I’m one of those people who is fascinated with all things Paranormal. If you mention a TV show or Film having anything to do with ghosts or unexplained phenomena, I’m front and center. So when I heard about SyFy’s newest paranormal reality series, HAUNTED HIGHWAY, I tuned right in. The show follows two teams, Jack Osbourne & Dana Workman and Jael de Pardo & Devin Marble, as they do their own first-person investigations of the most frightening claims of paranormal activity along America’s remote back roads. While I was expecting some fake special effects and cheesy dialogue, I was pleasantly surprised. These paranormal investigators get their hands dirty; filming all on their own, backpacking through the haunted sites and holding séances in the wee hours of the morning.
As one of the show’s hosts’, Dana Workman took a break from the haunted roads, I had the chance to pick her brain about ghosts, monsters and UFOs...
You’re not the first person in your family to have interest in the paranormal.
Yes, but I didn’t realize that until after going through the audition process for “Haunted Highway.” One of the casting people said, “So it seems like you got a lot of stuff from your father,” and I said, “You know what…yeah. My dad’s favorite movie is Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” and then I brought up that he used to take us to a ghost town. I called my dad after and he said, “Oh, did you tell them about the time that I went hunting for the Lochness Monster in 1972, when I lived out of an ice cream van?” and I was like, “Excuse me?” He said, “Make sure when you tell people that story that you tell them I do not live out of a trailer and that I’m a CFO of a very credible company.
Did he ever discover anything?
Yes, he discovered that most of the sightings for the Lochness Monster were after the bars closed. (Laughter)
On HAUNTED HIGHWAY there was one episode where you actually discovered a monster.
Yeah, the history on that place was really interesting. That’s what makes a lot of these places very credible and plausibly true — the history. The place that we went to is one of the oldest lakes, I think, in the United States, and they’ve actually found fossils of creatures like that in the area. This lake was weird and cool.
How do you come up with your paranormal expeditions?
The producers found a lot of them, which were carefully selected.
How did you become a paranormal investigator in the first place?
It’s funny — I was always obsessed with the X-Files and with anything of the unexplained phenomena. I always had an obsession with natural disasters, too. I was a weird kid. I think that stuff scares me, but fascinates me at the same time. I fell into hosting, wanting to do comedy, and somehow, I segued into this job, which was the perfect combination for me. I got to be myself and make jokes when I was nervous —which I was ninety-nine percent of the time on the show. Of course, they didn’t show a lot of that. And I got to go to some really cool and interesting places. Now my obsession for this stuff is just ridiculous and off the charts.
Did you have any paranormal experiences before?
I hadn’t, and now I’m kind of jealous of people who are like, “Oh yeah, I had a ghost in my house and I saw this.” I’m an open-minded skeptic. I mean, I think anybody would be stupid to say that something did or didn’t exist.
What about everything that happens on the show? Wouldn’t you call that experiencing the paranormal?
Unless we have one of these things captured in a jar, and we’re like “Bam, there you go,” it’s so hard to explain what we went through on the show in 22 minutes of an hour episode.
Tell me about the process of filming an episode.
It’s an adventure, to say the least. It was crazy. I started journaling our experiences, because after every shoot, I’d sit down and be like, “What the hell just happened?” We were out there during the day and would talk to witnesses. We talked to a lot of people which was one of the most interesting parts. When you look at these people in the eyes, they believe that what they say is true. So we talked to them, to experts in the field, and then we hit the road.
Is it just you and Jack (Osbourne)? There’s nobody else that’s around?
How is it working with Jack?
Jack is awesome. He is one of the most down to earth people I have ever met-- and just as a normal person, not even as a celebrity. He’s really, really smart. We knew each other a little bit before the show and then we kind of collaborated. He knows so much stuff about conspiracy theories, the paranormal, and government stuff. Every day, I was just sitting there, learning something new from him. I was like, “Really?! Then what?” I was like a little five-year old sitting there, like, “Tell me more!”
What’s the craziest thing that happened to you on the show?
I wouldn’t say craziest, but the weirdest, and kind of the most unexplained thing was that Skinwalker Ranch, which is basically a holy grail mecca for unexplained phenomenon, from UFO’s to these skinwalker creatures, and anything you can think of. Everybody in this town has seen something. There were a bunch of little things that I kind of strung together at the end that I kind of cocked an eyebrow at. There’s one instance where Jack heard something, and I didn’t hear it. He kept stopping, and he doesn’t get scared of anything. I’m the one who will take off to the hills or say, “You heard something? Bye!” He had stopped, turned around, and tried to look to see what it was. It was at night, and he has a night vision thing, and he couldn’t see anything, so we kept filming. And we’re standing on top of a ridge, overlooking a valley. He would stop again, look, and then kept going. He said, “Okay, that thing is getting closer.” At that point I said “All right, I’m done, I’m out. I’m good,” but he replied, “No, no, no, let’s go, let’s go! Get the camera on your face!” We’re yelling at each other at that point. The show didn’t show that, because it was us legitimately freaking out.
You guys don’t have any say in the editing?
No, unfortunately. I mean, there are some choices that I would have made, but that’s how it always is.
Is any of the footage shown in the final airing manipulated?
We have to recreate some of the sentences, like if we happen to miss it and that type of thing. It lasts 22 minutes, and we’re out there for god knows how long?
Do you sleep out there?
We might as well, yeah. We’re out there at four, or five AM. We’re up with the mountain lions in the bushes.
It actually seems like you are more of the daredevil than Jack?
Oh no, I’m a complete wuss. I’ll come running back. I have a battle with myself to say, “Let’s go!” Nope. Again, my fascination offsets my fear, so it’s a fun little battle with my brain. It makes for good television, I guess.
Say you were planning the next episode and it was your decision where you were going to go, do you have any place in particular?
I’ve gotten so many e-mails and tweets about places to go, and I started looking into some of them. There is so much stuff out there; I have no clue. I’ve gotten a couple on something called Melon Heads. But there’s a lot of random stuff. Every time you talk to somebody, they’ll say, “You’ve got to go check out this haunted--” and I have to remind them that our show is not necessarily about haunted hospitals. The SkinWalker Ranch was kind of at the top of my list.
Say someone wanted to be a ghost hunter. What are the top things that you would need?
It depends on what you’re looking for, so if it’s a ghost, you want to make sure to doEVP sessions. It’s where you basically record any kind of sound frequency that you can pick up that normally isn’t there. On the other hand, if it’s a mammal or a cryptid, the flare would work, so the flare is what picked up the odd heat signature in the Hellhounds episode.
You haven’t had a paranormal experience, but you have experienced some things that you basically can’t write down, put in the books and define what it is. What would you say to any non-believers?
Just do the math. I started doing a lot of research on UFO stuff because of Skinwalker Ranch, and if you just simply do the math alone, if our earth is, say, 4 billion years old, and our universe is 17, it’s stupid to say that there wouldn’t be something else out there. Not only that, but there are highly credible people that have witnessed things and have gone on record. It’s really interesting.
By Pamela Price