The SyFy Channel’s popular series Fact or Faked returns to television Wednesday, October 19th, with six new episodes, and I had the opportunity to join some other reporters in a conference call interview with former FBI criminal investigator Ben Hansen and reporter and journalist Jael de Pardo to talk about the show. The following are highlights from the interview.
How has the field and the evidence changed since the show began?
De Pardo: Well for one I feel that a lot of the cases that we’ve been tapping into are perhaps bigger and more historical. They’ve been talked about for a really long time. And then it’s exciting to be able to go into the field and document our own evidence in regard to these anomalies that people have been talking about for a very long time. And you know, I haven’t particularly been on a few of the ghost cases that our team has been on, but they have returned with some very, very incredible evidence. For example with EVP sessions that indicate some kind of connection to the story behind the place that we’re investigating. It’s been pretty phenomenal actually. The other exciting thing about some of these large scale cases is our experiments are also becoming more large scale. Our technology has become more advanced and we’ve done some things that are literally explosive. And really exciting to be a part of even though you have to stand pretty far at a distance for safety purposes, but it’s really fun stuff to watch.
Hansen: Yes really big cases plus I think what we’re running into more is that we’re seeing – some videos we’re able to pretty much exactly replicate. But that doesn’t mean that there’s not a paranormal aspect to it because some of the, in these coming episodes, some of the best replications also we uncover some of the best evidence supporting some paranormal activity going on at the location. So it kind of leaves you in a conundrum but maybe not that incident was paranormal but the place itself is.
De Pardo: That’s a good point Ben. It’s interesting that we have been able to replicate some of these videos, but then it’s allowed us to peel down these layers that have actually added complexity to the case and made us even more perplexed about it and whether or not it could be real or not.
Now with all the cases what type phenomena do you guys find people are most interested in?
Ben Hansen: It kind of runs the whole gamut of everything. You’ve got the core followers it seems of Ghost Hunters, seem to love the ghost cases. However we’re really one of the only shows currently on TV still looking into the UFO phenomena. And so I think when they break it down and see what people love the most, they love a little bit of everything.
Jael, this is actually for you. I was wondering, do you feel that there’s a big difference between the work you did with Destination Truth and the work that you do with Fact or Faked? Which one did you feel that you were probably more in danger doing?
Jael De Pardo:Well the biggest difference between the two shows I think; Fact or Faked has a more scientific approach with our experiments and such in tackling these cases. Whereas with Destination Truth the show has this travelogue aspect where we’re headed to really remote places around the world and having this adventure while we’re doing it and doing things such as rappelling down mountain cliffs and crossing waterfalls and that kind of thing. So definitely more of a physical danger with Destination Truth, because we were running around places like the Amazon at two o’clock in the morning and there’s always the possibility of animals that could be out there. So I would say that Destination Truth definitely had more element of danger. Whereas like I was saying Fact of Faked has this sort of scientific approach where we have to really dissect things by trying to figure out experiments and how we’re going to build certain things to replicate the evidence.
Yes it certainly seems as though it’s more planned on Fact or Faked than it is on…
Jael De Pardo: Exactly, exactly.
Okay. And my other question was for Ben. I know that you were formally a crime investigator with the – and also with the FBI, how has that influenced the way that you look at evidence on Fact or Faked?
Ben Hansen: Well I’m much more methodical than most people. Like when you’re in law enforcement with evidence there’s a chain of command. You log it, you make sure you know everyone who has it and what hands it gets past to because possibly that evidence could be used in court. And the same standard in report writing; I do a lot of report writing, logging of evidence, EVP sessions and things like that that you would never see on the show because it’s just my nature. And I feel that paranormal investigations are lacking in that as well. We may never have to testify in court but if you want to be taken credibly I think you need to be as specific as you can without overkill in recording evidence so that somebody else who wants to research that particular phenomena or case can look at your reports and your evidence and there’s no guess work.
How much time does it take for a particular episode? And how much homework and like supplies do you plan on bringing ahead of time?
Ben Hansen: Well for domestic cases we generally – it’s a four day shoot about. Some of them are five days and international is almost always a week. It requires us to- the logistical stuff is – obviously takes more time to do internationally and getting there. And planning it out we do have some ideas especially with our bigger experiments. We have great production team that gets all the necessary permits. If we’re shooting machine guns in the desert or things like that there’s approvals for some of these larger experiments that can’t be just done right then.
But we always are adapting experiments, so when get to a location and we see where the thing was filmed and see where it took place we talk to the witness. And maybe we had an idea of an experiment in mind, but we’ve had cases like in Argentina where those things have completely changed right there and we’re scrambling to come up with a new idea. And so there is on some cases, moderate planning involved but it’s always adaptable because you have to look at the evidence and what the witnesses are telling you to devise those experiments obviously.
Are there any events that you guys replicated and saw that still stand out as amazing? I’m thinking like the swing or the car on the railroad track.
Jael de Pardo : We were recently in England investigating a case about an alien abduction. And since the last case that I did that actually had me – it has me still guessing, which is the Night Crawlers case — that was in the first season — this one has definitely left me very intrigued and still feeling like I’m not sure what’s going on. You know we were able to definitely come up with some substantial experiments. But that being said a lot of the evidence and our witness had some things to say that correlated so much with alien abductions and what we’ve heard, and even crossed over to some of the other evidence that we’ve gathered in other cases, that I mean I’m still not sure what we’re looking at there and I’m actually really excited about this case and how it’s going to turn out. We still have a lot more digging to do though. Right, Ben?
Ben Hansen: We do
And I guess the only other question I have is, are there any cases that other teams may have gone on that you really wish you were there?
Ben Hansen: Yes, yes. I often with.. Bill really likes the ghost hunting cases and I primarily like the UFO stuff. And so when we’re doing a really historic or famous case in one of our areas but we’re required pretty much because of the skills of that particular person to be on the other case it is kind of difficult. Because I really wanted to go to – well I love the Queen Mary, but Bill’s done documentaries on the place and every time I go there I get EVPs. And a couple of the UK cases that we’re doing as well. But they needed some particular skills for there that Bill had so we sent him to do experiments.
Jael De Pardo: Yes that happens to me quite a bit as well especially because a lot of the ghost cases sometimes they have to do with photography and so they’ll need the photography expert to go to that one and then I’ll end up going on a different case. But yes some of the ghost cases have definitely sounded like a lot of fun to do.
I was wondering perhaps looking at the upcoming season if maybe you could tell us, and I know you can only speak in very general terms, perhaps any particular production and maybe location challenges as well you guys faced filming the upcoming season we’re about to see?
Ben Hansen: Yes I could speak briefly to that. We can tell you the location.
One of my very, very favorite places I’ve always wanted to go, we have a case that involves Area 51. And as you can imagine approvals to actually get in the base were turned down of course. But even getting close there you’re dealing with a lot of security issues. And of course they’re doing their job and making sure that the activities that are going on at the base are protected, but it makes kind of filming around it difficult.
Jael De Pardo: Absolutely. There were a lot of tense moments with that case. We had security’s eyes on us constantly even though we weren’t obviously stepping foot into their base, but we were all around it. So we were being watched quite a bit and that definitely added for some tension during our shoot.
Ben Hansen: Yes we run into that every so often, the different – not that particular issue but just especially the international cases I’ve found. Because if we haven’t been out there before – for example, logistically you can’t take – FLIR cameras are regulated, the thermal imaging to different countries. You are not allowed to export them because of international laws and things like that. So sometimes we have to come up with other technologies and stuff if we were planning on using one. So just little things like that. But it’s those little things that really make you thankful we have a great production team to handle logistics.
You mentioned the case in England, the alien abduction case, and just a very general question for you guys because I know England is just chalked full of old legends and paranormal supernatural stuff. Is there any case or anything you maybe would like to cover over there that you haven’t as yet had the chance to investigate?
Ben Hansen: I would love to see a great Loch Ness Monster case.
I would like see video or a much better photo or something come out of there because they do have another lake monster, I think they’re calling it, Brownie that there’s been some video, I believe it was video, and some sighting and we might look into that one as well.
Jael De Pardo: Those are always fun. You know Ben and I are both – are certified scuba divers so we definitely like getting in the water. And we recently looked at a video at Stonehenge. It’s not something that we’re delving into but that would actually be a very cool location as well.
How did you both become involved or where did your interest originally peak from getting involved in this particular line of work and the paranormal, the supernatural, all the UFO stuff?
Ben Hansen: What was your first Jael?
Jael De Pardo: Okay. Well, I always answer this question the same way. I’ve been working as a journalist for a few years now and that being said in that line of work it’s just – you always have a natural curiosity around things. And then I got hired to be the researcher and journalist for Destination Truth on Josh Gates’ show for the Syfy Channel and that’s when I really started to document and experience this world of the paranormal. And I feel that I’ve been lucky to be able to go on these investigations and help document some of the strangest phenomena in the world.
Ben Hansen: And I – and kind of going off of what Jael said, I’ve always had a natural curiosity as well for investigations. And when I was about – I keep looking this up because I forget how old I was when ET came out. I think I was about 8 years old. But that’s the first movie I remember going to. And it sparked my interest in the idea of life on other worlds. I primarily was interested in UFOs because at that time my dad would bring me books to read and I was embarrassed when my friends came over that they would see them, because it was kind of geeky thing. And when I got older I started planning trips with my dad. We wanted to go UFO watching and things. And then when I was in college I got into the ghost hunting. It was just barely when people didn’t know what EVPs were, not many people did. And I thought, “You know I believe in an afterlife, but do I believe that there’s actual, you know, hauntings?” And I went out with my sisters and some friends and tried to do an EVP in a war memorial park and got my first EVP.You know and so that kind of got me into that. And then the crypto zoological stuff. This show is unique because we deal with all of it. And to be able to know a little bit about everything can be quite a task to keep updated on it. But I’ve always been interested in this stuff since I was young.
That ended the interview. Be sure to tune it to Fact or Faked for the further adventure of Ben, Jael and the rest of the team!