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Exclusive interview: The Proof Is Out There Tony Harris talks expanded Season 2 for History Channel

tony harris
Harris is back for an expanded season 2 of The proof Is Out There for History. Pic credit: History Channel

History Channel wants you to believe. And with award-winning filmmaker and journalist Tony Harris once again at the helm of season 2 of The Proof Is Out There, you will be asked to view videos presented to the show of inexplicable events and incidents. Harris will moderate the conversation while top experts examine every frame.

This series is a real-time X-Files and done without the overly-hyped “what-if” drama of Ancient Aliens. Sober and serious investigations of all sorts of caught-in-action weird stuff, viral videos, and never-before-seen footage that demands your attention.

The History Channel’s nonfiction series The Proof Is Out There is hosted by Harris, a former CNN and Al Jazeera anchor. He uses intellect over hype and helps us process what we are witnessing with in-depth and thought-provoking possible scenarios for all the presented videos of unexplained phenomena and mysterious must-see moments.

Bigfoot, enormous snakes, scary sounds, UFOs, and other strangeness is unspooled in a half-hour episode, as Harris leads the charge with a coterie of academic experts and authorities who can spot fakery—something Harris tells Monsters & Critics is far too tempting for some fame seekers— and novice to expert digital manipulation. Instead, Harris explores and analyzes the full story of each bit of bizarre footage as we wonder about this Earth we live on and the enormity of what we still do not know.

Exclusive interview with Tony Harris

Monsters & Critics: The second season feels more focused than the first season. More experts are featured.

Tony Harris: Yes, and I hope it is viewed as a good thing, certainly from our perspective. It showed the growth and evolution of the show.

And in that first season, you set out your vision and your mission, and you hope you nail it a hundred percent. And sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t.

But if there’s an opportunity to improve on 70% to get it to 80%, or 80% to get it to 90%, then you owe it to your audience to do it.

And I think we’ve tried to do that, and we will continue to try to tweak it in ways that make it better, driving the message home in a more focused way. I think we’ve done that this season.

It’s been terrific to be back. It’s been affirming to know that the History channel believes in the show in the way that it has. It’s got a heck of a second run of shows.

You’ll recall that we launched with ten episodes. Now we’re back in the second season with 30 episodes. So that speaks to the confidence in the terrific team. The improvements that we’re constantly making to make the show a better show, a smarter show.

M&C: You revisit the past too, when UFO events and footage, you almost do a retrospective of when this phenomenon made news in American history, which is interesting. I don’t think any other show has done that.

Tony Harris: Well, I think it’s essential. The thing often goes overlooked is chronology or a timeline, and I don’t want to say that my brethren in this business don’t take the time, and I’m certainly not implying that they’re lazy because they’re hard-working.

I’ll give you a current example of that.

There is a timeline, a chronology missing in telling the Afghanistan story. Right now, today. Because people are jumping in with their reporting in the middle of the story or see the story from 2018, 2019, when Trump signed the agreement with the Taliban, people are being reintroduced to the story from that late date.

People don’t understand the 17 years that went ahead of it and the loss of life and the sacrifices, blood, and treasure of the United States, the base that the Afghans put into the mission there.

So I think that context, perspective, chronology timelines are essential in journalism. And I think far too often it’s overlooked.

We don’t want to do that. So when I talk about making the series a better show and trying to make it a more focused examination, part of that is taking you back through history and saying, ‘Hey, we didn’t get here overnight.’

We didn’t just decide, ‘Hey, we’re going to be Johnny-come-lately to UFOs and in strange anomalies, and we’re just going to jump in the fray.

No, to do that, you need a unique context and perspective and chronology. And so we’re revisiting some stuff, and we’re even reviewing things from last season.

I promise you this, that when we needed to clarify anything and if we got some takes wrong, that we would come back and we would say, ‘Hey, we found that out. We goofed that up. We could have done better.’

M&C: You take an analytical hard, newsperson’s lens to these things. It’s almost required because people seem to fall prey and get hooked by visual imagery easily manipulated.

Tony Harris: Here’s what we try to do with this season. We knew that there was going to be a report on unidentified phenomena. We knew that that report was coming from the director of national intelligence.

And so we knew that we would have to do a show on that, and we’d have to do some solid reporting on that. We’re looking at a seven-page report that’s inconclusive at best. Right?

And then, from our perspective, what do you do with that? Well, what we did is we provided context. But, unfortunately, you didn’t get the context in that seven-page report.

They looked at the unidentified aerial phenomenon from 2004 to the present. So, our show says that, well, there’s a lot more history there than 2004 to present. And so, we decided that we would walk the audience through that history.

So we’ve got a solid hour where we take a look at the report we dig into it. So I feel like when the audience joins us on September 17 to look at what we’ve done concerning this report, they will see some excellent work.

And, the fact that the report ends up being inconclusive only says that there’s more work to do. The report itself says there’s more work to do well. But the proof is out there, so let’s do the work.

M&C: The show doesn’t just solely focus on aliens or UFOs? People immune to lightning or a 50-foot snake, apocalyptic sound. Tell us about some of the unusual events?

Tony Harris: So, you know the song about the milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, right? So the UFOs and the UAP (unidentified aerial phenomenon) are getting the audience to the show.

But what we’ve said from the earliest days is that people are sending us videos that they want to explore, and some of the stuff is strange.

And, in the arc of excellent storytelling, it makes sense to follow to try to identify as many of the odd, strange things that people are capturing on these videos as possible.

So yes, the UAPs bring the audience to the show. So what we do is follow the videos that people send to us. And when we find that they’re interesting well, we explore them.

Do you know what a Baba Yaga is? You will find out when you watch our show.

Why? Because people are interested, and people are sending us questions that deserve an explanation.

We’ve got videos where we’re trying to figure out what’s in the permafrost that’s melting in Russia and elsewhere. Strange claims are surfacing about that.

We do segments on space junk. The UAP report from the DNIS office talks about space junk being a category that explains some of the captured [on film] things. We discern whether this is a plastic bag or a balloon, or just satellite debris.

We’ve got a video of the two-headed serpent, and we explain this and other events and anomalies captured on video. And, our admonition to folks was, ‘Please keep those cameras rolling.’ And people are doing that, and they’re sending the videos to us. So, we’re busy and happily so.

M&C: What has been the biggest surprise or revelation to you?

Tony Harris: I think one of the biggest revelations has been the willingness of people to go to extraordinary lengths to try to create a viral moment.

Just extraordinary lengths. One of the reasons we needed to up our game is the lengths people go with available technology to create viral moments, and they’re not doing it to fool us or other shows.

They’re doing it to create a moment to get buzz where the material is out there and to increase their fame or trick us into believing hoaxes and whatever else.

But one of the revelations this season is that people are using the available technology to create amazingly good imagery, whether it’s CGI or other available technology.

Okay. But that’s why you bring on board some of the best people in the business to dissect all of that and figure it out for the audience.

That goes back to your initial point about trust, and what can you believe? It is one of the show’s beauties, and we ended up being a clearinghouse and aggregator for all of this material. And, to the extent that we can get to as much of it as possible, thank goodness we got more episodes this season.

We can sort the hoaxsters, the false videos, and the people who are just trying to create a moment to grab some fame at the expense of people looking for answers in this space and are true believers in the space. That continues to be the surprise and revelation, maybe more so in the second season than even in the first.

The other thing is some of the testimonials of the people who talk about that video they’ve recorded. So another revelation is the deep sense of people who believe we’re not alone in the universe. They believe, and scientists have confirmed that there were other universes, but people believe that there is life beyond what we know on Earth.

So the first piece is the extent to which people will use the technology to create elaborate kinds of hoaxes. And then the other thing is the desire of people to understand the universe and the air, the land, and the sea better and what’s here with us now.

The Proof is Out There is back September 17, 2021, at 10/9c on History Channel.

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