming but also greatly rewarding. Being able to watch back through over 30 hours of footage, and consolidating everything we have done, is overwhelming. Did we really begin this journey just a few months ago? It seems worlds away now.

We cannot wait to share the finished product with you, but before then we have a long road to trek.

One of the most exciting aspects of the next few weeks for us is the production of an original soundtrack for the documentary. We are honoured to have the chance to work with a hugely talented, aspiring composer. From the beginning we knew that we wanted the music for In Search of the Dead to be different and well-thought out. A welcomed change, you might say, from the ‘make do’ approach we normally have to adopt. Now that we have greater resources available to us, we hope that we can deliver something spectacular – something ethereal.

So, keep your eyes peeled as we enter 2018. The wait is almost over.

Back to where it began

The end is within sight.

After weeks of preparation, filming in various countries, preliminary editing, and the release of In Search of the Dead‘s first trailer, we are ready to complete our final round of filming, back where it all began, in the UK.

From the 28th of September to the 8th of October we will be travelling across the country for yet more interviews and investigations. Not only that, we will make an attempt to find our own proof of life after death, by digging through local archives using information given to us by psychic mediums. It is our hope that we can not only find something spectacular for the documentary, but also for ourselves. Undoubtedly, our level of personal involvement in this project has far exceeded what we had expected. Now we want to find closure.

In keeping with our previous trip to the UK, we will once again be meeting with the academia also. This time we hope that we will have a chance to discuss the practical, as well as theoretical, side of researching life after death. We are honoured to say that our interviewee is greatly experienced in conducting experiments around survival, in particular in partnership with mediums. We are hoping to have our minds boggled!

This project is our baby. When all is said and done, we will be able to say that we gave it our best. What happens after that is down to all of you, our audience. We hope that this can be the start of a wonderful career for us. But, more than that, we hope we can bring something fresh to the paranormal genre: something serious, yet personal and emotive. We want to make you think. Whether or not you choose to believe at the end of it, is, as always, in your hands.

Until next time.

 

The most haunted forest in the world

The Hoia-Baciu Forest of Romania is globally recognised as the most haunted forest in the world.

The origins of its infamy are obscure and a catalyst for contention. From the legendary disappearance of a shepherd and his flock of 200 sheep, to UFO sightings in the forest’s bizarre Poiana Rotundă (Round Meadow), to the manifestation of ghostly apparitions and disembodied voices, the phenomena attributed to Hoia-Baciu Forest covers the full breadth of the paranormal.

Naturally, such a place was bound to draw our attention.

When organising our schedule for In Search of the Dead, a trip to Romania was almost immediately suggested. We were fortunate to have had the advice and guidance of Radiana Piț, a Romania witch, during the planning stages. However, once we arrived at the forest, Erik and I were very much alone. The air itself seemed to exacerbate that fact, so still and silent was “the world’s most haunted forest”.

The forest exudes two very different atmospheres during the day and nighttime. The primal fear associated with darkness no doubt plays a part in this. However, far from being someone who is susceptible to nighttime spookiness, I was surprised at myself when I described the uneasiness which I felt as we approached the treeline at night.

It was so very dark.

Once inside, the two of us trekked in complete darkness, with only torchlight and GPS to guide us. Luckily, the technical disruption often reported by visitors to Hoia-Baciu did not affect us that night.

It was our intention to reach the Round Meadow – the area of the forest so often reported as the epicentre of its paranormal phenomena. It was only a short walk from the entrance, but the darkness made it feel much longer. Eventually, starlight reappeared as we made it to the clearing.

Within just a few moments of entering the Round Meadow, my attention was captured by a break in the trees on my left side. Whilst there was no visual catalyst for this feeling, I could not escape the sensation that I should be cautious around that area of the clearing. After having a few days of reflection, the feeling is still difficult to describe. I was conflicted: I desired above all else to look away from that area, yet, felt like I had to keep my eyes on the opening for my own protection. I have never felt anything like this before.

It was an instinctive, gut feeling of dread.

Erik and I stood in silence for a short while, keeping the camera fixed on the opening. Nothing happened. Thinking that my imagination was getting the better of me, we decided to leave. Before we did, I took one last photograph (with camera flash) of the break in the trees which so disturbed me. The photo revealed a white-gold orb of light in the opening. Immediately after this, two white dogs – eyes shinning bright in our torchlight – entered the clearing from behind us. We took this as a signal to leave.

Under the light of the blood moon, the walk back to the car was marred by unshakeable anxiety. I could not forget the feeling that the opening had given me, and Erik was certain he could hear footsteps behind us. Every sound in the forest was now sinister.

Both of us felt like those dogs had appeared at that moment to encourage us to leave before something else happened.

Orbs have a strange reputation in the paranormal community. Relatively frequently encountered, they are easy to dismiss and even easier to ridicule. To a large degree, they are boring and overdone. Yet, this is the second time that the photographing of an orb of light has proceeded dramatic events for us on this journey. The first time the consequences were much worse than merely the feeling of dread, which is why we took the second orb as a signal for us to leave – should something else have happened.

We are not experts. We are on this journey to learn. We can only report our experiences and interactions with others as they happen. For now, we cannot draw a conclusion as to what happened in Hoia-Baciu Forest that night. After all, the power of imagination is strong, and can affect even the most sceptical. Neither of us would describe ourselves as believers. Instead, we are open-minded sceptics. However, this journey has, and continues to, test our beliefs to their limits. 

Orb in Hoia-Baciu
After a strong and instinctual feeling of dread in relation to one of the openings in the clearing, I captured this white-gold orb of light on camera. (It was not raining, and there were no reflective objects or anyone else nearby.)

The Scholar and the Physical Medium

After experiencing our first German-style hotel breakfast (at which sparkling wine and chicken nuggets were served alongside each other!), I thought I would share an update on our trip.

On Friday we arrived in Germany, speeding along their famous autobahn towards our first destination – a town in the region of Hesse. Yesterday, Saturday, we met with Germany’s premier physical medium, Kai Muegge. This was a first for us, having only really learned of physical mediums as rare paranormal practitioners who lived their lives behind the heavy curtain of the 20th century. Luckily for us, Kai and his wife, Julia, welcomed us into their home, and openly explained physical mediumship and its different facets.

When we started this journey, we knew very little (if anything at all!) about physical mediumship. By far, mental mediumship is the more common and well-known form of mediumistic ability. However, as we have met with various people, we have unintentionally bumped into the physical form more than we had expected. In the end, one of our previous interviewees directed us towards Kai, suggesting that he was The Person to speak to in regards to physical mediumship in the modern day. Certainly, his séance group, the Felix Circle, is said to be the only practising  group which allows observation by outsiders, including academics.

During the interview, we learned some very interesting things. As usual, we were left with more questions than answers!

Séance room phenomena is something which we are still yet to experience for ourselves. Indeed, one cannot force oneself into these things: relationships need to be cultivated and trust built. With this in mind, we very much hope that our meeting with Kai will be the first of many, through which we can begin to understand this bizarre, yet fascinating, facet of the so-called paranormal.

One dilemma which we are faced with, however, is how to use all of the footage which we have thus far collected over the course of the past few months. Our intention is for In Search of the Dead to be around two hours long. We already have well in excess of this. Inexperienced as we currently are in post-production editing of a documentary of this nature, it breaks our hearts to think of all the footage which will invariably be left out. Physical mediumship alone demands such a large proportion of time dedicated to its understanding and exploration. Yet, it is not the only subject we are dealing with in our documentary. As such, we are already contemplating making a follow-up documentary of sorts on physical mediumship. Your thoughts on this matter would be appreciated!

Until next time!

The Voyage East

As soon as we returned home at the end of last month, we hit the ground running and began planning the next leg of our documentary adventure.

Our first trip took us to the United Kingdom, where we met academics, authors, mediums, and paranormal researchers and investigators. For our second trip, we will be driving across the European continent to Romania. Along the way, we will be once again meeting with those who we hope will be ‘in the know’: paranormal researchers and practitioners. 

We will be setting off on the 3rd of August, and will not be home again until the 22nd.

Our first stop will be in Germany, to find out more about physical mediumship – a subject which not only fascinates us, but tests the limit of our ability to be open-minded. Hopefully, this meeting will bring us one step closer to forming an opinion on the matter.

Next we will be driving further east towards our eventual goal of Romania. Along the way we will be spending time in the capital of Hungary, Budapest. We hope this city will have lots of secrets and stories for us to discover. During our stay there, we will be enlisting the help of a local ghost tour operator, who we hope will not only share some of those stories with us, but also give us an insight into the general public’s beliefs in ghosts.

The bulk of our journey, however, will be spent in Romania. This ancient land should have more than its fair share of dark tales and legends. As such, we will be staying there for over a week, with several spectacular locations penned in for a visit. Not only that, we will be meeting with many uniquely intriguing personalities, who we hope will provide us with some great insights and local knowledge.

On our return back home, we will once again stop in Germany. This time we will be getting more hands on, joining yet another paranormal investigation with a local group.

Once again an adventure packed full of activity! We hope that this journey will bring us one step closer towards completing our documentary. Although we may never know the truth behind the afterlife, ghosts and spirits, this trip already has (and will no doubt continue to!) stretched the limit of our current understanding and pushed us to test and form new opinions. It is our sincere hope that you will continue to come along for the ride!

The Spirits of the Borders

On Friday we crossed the border into Scotland.

This ancient land of rugged wilderness was saturated with an otherworldly presence. As I looked out from the passenger window of the car, it was like I could see this profound atmosphere rise from the ground itself. History – the very lives of the people who have inhabited this land for centuries – seemed to permeate from the fog as it oozed across the landscape.

By the time we arrived at our location, we were anxious to begin our adventure.

We were lucky to have arranged to shadow an experienced team of paranormal investigators at a stellar location. Not on-location investigators ourselves, we were there to observe and learn. Admittedly, although excited, I was expecting to have a quiet evening.

I began by asking members of the team questions I had prepared beforehand. I wanted to know why they do what they do – their beliefs. Their passion was infectious!

After the interviews were concluded, much of the investigation centred around the use of electronic equipment, which sought to provide the spirits – if they were present – with a means to communicate. The results were surprising. It was not such a quiet evening after all…

And so it begins…

Yesterday we travelled from our home in France to the port, across the English Channel to Portsmouth, and then up the country to near Sheffield. Today, we will continue our journey north to the Scottish border, where adventure (and hopefully a ghoul or two!) awaits!

After just one day of our journey, Erik and I are already exhausted! Travelling, including seemingly endless hours of driving into the night, is certainly tiring. However, we are full of excitement for this adventure, and cannot wait to meet with all those we have scheduled to meet with.

As I begin this journey, I am filled with a mixture of emotions: anxiety, excitement and a longing to be surprised. I want to experience something which will challenge my understand of the world around me. Yet, at the same time, I am having a hard time believing that I will experience such a moment. My sceptical, cynical mind, is expecting to be disappointed: to either encounter nothing that I would classify as paranormal, or to be able to explain away anything I do.

I sincerely hope that I will be proven wrong.

What is your starting opinion? Are you of the same mind as me? Or, do you need no convincing?

Encountering so many believers, as I invariably do as The Paranormal Scholar, as well as in my conversations with members of the public, can often make me feel unreasonable in my beliefs. That being said, I cannot abandon my stance of scepticism. Whilst I have an open-mind, and always try my best to be non-judgemental of what others have to tell me about their own beliefs, I need something more than stories. I need evidence. I need to see something with my own eyes. I need to experience something inexplicable for myself. Only then will I be convinced.

So, with that, let us go in search of the dead!

Back to Blighty!

We have booked our travel tickets and arranged our hotels!

The first round of filming for In Search of the Dead has been planned and will soon be underway.

From the 15th to the 24th of June, Erik and I will be travelling the length and breadth of the British Isles to meet with people from all walks of life, believers and sceptics alike. Our schedule is packed full of great interviews and exciting adventures. We cannot wait to get started!

We will be posting updates here of our progress, including (hopefully!) behind-the-scenes photos. Undoubtedly, we are going to be very busy – as we are packing in as much as we can – but posting regular updates is important to us.

That said, speak again soon!

Documentary Call-To-Action

We are proud to announce that we are in the planning stages of our debut documentary, In Search of the Dead. As such, we are looking for people to be a part of our project!

The following Call-To-Action video was published on The Paranormal Scholar YouTube channel.

We are looking for people based in Europe, fulfilling any of the following criteria: 

  • A medium or clairvoyant
  • Part of a paranormal research group or a ghost hunter
  • Someone who operates publicly as a demonologist
  • A paranormal author or historian
  • A spiritual or religious minister willing to discuss the afterlife
  • A local historian with knowledge of a nearby haunted location, who could tell us its history.
  • A psychologist or parapsychologist with insight into belief in the paranormal, whether a sceptic or a believer
  • Someone who operates a ghost tour

If you would like to be a part of our project, you can get in touch using this contact form.

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