“I love working with this crew,” says the sound technician of his paranormal investigation team, “but I don’t believe any of it.”
The investigation team stars in a TV show called We Want To Believe where they pursue, study and document raw footage of everything paranormal. Shawn Knippelberg is the geek behind the sound and music and, when he has the time, a geek behind a camera. The team is very motivated and passionate about exploring ‘the other side’, while atheist Shawn remains the devil’s advocate… who doesn’t believe in the devil:
“During the investigations I do my best not to make fun of stuff. When I AM there, I take pictures and offer anything else I can towards the labeling of some arbitrary thing, sounds etc, that are being chalked up as ‘evidence’. But mostly I’m just there. I don’t serve a giant function. I don’t ask ghosts questions, it feels silly. Like asking Santa for toys…at my age. So honestly, I serve as an extra pair of eyes and camera, and understand that stabilizing any shot of questionable stuff is important, hahaha, no shaky cam pictures.”
We Want To Believe investigators look into old houses, old sites and even forests (when searching for Big Foot!) in places that claim paranormal activity. The premise of the show is to provide a real, non-Hollywood look at the paranormal, and that’s exactly what the investigators do, with eyes and minds wide open and no fake stuff! Shawn also feels a sense of responsibility to maintain the integrity of the show and those who watch it. And he maintains his own beliefs:
“I like to joke about it, but I also feel the need to ensure that people aren’t given false hope or beliefs when it comes to something so sacred. If an afterlife is 100% something, then what is the point of this one? If eight billion people were accidentally convinced that they will 100% be reunited with loved ones after death, imagine what they would do? One could say that religious people 100% believe that. But they’ve also been given a safety protocol belief that suicide doesn’t get you there. That’s the less humorous part and feels like a giant weight. Because they feel they are being judged in this life. But what if a ghost hunter accidentally provided wrong evidence that said we all go, no matter what, no judgement?
Do I hope there is more? Absolutely, what is the point if not? Hey, what if we are super advanced aliens that separated with their physical bodies millions of years ago and found a way to relive in physical form through our advanced primate brains and our conscience is just imprinted for our alien selves to experience physicality, and when the monkey suit dies we return home? I love that I think I just weirded you out.”
I met Shawn for the first time when I was on his show, We Came From The Basement, with his fellow film critic Jason Hewlett. To me the basement looked like an exploded cockpit with a world of switches, knobs and cords that I could never make sense of. They could have called the show ‘We Came From The Cockpit’. I realized at once that I was in a nerd herd! But how did Shawn get so skilled with mixing technology with music? He says his love of music began when his parents brought home an organ when he was four:
“I never learned to read music but I never met a musical instrument I didn’t want to try. In 2005 I started creating music for use in flash animation on the internet. It was just sort of a hobby I always held onto. I could never walk by a piano without making a sound.”
As for the technology part of the question, Shawn was vague:
“I have a massive library of instruments. I noodle until it feels right.”
What does the next year look like for this atheist ghost hunter? More investigations, more adventures and more making music! He does custom sound and design, narration for copyright free YouTube videos, short films, movies, podcasts, intros, editing and recording! Check him out here. You can also find him chatting about movies with Jason Hewlett Fridays at 6:05 p.m. on Radio NL 610 AM Kamloops.