Television: Producer seeks stories from around the province to be featured on paranormal documentary series
A few years ago, Brian Dennis was filming a movie in Saint John when he walked through the Loyalist Burial Ground on a foggy afternoon and came upon a raven sitting on a tombstone.
Brian Dennis, who produces ‘Ghostly Encounters,’ says a visit to Saint John’s Loyalist Burial Grounds a few years ago inspired him to return to the region to look for people who have had encounters with the unexplained.
"I swear he was looking me square in the eye and I said, 'yeah, this place has ghosts,' " Dennis said.
The Toronto-based TV and movie producer knew he would come back east if he was ever looking for some encounters with the unexplained.
Among his many projects, including the critically acclaimed The Border, Dennis is also producer of Ghostly Encounters, a paranormal documentary series shown on Viva, the W Network and A&E Biography. Last Wednesday found him in the city scouting for studio space to present some East Coast stories for the show's fourth season, which will begin airing in September.
Sitting in the lobby of the Hilton Hotel, with views up King Street and out over the harbour, he said the stories will dictate where they film.
"But I know this area of town quite well from shooting here before, so I'm sure there will be some scenic shots from around here," he said.
Depending on the tales people tell, Ghostly Encounters could take its cameras along the coast anywhere from St. Andrews to St. Martins or a farmhouse in the countryside.
"We will probably be here for a week around the end of March," he said.
The show is filmed in three waves but it all starts with people coming into a studio and talking about an encounter that has stuck with them.
"It's all about their own words and the truth that's told through their eyes when they are telling it," he said. "We want to know how they feel it, and the impact it has left on their life."
People selected to tell their stories do not have to make a big time commitment. It would be less than two hours, he said. Later, a camera crew from the show will collect images from any buildings or physical locations connected with the stories. And depending on the tale, it may also require staging a dramatic recreation.
Back in Toronto, the pieces are all put together through the narration of host Lawrence Chau.
"He provides the context and a wraparound for the whole story," Dennis said.
Ghostly Encounters uses an abandoned ballroom on the top floor of the King Edward Hotel in Toronto for the scenes with the host.
"It's decayed and falling apart and the paint is peeling, but it has fabulous windows that go all the way around and gives us fabulous light, so it's kind of spooky and uplifting at the same time," Dennis said.
Stories of experiences with the paranormal are beginning to flow in from around New Brunswick.
"I think everybody here has some sort of ghost story, it's just a matter of getting them to tell us," he said.
The show presents a variety of stories from disturbing to comforting to playful, he said.
"An author of children's stories watched as a 'grey man' smashed the ritual glass plate on her family's Passover table. A truck driver encountered his guardian angel on a long, lonely haul across Southern Ont. And a middle-aged house wife reminisced about her days as a burlesque dancer when a ghost with a top hat and cane hung out in her dressing room," he said.
People with a tale to submit may contact Dennis at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1-877-889-5737.