SAGINAW, MI – The coronavirus pandemic has caused a local filmmaker to put his annual haunted buildings premiere on hold while creating an online series to feed his audience’s hunger for paranormal content.
For more than a decade Steve “Prozak” Shippy has premiered a new Haunted Saginaw film near Halloween at the Temple Theatre, 201 N. Washington Ave. in Saginaw. But due to this year’s safety concerns stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, the premiere will be on hold until at least 2021.
Meanwhile, Shippy has created an online episode-based series, a candle and a fragrance to hold fans over.
“This is the first time in over a decade that we are not going to be at the Temple Theatre with two sold-out shows, surrounded by all of our supporters,” Shippy said. “It was a hard blow to take. It took a few months for it to really sink in that this was not going to happen and that COVID wasn’t just going to go away anytime soon.”
This year’s film would have been the sequel to the 2019 piece “A Haunting on Brockway.” Shippy and his crew had previously conducted an investigation at the historic home on 1631 Brockway in Saginaw, documenting the owners’ claims of paranormal activity.
The home was built in 1864 and has seen its fair share of residents and was once used as a bed and breakfast. It was purchased by Stephanie and Tom Braley over a decade ago, and the couple and their children had been experiencing paranormal activity such as loud banging noises, the TV, radio, and lights turning on and off, the piano playing higher notes by itself and furniture sounding like it’s being moved.
Instead of a sequel to A Haunting on Brockway, this year paranormal fans can stream episodes of Shippy’s investigation into reports that the Court Street Theatre is haunted. The installments are uploaded each weekend on his official Patreon channel for fans to access with a subscription.
“It’s really unique for us because we’ve never released our investigations piece by piece as we go,” said Shippy.
The Court Street Theatre was recently renovated and is owned by the same Braley family that owns the historic house featured in the “Haunting on Brockway” films.
“The owners of the theatre were reporting a lot of different sounds, voices, things like that. And during the renovation of the theatre, the current owners did a ton of renovation to the place, and the workers that worked there would have a lot of experiences,” said Shippy. “Some would see what they referred to as a woman in white up in the balcony. “They would see shadows that they couldn’t account for. Their tools would come up missing or be misplaced.”
In addition to staying busy with the Court Street Theatre episodes, the downtime from the COVID-19 pandemic has let Shippy and his team work on some alternative products for fans, including a Haunted Saginaw themed candle.
The soy-based candle is designed to embody what Haunted Saginaw would smell like with notes of sage and fresh aquatic aromas along with a woodsy undertone. The scent brings together the area’s natural resources while harkening back to the logging days along the Saginaw River, Shippy said.
“In the aquatic accord I think of the lakes around here, I think of the river,” he said. “Obviously, the undertone of woods to me – the lumber era, all of those things. The clary sage is a kind of a cleansing kind of a bright note, an earthy note and to me that just kind of fit.”
Shippy also released a separate exclusive fragrance named “Superstition No. 13” that aims to embody the paranormal as a whole, not just Haunted Saginaw. The fragrance features sage and frankincense, which are two items used frequently in the paranormal field, Shippy said.
“I’ve always had this thought that when it comes to a fragrance or something of that nature, people will always tend to identify with a scent or an accord of different ingredients that strike something in them,” he said. “I’ve kind of always wondered why no one’s ever created a fragrance that kind of embodies some of the scents and some of the ingredients of the paranormal.”
Both the candle and fragrance can be viewed at the official Haunted Saginaw website.
“A Haunting on Brockway Part II” hasn’t been sent to the grave – according to Shippy, the plan is to still premiere the film but he’s planning to wait it out until 2021.
“Unfortunately, with the way things are right now I don’t think we can premiere it anywhere and I don’t think we can do it with good conscience either just because there’s too much risk with everything happening,” he said. “We’re just going to wait until things are okay for everybody to come and attend and people don’t have that concern.”
Shippy stated that the Haunting on Court Street investigations will eventually be shown at an in-person film release in the future, with him aiming to have it shown in the Court Street Theatre itself.
The first documentary, “Haunting at Hamilton Street,” which focused on Old Town Saginaw, sold out for its two-day premiere at the Temple Theatre, which seats about 2,000. The rest was history as sold-out shows became the norm over the next 10 years for the Haunted Saginaw series. Haunted Saginaw celebrated its 10th anniversary in November of 2019. The series has focused on numerous locations throughout Saginaw County, including the old Potter Street Train Station, the Temple Theatre and Hoyt Library.
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