Q & A With Jim Casey, The Dead Files Creator
Travel Channel goes behind the scenes to interview Jim Casey, the creator and executive producer of The Dead Files. You'll be surprised what we uncovered about the new paranormal investigative TV show.
Q: What are your responsibilities as the producer for The Dead Files?
A: “As the creator and executive producer of the show, I oversee the entire creative process, from the stories we pursue to the structure of each episode to editing style of the series.”
Q: What were your initial feelings about haunted houses, spirits and paranormal entities before filming this show? Have your feelings changed or are you still a skeptic? If so, why?
A: “I’ve always considered myself a skeptic, only believing in what I witness myself. And that hasn’t changed. What has changed is what I’ve witnessed since working with Amy Allan. Time and time again, I’ve watched Amy reveal information that she has absolutely no way of knowing – information that I have personally guarded. And Amy continues to amaze me – or, more accurately, freak me out.”
Q: What are some of the production guidelines that you follow while shooting an episode of The Dead Files? What are some things fans would be surprised to know?
A: “Producing The Dead Files is like planning a covert operation. Everyone is under very strict instructions not to share any information with Amy or Matt. All new staff members are carefully briefed to prevent them from accidentally mentioning even the most minor detail within earshot of our paranormal investigators. Even a seemingly harmless comment like, ‘see you in Detroit,’ spoken in front of Amy would cause us to cancel or reschedule an entire shoot.
Amy is especially strict about limiting all communication since the integrity of her investigation depends on her knowing nothing about a location. In fact, Amy insists that we not even tell her which state she is flying into until she arrives at the airport. She also demands that we confiscate her mobile phone and computer when she arrives at her destination. All of these precautions are counterintuitive to a producer, because we’re typically focused on efficiently sharing information, not withholding it. Retraining that reflex has been an interesting challenge.”
Q: What other places would you like to see Amy and Steve investigate?
A: “Finding new locations poses a unique challenge for The Dead Files because we need to go places that Amy would never recognize from photos that could have been published by another paranormal team that visited that location in the past. Where many paranormal shows enjoy investigating famous haunted locations, we can only investigate the obscure. So, while I’d love to visit Vlad the Impaler’s castle in Transylvania, my guess is that Amy would most likely recognize it.”
Q: Did you handpick Amy and Steve for this show? Did they know each other?
A: “As a life-long skeptic and a writer, I’ve always been interested in finding a way to truly ‘test’ paranormal findings while still telling a compelling story. I’d also noticed that there were no strong female paranormal investigators on television, so I focused my efforts there…and found Amy. Once Amy described her scientific approach to paranormal investigations, I knew she was someone I wanted to work with. Since Amy had contributed to police investigations in the past, I contacted Steve DiSchiavi. Steve and I had worked on a project years before, and we’d become good friends. I think what appealed to me most about this partnership is the fact that Steve is as uncompromising about his investigative process as Amy is about hers.”
Q: How many cameramen go in with Amy to film her investigation?
A: Aside from Matt Anderson, who interviews Amy while operating a camera to document her responses, we have two other camera operators. Once Amy begins her walk of the home, we do everything in our power to never interrupt her for even an instant, and having two cameras enables us to do that.
Q: What spooky moments do viewers have to look forward to on the first season of The Dead Files?
A: “Amy Allan has grown up seeing and speaking to dead people on a daily basis – often horribly disfigured dead people. So, when you see actual fear on Amy’s face, you know it’s time to be completely terrified. I’ve seen that look many times, and it always sends a chill down my spine. I’ve watched Amy take on the voices and mannerisms of dead people speaking through her, and listened to her disclose information that she’d have no other way of knowing. I’ve seen her describe murder victims she’s spoken with to sketch artists who then draw perfect renderings of those people. And I’ve witnessed Amy accurately reveal how and when a now-deceased mother tried to kill her entire family. Then, Amy pointed to where the spirit of that woman was staring down at us from the top of the stairs.
After these experiences, I still have no explanation whatsoever of how Amy does what she does, other than this: Amy Allan communicates with dead people.
I get cold chills from watching ghost-chasing shows, but working with Amy on The Dead Files has been an eye-opening and often terrifying experience that still keeps me awake at night, wondering what secrets my home is hiding.”