Whidbey’s long and rich history and abundance of historical structures would make the island a seemingly perfect place to encounter apparitions.
An eager albeit not always competent crew of ghost hunters are on the case in a new series in the works. “Scared Stiff” is a mostly improvised show, described by its creators as “‘Ghost Hunters’ with a ‘Scooby-Doo-’ like cast, filmed ‘Blair Witch’-style.”
That’s according to Jason Blaszkowski, an owner of Oak Harbor’s Oldish Stuff retail shop and cinematographer for the show.
“You never know what you’re going to get until you film it,” Blaszkowski said.
Last Sunday morning he carried a small camera that had a large microphone fixed upon it. Shawn Cain, the producer and one of the show’s stars, gave the cast the rundown on basic structure of the day’s shoot.
Later when the cameras were rolling, Cain gave a similar — albeit more animated and accented — speech to the actors, this time as his character Malcolm Spectrum.
Cain is a prolific filmmaker, with seven directing credits, almost all of which he acted in as well. He keeps budgets low and works at lightning speed. Each film in his trilogy “Ultimate Death Match” was created in 24 hours, he said.
He’s using a similar method for “Scared Stiff.” Sunday, the cast broke into ghost-hunting teams, each of whom filmed their own adventure with a phone. The main camera traveled among the characters, and Cain said the phone footage would be cut in between, creating the “Blair Witch” effect.
Cain and Blaszkowski are both Oak Harbor residents and have known each other for about five years and started working on projects a couple of years ago.
All of the filming is done on Whidbey Island and the casting is done locally as well.
The ghost-hunting troop even travels between adventures in the Oldish Stuff hearse.
Although Oak Harbor resident Patrick Cain is related to Shawn Cain, he and his wife Jamie didn’t become involved until after they bought an antique at Oldish Stuff.
The couple kept running into the store’s owners and got to know them, which led to an opportunity to act in the show, said Jamie Cain.
She recruited her friend Sierra Maybury, also an Oak Harbor resident, whose husband Jared Maybury also became involved.
Blaszkowski and Cain also are wrapping up a feature length film called “American Blues” that was filmed on the island. And there are many more like these projects to come, Blaszkowski said. The concept for the ghost-hunting comedy show came out of a cast dinner after a day of shooting the film and quickly transitioned into a reality.
There are about two episodes completed of “Scared Stiff,” which Blaszkowski and Cain hope to premiere in mid-December. They’re not sure yet on what platform it will be available.
Jamie Cain and Sierra Maybury said they hadn’t done much acting before taking on their respective roles as Vivian Lee and Macy. Both women said they appreciated the flexibility that came with the situational improve format.
“It gets your first, raw reaction,” Cain said. “It helps me be more expressive,” she added later.
Blaszkowski had called the cast “one big family,” which Maybury agreed with.
“It immediately felt like we’ve been friends forever,” she said.