Director: Ben Hunter
Running Time: 100 minutes
Synopsis: When documentary filmmaker, Ben Lawrence investigates a newspaper article about a local security guard and part-time ghost hunter, Jason King - he begins a seven-year journey into a world of haunted homes and broken souls and discovers a story about a man confronting his innermost demons. Soon after they meet, Jason presents Ben with a stack of hospital records from his childhood. The documents chart a series of incidents from Jason's youth that he cannot recall. Sensing there is more to the story, Ben offers to help Jason in his decades long search for the only person who may hold the key to Jason's lost childhood – his father. Using the records, they dig into details of Jason's childhood, but the search just raises more questions. Until one day, Jason is contacted by a childhood friend who is also seeking the whereabouts of Jason's father. Sensing a breakthrough, they meet with this new-found collaborator and discover that others are also searching for his father, including the police. As the police investigation intensifies, it leads to an horrific family secret being exposed " forcing Jason to confront some brutal truths about his past. Part true-crime, part family mystery, Ghosthunter is a real-life ghost story of one man unearthing his past to reclaim his future. It is an emotional, peculiar and at times darkly humorous journey of catharsis through haunted lives - culminating in a confrontation with inner demons and the first steps on the road to healing.
Release Date: September 20th, 2018
In 2010, I read an article in my local paper about a man who had seen his dead brother's ghost. This triggered a seven-year journey into the psyche of a ghost hunter who discovers that man's enemies are not demons, but human beings like himself.
This film explores how our identities are forged from a very young age, and how our ability to forget protects us while we construct our lives. And while we survive by this ability to forget, our compulsion to remember and our desire to know the truth, creates an irreconcilable war that plays out deep within our hearts.
'Ghosthunter' began as a story about a man facing grief by healing the haunted lives of others. It revealed itself to be the tale of one man's overwhelming desire to confront a past that threatened to destroy him.
- Ben Lawrence
My journey with 'Ghosthunter' started when director Ben Lawrence told me he'd been filming with a larger than life character in one of Sydney's roughest suburbs, no surprise considering Ben's passion to tell the stories of intriguing characters on the edges of society.
Both Jason and his story were peculiar and there were so many questions that needed answers, it was a genuine mystery – I was hooked on the project. The film quickly evolved in real-time, revealing a multi-layered and challenging narrative, plus more haunting realities than we could ever have imagined.
'Ghosthunter' deals with loss, the unreliability of memory, the search for truth and the long reaching complexities of childhood trauma.
As the project progressed I found myself grappling with the ambiguity of Jason's story, finding a challenging balance between my empathy toward his situation, and the troubling revelations that came along with it. At times I felt we had fallen down a rabbit hole, becoming lost trying to unravel the overlaying perspectives and ethical aspects of this story – particularly when police became involved and victims came out of the woodwork.
Did people know more than they were telling us? What did the hospital records say? Were we doing the right thing by Jason by making the film?
Interviews we felt would bring us resolute answers, instead left us more confused as to the truth – Was there a definitive truth at all? It eventually became apparent we would never know exactly what happened in Jason's past.
Without a tidy ending we had many long and intense discussions surrounding who Jason was, our differing perceptions of him, our implication in the search for his father and how on earth we would tell this seven-year story in just ninety minutes. On top of this was much ongoing consultation and concern surrounding duty of care to our characters and crew members.
The ghost hunting served as a strong metaphor for the realities of the lives we were recording. Whether any ghosts were seen or even existed didn't really matter, the act of hunting them validates the person's experience and brings a form of healing.
This project both unsettled and touched me, opening my eyes to the sheer complexity of the impact of trauma as a child has on an adult. It gave me more compassion and understanding for survivors like Jason and Cathy and we hope it does this for our audience too.
- Rebecca Bennett
Release Date: September 20th, 2018