Now I’m an Expert?
Sometime last year I was contacted by the production company that produces the Travel Channel Show The Dead Files. I had never heard of it before. I was told that they would be filming an episode in my town and wondered if I’d be interested in appearing on the show as their genealogy research expert. Now, that doesn’t happen every day, does it?
While the show is about paranormal activity, my part had nothing to do with that. I was just the “expert” who talks about the history of the people involved. Genealogy is my thing, and this sounded like fun so I agreed. The film crew kept referring to me as the expert. “Bring your expert in now.” “Have the expert sit here.” And so on. So weird, let me tell you!
I should add here that the show’s “experts” do not get paid. The really nice producer named Jeremy did buy me lunch, though, at The Mexican Place. (Not the actual name of the restaurant, but everyone who lives here will know what I’m talking about because that’s what we call it.)
About The Dead Files
If you haven’t seen the show before, here’s a quick summary. This year is the 12th season by the way, so it’s been around a long time! Basically, someone contacts the show and says they have some paranormal activity in their home and they need help. There are three segments to the show. Steve DiSchiavi, a retired New York City police detective comes to research what’s going on from a detective-type point of view. He talks to “experts”, collects information, and then talks to the family. The second part involves a medium named Amy Allan who does a walk through of the house to see what she senses. I’m glad I had no part in that. It’s not that I don’t believe in the supernatural, I do. Jesus spoke to demons. They are real. But yeah, that’s creepy. No thank you. Anyway, they really do this in the middle of the night. That part you see on the show is true. Then the third part is where both Steve and Amy meet with the family. They each individually discuss their findings and then Amy tells the family what they need to do to rid themselves of this activity.
What I Did
Jeremy discussed with me what they’d found out and asked me to look over it. We discussed the research over the phone. I can tell you, they really do put in the research for these programs and double-check, using a lot of genealogy techniques I’m familiar with. They aren’t making this stuff up. It’s true that truth is stranger than fiction. Even so, some information wasn’t discovered, or at least revealed to me, until the day of the filming. That was because they were continuing looking for new information.
It was a hot Saturday in August. I was nervous, but Jeremy practiced with me until I felt confident I could remember all the names, dates, and details they wanted in my interview with Steve DiSchiavi.
Steve is a really nice guy. All the crew were very nice, polite, and patient. It was quite the experience. I’ve done television interviews on baseball topics and on my books before, but this, a full-fledged television program, was different. I kept saying, “This is just not my world.” Steve said, “It’s your world now!”
We met at a bar. We had water in our coffee cups. There seemed to be cameramen everywhere. I welcomed them to Ohio. They said they’d actually been to Ohio a lot. There is apparently a ton of paranormal activity in Ohio. Had I heard of a place called Springfield? Uh, yeah, I have!
I had the cord of a mic slung down under my dress and I sat on an extra cushion on my barstool because…yeah, because I’m so short! All the bottles at the bar had to be turned so that the labels didn’t show. The whole crew had to be completely silent during the filming. My glasses pushed up just right on my nose. Little details like that fascinate a novelist like me!
I made some mistakes. They just shot those parts over again. Sometimes an idea came to the producers so they decided to have me say something different. Sometimes Steve ad libbed something that he decided would work better. And there was the time I handed Steve a death certificate and he just smiled and handed it back to me. It was actually an obituary so I had to do that over again. They kept telling me I did great. They were super encouraging. At the end I told them I knew that I appeared terrified but I actually enjoyed it. Both Steve and Jeremy assured me that I did not look terrified. If I had, they would have done it over. They even asked if I’d be willing to do it again if they came back this way. Well, apparently that’s a possibility since it’s Ohio!
Season 12 Episode 5
It airs Thursday, February 27th on the Travel Channel. I have YouTube TV and the Travel Channel is on there now. There are other services if you don’t have cable, but you may not be able to see it right away.
I hope I don’t look dumb!
I don’t know who the family is. You’ll find out when I do. I do know the location of the house. Not because they told me, but because I don’t totally suck at research. I hope the people there are not truly in distress. I hope they find what they are looking for. There are two families mentioned in my part of the research, families who used to live on that property. Some are buried in the local cemetery. The oldest family name mentioned on the show is buried there too. I came across that plot by accident when I went to the cemetery to find the grave of the woman I mention in the show to pay my respects. I do hope she’s resting in peace. As a Christian, I also hope that God brings all those involved in this episode some peace, the peace of Jesus.
My 15 Minutes of Fame?
I hope not really. I’d rather be remembered for my books. Research is my passion, though, and seeing how this show goes about researching was fascinating. Seeing a national TV program filmed was educational and fun. I’m pleased they asked me!