When we spoke, he had just returned from Australia where he was a featured speaker for a Para-Con and a UFO conference.
Ben’s company, Hypocenter Productions, has half a dozen shows being considered by various networks. Several sizzle reel (non-airing pilots) are being filmed or currently pitched, all having to do in some way with the paranormal and, more specifically, UFOs.
Ben Hansen: I have still not given up hope that Syfy might realize Fact or Faked needs to be brought back. It can’t leave before its time. The topic is so much more relevant now, than even when we were doing it.
Theresa Argie: I am still absolutely shocked that Syfy has not renewed the show or picked it up. It seems like they’re switching to a different type of programming, like competition reality shows.
Cathi Weber: I feel like we’re missing something because we don’t have a show like Fact or Faked.
Cathi and I both shed a silent tear as we get nostalgic for our favorite shows. It would be a welcomed surprise to see Ben back on the small screen.
Ben is a consulting producer on a project where he does occasionally appear on film. It will air on both the Smithsonian Channel and History Canada. It’s a UFO documentary involving “government documented incidents.”
The “official” announcement has not been made by the network so don’t tell anyone you heard it here first.
BH: It’s a really smart TV show. I really like this one because we’re not afraid of alienating the younger crowd. This is more highbrow, it’s more compelling because of the content.
Being attached to the Smithsonian adds credibility and value to the program, but they need to remain unbiased to the viewer. They can’t seem as if they are endorsing a particular view point.
BH: It’s good and bad. The Smithsonian has flopped back and forth on the UFO subject. I can appreciate the fine line that they have to walk. This is an excellent channel for this to be airing on.
TA: I understand how they would want to be a little more careful than some other networks. If you remember, when TLC came out it was supposed to be “The Learning Channel.”
CW: Now we’re learning about Honey Boo Boo.
BH: Yeah Honey Boo Boo or My 800 Pound Mother…
The three of us laugh, but it’s a sad sort of laugh.
BH: It’s show business, and businesses need ratings to stay alive. When somebody finds a trend they’re going to follow that trend until it fizzles out. They are chasing these very superficial themes and angles. They forget that if you make a show that has compelling content you’ll still get viewers.
Some of Ben’s favorite examples of this are shows likeAncient Aliens (which he admits can be a little far-fetched) and Paranormal Witness, which uses compelling reenactments of a good story.
BH: It’s not a new concept. It’s a simple format. All they’ve done is taken the license to dramatize the re-creation in a really good way. I‘m also working on a TV show that is within the paranormal genre but it’s a subject that hasn’t been discussed much. It’s a really cool show with the same type of format.
Cathi and I are intrigued to say the least, but Ben remains tight-lipped on any more details. Besides acting as a reoccurring guest on some shows, he’s also shopping around ones that he’s conceptualized with his company. He compares the whole process to dating.
BH: Your first kiss: You set up your date. You’re kinda nervous because girls are such different creatures.
You’re thinking, “How am I gonna get this girl to kiss me?” When you finally get that first kiss, usually the second kiss is just as difficult! At least it was for me! “Now what do I do?”
Ben laughs. The Haunted Housewives swoon.
BH: It’s like I kinda got lucky the first time. There are so many people out there who are trying to get some action. It’s difficult.
TA: But the networks aren’t trying to purposely mess with your head like a girl would do.
BH: Hahahaha I beg to differ. The networks are like the girl that says she’ll go out with you and you set a date, and then she never calls you back.
CW: Oh yeah we know all about that! (giggles) So now what else have you been up to besides filming, filming, filming?
BH: I’ve been doing about two different conferences or events a month. The last was Australia and the next one is Roswell Festival (July 4) which is gonna be awesome. They have a race where everyone dresses up like aliens.
TA: I imagine Roswell on the 4th of July is kinda like a Grateful Dead concert or something!
We discuss the difference between UFO conferences and ghost conferences, where we believe the latter take themselves much too seriously.
TA: Unfortunately in the ghost world that Cathi and I dwell in, you get some loons…
CW: Yeah, they’re usually us! [laughing]
BH: Comparing it to the ghost stuff is really interesting. In the UFO community they have some of the same infighting. It’s got its own drama.
CW: Yep, we’ve seen it we’ve heard it. “If this one comes than I’m not coming,” or “If this one is on the panel then I won’t speak.” We’ve dealt with it before. It’s kinda silly.
Now speaking of experts I understand you train UFO investigators?
BH: Yeah I’ve done some training for MUFON. I teach the investigators how to do a good forensic interview, separating witnesses, the basics. Getting the facts and then getting the details, and also looking for deception or things that people hold back. Your job as investigator is to get the facts.
Ben utilizes skills learned from his FBI training with his work with MUFON. Hopefully he can get a new generation of people interested in actively investigating the phenomenon.
BH: I would like to see a younger demographic get involved.
TA: In the UFO world it seems like there is almost an opposite problem than with ghost hunters, because with ghosts you rarely have a video. With UFO sightings there are lots and lots of videos all over the Internet.
BH: I would say that’s accurate, but we do get a lot of photos from the ghost hunting people trying to make something out of an ambiguous orb.
TA: It’s a different spin on the same problem.
CW: Also the age demographic is the opposite in the paranormal world because it’s mostly young people.
TA: Well, you don’t see many young people forming teams… or maybe we just hang out with old people.
CW: We’re old people, that’s why.
Since the topic of age was brought up, I tell Ben about Cathi’s adventures mentoring five aspiring para-historians and future ghost hunters on the basics of research and investigative techniques. Some of these adventures are chronicled on the AMH website.
BH: That’s pretty cool! I think the ghost hunting stuff is going to be continually revived by the younger generations. I’m a little worried about the UFOs.
I bring up the Bill Clinton interview by Jimmy Kimmel. Kimmel asked Clinton about UFOs, alien technology, and what the US government knows regarding these topics. Ben was asked to analyze the interview. The result is a breakdown, bit by bit, of what Clinton was actually saying with his mouth and what he was saying with his body language.
Ben used a process called “deception detection.” Non-verbal communication can speak volumes. It is a stunning and thought-provoking 36 minutes of Ben hyper-analyzing the interview.
BH: It’s my opinion, of course. When you break it down and look at everything, there is a lot to be told. It’s not an exact science and that’s how I approached it. 70% of communication is non-verbal, 20% is the tone and how we say things, and 10% is the actual words.
Ben gives an example such as when Clinton nods his head “yes” but verbally says “no.” Many times he averts his eyes when asked questions that make him uncomfortable. Other clues include over-exaggeration and the clenching of the jaw.
I highly recommend watching the video with Ben’s commentary.
TA: So what is your take from all that? Do you think Clinton has knowledge of UFOs that he’s not disclosing?
BH: Well, in just a few sentences, I would say that I wouldn’t be surprised. It’s hard to know why he was uncomfortable. I think he was guarded.
It was not the first time he’s answered these questions and he had time to prepare. So whatever it was that was setting him off was pretty significant.
TA: Maybe he can compare notes with Hillary if she becomes president.
That was a joke. Maybe.
CW: Can you tell us a little about Night Vision Optics?
BH: I love FLIR but our product rivals FLIR in price but with far more features. Night Vision Ops is something that I started when I bought a night vision scope and it would really bother me that I didn’t have anything to record it with.
Bushnell asked if I’d like to be a spokesperson and I encouraged them to come up with things that were friendly for the paranormal community. What we care about is getting it on film.
TA: It would be nice to have some actual support so people don’t think we are all nutty whether we investigate Bigfoot or UFOs or ghosts or whatever. Maybe this will help if we can get usable, user friendly equipment into the hands of people.
BH: I’ve always said seeing is not believing. iI you don’t have an open mind you can explain away anything.
Ben made an offer to anyone interested in purchasing Night Vision Ops equipment from his company. Contact him through his website and he will give you an even better deal than what’s currently listed. Just another perk of being an America’s Most Haunted subscriber! Thanks Ben!
CW: Can you tell us a little about your other endeavor with The World Disaster Alliance?
BH: It’s something that my father started, a non-profit. It’s not giving money but helping organizations that are donating supplies and relief to the areas most needed.
Unfortunately it’s one of those projects that needs several million dollars to completely launch.
TA: Before you go I want to know about the Malaysian flight that went missing. What are your theories?
BH: We have satellites that can see everything, the technology is there to be able to focus on whatever target they want, but the perception that we’re looking at everything is wrong. There are places in the world that are not always under surveillance.
I hate to say it but there might be some terrorism aspect involved. The behavior of turning around and then turning a transponder off and then it just disappears? But if it went into the ocean, there’s a lot of things that float in a plane. I don’t know how something wouldn’t have come up by now. If it fell into a jungle or something you’d see a lot of smoke.
It’s a huge mystery, but as far as the extraterrestrial aspect, I think that would be the very last thing that I would look for.
I asked about tracking signals from cell phones. I find it hard to believe that they can’t use that technology.
BH: Cell phones work off reception towers and there’s no reception in the middle of the ocean. They only receive GPS signals, they don’t broadcast them.
Ben is a pilot and wonders why that plane and the entire fleet were not outfitted with a very inexpensive program that would allow them to be tracked by GPS as well as transponders. It seems an obvious and fatal oversight by the airline.
BH: The last thing I’ll add is that if we do have another unfortunate event with a similar thing then I would be very much more open to an unexplained, maybe paranormal explanation.
CW: It is kind of scary to think it might happen again and we are not prepared. I would like to think the United States government would handle it differently.
BH: The government is sometimes in the dark as much as we are, but they have to provide the perception that they are in control. They have to, to give us that security, but it’s not working right now.
We wrap up the hour with many thanks to Ben for joining us. We hope he’s back on TV soon! Ben, along with the rest of the Fact or Faked team is featured in the America’s Most Haunted book, which will bereleased Sept 30!