#111 Ghosts and The Afterlife with Steve Sayre & Kelsey Bohlen
Johnny Burke: Welcome to Closer to Venus. I’m Johnny Burke and today’s guests are Steve Sayre and Kelsey Bohlen. Steve is the director and Kelsey is the narrator of Ghosts and the Afterlife. In this episode, we will be talking about the scientific findings on the subject of life after death, as well as the author’s experiences that inspired the film. Steve, Kelsey, welcome to the program
Steve Sayre: Thank you.
Kelsey Bohlen: Thank you. I’m happy to be here.
Johnny Burke: All right. So Steve, what was the inspiration for the film ghosts and the afterlife?
Steve Sayre: The inspiration for creating the documentary initially came from my brother Garrett, who served as the film’s executive producer. He decided that creating a film that fully investigated the scientific findings on the subject would clarify the issue for many people and also provide tremendous solace.
Johnny Burke: And Kelsey, you’re the narrator of the film. How did that happen? How did you get involved?
Kelsey Bohlen: I was out on the west coast. I was working as an actress, and I just auditioned for the part and throughout the process of filming, I learned a lot about near-death experiences and ghosts, and I actually had some of my own ghost encounters.
Johnny Burke: Okay, that was the next question. Did you have any interest in this type of thing beforehand? And it sounds like you did you obviously want to learn a little bit more about that like many of us. What experiences have either one of you had, that might have triggered an interest in the afterlife? Steve we’ll start with you.
Steve Sayre: All right. I had one near-death experience and two after-death experiences. The first experience was the two after-death experiences, and I differentiate them by saying the two after-death experiences occurred when I actually died on the operating room table and was brought back. It was quite a long effort on their part to bring me back. So there was about 15% hard death by the time they actually resuscitated me.
To give you an overview of my first near-death experience was when I was involved in a 55 mile an hour head-on collision. This event was interesting because it allowed me to experience what so many people speak of when they have a near-death experience, where their life flashes before their eyes in a matter of a fraction of a second. This is something that I always thought was simply a term of speech, something people said that never actually occurred, but then just in a fraction of a second before the two cars collided, that’s exactly what happened.
So that was the first experience. I could go on to the other experience where the two after death experiences took place, if you’d like. Or we could go to Kelsey and then come back to me, or which would you prefer?
Johnny Burke: I definitely want to hear that. Kelsey, have you had any type of those experiences that are related to the afterlife and near-death experiences or anything like that?
Kelsey Bohlen: I’ve never had a near death experience thankfully, but I have seen a ghost. I got up in the middle of the night and I saw a soldier in full uniform with a gun.
Johnny Burke: So you saw a soldier in uniform. Were you able to identify what period that came from?
Kelsey Bohlen: It looked like maybe 17 hundreds to me, but I’m not a historian, so I’m not totally positive.
Johnny Burke: So it sounds like it was from at least 200 years ago.
Kelsey Bohlen: I would say definitely.
Johnny Burke: Okay. What did it feel like? Were you scared? Were you just curious? Did you think, oh, this is just my imagination? What was that like?
Kelsey Bohlen: I did for a minute, think it might be my imagination, but it was clear as day. And the astonishing part to me was that I wasn’t scared. I think logically you probably should be, but I had a sense of calm about me, which I found interesting.
Johnny Burke: Whatever this was, did it seem to have an intelligence about it?
Kelsey Bohlen: It did. It seemed to be like an actual person. So I am not an expert in that field, but it seemed like a living being.
Johnny Burke: That took notice of you and so forth.
Kelsey Bohlen: yes.
Johnny Burke: All right. Good. So Steve, the after-death experience that you mentioned earlier; I hear about near death experiences quite a bit. But after death, what exactly is that?
Steve Sayre: The near-death experiences, you’re inevitably aware was coined by Dr. Raymond Moody, who’s also in the film. He coined near death even if people had actually died for a short period of time. Five to -tenminutes. In my case, it was about 10 minutes before they were able to bring me back.
But during that period of time, you’re not breathing. Your heart’s not beating, you’re effectively clinically dead. So that’s the differentiation I make is when you actually are clinically dead. In most experiences that you often hear, the people haven’t flatlined. In other words, they haven’t experienced clinical death.
They just came close to dying, which makes sense to notate that as a near-death experience, which clearly there’s two very different experiences involved.
Johnny Burke: So you flatlined then, you were out for about 10 minutes. That’s a long time.
Steve Sayre: During that time, it was such a difficult resuscitation that they literally burned the skin off my chest with the defibrillator paddles.
Johnny Burke: During that time, that nine or 10 minute- however long that was, what did you see, if anything?
Steve Sayre: When I first flatlined, so to speak, it was an extremely comfortable sense of wellbeing. There was a voice that came, probably minutes after I flatlined and it was a very calm voice, simply saying, don’t worry, you’re going home, which confused the hell out of me. You could think that I was imagining that to comfort myself. I had no idea what that actually meant because I never considered any particular place my home, because I had never really stayed anywhere more than a year or two, even throughout my childhood.
So the term meant nothing to me. It wasn’t my subconscious trying to calm me down. I was confused actually when I heard it. I wondered why this voice was telling me not to worry I’m going home. And then it occurred again, they tried to bring me back so many times, as I mentioned, the defibrillator paddles burned the skin off my chest.
They finally got me back and then they were trying to convince me to sign paperwork to allow them to do the open-heart surgery where they saw your chest in half and pry your ribs open, et cetera. The open-heart surgeon told the cardiologist who was present, and he said, this is ridiculous. This is life and death. He’s got to have the surgery, whether he signs a piece of paper or not. When they were rolling me into the operating room is when I flatlined again. I went through the exact same process for all intents and purposes, obviously slightly different.
At this stage, the second time around, I experienced seeing a light coming toward me in the distance. That’s when the process started to take different manifestations of reality because once they put me under, I was under the influence of the sedatives and such at that point. But the interesting thing is that I woke up in the middle of the open heart surgery and was able to actually see the surgery taking place in the reflective mirror of the overhead mirrors that they use with the lights so they can see the operation extremely clearly from the surgeon’s perspective.
Johnny Burke: Now, during that time, you were still out or were you starting to like drift back into consciousness?
Steve Sayre: Once they put me under, I was under for a substantial period of time, but I woke I was awake for a long time, but I wasn’t able to move and I didn’t even try to, I guess because of the sedation, I didn’t feel any need to.
But I remember being very concerned about how long it was taking; the surgery went on and on for I don’t know how many hours. It was a very long surgical procedure because they had to repair three major injuries in the heart and one of them, they couldn’t even repair it because the injury was so substantial.
I was awake, I would say during the surgery for at least an hour or so. I kept hearing him say, keep him dry. And I kept thinking, what is he telling his nurses to keep me dry for? of course, he was telling them to keep the blood out of his visible area so he could continue during the surgery without blood inundating his surgical area.
But I remember thinking, I need to tell these people to hurry this up. This is getting stressful. So at some point I tried to communicate with them and tried to speak through the breathing tubes, so they inevitably heard my mumblings, and then they realized I’m staring at them. And then the doctor said, oh my God, he’s awake. And then they put me back with substantially more anesthetic. And then they went too far.
They couldn’t bring me back.In other words, they had to keep me on life support because I couldn’t breathe. At that point, they gave me way too much, they overdid it, they underdid it, and then they overdid it. So I had multiple different experiences as far as sensations during that, let’s say a 12-hour period of time.
Johnny Burke: Okay. During the period where you were out and you otherwise were seeing the light and you were in a much different place, did you see anything else? Did you see any people, any spirits or anything like that?
Steve Sayre: No, I didn’t. The second time that I had flatlined was when I did see the light. The only sensation I remember was the voice and the voice repeated the same thing that they had repeated the first time. I remember the sensation that everything was perfectly fine and there was nothing to worry about. And that I was in a very safe place and that where I was going was a good place. It was just this overall sensation that everything was fine.
Johnny Burke: The voice that you just described, that basically told you were going home; Is that pretty much the basis for your belief now because of your experience that there’s irrefutable proof that there is an afterlife or is it something else?
Steve Sayre: From my personal experiences, that certainly was one of the most dramatic, and then the experience with the car, the head-on collision on the highway. That event was also conducive to me understanding better the experiences because I think also, not only the fact that I had a life review in that fraction of a second before the impact. I really think that there’s a distinct possibility that’s an actual process that takes place, such an uploading of data for a cosmic assessment of what you’ve done during your life. Or it could be uploading the data of your memories and your soul to live on in the next dimension, or probably, and most likely a combination of the two.
I never experienced anything like that before in regard to that split-second review, where you literally see so many things occurring in such a fraction of time. And when you think of the concept of time, it can be infinitely fractionalized. So you say, how could you possibly review every significant thing you did throughout your life in a fraction of a second?
Well, you think every fraction of a second can be infinitely split into another fragment of time, literally infinitely. So this is something that could easily be done from a scientific and cosmic perspective, not to enter any other factors into it because you do have infinite time during that period of time, within that simple one-second period, and you also have infinite space throughout the universe to house how many ever souls you might want to house. Because there is no limit to the universe, it will continue.
Johnny Burke: Okay. So you mentioned the life review. Were these things that you were participating in or viewing, and did you get the impression that you were either being judged or was it more like you were judging yourself?
Steve Sayre: Yeah. It did seem during that split second, it probably all took place in about three-quarters of a second. It did seem as if there was a higher power of reviewing what I’d done with my life, and I felt very at ease with that, fortunately. It didn’t seem threatening, but it definitely appeared to be a life review, and I think it may have been triggered by the fact that it didn’t seem likely in any way, shape, or form, that I was going to survive the impact. I was pretty sure that was me during that one fraction of a second, and I had no intention of reviewing my life. I was just wishing there was some way to avoid the accident, which was totally impossible.
Johnny Burke: Okay. Now let’s talk a little bit about the film. Since you’ve had these experiences, how did you go about putting the film together? I think you had testimony from several luminaries in the field. I believe James Van Praagh-he’s actually in the film, isn’t he?
Steve Sayre: Yes, he is. He’s one of the main speakers, Dr. Norman Shealy, who’s one of the preeminent investigators into the subject, and Dr. Raymond Moody, of course, who’s something of the originator of the research into life after death. Dr. Norm Shealy is a neurosurgeon, Dr. Raymond Moody’s, a medical doctor, Ph.D. So is Norm Shealy medical doctor, Ph.D. neurosurgeon. Dr. Vernon Sylvest was a pathologist, and Dr. Jeffrey Rediger is a Harvard professor and researcher into the phenomena of life after death experiences. Although he teaches medicine, he looks into these phenomena as his, area of interest outside of his professional activities.
Johnny Burke: These people that are in the movie are medical doctors, and you obviously had an experience in the hospital. What was the reaction of the surgeons in the hospital? Did you tell them about what you saw and what happened?
Steve Sayre: The medical doctors, during my surgical procedure, there were two involved. There was the cardiologist and then there was the open-heart surgeon. I did recently speak to the open-heart surgeon but I never spoke to him in regard to any of the issues related to my experiences that would be involved with life after death. After the surgery, there were so many things that took place. My primary focus was just staying alive. Unfortunately, the anesthetic wasn’t the only error. They also inadvertently pumped 48 hours of antibiotics into my veins in just two minutes, which put me into anaphylactic shock.
And then the heart the sutures started to tear, et cetera. I didn’t have much time to do anything but try to figure out how to survive in the hospital itself. Honestly.
Johnny Burke: Now Kelsey, during this time, you’re preparing to be the narrator. Did you have anyone coaching you or did they just say, here’s a script, there’s the mic. How did that work?
Kelsey Bohlen: Steve and Garrett were great along the entire process helping me understand what it was going to be like, and I did my own fair share of research. I watched a lot of people who have had near-death experiences and just took in their descriptions of those experiences to get a better idea of the nature of the film.
I also had psychic readings, which you’ll find in the film, which are really interesting. A lot of those projections did materialize later on in my life because this film was filmed throughout the course of many years, so I’m older now than I was back then. And I do have a background in reporting. I graduated from UT Austin with a bachelor’s in journalism. That did help me as well with the research aspect of narrating.
Johnny Burke: When you were doing this it took place over several years, did you find yourself internalizing the events and really getting connected? Or were you just more like a spectator?
Kelsey Bohlen: I was definitely internalizing the events. I’m fascinated with the afterlife. I think most people on this planet are. We all want to know what’s going to happen when we’re no longer here, and if our soul lives on, and I think it’s just an area of massive fascination.
Johnny Burke: I don’t want to give the contents of the film where, or be a spoiler of any kind, but what do you think are the main points, or the events in the film that will go a long way to convincing people that, yes, there is an afterlife, it’s not a fantasy?
Kelsey Bohlen: It’s really hard to pick just one because pretty much everything in the film has its purpose of convincing the audience that it is scientifically proven. The eyewitness accounts are huge of people who have actually had near death experiences, the medical professionals, and the psychics. I could go on and on
Johnny Burke: And these are all people that are in the film that are providing testimony and background and research and so on.
Kelsey Bohlen: They are, and we were very careful to put very well-respected people in the film that have credibility.
Johnny Burke: well, James Van Praagh, and Raymond Moody will go a long way for credibility. They’re very well respected and they’re very experienced as well.
Kelsey Bohlen: They are, and even the civilians that we interviewed didn’t gain anything from the interview. They’re just strictly speaking based on their experience with no dog in the fight. So I think that goes a long way as well.
Johnny Burke: Okay. I’m happy that someone is doing this kind of work.
It just seems like there’s never really quite enough. There are nonprofits like Forever Family Foundation whose sole mission besides testing and certifying mediums is to prove that there’s an afterlife. Did you have any kind of dialogue with organizations like them before the film was created?
Steve Sayre: Which organization?
Johnny Burke: Forever Family Foundation.
Steve Sayre: Oh, forever fam…. That might be an organization Garrett would- Garrett was one of the primary investigators in the field. He actually went to six different states and did interviews with various celebrity experts. He also flew to England to the most famous afterlife institute there. It’s a huge complex, and I’ve unfortunately forgotten the name, but he probably did. He did intensive research. He met with dozens and dozens of psychics, seeking out the ones that were legitimate from the ones that aren’t. And we both know there’s many that aren’t, and there’s some that are exceptionally talented. Then there’s some that are moderately talented. He just found the three that he felt were exceptionally talented.
Also just to the point as to the other proofs inside the documentary, there’s a segment that explains the top-secret Stargate program that investigated consciousness beyond the physical mind where they did experiments with the remote viewing to determine if consciousness could exist remotely away from the in individual’s physical body, which they confirmed. The whole thing is spelled out in the documentary.
There’s also fighter pilot tests where the pilots in the NASA centrifuge were spun so that they drained all of the blood from the brain, so there was no way to physically use the brain. But during that period of time, they found from after-event interviews with the pilots, that they were actually far more conscious once the blood had been drained from their brain, they had this kind of a universal sense of consciousness and knowing that they didn’t have before they lost consciousness. This is why we referred to it as a scientific investigation because everyone involved are experts in their field, and if you’re listening to all the information, you finally realize the logic of the science behind life after death.
Johnny Burke: That reminds me of a well-known case of a near death experience. Her name is Barbara Bartolome. This happened in 1987 when she went to the hospital for a routine procedure that went south, and she was out for a while . Her experience was she watched herself flatline. Correct me if I’m wrong here, but if you are flatlining, you cannot use your brain, which means you can’t really imagine looking down and being able to document whatever happened in the operating room or even the room next to it, or what the doctors the nurses or the staff said at one point.
Steve Sayre: Once you stop breathing and once the heart stops beating, the brain loses its ability to function very quickly because it no longer has oxygen from a physical perspective and you’re exactly right, that’s what occurs. You wouldn’t be able to float above your body from a physical perspective and watch yourself flatlining over a number of minutes because the brain long ago stopped functioning on a physical level. So the only level remaining would be extra physical; something that takes place on a purely extra physical level.
Johnny Burke: That’s what I’ve thought. And that’s one incident, and I’m sure there are quite a few of them actually documented. Anything else that our listeners need to know about?
Steve Sayre: Well, it’s released on, Amazon, Voodoo, Google Play, and all the other V o D platforms as well. I just don’t remember their names, and iTunes is one, they have the DVD being pre-sold at Walmart, Best Buy, and of course also Amazon and about 20 other sites.
Johnny Burke: Okay, great. So Steve and Kelsey, thanks so much for joining us today. What is the website where people can learn more about this film?
Steve Sayre: www.Ghostsandtheafterlife.com. It’s the same title as the film