Brothers document interest in paranormal
Combine Indiana Jones with The X-Files and you have Belleville’s Gray brothers.
Adam, 36, and Andrew Gray, 33, are Belleville natives and filmmakers who have begun to specialize in television programs exploring the unexplained.
Their newest, Supernatural Investigators: Crystal Skulls, is a documentary airing tonight at 10:30 on VisionTV.
It’s one of four documentaries created by the Belleville brothers who last year had their television debut with The Nightmare, also on VisionTV. The hour-long program on the mysterious condition of sleep paralysis was picked up by VisionTV.
The four shows are among 17 to be aired on the channel’s new Supernatural Investigators program. Award-winning science-fiction author Robert J. Sawyer serves as host.
Building on The Nightmare’s success, the brothers pitched three new documentaries to the channel, all of which were approved.
Crystal Skulls is the first to air.
“It was a pretty cool adventure,” said Adam Gray who, late last year, travelled with his brother-in-law, cameraman Rob Spence, to film in Mexico and Belize.
Life-size crystal skulls began appearing in Mayan archeological sites in Central America during the 1800s. Mayan legends say they were used by priests to heal, kill and communicate with the spirit world.
But some of the skulls are crafted so perfectly that experts say it would’ve take the Mayans centuries to make them.
The documentary features interviews with experts and tracks archeologist Joel Palka in his search to uncover the truth about the skulls.
One skull, discovered by Anna Mitchell-Hedges during an expedition with her father Mitchell Hedges, remains among the most mysterious of the 10 skulls found to date.
“I actually started off quite skeptical. I liked the story of Mitchell Hedges but thought it was probably a fake,” Adam said, but noted he was forced to reconsider based on information revealed during filming.
Crystal Skulls and the Grays’ other three programs for the series were created under a tight deadline of just a few months.
For the skull shoot, Drew remained in Belleville to continue editing shows while Adam and Spence headed south for a hectic 10-day shoot.
“It was an insanely tense and fast-moving trip,” Adam said.
The trip from Mexico to Belize was a 16-hour drive “deeper and deeper into the jungle in a country that doesn’t seem to have any police force,” Adam said.
“I was a little frightened in Belize,” he said.
He recalled arriving at a hotel of sorts deep in the jungle and being chased by a Rottweiler dog. His guide wasn’t of any comfort.
“He said, ‘You know, they could kill us out here and no one would ever know,’” said Adam in a Latin-American accent, chuckling.
That night, he said, “There was about an eight-inch tarantula crawling along the floor beside my bed. Sleeping became very difficult after that.”
He joked that for future films, “We’re not going past Trenton from now on.”
Drew said editing the films was tough because of the deadline and the limit to how much footage could be used.
“You can’t go more than a minute and a half, two minutes with anything,” Drew said. “It doesn’t matter how much you spent to get the footage or how important you thought it was going to be.”
Advance research was key, but the final script can’t be written until the field interviews are complete, he said.
“You try to become an expert before you start shooting, but if you get too cocky you end up writing a bad essay trying to prove your own points,” said Drew.
The Grays’ program on remote (psychic) viewing airs March 17 and is nearly complete. Editing is underway for White Mountain Abduction, an investigation into the classic alien encounter of Betty and Barney Hill. It airs April 7.
A retooled version of The Nightmare has been delivered to VisionTV and will be broadcast April 14.
Each has music by Belleville’s Sean Fritz, the Grays’ cousin.
All shows air at 10:30 p.m.
The brothers said they’re now discussing unexplained topics for future films, and have created ParaDocs, a production company and joint venture with producer Paul Stephens.