On The Set With “Ghost Hunters”

Jason Hawes (left) and Grant Wilson going handheld, in a manner of speaking.
(Photo © 2010 by Bryan Reesman.)


In early October I drove to Philadelphia to go on a set visit with the friendly Ghost Hunters crew as they looked into alleged hauntings on the cruiser U.S.S. Olympia. While I am intrigued by things of a ghostly nature, the main reason for my visit was to chat up Steve Gonsalves for Inked magazine (see the new issue with Eve, which is on stands until around Dec. 28th). As Steve and I are both horror movie freaks, our conversation flowed easily and naturally. We discussed everything from his being mentally scarred by The Entity at age six (what was his mother thinking showing that to him?) to his teenage obsession with all-night graveyard stakeouts to the paranormal investigations in adulthood that eventually caught the attention of TAPS co-founders Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson. It’s an animated interview, so check it out.

The new issue of Inked.
My Steve Gonsalves interview
is mentioned on the cover.

Watching the show being assembled was fun, although as with everything film and TV related, it took hours from the time we arrived until they managed to get the investigation under way. The production crew and talent worked quickly and efficiently and never needed to do more than one or two takes of any scene. Yes, there really are scenes. They are not scripted, but the team has to set up for each sequence, from their arrival at the location to their initial walkthrough to the TAPS meeting that precedes the ghost hunt itself.

This episode was unusual in that it was the first time that the group — in this case, Hawes, Wilson, Gonsalves, Dave Tango, Amy Bruni and Adam Berry — wore handheld cameras attached via shoulder harnesses. So the video crew did not follow them into the ship. Other than feeds from four remote cameras, there was nothing I (nor the director) could watch once the TAPS team descended into the darkened ship around 9 PM. I chose not to stay late as the remote feed monitor was outside, and the temperature dropped substantially once nighttime arrived. Whenever this episode airs, all of the footage will be new to me. When I saw Grant at the Syfy holiday party two months later, he said they heard some noises, including footsteps, so we’ll see what the final analysis turns out be.

The U.S.S. Olympia investigation will air next year as part of Ghost Hunters‘ seventh season. The following photo gallery features exclusive shots from that future episode.


The U.S.S. Olympia in Philadelphia: A naval haunt.
(Photo © 2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

An ominous sky looms over the TAPS van.
(Photo © 2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

The TAPS logo, in case you needed proof.
(Photo © 2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

The crew prepares for the long night ahead.
(Photo © 2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

I love how video cameras keep getting smaller and smaller.
(Photo © 2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

An impromptu TAPS meeting.
(Photo © 2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

Photo op for Jason and Grant.
(Photo © 2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

Adam Berry and Amy Bruni relax before their nocturnal ghost hunt.
(Photo © 2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

Steve Gonsalves conducting his pre-investigation scouting of the location.
(Photo © 2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

Inside the U.S.S. Olympia.
(Photo © 2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

A stately meeting room. And a good place to eat lunch.
(Photo © 2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

Numerous sailors reportedly died shoveling coal
in an engine room that often reached 110 degrees.
(Photo © 2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

The creepy room where water gurgled
after I asked if there were any ghosties about.
(Photo © 2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

An electric eye seeking spectral evidence.
(Photo © 2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

The TAPS crew begins shooting.
(Photo © 2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

Shooting on the deck.
(Photo © 2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

Waiting between set-ups.
(Photo © 2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

Steve Gonsalves (center left) shows Adam, Amy and Dave Tango
some key areas of the ship.
(Photo © 2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

The team walking up some steep and narrow stairs.
(Photo © 2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

Dave Tango eagerly awaits the hunt.
(Photo © 2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

A spookerific shot.
(Photo © 2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

Taping scenes aboard the adjacent submarine
before TAPS dive into their all-night investigation.
(Photo © 2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

Steve in pensive mode.
(Photo © 2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

What's a matter, Adam? You look like you've seen a ghost!
(Photo © 2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

Grant checks his gear.
(Photo © 2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

All four remote cams set to go.
(Photo © 2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

A ghost ship looming over the Olympia?
(Photo © 2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

The waterfront at night.
(Photo © 2010 by Bryan Reesman.)



18 Responses

  1. Ben

    And you wonder why TAPS is fake, there you go right there. The pictures confirm it, lots of people, taping scenes, somewhat scripted and then all of a sudden you can’t go on the investigation with them? Hmm, yeah fake.

    I’d rather watch Paranormal State where there isn’t a whole freaking group of people, it’s just one cameraman, the PRS crew, Chip Coffey and an investigation. simple, out of the way and easy to get. Yeah T.A.P.S. is fake, and I hope one day they will just come forward and say all of their investigations are setup, already in place, they don’t actually know where they are going and confirm they are paying their team members to do the whole investigation and TV time.

    Reply
  2. Heather De Haan

    Ok, so everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but you have to admit that just because there are “scenes” does not mean that TAPS are fake. I have watched every episode since they began, and I believe that they are the most real and experienced paranormal investigators around. They take a scientific approach to every investigation, sure there may be outtakes and scene shots, but live t.v. does the same type of thing. If anything is fake, it is Paranormal Activity 1&2. So, until you have had your own experiences with the paranormal, like I have, do not judge.

    Reply
  3. Maudie Jiskoot

    Every show in life is scripted, but doesn’t mean that it is not real. There is no script for real life encounters. These guys have worked very hard to get to where they are today. Behind any good show are all the people you never hear about or get to see. I’m glad they finally let us in this part of their world. Hats off to TAPS, and I look forward to Season 7. It doesn’t get any better than this.

    Reply
  4. Marion Coffey

    If someone has a problem with believing in ghosts, well than that’s them. Because of my daughter I do believe in ghosts. Everyone has their own opinion. I love this show and will continue watching, even the re-runs. TAPS show that things can be real and you even get a good few laughs. I live to see Jason stern with the investigators when they have mistakes but also is able to play a joke on the team. Keep up the good work, and I look forward to seeing the show’s new episodes coming up.

    Reply
  5. Dre

    I can’t stand Paranormal State. I can’t take when investigators get all dramatic over nothing.

    Reply
  6. Brenda

    Hey, let me ask this? Do the crew have prayer before they go into a hunt? I had my daughter’s home investigated. The crew that went in there would not enter till prayers were said…..She used to live in a hot spot. I really didn’t believe in ghosts till then, but I do now…..Just wondering in Knoxville, TN.

    Reply
  7. Mason Williams

    Listen, Ben, There is no reason to be that malicious towards a legitimate show. It is one of the most watched show on Syfy, and loved by many people. Seriously there is no reason to be so negative over a TV show. Yes, Paranormal State is good, but then again I like any TV show involving “Paranormal activity”. Just please if you have nothing nice to say just don’t say it.

    Reply
  8. Holly

    I can’t wait to watch the newest season of Ghost Hunters in a couple of weeks and can’t wait to view this episode.

    Ghost Hunters is Awesome and the entire taps team rocks.

    I would love to see the taps team come to Iowa one day and do a paranormal investigation here in Iowa.
    I would love for Jason, Grant, Steve, Dave, Amy and Adam get to investigate the Villisca Farm House in Villisca, Iowa one day.

    It’s definitely one of the biggest hot spots for paranormal activity, and I would love to see what their investigation reveals.

    Ghost Hunters Rocks and I can’t wait to watch the new season.

    Reply
  9. jose

    Is there a place where I can get a list of equipment and cameras they used for the ship investigation? More specifically for the camera mounts and the shoulder harnesses.

    Reply
  10. Pat

    So there was a swinging lock in this episode. Not one person on the crew remembered they were on a boat? Boats move, things hanging in or on a boat move, and when boats move they creak and moan. And yes, even in calm waters boats move.

    Reply

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