Sunday, December 27, 2009
Paul Kimball, Ghost Darer
Am I watching a reality TV program called Ghost Cases or Head Cases?
"Come on, drop it."
Co-host Paul Kimball is lying on the floor underneath a large painting that has been said to occasionally fall off its nail because of ghostly activity. His partner Holly Stevens waits in another room at the reportedly haunted Waverly Inn in Halifax, Nova Scotia, using a conversational method to make contact with any spirits that may be about.
Paul prefers the confrontational method, the paranormal investigator with a chip on his shoulder. He taunts any nearby ghosts to drop the painting on his head. But no ghosts knock off his chip -- or the painting.
That previous sentence might be considered a spoiler, i.e., I just revealed too much about the Waverly Inn episode of Ghost Cases. But while he may be arrogant at times, Paul isn't stupid. He knew that painting wasn't going to drop (well, at least in this universe).
The episode opens with a perspective-puzzling image worthy of M.C. Escher. Paul lies on the floor, a mirror placed next to his head showing the presumably cursed painting up on the wall, the scene tilted at an odd angle. He tells the ghosts if they're sick of all the ghost investigation TV programs, then take their best shot. A quirky intro. It's too bad that the rest of the episode didn't live up to this.
The episode is technically well-made, a professional production, but it follows the same formula used in other programs such as History Detectives on PBS. Parts of the episode are staged, set up beforehand. It's obvious that the investigators aren't meeting one of the subjects for the first time; there's been some discussion how to "play out" a scene.
For example, Paul and Holly walk into the Waverly Inn and are greeted by an employee. You can tell they've already did a general run-through with the employee. But even History Detectives with its (probably) bigger budget is guilty of faux natural scenes.
Assuming that the Waverly Inn investigation is representative of the series, Ghosts Cases needs to be edgier. More film-it-as-it-first-happens -- even with rough edges -- could be a better approach. At least it would be a different one. Record the initial interviews with subjects; no pre-production warm ups. Reveal some of the behind-the-scenes planning, discussions, and, if any, disagreements.
Skip the shots back in the studio with either Paul or Holly sitting down, explaining what is going on during the episode. Shoot everything on location and add voice overs if needed.
And why does the camera have to be in the room before the door opens and the investigators step in? Why not stay with the hosts, shooting over their shoulders, and reveal the room to both them and the viewer at the same time? Give the impression that the viewer is right there with them.
Instead of ghost daring, let's see some daring departures from the standard format.
In a parallel universe Paul Kimball did that. After a painting fell off the wall at the Waverly Inn and hit him on the head, a paranormal variation on Newton and the apple.
[ Ghost Cases is produced in Canada and can be seen via EastLink TV in the Great White North. For more info:
Posted by Ray Palm (Ray X) at 2:51 AM