2020: A Career Retrospective.
Who am I to look back at 2020 and bring forth my successes (and maybe failures), just like I’m some ordinary Joe in Sweden with who lacks fame and fortune? Well, that’s what I thought when the idea for this text entered my mind. First of all, I am an ordinary Swedish Joe — but that does not stop me from feeling I’m someone special, at least to myself — and as an individualist I try to see myself as someone that is important for my own wellbeing. It’s the rational thing to do, even if it might seem a bit too much for others. With all the darkness I have inside me I’m always trying to do stuff, so I one day — like today — can look back at the monuments I’ve built of (and for) myself. I’ve never done it before, but considering the chaotic year this has been it fits better than ever. Now is the time to embrace yourself and what you’ve done, and this is not a selfish thing to do. It’s a matter of mental health survival.
For more than 20 years I’ve been working with media, mostly with television and for a huge chunk of this time as a freelancer. First of all, freelance work has pushed me to evolve and put myself in front, something I rarely, if never, did in my youth. It was the typical “don’t believe you’re something” infecting my mind, over and over again — year after year. Some years ago I felt it was enough and felt it’s time to do something about it. 2019 and 2020 was the years I finally started, after a lot of hard work, to finally get close to the stuff I really want to do. Some things have taken a backseat, like writing books, but I hope one day to get back to it. Instead my focus went to what I love the most outside my family: film, high strangeness, the paranormal and of course magick.
At the end of 2019 I was hired as a researcher on Spökjakt, a swedish paranormal show, and was within a week upgraded to story producer together with my colleague Josef Leksell (whom I’d worked with on the Swedish version of Bachelor in South Africa earlier the same year). The show turned out to be a big hit, and had millions of views on the streaming service it was produced for. In the show the team, consisting of Joakim and Jonna Lundell, their friend Danjlal Kanani, psychic Andreas Österlunder and the professional paranormal investigation group LaxTon, visited six extremely haunted locations around europe: Loftus Hall, Houska Castle, Athelhampton Hall, Heilstätte Grabowsee hospital, Ancient Ram Inn and Karosta Prison. I worked out the stories surrounding the historically confirmed paranormal events, found witnesses and planned the shot for those three days needed for each episode. It was a massive job to say the least!
We quickly went into pre-production of Spökjakt (which literally means Ghost Hunt) season 2, but as we all know, the introduction of Covid-19 stopped everything at the last minute. I had alone prepared a superb season to be shot in the United States, one of the locations was the Harrisville Farmhouse, famous for the poltergeist phenomenon that made the Perron family suffer during the 70s.
I secured the participation of daughter Andrea Perron and original “demon hunters” Keith and Carl Johnson. It was a major disappointment when everything was cancelled, but I quickly found six new locations in Sweden and prepared everything in a couple of weeks. The second season turned into big — maybe bigger than the first — success and when the show also won Best Show at the biggest TV-gala Kristallen it sealed the faith for a third season. So after the summer we began the pre-production, and I found six interesting locations around europe — but once again Covid-19 put a stop to it and it’s now scheduled to be shot in 2021 — we hope.
Due to the success of Spökjakt Dplay greenlit Hide and Seek, another idea from the mind of Joakim Lundell and producer Jonas Bergström. They basically combined the concept of a haunted house with the old game of hide and seek! The first season is out on Dplay and turned into a roaring success! I participated in the development of the story, the casting, the design and also directed the drama segments used in the beginning of each episode!
But then we had the summer, and as many other businesses it turned out to be a very calm, and hot, period this year. A lot of productions were cancelled or postponed and no one wanted to hire when the future was so uncertain. So instead of sitting at home being depressed I decided to start to explore my neighborhood, and first in a very special way.
My husband Grzegorz and I decided to create a fictional tv-host, Allan Smede, who would bring out the weirdest and most mysterious parts of our little part of Sweden, which is Märsta, and shot four episodes of Allan Smede’s Mysterious of Märsta, with titles like The Legend of Turtle Rock, The Stargate Hill, The Tower of Space and Time and Lord of the Dragons — all deeply inspired by favorite shows like In Search Of…, Unsolved Mysteries, Ancient Aliens and basically all documentary shows dealing with the weird and strange.
This spurred me to start doing it for real, and first started to walk and then bicycle everywhere where I could reach, producing a series of ten Outdoor Adventures discovering the magnificent nature and ancient monuments (including bronze age graves, ruins and other amazing things) around the area. I’m still immensely proud of both Allan Smede and my outdoors adventures — and the plan is to continue with it when it gets warmer and sunnier again next year. For a peek into where I live, and the Swedish nature, please give my videos a spin or two!
2020 also marked the year when my mate Jason Meredith and I came back to our podcast The Human Centipod, something we’ve been doing for eight years now. Because of life, career and everything in between we had a break for almost a year, but now we’re back again and it’s better than ever!
I also started another podcast, this time in Swedish, with my friend Jimmy Beris: Märklighetsfaktorn. Jimmy, like me, have a long career in television behind us, and Jimmy was the front figure for newspaper Aftonbladet’s weirdness/paranormal section on their web-TV (Jimmys Sjuka Värld) and we’re both very interested in the things out of the ordinary in this world, like cryptozoology, UFOs and ghosts. Now we do one episode each week with the latest news from the world of high strangeness. What a blast! I can’t wait to see how it evolves!
I’ve been writing since I was a kid and in 2020 also I also got two texts published in very different subjects, both passions of mine. The first was being a part of the 10th issue of Carl Abrahamson’s legendary occulture/art magazine The Fenris Wolf. The title of my essays is The Gospel According to the Tomb Man and deals with the british hoaxer Ben Hammott and his “discovery” of Mary Magdalene and her son’s tomb in France, but foremost how this is put in the context of subjective reality. It feels almost overwhelming to be published together with legends like Genesis P-Orrige, Ramsey Dukes and Mitch Horowitz! Unreal is the word, but this pride is real. This has been a dream come true. I was also asked by the Swedish Filminstitute two write a short history on independent swedish horror films, which I worked hard on for a couple of weeks — and the text (in Swedish) can be read here.
Doing one of my randonauting adventures in early 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, I came to the conclusion that everything would turn out alright — at least from a personal perspective, and through my work in magick — which mostly deals with self-development and profound insights on my life (I would like to think Mitch Horowitz for his 10 Day Miracle Challenge, an excellent way to manifest your goal and will in a very positive way), but also embracing the creativity within me. I’ll admit it’s been tough sometimes, with my depression lurking somewhere in my inner archives, but one thing that it culminated in was a video project. It was something I — and those I worked with — made with pure instinct, starting with 30 minutes of filming with my Iphone XR in a seemingly desolate place near my home. My friend Milly Nilsson, an excellent poet/performance artist/witch was the main and only star in front of the camera. When I looked at the material and liked what I saw I contacted my oldest friend, Markus Widegren (a fabulous author and musician) and asked if he had any music that would fit. So the same evening he sat down and recorded a fantastic new track, which of course helped me a lot when I did the editing and my husband Grzegorz did grading and visual effects. The result was We Are the Relative Center of the Universe and I’m so proud of what we did, so fast and for the love of creating something lasting.
And not to forget, last but not least: the No Bananas video for Sweden’s best bookstore, Antikvariat Verklighetsflykt! We wanted to create a short film, advertising if you want, to show what a magical place this is. It turned into a great success on the official Instagram page. It’s also possible to watch here!
2020 hasn’t been the great year it’s been for me without Grzegorz, my partner in life for 13 years. The love we have between us is pure energy. Thank you love.
Now, let’s see what 2021 has to offer. To be honest, I suspect it will be even weirder and wilder. I wrote a praised text on Medium, Mysterious Object at Noon: Terence McKenna’s Novelty Theory, and if I should go by what he thought, everything will keep spinning faster and faster. So buckle up, friends. Hold on to your hats. Let’s do this together. In the end it will be alright.
Fred Andersson is a Swedish story producer and writer with over twenty years of experience in commercial television and the author of three books. He lives in Märsta, outside Stockholm, with his photographer husband Grzegorz and two overly active cats. Join him on Twitter and Instagram.