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Q&A with Ariel Phenomenon Director Randall Nickerson

Recently I wrote a review for the new UFO documentary Ariel Phenomenon, which would be greatly enjoyed by anyone who has been following TDG for any number of years, since instead of trying to make a case for extraterrestrial visitation it strives instead to present the ‘human angle’ to the alien mystery

As a plus to our readers, the director Randall Nickerson was also kind enough to answer a few questions via email. Here they are:

  • Of all the plethora of stories of close encounters with non-human intelligences from all over the world, why focus on this one?

RN: I chose this case because of the plethora of witnesses, which made it unique. And the fact of the witnesses are children was particularly fascinating to me.

  • What was the most challenging aspect about presenting this story in film format?

RN: Getting the funding was the biggest hurdle [the film was produced thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign]. The hardest part was that I had to shoot it, and I’m glad I did, but it was challenging to do all those roles – interviewer, film it, record sound. 

  • Were there any of the children who refused to appear in the film? If so, why?

RN: Yes, a lot of them were spoken to but didn’t feel comfortable being in an interview on camera. They didn’t want the ridicule, they didn’t want to interrupt their lives. There were more people that said that, than were in the film.

  • Are there instances of repeating contacts or manifestations of psychic abilities among the Ariel children that you are aware of?

RN: I’m not at liberty to discuss this, that’s something that’s up to them to share.

  • The story of Emily [one of the witnesses] and her return to Ariel feels like the emotional backbone of the whole movie, and showed that her journey toward healing was very arduous. But what about even more negative outcomes? Are there cases of substance abuse, broken relationships, etc, among some of the Ariel witnesses as a result of their coping with the trauma of the experience?

RN: That is a question for them, and they’d have to be ready to discuss that themselves. But yes, those are a few ways that this, or any kind, of trauma effects experiencers’ lives.

  • Were there things about the story you didn’t know before embarking on this project that totally surprised you? 

RN: Yes – I didn’t know about Tim Leach [the BBC correspondent to brought attention to the case initially, and contacted Dr. John Mack], I didn’t know that so many individuals from the press interviewed the children, and I didn’t know there were witnesses outside of Ariel, not specific to the school.

  • Were there things you wanted to include in the movie but were unable to?

RN: Absolutely – the other witnesses that were from outside of Ariel school, I interviewed about 70 of them, from before and after the day of the event. But it just wouldn’t fit in the film – too many stories to tell, and we had to decide on what to focus on.

  • Were there unexpected/synchronistic events that happened to you or your crew during the production of the project? 

RN: Oh yeah. Which one(s) should I start with? A lot of moments on the African production trips.  A lot of dangerous wildlife that didn’t bother us but could have. One night we were far off in the dark, Chris and I, where jaguars and lions roam, one of which could have gotten snapped up so easily. There are dozens of stories like that from my adventures in Africa over the three trips I took for the film. I got chased by an elephant, a rhino, a female lion. It was a lot. But it all turned out well.

  • Are there any other UFO/paranormal cases you would like to get involved with in future projects?

RN: Definitely. But I can’t discuss these projects right now at the risk of others covering them. I’m interested in stories nobody knows about.

  • Have you had anomalous experiences yourself?

RN: I have. That’s a whole story in itself, but at this time I’m keeping the story about the Ariel School students, because that’s who this story is about, and they’ve the important ones right now. My story will be told eventually.

We are very grateful with Randall for answering our questions, and the fact there are aspects about the Ariel case he didn’t have a chance to include in the film (like the witnesses outside the school) doesn’t surprise me in the least. My gut tells me not only that we will never know the full story of what really went on that school playground in Zimbabwe in 1994, but also that we haven’t heard the last from the Ariel witnesses, who may be now ready to share more about their incredible experiences.

Ariel Phenomenon is available for online rent at the official website.

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