Sound Stage 4
Craig Owens, CA, USA
There are many ghosts in Los Angeles and when strange things happen to me, I am usually skeptical.
One of my oddest experiences happened at Warner Bros. In late October, 1997, I worked on a television series that filmed on Sound Stage 4, one of the old stages. Across the street was Clint Eastwood's Malpaso office and up the street were the former dressing rooms of Bette Davis, James Cagney, Errol Flynn, Joan Crawford, Humphrey Bogart, etc.
I worked nights, photocopying scripts and delivering them to the set and to actor's houses before the next day's rehearsal. I had been doing this job without incident since August until a few days before Halloween.
That night, rehearsals had ended about 7:30pm and I was working alone. I finished copying scripts and arrived at the stage around 9:30pm. Most nights, I arrived between 2-3am, so I was happy to have an early night for a change.
The stage was unlocked and dark, so I flipped on the overhead flood lights. The floods always flickered for about 3-5 minutes then cast a pale dim light before clicking on full. But tonight was different. The overhead lights flickered sporadically and the dull light never really kicked in. But this did not bother me at first.
As usual, I went from office to dark office, dropping off scripts to the different departments: make-up, wardrobe, props, transportation, etc. But as I stepped out of the assistant director's office onto a creaky second floor parapet overlooking the back of the stage, I heard a woman's voice speaking in almost a broadcasting tone. I thought someone had left a radio or a television on because the voice sounded as though she were reading or reciting something rather than speaking conversationally. Plus it sounded muted.
I thought it was weird that I could hear syllables and consonants but could not connect them into words. Plus the voice, which sounded like a 30-something year old woman, would rise then drop in timber. And there would be 2-5 seconds of silence before the voice would begin again. Though I could not understand, the woman seemed to be responding to some unknown, silent voice speaking to her.
I stood on the wood railing, trying to pinpoint where the voice was transmitting. At first, it sounded like it was downstage and to my right. Next, it sounded like it was center stage and then the voice shifted to a place impossible to guess. I kept waiting for the audio to cut to a commercial or a music cue or even another voice, but after 5 or so minutes, it became obvious that it probably wasn't a radio or television. Too many pauses. So I decided to investigate.
The voice grew considerably fainter as I descended the stairs and faded away completely as I reached the stage. During this time, the overhead lights continued flicking madly and half of the floods would not turn on at all.
I searched the stage thoroughly and did not find a television or radio. Furthermore, as I walked across the stage, the flickering lights overhead followed me. By now, I was getting spooked. Everywhere I turned on stage, the lights wildly flickered over my head, yet as I moved away, the same lights would either stop flickering, grow dim or go out. The flickering even seemed to follow me around corners.
I thought for a second that this was an elaborate joke pulled by a stagehand. But I did not know any stagehands and they didn't know me. Besides who in their right mind would waste so much time and energy, especially after putting in a full 10 hour day? Still I called out and nobody answered.
On stage, the atmosphere was unusually suffocating and gloomy. There was a weird tension in the air. I am not one to get spooked easily...when weird things happen, I usually shrug it off and say I'm imagining things. But at that moment, I felt like getting the heck out, so I dumped the rest of my scripts on a downstage table and made a beeline for the door.
The flickering lights kept following me so I started walking faster. I entered the part of the stage that would not light and as I approached the door, I heard footsteps about 8 feet behind me. But it wasn't just footsteps, it was the swishing of a satin-like gown along with the light pitter-patter of feet. I turned around sharply, expecting to catch sight of whatever prankster was tormenting me, but nobody was there. I continued walking and the footsteps resumed.
I threw off the lights, announced to whomever that I was leaving and practically ran out the door. However, I hung around outside about 8 minutes, waiting to see if anyone came out, but there was no one.
Of course, the next day nobody believed my story since it was so close to Halloween. I asked security a couple of weeks later if there were any unusual reports of disturbances on the lot and the guard looked at me like I was crazy. And, of course, I continued delivering scripts in the dead of night without further incident.