Savannah officials reject ghost filming in cemetery

Stories like this always raise a very interesting issue in the field of ghost hunting: when does research become disrespectful? It’s a very fine line to walk. On the one hand, if there are claims of paranormal activity at a location, why shouldn’t serious investigations be allowed to be conducted there? On the other hand, at what point does the supposed investigation become disrespectful? One could argue that a TV show (especially one done by the SyFy Channel) could be considered “sensationalistic” and therefore shouldn’t be conducted at sacred places such as cemeteries. But does that mean that no TV shows or documentaries should ever explore cemeteries for ghost hunting purposes? According to AJC.com, SyFy’s show “Fact or Faked” wanted permission to go into the Savannah cemetery where a tourist took some video of an alleged ghost.

fact or faked, savannah ghost, ny paranormal society
"You don't mind if we put the port-a-potty on grandma's grave, do you?"

The Syfy TV channel wants to shoot an epsiode in a Savannah cemetery, but city officials won’t approve the idea.

Producers want to film an episode of “Fact or Faked,” which would examine a tourist’s 2008 claim that he filmed a ghostly image of a boy running through the cemetery.

Acting City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney and Jerry Flemming, director of cemeteries, say they’re following city policy on the use of cemeteries.

“The municipal cemeteries are not for sensational or entertainment purposes. Any tours or events marketed as haunted, paranormal, or involving ghosts, spiritualists or mediums are strictly prohibited from any of the municipal cemeteries,” the policy states.

Aldermen Tony Thomas, Mary Ellen Sprague, Clifton Jones and Larry Stuber agreed the sanctity of the cemetery and the respect owed to the deceased and their families has to be considered.

“I have to think if it were my relatives that were buried there, would I want a film crew crashing about on the graves of my relatives,” Sprague said.

Alderman Van Johnson said such requests should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Mayor Pro Tem Edna Jackson, like Johnson, also expressed concern for the sanctity of the cemetery, but also wanted to consult with city staff before giving an opinion.

Michael Shortt, a local producer and casting director involved in the TV project, said the proposed shoot would generate up to $30,000 a day.

He said the rejection also could jeopardize future film projects in Savannah.

“Sending a no message to them will reverberate throughout the entertainment industry and give Savannah a great big black eye,” Shortt said.

Some ghost hunters conduct themselves very professionally, while others, well…don’t. So I can understand their hesitation. I’ve only seen “Fact or Faked” a handful of times, but I’d like to think they’d carry themselves professionally. Yet one can understand why families of the deceased would not want a huge film crew on the grounds. What are your thoughts on protecting the sanctity of locations versus allowing investigations to happen?

0 comments on “Savannah officials reject ghost filming in cemetery

  1. Obviously I’m coming to this late, but there are “haunted ghost” tours of Bonaventure Cemetery every night. Maybe that’s not within Savannah’s city limits though. There is another pretty famous cemetery right downtown in the historic district, maybe that is the one that the city official are saying no to.

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