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PARANORMAL PRODUCTION
 
Victrola Coffee House
 
The Dress
 
Mrs. Baker's House
 
Haunted Locations
 
When the co-owners of Victrola Coffee, Chris Sharp and Jen Strongin, heard that their friends Kris Kristensen and Brian McDonald were looking for a production office for their film Inheritance, they were quick to volunteer the back room of their coffee house. "We loved having our office at Victrola," said Kristensen. "Not only did we have immediate access to the best coffee in Seattle, but it created a great sense of community. Everyone in our neighborhood knew we were making a movie, and everyone was extremely supportive of us." McDonald added, "Our location really allowed for an interactive atmosphere. There's a certain mystique about filmmaking, and I think it was fun for the neighborhood to be part of that even if it was just a peripheral involvement."
 
But it sems that the Inheritance production crew weren't the only occupants of the back room at Victrola. Owner Sharp had warned the filmmakers that there was something going bump in the night at Victrola. "No one likes to be in the space between 1am and 4am," explained Sharp. The Victrola was recently purchased by Sharp and his wife, and while they were renovating it in the wee hours of the morning, his crew always wanted to leave at precisely 1am. "There was just something creepy about being in there, and it always started exactly at 1am," Sharp continued. "It felt like there was someone else there with us. Someone we couldn't see." Sharp also made a habit of playing piano at the Victrola after hours. "Occassionally I would lose track of time, and then I would get this cold chill around me. When I looked at the clock, it was always 1am." Sharp later discovered that as long as he didn't enter the victrola earlier than 4am, he felt comfortable practicing his piano playing, but any earlier than that and he was always on edge." Director Kristensen suggested that Sharp do a history of the building, to which Sharp declined, "If anything bad happened here, I don't wanna know."
 
The Victrola also served as a location for Inheritance. In the film, Abbey's best friend Kendra is a barista at the coffee house. As the crew was wrapping after their shoot, Kristensen told the crew about the Victrola "ghost". Half the crew seemed to believe him, and half thought he was just trying to scare them, then at about 1:30am there was a loud crash from inside the now empty Victrola. It originated from around the piano. Production Designer Jean Landry described it as sounding like "Someone slamming a chair down on the floor." Whatever it was, it made several of the crew members jump. Only Assistant Directors Roy Wilson and Scott Stephen were willing to reenter the building. Wilson went into use the men's room, and Stephen went in to scare Wilson. Both were successful.
 
It would seem that the Victrola ghost wasn't limited to 1-4 in the morning, as it twice appeared between 1:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon. Production manager Tammy Ryan recalls being alone in the office one afternoon, while assistant production co-ordinator Sita Glennon was on an errand. "I was putting something into the refridgerator, when as clear as day I saw both in the glass door reflection, and in my peripheral vision, someone walk past me," explained Ryan. "I opened my mouth to speak believeing it to be Sita, and upon turning around there was no one there. Whoever walked past me was a solid form, and I felt no 'wigginess' until I turned to say 'How'd it go?' to Sita... who wasn't there.
 
One could easily presume that Ryan was seeing things because she was working too hard, but production co-ordinator Kathy Ramos had an inexplicable experience of her own. This time, Ramos was working after hours by herself in the production office when she heard the wheels of an office chair squeak. She knew she was alone, but just to be sure she turned to look. Sure enough, there was no one there. She went back to work, but had an uneasy feeling that she was being watched. She looked out the rear window, and there was no one there, nor could there be since the back of the building was inaccessible except through the production office back door. Ramos went back to work thinking, "I'm exhausted. It's late. My brain is playing tricks on me." Then there was another squeak of wheels.
 
When Ramos turned this time, she saw that the hem of Mrs. Baker's dress was swaying. The dress was suspended on a mannequin which was on wheels... old, squeaky wheels. At first Ramos thought that maybe it was the wind, but the window and the door were closed so there was no breeze. She even checked out in the coffee shop to see if any of the doors were open, but they weren't. Ramos returned to the office, grabbed her things and called it a night. Ironically, this scene is virtually mirrored in the film when Abbey spots a dress on a mannequinn outside a thrift shop, and mistakes it for Mrs. Baker herself. For the rest of the shoot Ramos refused to enter Victrola by herself after dark.
 
After the film was in the can, director Kristensen realized that spirits were not limited to the production office, they were also present at Mrs. Baker's house. During a scene where Abbey enters Mrs. Baker's bedroom for the first time since the old woman's death, Abbey reflects on her memories of the deceased. She picks up a bottle of Mrs. Baker's perfume and sniffs it. While editing the film, Kristensen used a piece of music from the movie The Others as a temp track. At the end of the piece, there's a creepy sound of someone whispering. Kristensen loved the idea and played the piece for composer Erik Aho, but was surprised when the whispering didn't appear on CD track. Kristensen went back into the editing timeline and played the scene again, and sure enough there was the whispering. He couldn't understand why it was in the timeline, but not on the CD, so he turned off the music track in the timeline, and was shocked to hear that the whispering was still there... It was coming off the source audio from the shoot itself.
 
"We cranked up the audio," explained Kristensen. The set was quiet, the audio was indecipherable, and it certainly was no one's voice that anyone recognized. "It kind of chilled us to the bone." McDonald suggested that it might be an EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena). EVP's are a standard ghost hunting device, where researchers use magnetic audio tape to capture the voices of the dead. Click here to listen to Mrs. Baker's ghost (24k) and decide for yourself.
 
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