Have you — or someone you know — been contacted by a TV producer looking for haunted locations? Please, be very careful about what you agree to. It looks like the “Hey! Be involved in a TV show!” scam is back.
About a year ago, I talked about locations I’d scouted for a ghost-related TV series. The sites included the Tilton Mystery Tunnel, plus haunted places around Laconia, New Hampshire (USA), as well as sites in Connecticut and North Carolina.
That TV show never paid me, though I worked on their behalf for about six weeks. I still have their initial email, offering me $500 for each good lead, and $500 for any that were actually used on the show. I said yes. I thought we had an agreement.
At one point, the producer even called me to say that they were processing my first payment and it would be sent, shortly.
That check never showed up, and when I started asking about it, the producer went silent.
I kept copies of lengthy correspondence from that producer, to support my claims… and the show still refused to pay me for my work.
It wasn’t worth taking them to court. Not for a couple of thousand dollars. Plus that, a long-time friend is one of the stars of the show. I want the show to succeed, for my friend’s sake. That’s why I’ve never mentioned the name of the show when I’ve talked about it.
What alarms me this morning is another email, apparently from the same production company, this time asking about Smuttynose Island and other New England haunts. (I’ll admit it: I’m impressed by their audacity.)
Today’s email began like this:
I’m hoping to locate a ghost expert with knowledge of the Shoals of Maine and NH. I produce [TV show name] and other projects.
I’m looking for haunted sites around Smuttynose Island…
Apparently, that production company doesn’t keep track of the people they’ve tried this ruse with, in the past. Or, perhaps they think all ghost hunters are gullible, and I’d fall for this a second time.
Of course, I turned them down. (Yes, I know about ghost stories on and near Smuttynose Island and the Isles of Shoals. I grew up with those tales. I’m also familiar with unreported and obscure — but historically rich — hauntings around Portsmouth, NH and coastal Maine.)
Here’s why I’m telling you this: I’m concerned that these TV producers may have contacted others about haunted sites, especially along coastal New England. Will someone else fall for false promises?
If you — or someone you know — is approached by a producer, please learn from my mistakes.
- Get a contract, in writing and sent to you by real mail, not just a digital agreement.
- Ask for a retainer before you do any real work for them. (At the very least, get a stipend — up front — for gas and travel time, once they tell you to visit a specific site for photos, interviews, and so on.)
- Make sure you have a clear definition of “good lead,” or whatever they’ve asked you for.
In general, I’d define a “good lead” as any location that meets every one of these criteria:
- A location with a verifiable “ghost story,” and you’re the first credible resource to recommend the site to the producer.
- It’s also a site with a documented history that provides reasons why it might be haunted.
- In addition, two or more people — independent of the owner of the site — confirm that it’s known as a haunted place.
- The location sounds good enough that the TV producer also asks you to go to that specific site and photograph it.
- And, the producer requests the contact information for the owner of the site, and the owner can be reached easily, using that contact info.
If all five criteria are met, I consider that a “good lead.”
Apparently, the TV producers did not agree with that.
If you think your situation is different, or my criteria for a “good lead” aren’t good enough… well, go for it.
Otherwise, steer clear of an offer like this, and warn friends who might be approached with similar offers from producers of ghost-related TV shows.
(And, yes, I did mention Smuttynose Island several times… on purpose. If someone doesn’t hear about my experiences and he or she uses search engines to help that TV producer, I hope that researcher will stumble onto this article and be forewarned.)