The biggest question on anyone's minds whenever they watch a reality TV series, especially one that's in the realm of the paranormal, is if it's real or not. I get my fair share of queries from folks who see me on A&E's Ghost Hunters about the legitimacy of the show. I tell them the same thing I tell everyone: the investigations are sacred, but there is some "staging" of other shots, and I'd assume The Dead Files follows a similar outline.
With Ghost Hunters, obviously there's some setting up that takes place for witness interviews and set-up shots prior to our investigations. We know camera ops are going to be there and sometimes we'll re-say what we said or came to a conclusion to on camera but in a more concise way so it's more easily edited for brevity in TV time. However, the moments during our investigations are all hands-off and real: all of those occur in the moment and are more or less unedited.
As are the claims and evidence that we gather in the course of our research and investigations. We don't trump anything up and in fact underplay a lot of the finds/anomalies we encounter. I can only speak for our show, however, and the process we're involved in.
Is The Dead Files real?
Like all reality TV, there's an element of production that comes into play, and The Travel Channel's paranormal show that's been airing since 2011 is no exception.
A group of folks work together to find locations from individuals who believe that they may be haunted. At the center of the show are former homicide detective Steve DiSchiavi and physical medium Amy Allan. Steve and Amy conduct investigations on their own, and then only compare what they've discovered in front of the "client" once their work has concluded.
Oftentimes, when they compare their findings, they discover that there are similarities between what they've discovered. Steve pounds the pavement and interviews residents, business owners, employees, neighbors, and local historians, along with law enforcement, and other experts when it comes to a location's past. Everything from genealogy, family tree, notable moments in history, deaths, trauma, you name it, and Steve uncovers it in the show.
He doesn't share any of this information with Amy, who, during her investigation, attempts to communicate with any entities, both human and possibly supernatural, that might be at a location. Much of the show hinges on the pair's findings and whether or not they're related, which has become a point of contention among critics.
Karen Stollznow, for example has pointed out that Amy has found "shadow people" in several locations, and it appears that The Dead Files is edited in order to only show Steven's findings that are in line with Amy's claims, and it's difficult to verify whether or not Amy has any pre-existing knowledge of a location. This would be really hard for famous places like Alcatraz.
TV Overmind has gone so far as to call The Dead Files "completely fake" citing the fact that Amy uses vague phrases that can be applied to several locations as evidence of her following a "script." Also, the revelations she provides for locations usually pop up in Google searches, and that becomes even more problematic when you consider that Amy was once a researcher for the show, A Haunting, before she got her Dead Files gig.
In the show's defense, however, a lot of these hit pieces are based on suppositions from the authors, claiming that the clients in the show "want to be haunted." There are several articles that lump all paranormal shows into the same category, calling them all "transparently fake." And while there are a few instances of shows being caught faking apparitions, or trump up reactions, there are several that don't.
So is The Dead Files fake? That is mostly left up to the audiences to decide as the cast members or production have never been found guilty of faking anything. What do you think?