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Ryan Bergara discusses past and future content at ISU AfterDark

Dorothy+Sargent+interviews+Ryan+Bergara+in+the+Memorial+Union+Great+Hall+on+September+29%2C+2023.
Joseph Dicklin
Dorothy Sargent interviews Ryan Bergara in the Memorial Union Great Hall on September 29, 2023.

Ryan Bergara entertained skeptics and believers alike in the Memorial Union Great Hall on Friday evening. His guest appearance and interview were part of ISU AfterDark, a free event that is hosted by the Student Union Board three times a semester.

Bergara rose to fame in 2016 when he created the web series “BuzzFeed Unsolved.” The show was divided into two parts. “BuzzFeed Unsolved: Supernatural” investigated alleged haunted locations, and “BuzzFeed Unsolved: True Crime” focused on unsolved crimes.

For much of “BuzzFeed Unsolved”, Bergara was joined by his co-host and friend, Shane Madej, who does not believe in ghosts and provided a skeptical—and occasionally unhinged—approach to their ghost hunting.

“I did not think anyone was gonna watch [BuzzFeed Unsolved], and then, luckily, all you guys showed up,” Bergara said. “It’s all a big shock to me. We’re very lucky, and that’s never lost on me. So thank you.”

Bergara entertained the audience by telling them about his visit to Alcatraz Island for an episode of “BuzzFeed Unsolved: Supernatural” and some of his interactions with the ranger who was their guide.

“She was very, very intense,” Bergara said. “I was very aware of her being there. Shane and I were making dick jokes, and she had just given us that whole spiel about how this was sacred land and all that.”

However, he also acknowledged that sometimes, his encounters on these trips are far less entertaining.

He recalled almost getting scammed and mugged on the trip where they filmed on Isla de las Muñecas—or Island of the Dolls—in Mexico City.

“We have a translator with us, Pepe—he was in the video, very nice man—and he’s starting to sound increasingly worried,” Bergara said. “Apparently, the deal was 500 pesos to get on this island, and [the owner] was like, ‘That’s not the deal anymore… 50,000 now.’ We were 30 minutes away from the city, it was nightfall and I started doing the math of what’s going on here. We were in a boat with like tens of thousands of dollars of equipment, and we’re basically being held hostage by this guy.”

Bergara said that he did not know what Pepe said to the owner of the island, but eventually, he allowed the camera crew to stay there for about two to three hours.

“Have you ever wondered, ‘Has Shane been scared?’” Bergara said. “Yeah. It was there.”

In 2019, Bergara and Madej left BuzzFeed to create their own digital production company, Watcher Entertainment. They have made several web series, including Ghost Files, which is the spiritual successor to BuzzFeed Unsolved: Supernatural, and Mystery Files, which is the spiritual successor to BuzzFeed Unsolved: True Crime.

In case you were wondering, Bergara is still scared when he goes ghost hunting.

“We only do this six days out of the year,” Bergara said. “If I did this every week, my nerves would be steel. There is a bit of a callous on my soul at this point, but I will say that I’m just not used to it.”

Bergara ended the night by teasing some upcoming projects that Watcher Entertainment has been working on.

“We have something I can talk about and something I can’t,” Bergara said. “There is one that I can’t… but you guys are gonna like it. It’s gonna be very fun.”

Bergara said that some new content by Steven Lim, the CEO and co-founder of Watcher Entertainment, would be coming out soon, as well as two new podcasts. But to know what those new podcasts are about, you just had to be there, as Bergara asked the crowd to keep it under wraps for the next two weeks.

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