BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – As a child, Aaron Daniel Annas received conflicting messages from his parents about whether ghosts exist.
“Like all of us, I would get scared of the dark or ghosts, and my dad would come in and say “don’t worry, there’s no such thing as ghosts”,” Annas recalled. “But whenever my mom was there, she would never answer that question- I always wondered why my parents who had very similar religious and cultural backgrounds, why did they have different beliefs about the paranormal.”
Annas is the director of Television and Film Arts at Buffalo State College.
When he moved to Buffalo from California five years ago, the Queen City’s history-rich landscape inspired him to revisit the question.
“Because the architecture is so old here, everything looks like it could be haunted,” Annas explained. “I thought, what if I explore why people believe what they believe when it comes to the paranormal?”
Annas didn’t have a background in the paranormal community, so he worked to find sources by taking out a radio ad on the popular broadcast “Coast to Coast”.
Over four years of interviews, investigations, and shooting, Annas created the documentary “There’s No Such Thing as Ghosts?”
The film has been picked up by 1091 Pictures, a global distributor of independent film and television, and is now available to stream wherever movies can be rented. It’s currently available for free on Amazon Prime.
The documentary was shot at well-known locations in Western New York and Pennsylvania, including the Hinsdale House in Cattaraugus County and The Knickerbocker Hotel in Linesville.
The crew for the documentary included Buffalo State student interns, faculty and staff.
“It’s very much a “homegrown in Buffalo” project,” Annas said. “It’s super cool to have an international distributor pick up this film because it really did feel like a family experience making it- there were so many colleagues and former students who worked on it, when it got a global release, we were all ecstatic about it.”
While making the film, Annas followed people who use technology to attempt to communicate with the dead, including Niagara Falls, Ont.-based Michelle Desrochers, a well-known researcher who has appeared on many paranormal TV shows and programs.
One of the pieces of technology Desrochers utilizes in the film is a “portal”, a type of amplifier that can be connected with a “ghost box” to pick up EVPs.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but there were intelligible answers which you’ll hear in the film- when they would ask the spirit to repeat itself, it would say the same thing again,” Annas said. “That was spooky to me. I’m a skeptic, I listen to both sides, but when I was editing, there were even more intelligible responses.”
“I think [Annas] did a fantastic job portraying our community as a field,” Desrochers said. “I think people just have to take it for what it is- it’s about the journey of discover, you just keep forging ahead and looking for those answers.”
So can the question “do ghosts exist?” be answered?
“For me, I know that there’s things that I can’t believe happened,” Annas said.
Annas comes from a Christian background.
“I believe in a Holy Ghost, so I can already say that I believe in ghosts,” Annas said. “In my crew, I had all sorts of beliefs and faiths to keep it unbiased, but I could tell they all wanted to find something they could believe in.
“It feels like all of us have this underlying desire that there’s something more, that there’s some type of afterlife,” Annas added. “That’s the biggest truth I found in making the film- everyone wants there to be something.”