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We are “The Proper People”, two filmmakers who have explored and filmed hundreds of abandoned places over the past three years – Ask Us Anything!

May 24th 2017 by TheProperPeople • 30 Questions • 2702 Points

The two of us, Michael and Bryan, have been exploring abandoned places and creating videos of these adventures on our YouTube channel “The Proper People” for the past few years. We’ve been lucky enough to explore all kinds of abandoned places such as theme parks, asylums, prisons, malls, cathedrals, and even a nuclear power plant. What started out as a curiosity for us has turned into a passion, and we strive to bring this appreciation of abandoned and historic places to others through our videos.

Right now we are trying to raise funds to create a 5 part documentary series about urban exploration called “Forbidden Explorers.” This is a passion project that we’ve been planning for over a year now, with the goal of telling a more meaningful story about the culture of urban exploration than what’s been done before. If you’re interested in history, adventure documentaries, or just the surreal aesthetic of abandoned places, I can promise you’ll love it. If you’re interested you can check out the Kickstarter page here!

The two of us will both be answering questions with this account, signed with an initial (M or B) to signify who is answering. We'll start answering questions around 6pm EST and try to stay around as long as we can.

PROOF: Twitter Additional proof, this account is a moderator of our subreddit /r/theproperpeople

EDIT: We enjoyed answering all your questions! We're wrapping up the AMA now.

Q:

What's the place you've explored where you were most afraid for your safety?

A:

There's been a lot of places where I've been afraid of falling through the floor, such as old asylums which frequently have huge collapses. Also exploring an an abandoned iron ore mine in Alabama was pretty scary. The place looked like it was ready to come down any moment, you could see where huge chunks of rock had fallen. We also had to worry about bad air and getting lost (and we went DEEP into that mine). We had an oxygen meter and some other safety equipment but even so I could not wait to get out of there. Would probably never explore an abandoned mine again unless I knew there was something REALLY amazing in there.

As far as scary experiences involving people, the worst was probably this video that we put on our second channel. We were at an abandoned asylum in the middle of nowhere and the middle of the night. We drove all around the place before going inside and didn't see any other parked cars. After a few minutes inside, we look out the window and see a guy in the brush with a flashlight. It's not super clear on video but it was 100% a person. After he wasn't answering back to us, we felt super sketched out and got the hell out of there.

-Michael


Q:

I love your work guys!

It's simply a huge step above the rest when it comes to the Urban exploration vids out there!

Do you ever reflect on the inherent sadness of such buildings that have been lost to time and decay?

I often watch your videos and think of the people who sat in the chairs or laid in the hospital beds... how many babies were born, how many memories were made there... or even where all the people have gone!

Also, do you ever wonder why some buildings aren't repurposed for use? Some of the buildings you've been in have been in <relatively> good shape and probably could have been repurposed..

I'm going to donate to your kickstarter as well.

Thanks guys for what you do!

A:

Thanks!! Sometimes yeah, it's fun to imagine what it was like when the building was used. Sometimes a building is so dated it needs to be completely refurbished to be used again and it isn't always financially sensible. -Bryan


Q:

1) Are there any recommendations you have as to starting to urbex

2) will there be a new gear update video?

3) any saftey tips?

Thanks in advance guys been watching for a while now and loved every vid so far!

A:

I wrote this answer to someone asking how to find places but thought it could be useful to you as well:

"There is no good answer for this question. Usually we will see a place that captures our attention on instagram or flickr and start doing some detective work to narrow down what/where it could be. If you have more than one or two pictures to go off of this method will almost always work with some google-fu (and some practice). It also helps to try to find a community of people doing this near you. Don't just go to them asking for locations though, do some of your own exploring first before coming to them. Most seasoned explorers will be down to explore with new people if they see that they've put in effort already. We also find places just by spotting them while driving (since we drive all over the country to do our filming). Other leads can come from anywhere, just keep your eyes open."

-Michael


Q:

Do you have a "code of conduct" you guys follow during an exploration? If so, what are some of your "rules"?

A:

We go in, film, and leave without disturbing anything. -Bryan


Q:

In your opinions, what is the scariest place you two have explored?

A:

It's between the place we did with Dan Bell for our Halloween vid and on our second channel when we saw some guy out in the woods. - Bryan


Q:

Do you have a favorite type of place to explore (e.g. malls, asylums) or is that just dependent on how much of the furniture / paperwork is still in the building?

A:

Personally I really enjoy industrial places like power plants and factories. I think it's because the experience of being inside them is so different than any places you experience in your day-to-day life. These places usually have a really massive scale to them that dwarfs you, and I find the rusty textures nice as well.

Asylums are always interesting too because they often have a lot left inside, and can sprawl for miles. You can get completely lost in another world while inside an asylum. Traveling between all the buildings in secret using the steam tunnels is fun as well. Not to mention they have some of the darkest history that is kind of shut away from mainstream American history. I definitely think there should be way more interest in them by the public!

Theme parks are by far the best overall, but good abandoned theme parks are so hard to come by. There is just something so striking about them visually and emotionally.

-Michael


Q:

Did that happen at the old hotel?

A:

It was a hotel that was completely gutted inside, so it ended up being completely not worth.

-Michael


Q:

What's Your favorite place you've explored?

A:

It's between the Nuclear Power Plant and a handful of the asylums we've been to. -Bryan


Q:

What camera do you use to record in 4K and do you plan on talking to people more often in your discord server?

A:

We switched to Sony A7s II's somewhat recently. We have a full gear page on our website. Also, we try to talk on there but we've just been so busy recently. -Bryan


Q:

What inspired you guys to start your YouTube channel?

A:

Originally it wasn't going to be focused on abandoned places, it kind of just happened due to curiosity of what was inside them. We knew we just wanted to be making videos and YouTube was a good way to publish them. -Bryan


Q:

Hey guys, huge fans!

What was the place you were most looking forward to but had to bail because of police, collapsed floors, etc? Will you ever go back to try the place again?

A:

There are a handful of places we haven't been able to get into. Some of which we know would have been amazing. If we are ever in the area we might try again if something's changed. -Bryan


Q:

How did you guys come up with the name "Proper People"? Love your videos!

A:

We were just brainstorming random names that sounded cool and we decided to go with it because we needed a name and were out of ideas. -Bryan


Q:

Any plans of getting anymore gear sponserships?

A:

Maybe, but the Forbidden Explorers series will be free of product placements if the Kickstarter campaign is successful. -Bryan


Q:

What's your guy's opinion of Exploring with Josh?

A:

He's a good guy. He actually has a passion for what he's doing rather than just trying to cash in on a trend (he started well before this was a "viral" trend). He also has a good message of encouraging people to go out of their comfort zone and doing more adventurous things. I think that's mainly what he aims for with his videos.

-Michael


Q:

My friend and I are going to try urbex soon with the help of an experienced friend.

My question is what are some of your go-to tricks for great pictures, i.e. ND filters, specific settings for sharper pics, etc?

I have a Canon Rebel T1i.

A:

Most important thing is just make sure you're getting enough light, which is a frequent challenge in abandoned buildings. Learn how to pick the right aperture, shutter speed, and ISO for each situation, and invest in a tripod so you can do longer exposures.

-Michael


Q:

Thanks! As I mentioned in my tweet reply I'd never backed a project faster. Hope the campaign is successful and look forward to your future adventures further from home!

A:

Thank you!!


Q:

Also, have you run into any fans of the show while exploring? Was it weird or kind of surreal?

A:

Yes. It was both weird and surreal haha.

-Michael


Q:

Hey guys, love your channel, I'm a long time supporter and I'm looking forward to the new series. Everybody please support these guys, they're the best urbex channel out there.

  1. Are you guys out of college now and is that the reason that you're trying to make this series, to see if you can make a living doing the proper people?

  2. You mentioned music licensing, one thing that stood out about a lot of your earlier videos was the production and part of that was your excellent music choice ( including the theme song which everybody loves), it seems like there's been less of that in recent videos, is that due to copyright problems? Can we expect more dank electronic soundtracks, and do you plan to do any more original music?

A:

Thanks, glad you love the vids!

We're still in college but because of the success of our YouTube channel, we switched our majors to film.

We decided to start using music through a licensed repository available through our YouTube Network. It's easier and causes less problems with content ID. For the series we definitely want amazing music and maybe even a soundtrack designed specifically for it. -Bryan


Q:

Do you have a favorite sports car?

A:

I'm a huge euro car fan, favorite is probably the Porsche 930. -Bryan


Q:

Definitely true. That specific state of decay is such a unique and beautiful one and i'm sure there are so many in that state around the US to explore. I wish the both of you the best of luck with your new project. You can bet I will watch every single episode!

A:

Honestly, there are so many asylums out there to explore there's really no need to revisit one we've already been to. But maybe if we're ever in the area and need something else to film. -Bryan


Q:

That makes a lot of sense. I hope for the return but I'm glad you guys visited such a place

A:

With international destinations!

-Michael


Q:

Back in last year, i somehow managed to find your channel, and you're truly amazing. I'm from Hungary, and I probably never be in America, so its a great opportunity to see what buildings are there.

I've seen you videos about some paranormal activity stuff. Are they real? And if yes, what is the best activity you guys have experienced?

A:

We've never faked anything in any of our videos except for one thing we did early on which we really regret because now we can't just blanket statement say that everything is 100% real. It was the ending of this one. We always meant for it to be a joke and not to be taken literally but too many people thought it was real.

Neither of us believe in "paranormal activity" but there has definitely been some unexplained stuff we've experienced, usually suspicious bangs or other sounds. We leave it up to the interpretation of our viewers in our videos though.

-Michael


Q:

Do you have a plan B if the Kickstarter doesn't get funded?

A:

Probably just continue what we have been doing and maybe try to raise funding on our own. But a successful Kickstarter would help us really bring our ideas to reality. -Bryan


Q:

How much footage do you record for a YouTube video?

A:

It varies from place to place. 1-2 hours of filming usually becomes about 10-20 minutes of YouTube video.

-Michael


Q:

Do you guys still place a The Proper People sticker to the locations you've visited?

A:

Nah we only did that twice. Decided it goes against the "take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints" philosophy too much.


Q:

How do you get into buildings? Do you have to break in most places, are they open, or do you get permission from the actual owners?

A:

Everywhere we film is "open". Some places you can walk in wide open doors, other places we'll find an unlocked door. Sometimes we'll have to go through a tunnel or crawl through a broken window. We would never do anything like picking a lock or smashing a window to get inside somewhere though. I'd say a good 25-35% of places that we go to film, we end up just leaving because we couldn't find any non-destructive way in.

-Michael


Q:

Hey guys, I'm a huge fan of the channel! I go by "omgubler" on YouTube, I've talked to y'all a couple of times before.

Do y'all have a set list of cities/places you're visiting for Forbidden Explorers, and if you do, do you have any hints?

Also, y'all should plan a trip down here to Texas. He have tons of places, you could spend quite the road trip here.

A:

Yes we have a mostly set list already, but we're not dropping any hints yet!

-Michael


Q:

Do you have recommendations for meeting other people with similar interests that you can explore with?

A:

There are plenty of Facebook groups and of course, UER. -Bryan


Q:

Any plans about going to Europe?

A:

Nothing too soon but maybe one day! -Bryan


Q:

How the heck do you find these place? I'm a photographer and shooting abandoned stuff is some of my favorite but I just don't know where to look.

A:

There is no good answer for this question. Usually we will see a place that captures our attention on instagram or flickr and start doing some detective work to narrow down what/where it could be. If you have more than one or two pictures to go off of this method will almost always work with some google-fu (and some practice). It also helps to try to find a community of people doing this near you. Don't just go to them asking for locations though, do some of your own exploring first before coming to them. Most seasoned explorers will be down to explore with new people if they see that they've put in effort already. We also find places just by spotting them while driving (since we drive all over the country to do our filming). Other leads can come from anywhere, just keep your eyes open.

-Michael