The Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files team (l-r): Jael de Pardo, Austin Porter, Devin Marble, Lanisha Cole, Ben Hansen and Bill Murphy
Sasquatch, mermaids, mysterious lights in the sky - how many people do you know who go to work and discuss such topics over their morning cup of coffee? Former FBI Agent Ben Hansen and journalist Jael de Pardo are two such individuals. On Syfy’s hit reality TV series Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files, they and their fellow teammates put these and other paranormal claims to the proverbial litmus test to determine if they are, in fact, real.
Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files returns tonight, Wednesday, October 19th @10:00 p.m. EST/PST, with the first of six new season two episodes. Hansen and de Pardo are joined in their investigations by lead scientist Bill Murphy, tech specialist Devin Marble, stunt expert Austin Porter and new team member, photographer Lanisha Cole. In the mid-season premiere, “UFO Crash Landing/Graveyard Ghost,” Ben, Jael and Devin trek to the deserts of New Mexico and the top secret Area 51 to check out video footage of reported extraterrestrial activity. Meanwhile, Bill, Austin and Lanisha go ghost hunting at Tonopah Cemetery in Nevada.
Last week, Ben Hansen and Jael de Pardo took a respite from their investigations to speak with myself and other journalists via a conference call about their work on the show. The following is an edited version of our Q & A. Enjoy!
Ben, when you went to New Mexico for the UFO crash investigation how close did you actually get to White Sands?
BEN HANSEN: We were literally on the border; like the fence was right there. It’s really cool. They actually have a museum that you can visit, but we ran out of time. It wasn’t crucial to be at that particular place in order to carry out the experiments we did. We went there more to take in where the events took place and get a sense of all that.
Jael, I'm sure you guys have many opportunities to investigate UFOs. What made that one stand out or why did you guys select to do that one?
JAEL de PARDO: Well, that particular case has a lot of history and there's definitely been a great deal of a speculation regarding that particular video. There's a lot of mystery behind it and so much speculation as to whether or not White Sands Missile Range is connected to alien technology and reverse engineering and also a Roswell connection. So we wanted to tackle a video that has been talked about so much. We found it really quite interesting just looking into all that history.
How has the field, as well as the way you gather your evidence, changed since you first began doing the show?
JDP: 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. It's exciting to then 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.
I haven't been on a few of the ghost cases that our team has been on, but they have returned with some very incredible evidence including, for example, EVP (Electronic voice phenomenon) sessions that indicate some kind of connection to the story behind the place being investigated.
The other exciting thing about some of these large scale cases is that our experiments are also becoming more large scale. Our technology has become more advanced and we've done some things that are literally explosive. You have to stand pretty far at a distance for safety purposes, but it's really fun and exciting stuff to watch.
With all these cases, what type phenomena do you guys find people are most interested in?
BH: It kind of runs the whole gamut. You have the core followers of Ghost Hunters who seem to love the ghost cases. However, we're really one of the only shows currently on TV still looking into the UFO phenomena. So I think when they break it down and see what people love the most, they love a little bit of everything.
Do you think you will be going on the Ghost Hunters live Halloween show at Pennhurst?
BH: Yes, both Jael and I have been invited, so, yes, we’re looking forward to it. It’ll be a lot of fun.
Jael, 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?
JDP: The biggest difference between the two shows is that I think Fact or Faked has a more scientific approach with our experiments and such in tackling these cases, On the other hand, Destination Truth has this travelogue aspect where we're headed to really remote places around the world and having this adventure in the process and doing things such as rappelling down mountain cliffs and crossing waterfalls.
With Destination Truth we were running around places like the Amazon at 2:00 in the morning and there's always the possibility of animals that could be out there. So it definitely had more of an element of danger, whereas Fact of Faked has, like I was saying, this sort of scientific approach where we have to dissect things by trying to figure out experiments and ways to replicate the evidence.
Ben. I know that you were formally a crime investigator with the FBI. How has that influenced the way that you look at evidence on Fact or Faked?
BH: Well, I'm much more methodical than most people. 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 who it’s been passed on to because that evidence could possibly be used in court.
There’s the same standard in report writing. I do a lot of report writing, logging of evidence, EVP sessions and things like that that you’d 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 when it comes to recording evidence. That way, somebody else who wants to research that particular phenomena or case can look at your reports and evidence and there's no guess work.
Looking at the upcoming episodes are there any particular production and/or location challenges that you faced during filming?
BH: One of my very favorite places that I've always wanted to visit - and that we actually got to - is Area 51. As you can imagine approvals to actually get in the base were naturally turned down, but even getting close to it you're dealing with a lot of security issues. Of course, they're only doing their job and making sure that the activities going on at the base are protected, but it kind of makes filming around it difficult.
JDP: We had security’s eyes on us constantly with that case, 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.
What originally piqued both your interests in this particular line of work as well as the paranormal, supernatural, UFOs, etc?
JDP: I've been working as a journalist for a few years now, and in that line of work you always have a natural curiosity about such things. Then I was hired as a researcher and journalist on Josh Gates’ show Destination Truth for the Syfy Channel. That's when I really started to document and experience this world of the paranormal. I feel lucky to be able to go on these investigations and help document some of the strangest phenomena in the world.
BH: Kind of going off of what Jael said, I've always had a natural curiosity as well for investigations. I think I was around 8 years old when E.T. came out, which is the first movie I remember going to, and it sparked my interest in the idea of life on other worlds.
At that time I was primarily was interested in UFOs. 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 a geeky thing. When I got older I started planning trips with my dad. We wanted to go UFO watching and things like that. Then when I was in college I got into the ghost hunting. Back then many people didn't know what EVPs were. I went out with my sisters and some friends and tried to do an EVP in a war memorial park, and that’s where I got my first EVP. So I've always been interested in this stuff since I was young.
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