Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Dead Files

By Diane L. Goeres-Gardner

At first I thought the phone call was phony. However, it didn’t take long before Brian Kniffel convinced me he was for real. He is a producer for Painless Entertainment (a production company) and was interested in having me be part of a “Dead Files” show in Roseburg, Oregon.

On April 15, 2014, Brian drove to my home for an interview. He was very nice and really liked my house and property. Two days later he called and said the production crew was excited about having me on the show, and, oh yes, would I mind if they filmed at my house. He connected me with their research assistant and we went over the information they already had. I did my own research to verify it and I was able to add details they didn’t have.

I think I was more nervous about filming at my home than doing the interview. Two weeks after that first phone call a caravan of cars and a large van drove down my driveway. Besides Steve Di Schiavi, the star detective, there were about a dozen crewmembers and tons of equipment. We did the filming on my covered front porch.

Desme Simon, a senior segment producer I’d talked to many times before, called me on August 11, to let me know that the Roseburg show would air on September 6. She also wanted to know if I was interested in doing another segment. They were filming in Salem, Oregon and doing a show about Independence, a small town nearby. In a strange coincidence, I had just finished writing a new book about the Oregon State Penitentiary (Arcadia Publishing November 2014.) and they wanted me to talk about the prison’s first superintendent.

On August 15, I drove to Salem and met the crew at the Oregon State Library. It was like a family reunion. While some crewmembers were new, it was fun to catch up with those I’d already met.

Desme and I went over the information I was going to talk about and we descended into the library stacks to start filming. It was pretty tight quarters, but through some ingenious engineering they managed to get cameras, lights, crew, Steve, and me into position. I felt more confident this time. Experience does help. It was easier to concentrate on what I wanted to say when I wasn’t so nervous and worrying about what was going to happen next. We finished in a couple hours and after saying good-bye to everyone I left.

I didn’t hear anything from the show until seven months later on May 4th when Desme called and told me the show would air on the Travel Channel Saturday, May 9, 2015.

Later, I asked Brian why he had called me to participate in that first show. He said they liked to use authors who had written books for Arcadia Publishing about the various towns that the show visited. They believed those authors would be informed about the area and the most enthusiastic about the subject.

Who knew when I wrote “Roseburg” for Arcadia that it would lead to two television appearances? Even though I’m NOT an actress and my 66-year old body isn’t glamorous, I had decided ten years ago when my first book was published, it didn’t matter. People are far more interested in what I have to say than what I look like. I’ve tried to maintain that confidence and it has served me well. Without it, I’m sure I wouldn’t have participated in many of the opportunities writing has offered me – even if they did spell my name wrong.

Diane L. Goeres-Gardner is a fifth-generation Oregonian, as her ancestors settled in Tillamook County in 1852. She began writing at an early age, winning her first writing contest at age 12. Diane is the author of Necktie Parties: A History of Legal Executions in Oregon, 1851~1905, the sequel  Murder, Morality and Madness: Women Criminals in Early Oregon, and Oregon State Penitentiary.

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