Published on October 19th, 2015 | by Biz Books
The Biz Interview: Christopher Chacon
With the release of Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension happening on October 23rd, we thought this was as good a time as any to talk to Christopher Chacon, a writer-producer-director in the film, television, and theatre industry who is better-known for his work as a paranormal research and investigator.
As Christopher Chacon has a strong reputation as a valuable consultant on horror films, we spoke to him to find out more about his work and what horror films can do to “get it right” when it comes to films that explore paranormal themes.
Can you start by telling us a little bit about you and what you are working on right now?
I am a writer/producer/director for TV, film and theatre. In addition to my work in the entertainment industry, I am also an anomalist/parapsychological researcher and scientific investigator/researcher of paranormal and supernatural phenomena, including the occult/metaphysics. Though my work dealing with phenomena is very confidential and entirely separate from the entertainment industry, I am able to apply my experiences and perspectives into that world to whatever projects I might be working on. As far as what I’m working on; I’m constantly developing new ideas and concepts in film and TV, way too many to mention here, some of my own creations, fact-based and fictional, and several that belong to other showrunners/screenwriters that have brought me onboard to collaborate.
How did you first develop an interest in the paranormal?
It wasn’t my original intent to investigate and explore paranormal phenomena, especially to this degree for this long. I was paying my way through college as a magician/illusionist and was approached by a family that wanted answers to the alleged haunt phenomenon keeping them up at night. After assisting them with their situation, word got out and more people approached me regarding their unexplainable encounters. Soon I was dealing with all types of complaints of poltergeists, psychic phenomena and UFO close encounters, just to name a few. A dozen cases turned into a several dozen, which lead me to embracing the parapsychological method for investigating cases, collaborating with a Parapsychologist. After many years of that, I was then recruited to work with a private scientific think tank, trained as an anomalist and investigated thousands of cases all over the world with an army of scientists and state-of-the-art technology. Since leaving that organization, I have been privately consulting (at gratis) for the last dozen or so years. All in all now dealing with these phenomena for about 30 years.
What is the biggest misconception about people who are involved in the paranormal field?
That everyone in this field blindly believes in the paranormal. The beliefs of those in this field run from one end of the spectrum to the other, from hardcore skeptics to, yes, those who blindly believe in everything. If I had to be placed on that spectrum, I would probably fall somewhere in the middle, though my personal belief system in dealing with these phenomena is a bit of a hybrid due to the nature and variety of extreme life experiences and training that I’ve been fortunate/unfortunate enough to have encountered in this field. And because the term “paranormal” encompasses anything that is outside of mainstream scientific understanding (including everything from parapsychology to cryptozoology, from UFO/alien close encounters to possession), the field is filled with an unlimited array of individuals and groups, from academic scholars to arm-chair researchers, each of which possess their own approach, typically as a result of their own personal belief system.
In your opinion, what do filmmakers need to do to accurately portray paranormal themes in their films?
The dynamics and laws of most paranormal phenomena, if not all of it, are not anywhere near as certain and established as, let’s say, space-travel and the laws of physics associated with it. If someone is doing a film about a deep-space journey for example, there’s a good deal of established knowledge that the writer and/or director can draw off of to ensure that the laws of physics and space are followed and keep the world they are depicting as real and tangible as possible. However for the majority of paranormal phenomena, many of the paradigms assumed to be accurate are not the case whatsoever, with depictions in film and media perpetuating these misnomers. Taking into account thousands of cases from around the world (different cultures, different environments, etc.), over the course of dozens of years, the actual phenomena taking place and being experienced would defy most presumed expectations. Therefore, even if a story’s phenomenon is closely based on long-held archetypes, it most likely is inaccurate to some degree. That being said, whether the writer is depicting a known phenomenon or inventing one, I feel the most important way of accurately portraying it would be to simply keep-true to the rules of the phenomena throughout the story, be it rules that are made up or borrowing rules from some long-held beliefs.
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension
What are some examples of films that you feel “get it right” when it comes to paranormal themed-stories?
The films that come to mind are “The Exorcist”, “Poltergeist” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. Not necessarily because the phenomenon is being accurately portrayed (though they got it pretty darn close), but because of the manner in which the characters react to the phenomena (during and after).
Why have films about the paranormal remained high in popularity?
Paranormal-themed films have continued to be popular for a variety of reasons including; how they tie into our belief system (someone who believes and wants validation, someone who isn’t sure but craves to believe, etc.), how they can propel you into a world of complete uncertainty right in the safety of your theatre seat and the thrill of possibility when you realize there is so much we do not know, just to name three. Considering western-thinking that is often overly skeptical, easily dismissive and stripped of possibility, a film that makes what is thought to be impossible, very real, offers the ultimate escape. Of course phenomenal story-telling must also be considered; The imaginations of brilliant writers and directors that create compelling characters and tangible situations that we identify with is mandatory to breathe life into any paranormal story, no matter what the phenomenon.
What books have been influential in your career?
If referring to my “career” as an anomalist/parapsychological investigator, I’d have to say not many. It was the actual experiences (investigations, research, expeditions, etc.) in the field, in the real world, that has influenced me the most. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE BOOKS and have been known to spend hours, upon hours in bookstores and libraries, and am a fan of all types of books across the spectrum. On that note, if you are referring to my work in the entertainment industry as a writer/producer, I love books that expand my imagination and challenge my thinking, from Dan Brown novels like Dante’s Inferno to Tolkien’s The Hobbit.
Where can people find out more about you?
Because of the nature of my work dealing with phenomena and to accommodate clients, I’ve maintained a low profile for many years. As such, I’ve never bothered to create a source to offer more information about myself. If there is indeed an interest in finding out more about me, perhaps I should start looking into the best way of doing that.
Our thanks to Christopher Chacon for speaking with us!
For more information about Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, please visit ParanormalMovie.com.