4 Jan 2010
Latrobe man's 'webisodes' detail his paranormal investigations
By A.J. Panian
Growing up in the 1960s, paranormal filmmaker Roger Marsh got hooked on eight-track recordings of 1930s-era, radio serial dramas.
Marsh's father, the late William Marsh, who owned the former Perfection Photo Co. in Greensburg, often played the radio "cliffhangers" for his family during vacation road trips.
"They were behind my own era, but I remember really being taken in by them," said Marsh, 52, of Latrobe.
Throughout December, Marsh — head of Tremont Avenue Productions — aired what he considered to be a modern-day form of that entertainment medium with 22 daily, online "webisodes" of a full-length documentary titled "The Tragic Hinsdale House" on YouTube, a free, Internet broadcasting forum.
"YouTube was a good way to get it out to the public quickly, but you can only post footage for a maximum of 10 minutes," Marsh said.
Marsh's latest work, "The Haunted Knickerbocker Hotel," a documentary on reported paranormal activity at a place in Linesville, Crawford County, will begin airing Friday on YouTube throughout January.
"It seems this old hotel has some kind of positive, wonderful energy that touches people," said Peg Knickerbocker, the hotel's owner since 2005. "I'm looking forward to seeing how the film came out. The time Roger and his crew spent here with us was wonderful."
"The Tragic Hinsdale House" probed events surrounding an exorcism ceremony that took place in 1974 at the seven-acre, mountaintop home of Clara Dandy Miller in Hinsdale, N.Y., which reportedly lies a mere 250 feet from an ancient Indian burial ground.
Each of the film's webisodes remains available on YouTube.
"The budget for the film was about $1,500; we're sort of guerrilla filmmakers," said Marsh, who was aided in his production efforts by Matthew Beucker, 23, of Murrysville; Greg Garland, 27, of Unity; and Philip Haddad, 28, of Scottdale.
A 1974 Greater Latrobe graduate and Unity native, Marsh earned a master's degree in journalism at Northern Illinois University and worked as a reporter for the Tribune-Review in the early 1980s. He eventually worked in Chicago as a senior acquisitions editor for Consumer Guide books and magazines and as an acquisitions editor with McGraw-Hill Professional Books through the 1990s.
In 2006, Marsh directed "Haunted R&R Station," a docudrama created as he and a small crew spent a week inside the purportedly spirit-friendly restaurant/inn in Mt. Pleasant.
Marsh directed the full-length film "Mars Attacks Mt. Pleasant," which premiered in June 2008. That film, which included more than 100 local cast members, 20 local crew hands and about 300 local extras, was shot on location in the borough and in nearby Scottdale.
In February, Marsh will air YouTube webisodes of another documentary, "Exploring Site 516," a reportedly haunted residence and property at an unspecified location in Northcentral Pennsylvania.
He and his crew are preparing to film yet another documentary on a reported case of demonic child possession in Niagara Falls, N.Y.
Eventually, Marsh plans to create more movies that include local talent from Westmoreland County and the region.
"This area has always been good to me, both growing up and by helping me make some of my films," Marsh said.