How can I get my own ghost hunting TV show?

Many people ask me about how to land their own ghost hunting TV show. The reality is: it’s not impossible, but be sure you really want to invest your time, energy, and enthusiasm in it.

Ratings for many ghost hunting shows have declined over the past decade.  As of late 2016, even “Ghost Hunters” has ended its long tenure on SyFy.

So, I can’t pretend that ghost hunting TV shows are great opportunities, even when they’re offered.

Today, few networks or production companies will sign anyone new to star in a ghost hunting TV show. (You may have better luck if your ghost hunting videos have been successful on YouTube.)

First, decide why you want to have your own ghost hunting TV series.

The Paycheck

If you think stars of ghost-related TV shows are well paid, think again.

Many of them probably earned less per hour than they would working at a fast food restaurant.

Most of my friends who star on paranormal TV shows… they never quit their day jobs.

When they’re not filming, they work at normal jobs, just to pay the bills.

A one-hour TV show can involve up to two travel days, then jet lag when you reach the site, followed by two or three days of filming.

After that, you’ll analyze the evidence, and film the reveal. That will require additional days. With all of that completed, add another day or two to return home.

In other words, while it might sound great to be paid $500 for a one-hour TV episode, you might need a week or 10 days to complete just one episode.

You’ll often film shows back-to-back. No days off.

  • Expect to work seven days a week, including weekends and holidays. That may include Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, etc.
  • You won’t get time off for your mom’s birthday or your child’s school graduation.
  • Even if you’re miserable with a stomach bug, you’re still expected to show up on the set and act as if everything’s fine. As they say, “the show must go on!”

Fame

Is fame that important to you? If so, here are my suggestions:

Look for casting calls for existing ghost hunting TV series. (HARO can help.) See if you can get on just one show, even for 5 minutes.

stage lightsUse that 5 minutes to your advantage. Treat it like an audition. You should seem so interesting, producers will want to include you in future shows.

When your particular episode is about to air, make sure people know that you are on it. (Check your contract to be sure you can talk about the show.)

Also, you should have your own website, and it should look terrific.

Have you been on two or three ghost hunting shows? If they haven’t called you back, get additional exposure on non-paranormal TV shows. Look online for casting calls. Anything on camera is good. Get work as an extra if you must.

Plan your networking carefully. Earn the respect and interest of both the cast and the production company. However, the cast rarely have much input into the show. Impress the filming crew and any producers on the set. They might be involved in scouting and hiring.

After you’ve been on three to five TV shows, start looking for a theatrical agent. You’ll have enough experience for an agent to promote you as a future star.

This can take months or longer. Attend ghost-related conferences with presentations by casting agents and producers. You’ll learn more about breaking into TV. You may also make a connection that leads to work.

Never forget that this field is full of overeager ghost enthusiasts who’d do almost anything to be on TV. Many of them are pushy and obnoxious. Most seem almost oblivious to the realities of working on TV… until they’re actually on a TV show, that is.

Then, they can’t voice their disillusionment because they signed a non-disclosure agreement.

Distance yourself from starry-eyed and self-aggrandizing aspiring stars.

Stand out as a confident professional. That’s the best way to hear from more producers than you’d ever want to talk to. Really.

How can I pitch a location to ghost hunting TV shows?

Would you like to scout haunted locations for ghost hunting TV shows and movies? Do you know some great haunted places that should be on TV?

dracula's home - a great locationIt’s best to wait until ghost hunting TV shows request locations and story suggestions.

You’ll find those requests online.

Look for specific paranormal TV shows and the production companies that cast and film them.

Also check casting calls listed at websites like http://www.realitywanted.com/ and http://www.must-see-tv.com/forum/reality-tv-show-apply-here/

You may also find opportunities on the HARO lists. http://www.helpareporter.com/

Be prepared

For the best success, you should:
– Know the history of the location.
– Know if it’s ever been featured on a TV show (of any kind) in the past.
– Know who owns the site, and exactly how to contact them.
– Take lots of photographs at the location in daylight and during the hours the show would probably be filming.
– Have a list of witnesses to the ghostly phenomena. They must be willing to talk to TV producers about their experiences, even if they’re not paid for their time.

Many production companies like to film several shows in the same vicinity. For best success, be ready to present three or four other haunted locations in the same town or nearby.

If you’re just scouting locations, the producers might not involve you in the filming. This means no screen credit, unless you negotiate for that.

My advice: Present the one story that most interests you. Then, mention that you have several other nearby locations equally suited to the TV show.

Take precautions

Before you reveal those other locations:
– Get a written agreement that’s signed by someone authorized by the production company. (Email and phone agreements do not count.)  This is especially true if you’re dealing with Gurney Productions.
– Hire an entertainment lawyer to review the contract.
– Be sure you’re allowed to use your professional work as a credential on your CV or resume.
– Be very clear about your continued obligations to the show or producers. For example, they may expect you to appear at events. Know how much time they expect, and who will pay for your expenses.
– Make sure you’ll receive full benefit of — and credit for — all of your work and creativity.
– Understand what you can (and can’t) say during and after the show airs. Know how long your non-disclosure terms extend, after the final episode.

Some liabilities of ghost hunting TV shows

Fiona's adviceNever expect TV producers or production companies to be honest or even logical. Get everything in writing… printed and signed, not just email.

Know exactly what’s expected of you, and what you’ll get in return.

I was on one TV series for a major cable network that focuses on history. (Ahem.) But, even to promote the show, my contract prohibited me from saying I’d actually appeared on it.

Yes, that seems very weird. The producers seemed to think it was a normal requirement.

Then there’s the time that, with a verbal agreement and lots of phone calls and emails confirming it, I spent three weeks scouting locations for a TV series.

That involved lots of driving. Hours in dusty libraries, creepy locations, and conversations with a few truly strange people who wanted to tell me their ghost stories.

Was it fun…? Yes, most of the time. Would I do it again…? No. Not working 12+ hours a day, seven days a week, under a lot of pressure from the producer.

Then I delivered the information the producer needed, with photos, ghost stories, verified site contacts, and witnesses.

The production company said that their producer “hadn’t been authorized” to hire me.

Even with the star of the show and my manager working on this, I was never paid a cent.

Sadly, my story is far from unique. It’s just so embarrassing, others in the field won’t talk about their similar experiences.

Remember: Some people are eager to be involved in a TV show. They can be so excited by what sounds like a great opportunity, they’ll assume things they shouldn’t. Production companies will take advantage of that, if they can.

Is this just for fun?

Are you happy to work for nothing, just to know you were part of a TV show? If so, go for it.

However, no matter what is implied, make sure you have it in writing, on real paper (not a printout). Be sure it’s signed by someone with the authority to make that agreement.

Even well-known TV stars have put together great show ideas. They’ve lined up everything necessary for a successful TV series.

Then the show was given to someone else.  I can think of two instances of that. There are probably many others that I never heard about.

TV work is like a lottery.  You have a slim chance of winning, but – if you did – it could be great. If that’s not good enough for you, make sure everything you expect is guaranteed, in writing, in an iron-clad contract.

Most of my friends who work as production consultants also ask for at least half of their fees, up front.  Their out-of-pocket expenses are extra, and covered as they go.

They receive the other half of their fees when they complete the job.

And, one friend insists on payment in full before she does anything at all.

(She’s hired regularly, anyway.  So, don’t think you’re being “too difficult.”  If your information is unique and valuable, remember that you’re the one calling the shots.)

If you want to work with a TV show for fun, that’s one thing. If it stops being fun, or you expect anything in return, get it in writing.

What famous locations have been used for ghost hunting TV shows?

Around Halloween, many TV shows feature haunted locations. As they say, “‘Tis the season!”

eastern state penitentiaryUsually, TV producers choose those sites because they look creepy.

Those places are well-known haunts. Something dramatic (and perhaps scary) is likely to happen at least once during the show.

Those same haunted locations can be great if you’re looking for nerves-of-steel investigation sites, too.

Or, they can be too extreme.

Some haunted locations featured on TV

Here are some of them:
Buffalo Central Terminal, Buffalo, NY
Campbell House, Eugene, OR
Essex County Sanitarium, Cedar Grove, NJ
Fort Delaware, Delaware City, DE
Hill View Manor, New Castle, PA
Letchworth Village, Haverstraw, NY
Moon River Brewery, Savannah, GA
New Mexico State Penitentiary, Santa Fe, NM
Pennhurst State Hospital (originally named the Eastern Pennsylvania State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic), Spring City, PA
Queen Mary (luxury liner), Long Beach, CA
Sorrel Weed House, Savannah, GA
Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, CO
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (later called the Armand Auclerc Weston State Hospital), Weston, WV
Waverly Hills Sanitorium, near Louisville, KY
West Virginia State Penitentiary, Moundsville, WV

On the other hand, if you’re looking for haunted locations near you, visit the nearest public library or large newspaper office. Look through back issues of local newspapers and magazines, from around Halloween. Every year, most periodicals feature local, haunted locations, including some  you can investigate or tour.

How do I contact Ghost Hunters’ TV show?

Fiona's adviceAfter season 11 (2016), new episodes of the Ghost Hunters TV show are not scheduled for SyFy. That was reported in various media, including Jason Hawes/TAPS Facebook page.

As of 2017, the best way to contact the Ghost Hunters team is through their TAPS website (that site’s contact form isn’t working, but you can email Tapsjasonh@gmail.com ) or Facebook. You’ll also find Jason on Beyond Reality.

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Here’s my original article about contacting Ghost Hunters. It includes other ways to reach the cast, SyFy, and information about joining a similar TV show.

Old TV and remoteIt’s easy to contact Ghost Hunters’ TV stars and producers, if you’d like to. It depends on what you’re looking for — to follow the stars’ careers, learn more about the Ghost Hunters TV show, or meet the cast & crew, personally.

One general way to find information about the Ghost Hunters’ TV show — through Season 11 — is via SyFy.

That’s the cable network that ran Ghost Hunters for many years. You can visit the site the Syfy.com website and — if it’s still there — click on the link for the Ghost Hunters TV episodes.

You’ll find several options, from direct contact with Syfy, to related forums.

However, if you want to contact Jason Hawes or Grant Wilson, Dustin Pari, or any cast member from the many seasons of Ghost Hunters, look for their respective websites.

To learn more about TAPS Family members, visit the TAPS website. That’s at http://www.the-atlantic-paranormal-society.com/

If you want to be part of a show like Ghost Hunters, look for casting calls at the Syfy.com website and similar pages at other networks’ sites.

Or, search online using phrases such as “casting calls,” “ghost TV shows,” and so on.


Comments are disabled on this article, due to the large number of people who try to use this site to reach the TAPS team. Fiona is not part of TAPS and never has been. She does not investigate private homes, and refers those tormented by ghosts and entities to other professionals.

Why did Grant Wilson leave Ghost Hunters?

At almost every ghost hunting event I attend, long-time fans of Ghost Hunters always ask me why Grant Wilson left the Ghost Hunters TV show.

So, it seems like this question just won’t go away.

On the show and at the TAPS website, Grant explained why he left the Ghost Hunters show.

It wasn’t a sudden decision. It wasn’t related to interpersonal relations with fellow cast members.

From what I saw, Grant got along fine with everyone on the investigation team. Nothing was inappropriate or hostile, on either side.

Grant simply wanted more time for “other aspects of [his] personal life.”

Not a surprise

His decision did not surprise me. Grant has always been an excellent paranormal investigator. However, I believe that his talents are greater in music and the visual arts.

spalding inn - once owned by grant wilson and jason hawesSeveral years ago at New Hampshire’s Spalding Inn (which Grant and Jason and their families owned), a few of us were relaxing on the hotel’s porch.

I was completing a landscape painting on the hotel’s porch.

I said, “When I get to the end of the road, I won’t say, ‘Gosh, I wish I’d investigated one more haunted location’. I’m more likely to say, ‘I wish I’d painted one more painting’.”?

Grant paused and said quietly, “So true.”

I wasn’t sure if he was simply agreeing with me, or if what I said resonated with him. For many of us in the arts, it’s difficult to balance paranormal research and our creative interests.

Ghost hunting, like many other interests, can be a fascinating hobby. That hobby can evolve to the professional level.

However, whether you’re a professional or hobbyist, your interests may change. Many ghost hunters find the answers that brought them into ghost hunting, in the first place.

Others conclude that there are no real answers.  At that point, the person may quit ghost hunting or continue with renewed interest.

I haven’t a clue if that was a factor in Grant’s decision.

Nevertheless, I applaud Grant’s decision. He was ready to re-prioritize. Many people — in any field, not just TV — reach that point when their careers become too demanding.

That’s especially true when you want more time with your spouse and family.

And, life in “the industry” (in this case, the world of TV and public events) can skew anyone’s perspective on life and importances.

Yes, Grant Wilson left Ghost Hunters. That was a professional decision, and I wasn’t surprised by it.

Grant hasn’t vanished from ghost hunting. He still appears at some ghost-related events and conference. He’s just reorganized his time to have more time for what he loves most.

It’s wonderful that Grant’s fans remained so enthusiastic about his work on the show and his personal well-being.

If you’d like to follow his career — as a ghost hunter, author, artist, musician, or game designer — see his website, GrantSWilson.com.

There’s no mystery and no scandal in his decision. Grant Wilson left Ghost Hunters because it was the right time to do so. He was ready to pursue other interests.

Do TV shows give credibility to ghosts?

Do TV shows help give credibility to the spirit world?

For several years, I said yes. Now, it’s a little “yes” and a lot more “no.”

The “no” side is obvious. Many ghost-hunting TV shows became parodies of what we do as paranormal researchers. Extreme Paranormal was one of the first to leave serious investigators reeling in horror.

Fiona's adviceIf you want to compare a real ghost story with the TV version, see my article that explains the real ghostly history of Bonito City.

(That location was among the “investigations” featured on Extreme Paranormal.)

The Haunted Collector TV series wasn’t nearly as bad as Extreme Paranormal, but it still made respected researchers such as John Zaffis look… well, stupid. Even gullible. And, some thought he was downright criminal.

abandoned creepy houseIn real life, John and his team are among the most honest, ethical and open-minded researchers in this field.

I winced watching the show, seeing what I knew were contrived, uncharacteristic scenes.

(The episode where Eric Dionne supposedly met John for the first time, when John and his crew came to investigate the Dionnes’ home…? That was when I stopped watching the show. I know both John and Eric as paranormal researchers. So, from the first scene in that “investigation,” I knew that episode’s story line was fiction.)

But, yes. Maybe.

On the other hand, shows such as Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures increased interest in ghosts and ghost research.

So, in general, I say yes, ghost hunting TV shows brought more credibility to the subject of ghosts.

Of course, many people watch ghost hunting on TV and mutter, “That can’t be real.”

Then, at some point, many of those people want to check out “this ghost hunting stuff,” themselves.

People may joke about ghost-related TV shows, but they keep watching them.  Privately, I think most people want to believe in an afterlife. Many people want to believe in ghosts, too.

Ghost-related TV shows have given the field enough credibility to attract new researchers. We’re at least one step closer to finding real ghostly evidence.

I believe that shows like Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures have moved paranormal research forward.  More people are looking for evidence, and we have more tools to document what we find.

If that’s all those shows did, they’ve still made a valuable contribution to the field. I think there’s been an uptick in belief since the shows aired.

Personal field research makes a bigger difference than TV shows. But, to get people into the field for serious investigations, they have to be interested.

I think ghost-related TV shows were very helpful towards that end.

Have TV shows ever found real evidence of ghosts?

It’s not just a skeptical question. Plenty of people ask me why they’ve never seen a real ghost on TV. They want to know if ghost hunting TV shows ever found real evidence of ghosts.

TV shows — and paranormal researchers, in general — don’t find real evidence of ghosts because, so far, there is none.

We’ve found nothing convincing that we can show others. Skeptics like the (not so) “Amazing Randi” will always find flaws, shortcomings, or weaknesses in the recordings of all kinds.

Investigators can show that something odd is going on.

1839 photograph of R. CorneliusBy process of elimination, and with an open-minded witness on the scene, they can show that it had no obvious (normal) cause.

Despite that, no one can prove a ghost caused whatever happened.

Shows such as the Ghost Hunters franchise and Ghost Lab have impressed me.  They’ve shown the world fresh, effective research techniques and tools.

However, that’s not scientific (“real”) evidence of ghosts.

For now, I doubt that anyone will produce scientific evidence on ghost-related TV shows… or in real life.

I hope I’m wrong, but I haven’t seen the progress I’d hoped for.

What’s the worst TV show about ghosts?

Among shows I’ve seen, Extreme Paranormal was one of the worst TV shows about ghosts. The stars of that show can tell you why.

Many other, short-lived series — especially “fear” style shows — have been perfectly awful, too.

annoyed catDon’t blame the stars of those shows. They’re usually good people. Some of them are actual paranormal researchers, and good ones. (Sadly, you’d never guess it from the shows.)

Where do the problems come from? Usually, it’s how the shows are produced, written, directed, and edited.

From the few snippets I’ve seen, Dead Files is on my worst list… but only if people take the show seriously. What I saw looked like a parody of what researchers like me really do.

The Haunted Collector show disappointed me more than most. I’ve know John Zaffis since we both spoke at paranormal conferences in the late 1990s or so.

John is a tremendous researcher, and one of the most authoritative “walking encyclopedias” of paranormal insights and information.

The show’s producers never seemed to get that, or showcase his expertise. That was tragic.

But, in general, ghost hunting and TV shows are two very different things. When I do watch a ghost hunting TV show or movie, I try to remember that.

I’m interested in ghost research, not the TV shows.

The only reason I check ghost-related shows is to understand the context of the emails and comments I receive.

When something seems to come out of left field, it’s usually the result of a TV show.

I’ve been sorry to see good TV shows get cancelled. However, the demise of the worst TV shows about ghosts… that’s been a relief.

Which ghost hunting TV show is (or was) the best?

Regularly, people ask me to rank ghost hunting TV shows like Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, and Paranormal State.

Old TV and remoteI think they’re establishing my attitudes towards ghost hunting. (If they’re looking for an argument, that’s a waste of time.)

Each ghost hunting TV show has taken a different approach to the subject.

If I had to name just one favorite ghost-related TV show, Ghost Lab wins. The Klinge brothers explored more innovative research techniques than most similar shows. In addition, I respect their integrity.

The big brands

I’ve liked episodes of Most Haunted, Ghost Adventures, and Ghost Hunters, each for different reasons.

Most Haunted visited locations with fascinating histories. (I only watched the UK version of that show.)

I’m not sure about the accuracy of the channeled information or the stories. But, if you don’t take ghost shows seriously, that was a fun TV series to watch. Great locations. Silly pranks. Fun cast members.

Ghost Adventures intrigued me for different reasons. Though I only saw a few episodes, I liked the details included in each episode. I don’t mean the narrative, but the filming of each episode. Their cameras captured more nooks and crannies at investigation sites. I’m always interested in that.

In addition, I think many viewers like seeing the stars of that show. During the few episodes I watched, the guys seemed genuinely interested in paranormal research.

Ghost Hunters is one of the most authoritative production among ghost hunting TV shows that launched at the start of the 21st century trend. I liked every series in the franchise.

I wish they’d allowed Barry Fitzgerald more input for the international episodes. He was one of the most challenging researchers, and — though I often disagree with him on fine points — his voice was important.

I liked how Steve and Dave were portrayed in the “academy” episodes; they’re both sincere, funny, caring guys. I felt that they deserved their own series.

Paranormal State started out with an interesting edge. Before long, my “gut feeling” was that someone connected with the show attracted unpleasant energy. So, for me, the show lost much of its credibility, early on.

Ghost-related episodes of Destination: Truth highlighted fascinating locations. Too many segments seemed rushed, but they brought something different to the niche. I haven’t seen newer, related series.

Older paranormal TV shows

Though it’s long gone and not a ghost hunting TV show, per se, I liked John Edward in Crossing Over.

Of course, I’m aware of the criticism of the show and take most of it with a grain of salt.

The reason I liked the show was its authenticity.

Genuine mediums have a certain way of talking. They trust “the other side” more than the people in front of them. Those mediums do their best to articulate the odd images and sensations that come through from the other side.

Sometimes, those translations are so subjective, the medium can’t get it right. That’s normal, and it can be worse under the pressure of “performing” for an audience, much less a TV crew.

Through his accurate readings and his shortfalls, John Edward helped me understand my own psychic gifts.

Among all the TV shows with a paranormal theme, I think I got the most from his shows, and watched more of them. I’m sorry that rumors, duplicity, and production quirks cost that show its ratings.

But, the same could be said of almost any ghost-related TV show.

Also, I’m still a fan of the really old TV b&w series, One Step Beyond. When I find episodes on “oldies” channels, I watch them.

The shows are dated and usually include very bad acting. However, most episodes are based on true stories, and can give you fresh locations to investigate, yourself.

What’s ahead for ghost hunting TV shows?

Regularly, producers contact me with plans for new ghost hunting TV shows. So far, it seems like they’re still reinventing Ghost Hunters. I’m not convinced they get what’s changed in this field — and the viewing audience — over the past few years.

Will ghost hunting become trendy again in the near future? I haven’t a clue. However, these things tend to go in cycles, and I’ve seen some interesting spikes at search engines.

Whether future ghost hunting TV shows will be innovators or purely commercial trend followers probably depends more on the producers than anything else.