Filmmaker Chad Calek now hunts ghosts for a living. But he wasn't initially obsessed with paranormal activity.
"I grew up in a family where [the paranormal] wasn't spoken about," he says in a recent phone interview with Scene. "I was a complete atheist. I had no belief in the other side."
In the film American Ghost Hunter, which he released last year on Hulu, he tells the story of how he started to experience paranormal activity after his family moved to a small town in Iowa.
"My parents found a great deal on a house that was away from the public," he says. "We heard from the gentleman who sold it to us that it was haunted. That meant nothing to us. We thought, 'Tell it to go away. Who gives a shit?'
"I quickly learned the reality of a haunting. I was the last person in my family to experience anything. At first I honestly thought [the rest of the family was] going crazy, bro, I really did. Then I had a series of traumatic events happen to me. It's not something you brush off and keep moving on with life. In the beginning, it was about trying to validate my own experiences and know that I wasn't crazy."
Currently on a 17-city summer tour that includes a stop at the Agora on Wednesday, Calek aims to "deliver what all other paranormal documentaries have failed to produce: authentic paranormal evidence that proves the existence of ghosts." His Paramerican Tour will feature Q&A sessions, paranormal presentations and the premiere of the new film, Sir Noface, the "documented true story" of Craig Powell and the team of Australian investigators who tried to debunk his claims of paranormal activity at Cockatoo Island, a former convict prison before reopening as a state park.
Prior to the screening of Sir Noface, Calek, who served as co-star and director of the hit A&E Network reality series, Paranormal State, will host "a paranormal evidence presentation" and provide a first look at his upcoming documentary, Blacksheep.
As a filmmaker, Calek says he finds inspiration in the work of other noted directors.
"When it comes to visuals and music, I'm a big fan of Paul Thomas Anderson," he says. "Everything he does is so epic. He has a way of making everything seem larger than life. I'm a fan of Oliver Stone's editing style. People have said my editing style shows that. I am a fan. When you like things, you have a natural tendency to borrow from them and make them your own. Those two are big ones. The most obvious comparison that has been made before is Stanley Kubrick. I'm into the ultra-spooky. He can take a single piano note and have it linger over a scene for two-and-a-half minutes and have it chill the shit out of you."
He says the response to the Paramerican tour, which will include a ghost hunting expedition at the Agora, has been positive.
"The tour has been mind-blowing," he says. "People show up skeptical, as they should, but they leave as believers."