It wasn’t enough for filmmaker Evan J. Cholfin and his producing partner and wife Ariana Farina to just make a movie. They wanted to enhance the audience experience by immersing them in the world of the movie before ever seeing it. So, they created an interactive online experience for the social media age – one entrenched in the world of Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, and Twitter, that could be a shared, communal experience for those who had the enthusiasm (and perhaps courage for some) to participate.
It was back in 2007 when Evan and Ariana, engaged at the time, were driving back from Las Vegas to their home in Los Angeles, when they started talking about ghost towns along the way, and what a creepy and unique place this would be to film a realistic horror-thriller film.
Cut to three years later, when Evan led eight actors and a crew of six out to a ghost town in a remote area in Kern County, CA to film the movie.
Then, on an unassuming afternoon in December 2011, Evan and Ariana quietly launched a website and a Facebook page which marked the beginning of what would become a brand new social media experience for the audience – a prologue to the movie.
On these sites, the group – a gathering of friends, family, and colleagues – began posting about their cause. “We, the families of those who disappeared, are in search of the truth behind the disappearances of our loved ones, who left Los Angeles on December 16th, 2011 to make an independent film in Las Vegas, and were reported as missing as of December 26th. The people who have gone missing are our children, our brothers, our sisters, our cousins, our grandchildren, our nieces and nephews, our friends. If you have any information regarding their disappearances, please contact us on our Facebook Page.”
The group took it upon themselves to find out what happened to their missing loved ones, reaching out via social media on Facebook and via the Twitter feed @famsinsearch to find any clues as to their whereabouts, and to recruit members to “Like” the Facebook page in order to participate. Members of the group, many whom Evan and Ariana had never even met in person, began posting testimonials about the missing persons on the YouTube channel the filmmakers had set up.
On April 8, 2012, Morgan Marcos, a friend of one of the missing Sean Muramatsu, posted on the Facebook page. Morgan had a text conversation with Sean the day he left for Vegas. Two important clues were found in this conversation he uploaded to the page–Sean and company were “checking out this ghost town on the way” and “El Burro lives”. Morgan had no idea what the last comment meant, but Evan quickly enlisted the help of the group by having them search ghost towns between LA and LV via a ghost town website using the clues provided. The group narrowed the search down to Garlock, CA, one-time home of “Burro” Schmidt, a miner who actually took dynamite and blasted a tunnel from one side of a mountain to the other to bring precious ore through. Legend told that his ghost still haunted the town.
Evan and Ariana quickly rounded up a party to investigate the area surrounding Garlock, and began posting pictures and video of their search efforts on their pages and YouTube channel. Meanwhile support continued to pour in as more people began to join the group.
On Wednesday early morning, April 25, a video of their first major break in the case was posted on their YouTube channel for the world to see RIGHT HERE.
And today, the group posted a vital piece of footage to clue us into the events that occurred between December 16 and 18, 2011, when their loved ones had disappeared.
We’ll be following the story further as it continues to unfold here.
The filmmakers ask those who would like to participate, please “Like” the Facebook page to join the group.