OREGON – Getting a show on TV can be difficult under normal circumstances – but what about paranormal circumstances?
A pair of former Sauk Valley residents intends to find out, and they don’t plan to give up the ghost anytime soon.
They just need a little help.
Randall Cropp, 28, who grew up in Oregon and lives in Byron, and fellow paranormal investigator Christopher Cowley, a Mount Morris native who lives in Woodstock, are raising money to bring “The Paranormal Project” to TV.
The show, which Cropp bills as a “reality-TV series,” follows the 2007 Oregon High School graduates and paranormal pair as they peer into other worlds to uncover the truth behind the ghost stories and other things science can’t explain.
Just don’t confuse their project with all the other ghost-hunting shows. Cropp said their aim isn’t to just provide thrill and chills. The truth is out there and they want to find it. Their program, he said, is more about teaching people about the paranormal and helping bridge the gap between skeptics and true believers.
It’s a gap the men had to bridge themselves.
“Christopher and I went into this complete skeptics,” he said, but when they were filming a segment at Tinker Swiss Cottage in Rockford, a historic home turned museum that’s a favorite haunt of paranormal investigators, “we were doing audio recordings, and a chair lifted up and slammed down twice while we were in the building.”
That ringside seat to the paranormal is just one of three segments they filmed in Illinois for their pilot episode; the other two were Conover Square in Oregon and Ashmore Estates in Ashmore.
Cropp claims the pair recorded their first EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) at Conover Square, a former piano factory turned shopping mall, and captured evidence of a “hostile spirit” at Ashmore Estates, a former private psychiatric care facility that closed in 1986 and reopened as a haunted house in 2006.
He said he and Cowley use several scientific instruments, some of which they developed themselves, to pinpoint the paranormal.
“The Paranormal Project” isn’t the duo’s first work together.
Cropp and Cowley, who’ve known each other for more than 15 years, co-founded Squared Media, a small production company outside of Chicago. Their first feature film, “The 5th Kind” – originally titled “Ghebbar Woods” – was picked up for distribution and released in August on DVD and video on demand. The self-funded film, with segments shot in and around Oregon, is about best friends who seek internet fame by filming a survival show in the forest, but the trip turns deadly when an alien visitor ends up in their neck of the woods. The two wrote and starred in the movie and it was Cropp’s directorial debut.
Cropp, a Sauk Valley Community College graduate, said his love of science fiction helped open the doors to the paranormal genre and he’s having fun finding out what’s on the other side, but now he needs some help opening other doors.
That’s where the GoFund me page comes in. He and Cowley are trying to raise a $1,000 to fund two more investigations, improve their camera gear, edit their pilot, and pitch it to investors. So far, they’re about halfway there.
Their long-term goal, once they’ve been picked up by a network? They’d like to turn their part-time paranormal pursuits into a full-time job.
With a film on their resumé and a TV show in the works, they’ve already got some other-worldly experience under their belts, so with any luck – and some talent, hard work, and thousand bucks – the paranormal could become the new normal for Cropp and Cowley.