Nick Groff's fascination with the paranormal began with the goose bumps one day as a kid. Home alone, he walked into his kitchen to see an apparition standing just beyond the glass door. Scared, he ran out of the house and then tried to shrug off the encounter. But the creepy feeling that the figure wasn't a figment of his imagination continued to, well, haunt him.
So in 2004, when it came time to make his first full-length feature, he brought his cameras, voice recorders, and night goggles to the Old Washoe Club in Virginia City. The documentary, made along with friends Zak Bagans and Aaron Goodwin, won awards at a couple film festivals, aired on the SyFy Channel, and then turned into the reality show Ghost Adventures. Now in its third season on Friday nights, it is the Travel Channel's second highest-rated show.
How did the show come about? There was some luck and there was preparation. UNLV definitely prepared me to take on making a feature film. As a student, I got the opportunity to work on (film professor) Francisco Menendez's film, Primo. And Francisco helped me get my own film into the CineVegas film festival. Also, I connected with Aaron when the department had a guest lecture. We were the only two people at the end that went up to this producer to ask questions. We got to talking. I said I was working on a film, and we started working together from there. Those lectures are a great way to meet people.
What goes into making an episode? We spend two days interviewing the locals and gathering the history. The places we go are known for high paranormal activity. On the third day, we get locked in for the whole night without a crew; it's just the three of us and our equipment. We get tons of footage and condense the lockdown into 23 minutes with the best evidence we've gathered. Then, it's on to the next location.
What do you say to the skeptics of the show? The show is definitely entertaining -- I think mostly because of the chemistry between me, Zak, and Aaron -- but our stuff is straight up. We go into each situation looking for evidence as well as the logical explanations. What we observe, how we react -- that's all real. And we also bring in other experts to help us verify or debunk the evidence we gathered.
You've developed quite a following. The fan base is huge. We're syndicated and the show airs in France and Asia. We also host events to take fans on our adventures so they can see that what we do is real.
Are you easily spooked? It takes a lot to scare me. The most intense experience I've had was at Linda Vista Hospital in east Los Angeles just last season. I was in the area that used be the trauma center -- tons of people died there from crime and violence. I turned to see a lady, totally solid, standing there. Our eyes connected, and she was wearing a hospital gown. Made me believe 100 percent that there is something else out there after death.
Family: Groff, '04 BA Film Studies, met his wife, Veronique Russel, when both were UNLV students. They live in Las Vegas.