Whitehorse filmmakers investigate the paranormal in new web series

The Palace Grand Theatre in Dawson City presented a variety of acts during the Gold Rush era - acrobats, dancing bears and knife-throwers, among others - so it's not too hard to imagine paranormal activity within those walls.

The Palace Grand Theatre in Dawson City presented a variety of acts during the Gold Rush era – acrobats, dancing bears and knife-throwers, among others – so it’s not too hard to imagine paranormal activity within those walls. Dave Hamelin knew this as he was walking around the third floor of the theatre late one night, with only a flashlight to guide him, searching for a spooky mannequin among the storied rooms.

“It was really creepy up there,” he said.

Hamelin and Neil Macdonald, two Whitehorse filmmakers who run White Hole Productions, chose the site as one of three paranormal stories to tell.

Their Yukon Paranormal episodes, clocking at four-and-a-half minutes each, were created as part of a Tourism Yukon project to raise awareness of the territory as a year-round travel destination.

The episodes each focus on a different story and include first-person accounts as well as dramatic re-enactments of the events.

The Caribou Hotel in Carcross and the UFO sighting at Little Fox Lake in 2000 make up the other episodes.

Hamelin and Macdonald found out last week the web series would be promoted on Canadian stations across the country, including the Travel and Escape, Cottage Life, RadX, Aux and Love Nature networks.

When it comes to paranormal experiences in the Yukon, Hamelin said, all you need to do is ask and the stories will begin to flow.

“There are a lot of stories in the Yukon, including ones about sasquatch that we couldn’t do because of budget and time,” he said.

“But those were the three that stood out the most to us.”

Macdonald had a theatre professor at the University of British Columbia who believed theatres were perfect for paranormal activity because of the energy that builds up and stays there after performances.

“You definitely feel something in that building,” Macdonald said of the Palace Grand Theatre.

“I wouldn’t want to go up in the catwalks at night.”

While filming at the Caribou Hotel in Carcross, both Hamelin and Macdonald left with experiences they were unable to explain. Macdonald was tidying up equipment one night and about to leave when he silently thanked the ghosts for letting them film there.

He remembers feeling a distinct chill going up his spine as he left, not wanting to turn around.

Hamelin remembers shooting the exterior of the building one afternoon, but it was only when he saw the footage on his computer that he noticed something strange.

“We saw some weird light bending in one of the windows that seemed unnatural,” he said, “but the sun was on the other side.”

“It almost looked like someone was standing in the window. When you’re shooting these things it heightens your senses, you become more susceptible to that world.”

Little Fox Lake was a site Hamelin and Macdonald had always wanted to explore. They had come up with an idea for a feature-length film about the UFO sightings a few years ago, but it never panned out.

Dozens of witnesses claim to have seen a UFO in the area in the spring of 2000. Steve Watson, owner of the Braeburn Lodge, is interviewed in the episode and remembers talking to people who claimed to have seen it.

Local filmmaker Jayden Soroka provided special effects for the episode, which shows a UFO hovering slowly over the lake, according to eyewitness testimony.

“We had friends camp out there last summer and they told us they heard the weirdest sound ever in the middle of the night,” Hamelin said.

Web series have come a long way in the past several years, especially with the rising popularity of Netflix.

The Screen Production Yukon Association is trying to take advantage of that with the launch of its web workshop series, running from January to March 2016.

The workshops will take place over six weekends to teach local filmmakers how to created scripted and documentary web series.

Midway through the process, the filmmakers will be invited to pitch their ideas at the Available Light Film Festival in front of a panel of industry professionals.

Three of the winners will go on to receive $5,000 in production support, rentals, insurance, and workshop registration.

For a full listing of the workshops and dates, go to

www.yukonfortheweb.ca.

To watch episodes of Yukon Paranormal, head to Travel Yukon’s YouTube page at www.youtube.com/user/travelyukon.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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