Famed ghost hunter bringing new film to Tobin Center

Ghostbusting documentary filmmaker and paranormal investigator Chad Calek welcomes skeptics with open arms.

Because he especially loves scaring the bejesus out of them.

Calek, along with filmmaking partner and producer Justin Holstein, arrives in San Antonio Thursday for a two-night screening of “Sir Noface” at the Carlos Alvarez Studio Theater at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. The 105-minute film purports to show footage of a full-body apparition.

 

“I always say to people at our shows, ‘Believers are welcome but the doors swing wide for all skeptics.’ (Skepticism) is what would bring me to a show like this,” said Calek, an entertaining, fast-talking superstar of the genre, in a telephone interview earlier this month.

 

And if one screening isn’t enough, the Tobin’s gold package ticket holders — for the really hardcore paranormal investigation fans — will get to see additional footage, an hour of what Calek calls his “best paranormal footage I’ve captured around the world over the course of the last 25 years.”

Famed ghost hunter bringing new film to Tobin Center
By Hector Saldana

Published 9:36 am, Monday, July 31, 2017
 

Photo: Courtesy Photo
 
 
Documentary filmmaker Chad Calek is a ghost hunter and investigator of paranormal activity.
 

Ghostbusting documentary filmmaker and paranormal investigator Chad Calek welcomes skeptics with open arms.

Because he especially loves scaring the bejesus out of them.

Calek, along with filmmaking partner and producer Justin Holstein, arrives in San Antonio Thursday for a two-night screening of “Sir Noface” at the Carlos Alvarez Studio Theater at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. The 105-minute film purports to show footage of a full-body apparition.

 
“I always say to people at our shows, ‘Believers are welcome but the doors swing wide for all skeptics.’ (Skepticism) is what would bring me to a show like this,” said Calek, an entertaining, fast-talking superstar of the genre, in a telephone interview earlier this month.

 
And if one screening isn’t enough, the Tobin’s gold package ticket holders — for the really hardcore paranormal investigation fans — will get to see additional footage, an hour of what Calek calls his “best paranormal footage I’ve captured around the world over the course of the last 25 years.”

A question-and-answer session also is in store.

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“I basically give them the stories, the locations, where I was at,” he said. “It’s a huge ‘fan favorite’ event. Who doesn’t want to sit and see ghost evidence that’s awesome? People love it,” Calek said. “If you’re into the paranormal, skeptical or you’re a believer, this is the event.”

He’s a big-tent guy because, well, ghosts make for big-tent business.

Pop culture expert and author Art Markman, a psychology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, explained that many people enjoy ghost stories and scary movies because they can tap into the very real emotion of fear while in a safe situation — like experiencing a fall while riding a roller coaster.

Fear is an emotional and physical response “that developed to protect us from harm,” Markman said in an email. But it’s more than that, he added. Ghost stories — about talking to the dead or seeing an apparition — makes death less scary, less permanent and “more of a transition.”

For example, advocates of terror management theory believe humans are the only animals that contemplate mortality. Ghost sightings are a coping mechanism.

“People have always been fascinated by nearly human entities,” Markman said. “The Greek myths and superhero stories are filled with nearly human characters that have supernatural abilities. Ghosts build on that in giving extraordinary abilities to spirits.”

Calek, 40, said he came to th “Sir Noface” project — an investigation that took two years — because of video evidence of purported paranormal activity at old government-owned buildings on Cockatoo Island in Sydney, Australia, the site of a 19th century convict prison, that was “so beyond the norm.” His gut told him it was a hoax — at first. Then, he went there.

He says he began “Sir Noface” to prove the video was a hoax, describing his mission with the glee of Penn & Teller debunking a psychic.

“In the end, your jaw will be dropped,” Calek said. “There’s an a-ha moment that will freak everybody out. This film proves that ghosts exist.”

The filmmaker grew up in Alvin, near Houston. His family lived there until he was 12, and he said he has fond childhood memories of family trips to San Antonio. One of his documentaries, “American Ghost Hunter,” which came out two years ago, was about a traumatic haunting concerning his family.

Q. Does the paranormal community frown upon using the word “fun” to describe your events?

A. The paranormal community is a weird animal. There are some investigators who say, “Don’t ever call me a ghostbuster.” They don’t like laughing or joking about it. To me, there’s comedy and humor in everything. There’s nothing wrong with having fun. There are tons of people who ghost hunt simply because it’s fun. And there are people who have had very harrowing experiences, and they want to understand what it is. Some people are adrenaline junkies.

Q. Is part of the appeal of a screening that everyone has a ghost story? Is that the bond?

A. Sure. I can’t tell you how many times the hardened skeptic will come up and tell me all about how ghosts aren’t real and all that stuff. And I’m always very polite. I’m, like, “Listen, I completely understand your viewpoint. Obviously, I disagree. But I know where you’re coming from.” And over and over again, it always happens, there’s this long pause and they go, “You know, there was this one time …” Everybody has their “one time.”

Q. What about folks who have never seen a ghost?

A. Lots of times a person’s disbelief is enough where they don’t see something that happens right in front of their face. (Editor’s note: Calek compares it to a parent who is the last to learn that a child is smoking marijuana.) Mom doesn’t want to see it, so Mom didn’t see it. That happens in the paranormal world. A lot of times, once a person has a paranormal experience, they’ll have them all the time.

Q. Do you only do paranormal documentaries and shows?

A. No, I kind of cut my teeth as a music-video director, a lot of it in the hard rock and metal community. My first film I ever did was a romantic comedy. (The paranormal) is a real passion of mine. I have a documentary coming out next year about the Des Moines, Iowa, music scene, the history of the bands and the scene that spawned Slipknot. I come from that scene.

Q. Has there ever been a time in history when people weren’t interested in the paranormal?

A. That’s the crazy thing. As long as mankind has existed, there have always been tales of earthbound spirits and apparitions. I think a lot of it has to do that we’re more than just a table, more than just a chair. There is an electrical energy presence about us. People have an innate belief that it doesn’t just end. It doesn’t just go, “Lights out.” There are people that believe that. But by and large, the world is religious. Ask yourself why. Humankind needs it. It’s very scary and sad to think it’s just over when we die. There have been reports of ghosts forever.

Q. What do ghosts look like?

A. People, for years, have been describing seeing these humanesque type wisping beings that exist. And then, when you finally see one, you’re, like, “Wow, I guess that’s why they describe it that way. Because that’s what it looks like.” I think someday we’ll probably be saying the same things about aliens: “So that’s why we thought they looked that way.”

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