This is hard to write, because “Paranormal State” has become a defining adventure for my 20s. I started PRS when I was 19, and started developing the show when I was 22, and now here I am at the age of 28. My, how things have changed! For over three years now, we’ve been in the public eye, and we’ve had the time of our lives. We’ve met so many great fans and many have become friends. We’re proud that PS has changed the way the world views the supernatural, and quite honestly you all have changed us.
That is why it is so hard to say goodbye. After very careful thought, discussion with the team, thinking about my future and where my heart needs to go, I’ve come to the decision that I will not be returning for any more seasons of “Paranormal State.” So, after the remainder of this season airs sometime in the spring or summer, that will be it.
We begin filming the last two episodes this weekend, and that is why I am making this announcement. I wanted closure. So, when I step on to the haunted grounds this weekend, it will be for the last time through “Paranormal State.” And yes, my “final director’s log” will truly, indeed be, my final director’s log.
It wasn’t easy coming to this decision. There are a lot of factors involved. The main one, of course, is that I’ve become a different person. I have different goals and views on things. That doesn’t mean I’m giving up investigating. I want to make that very clear. PRS will still remain. In fact, it means I will be able to put more time in to the things that I’ve had to put on hold for the past 5-6 years, such as private research and investigations, UNIV-CON, building the society and more. We put our dreams and aspirations on hold because we believed in the possibility of doing a show about PRS. And like I’ve already said, it has made an impact on many levels. But now it’s time to move on to other possibilities. I have other projects that I’ve had to sit on because I’ve been so preoccupied with “Paranormal State.”
I am incredibly grateful of the time spent on “Paranormal State.” It has opened so many doors for my team and me. Because of it, I got to produce, direct, write books and now move on to fictional properties (next up, a fictional book due out sometime later this year!). It has also put PRS in to the mainstream in ways I never thought possible. And then there are those who are haunted. I’ve received hundreds of thousands of letters and e-mails since the show debuted. Now I will get a chance to catch up and read some of them!
Deciding to do “Paranormal State” was a big commitment. It took over our lives. Friends and family had to take a step back because of our time consuming schedules. But we knew that we were handed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Not just for the perks, but we knew that we could spread a message to millions of people. That meant a lot to us. Over the course of the five seasons, we’ve refused to cave in and compromise our integrity. We’ve stayed the course, even though it meant losing a few friends along the way. There were victories, and there were casualties. There were triumphs and there were mistakes. But we always picked ourselves back up and fought even harder. “Paranormal State” was never 100% our vision. For anyone who has ever worked in the media, they will understand that it is always collaboration. But we got pretty close at times. There were some remarkable episodes that I personally think redefined the paranormal. Episodes like “I Am Six,” “I Am Six 2,” “Pet Cemetery,” “The Name,” “Sixth Sense,” “First Contact,” “Church of the Damned,” “Ghosts of Gettysburg,” “Darkness Falls,” “Jersey Devil,” “They Come Out At Night,” “Ghosts of the Forgotten,” and even a few episodes that have yet to air, I am personally proud of. Some of the most memorable moments of my life the past ten years have come from working on “Paranormal State.”
I was a junior at Penn State when we began developing the show, which at first was called everything from “Out There” to “Paranormal U.” My senior year we began shooting, and post-graduation we continued onwards. The show evolved, of course. Remember the episode where Sergey and I were cheering on the football team at Beaver Stadium? Or how Sergey had to step away from a case in order to study for his exams? You guys literally got to watch us grow up from just entering adulthood to being full-fledged adults, fast approaching 30.
As we entered the fifth season, we got to change things up and tackle on some very weird subjects. And as we started to get towards the end of the fifth season, I began to realize that I was having a hard time, physically and mentally with everything. And so discussions began to be had, about whether or not it was time to think about wrapping up. The last thing I want to do is go past our prime. It’s always better to end on top with a bang rather than to fickle out. And it became important for us to move on not just creatively, but personally. After all these years, we need to return to ourselves and rediscover who we are. We also want to go back out there and spend some time researching the paranormal on our own terms. In short, we need some freedom to be and to grow.
Do I believe in the paranormal? Yes. I have received much criticism for standing up for what I believe in. People claiming that I’m crazy for believing in ghosts; some investigators thinking I’m crazy for believing in demons; some people who convinced themselves that I faked evidence; some people who just thought I was plain nuts as a whole. To be honest, the detractors were great motivation for us. They never got to us and never knocked us down. We kept on going. I’m proud that “Paranormal State” is so controversial. Why? Because it makes people talk and discuss. And that’s important. And PRS will always be there; ready to make bold statements and stand up for those who are haunted.
Yesterday I informed the producers and the network that I would not be returning. And now I wanted to tell you, my dear friends, because many of you are very much involved with the show and recognize it as more than just a show. I want to thank A&E (particularly Elaine Frontain-Bryant), the executive producers Betsy Schechter and Gary Auerbach for helping us put this show together and for all the support. Also to all the crews who have worked on the show over the years.
To Sergey, Eilfie and Josh, you have been there for a very long time and have never failed to be by my side, no matter how rough or difficult things (or I) got. If it wasn’t for you, I don’t think I would have made it this far. I would have crashed and burned a long time ago. Thank you for all the years, smiles, tears and triumphs. Thank you also to Katrina and Heather, who went from college students and trainees to even more gifted, bright, strong and beautiful women who will no doubt do great things. To Lorraine, thank you for giving me and my team a chance all those years ago. To Chip Coffey and Michelle Belanger, thank you for some amazing times and truly remarkable investigations. To Chad, you came in at an important time and gave us all energy and laughs, even in the darkest of times. It has been amazing that our friendship became and grew out of our love of investigating and the paranormal and now I count you as one of my best friends. To the rest of PRS, thank you for inspiring me and for devoting a part of your life – no matter how long – to a cause that has changed so many lives. And to my family and friends, thank you for being patient and supporting me all these years. Thank you for understanding and forgiving me for not always being able to return calls or make visits. Now, after all these years, you will be my priority.
And to all of you, my fans, I promise you that I nor PRS will be going anywhere. There are some truly exciting and remarkable projects coming up, so please do not take this as a permanent goodbye. It’s simply time to close one door and enter a new path in life. I hope you will continue to be there and take that journey with us.
January 6th, 2011
(Ryan Buell for A&E presentation pilot, shot in 2005, age 22)
(Ryan, Eilfie, Heather, on the second episode of season one, November 2006)
(Heather, Sergey, Jamie, Ryan & Eilfie in Vegas for the season one wrap party - February 2007)
(The original cast of PS, shooting during season three, 2008)