Who You Gonna Call?

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Produced by Charlie Todd and Matt Adams / music by Tyler Walker

For our latest mission, we brought the movie Ghostbusters to life in the reading room of The New York Public Library at 42 Street. The 1984 movie begins with a scene in the very same room, so we figured it was time for the Ghostbusters to make an encore appearance. Enjoy the video first and then go behind-the-scenes with the photos and report below.

Shot by: Matt Adams, Brian Fountain, Erik Martin, Caleb Heller, Kristopher Knight, and Ariane West
Photography: Katie Sokoler and Brian Fountain
Ghostbusters: Kevin Hines, Rob Lathan, Justin Purnell, Alex Scordelis
Ghosts: Ben Rodgers, Amos Vernon, Tyler Walker

Agents Hines, Purnell, Lathan, and Scordelis

The New York Public Library approached us about a month ago and asked if we would want to stage an Improv Everywhere mission on their property. The library is facing serious budget cuts, and they thought having us do something awesome there might serve to remind people of how great the NYPL is. We couldn’t say no to the opportunity to do something in their gorgeous, 100 year-old Rose Main Reading Room.

Panoramic photo by David Iliff

It actually wasn’t the first time we staged something on the NYPL grounds. Back in 2002, we held a ridiculous protest claiming to be a group called Writers Against Piracy. That mission was, of course, unauthorized. It was nice to get invited by the library this time around and to have their permission to set up our cameras. When brainstorming ideas for the mission, I immediately thought of Ghostbusters. The NYPL is heavily featured in the beginning of the movie, opening with a crane shot of the lion statue outside and cutting to the reading room. The thought of bringing the Ghostbusters back to the library 25 years later cracked me up.

Agent Lathan and his binocular glasses

Agent Purnell puts on his fake mustache

Showing the ghosts a map of the reading room

We met on the steps out front and got organized. Agent Adams came up with a plan to spread our team of six camera people discreetly around the room. Most of our operators used DSLR cameras, which allowed them to blend in perfectly with the constant stream of tourists taking photos of the historic room. I went over all of the blocking and timing with the actors. They then headed inside to a staging area and got into costume.

Agent Rodgers was the first ghost to enter. He grabbed a book off of a shelf on the way in and started heading for a seat. He was quickly stopped by a security guard, who had no idea what was going on.

Guard: Sir, what are you doing?
Rodgers: Um… haunting the library.

The guard allowed him to take a seat, and then went over to the information desk to laugh about it with another employee.

Rodgers takes his seat. Notice the girl in pink’s reaction (behind the girl in white)

The first ghost got some nice reactions from the folks he sat by, but they eventually went back to working when it became clear the ghost was just going to sit and read a book. That is, until ghost number two entered.

Agent Walker enters as the second ghost
(note the same guard reacting in the background)

Ghost working in the middle of the crowd

Closeup of the ghost’s computer screen

After about five minutes, the final ghost made his entrance. He walked down the aisle and headed over to the dictionary stand.

Agent Vernon

With three ghosts spread out in the reading room, who you gonna call?

Ghostbusters surveying the room

Tourists and library patrons take notice (and photos!) of the Ghostbusters

The first ghost reads, unaware of the danger he’s in

As soon as the Ghostbusters spotted the ghosts, Agent Lathan shouted, “Get ‘em!”

The ghost leaps to his feet

All three ghosts leapt up and immediately started running around and making ghost noises.

Agent Hines finds the computer-using ghost

While the ghost-phase of the mission was pretty low-key, as soon as the chase started the room came alive. The room full of library patrons and tourists all started laughing, smiling, and frantically getting out their cameras and camera phones.

It was cool to see tables full of people taking off their headphones and laughing with each other.

Agent Scordelis follows a ghost out the door

The whole chase lasted less than a minute, as we didn’t want to be too disruptive to the people trying to get their work done. The Ghostbusters weren’t able to get their hands on the ghosts and ended up following them out of the reading room. After they left, the room broke out in applause.

The Ghostbusters chase wasn’t quite over yet. They followed the ghosts down the stairs and out the front door of the building!

The chase continues down Fifth Avenue

The Ghostbusters rounded the corner onto 42nd Street and disappeared out of view in pursuit of the ghosts. My guess is that they were successful, as the Ghostbusters were spotted later in the day in good spirits posing for a photo with a young fan.

Mission Accomplished


Watch other Movies In Real Life episodes:

– Episode 1: Rocky In Real Life
– Episode 2: Indiana Jones In Real Life
– Episode 3: Lord of the Rings In Real Life
– Episode 4: The Matrix In Real Life
– Episode 5: Back to the Future In Real Life
– Episode 6: Jurassic Park In Real Life
– Episode 7: When Harry Met Sally In Real Life
– Episode 8: Harry Potter In Real Life
– Episode 9: Spartacus In Real Life
– Episode 10: A Christmas Story In Real Life

Agent Sokoler’s Flickr Set

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236 Responses to Who You Gonna Call?

  1. Tara says:

    Another incredible mission. You never cease to entertain. Thanks guys!

    • Scott says:

      The only thing that would have VASTLY improved this is if you had contacted some of those uber-Ghostbusters fans out there who have absolutely PERFECT costumes and proton pack props, etc. Those things light up, make sounds, etc.

      The fact that you guys just wore off-the-shelf Halloween costumes with inflatable proton packs kinda’ knocked it down a notch or two, but it was still fun!

      • Chaneski says:

        My feelings, too. In fact, the guy who owns the comics shop I frequent owns an astounding GB outfit, like Scott said, with lights and all.

        It may not jibe with the IE style, but why not do it again? I’m mostly concerned with, “Is this enough to boost the NYPL?”

        Nice work, tho.

      • Dolo says:

        I agree. Using high quality replicas would have made it even more side-splitting than it already was. I’m sure there ought to be 4 GB-uberfans in NY that would have been willing to lend them for the video. An equal number of ghosts to ghostbusters to make the chase look more convincing and the ghosts throwing some paper poltergeist-style would have turned up the epicness even more.
        Brilliant video, nevertheless!! xD

    • jonahliza says:

      this is sooo awesome.

    • Kosen says:

      Guy you’re totally mad , that’s great

    • the14th says:

      This may sound stupid but I have to say I actually cry during some of your missions. Usually it starts from laughing so hard but the real reason is because you have the ability to touch people in such a short amount of time. Making people laugh, bringing smiles to unknown people’s faces, brightening people’s days, and more.
      You never know what someone is going through. The person who is rude to you on the street, may have just found out she had 3 months to live. The person who cut you in line at the store checkout may be on her way to take something to her grandfather who is on his deathbed.
      When you pull these missions, you may never know how it made someone happy in a tough time in their life and it makes everyone enjoy each others company in laughing at the show. Thanks for such a great job.

      • Emma says:

        I’m glad it’s not just me who sometimes cries during these! I don’t know why, I guess it’s because it just makes me so happy that you’d take the time and effort to do something out of the ordinary, to make people laugh and to brighten up strangers’ days. Keep up the good work :-)

  2. Jessica Holbrook says:

    Awesome mission!

  3. Greg says:

    Brilliant mission! Great job guys. Very funny, well made and clever.

  4. Matthias says:

    Très bien! All the best from France!

  5. Kris says:

    Another awesome mission! Had me laughing out loud the whole way through! Nicve job!

  6. Foy Lyndstrom says:

    An epic qin, to say the least. You made my morning!

  7. Richard says:

    made my day :)

    Greetings from Germany

  8. Bob says:

    Great way to start my morning! Nice job as always!

  9. lokimon says:

    what?? no stay puff marshmallow?? :)

  10. Phoe says:

    This made my whole day. Thank you. :)

  11. Tanya Hoang says:

    Great job! Made my day. It’s been a while Improv came up with a brilliant one

  12. Kat says:

    This is awesome! I would have loved to be there! Ghostbusters, the library… and isn’t it cool to be disrupt the quiet a bit? Excellent job!

  13. Umandsf says:

    Wait, wait, wait, wait. So you’re telling me that the one day I get invited to NYC by friends and have to take the bus alone and arrive hours before they do and decide to wait for them at the library is the day you decide to hold your mission that I would have seen (a life goal) if I only turned left instead of right into the other room? How incredible unlucky of me. I did here the odd ghost sounds, shuffling, and applause from the other side, but now that I hear that it was an Improv Everywhere mission, I feel kind of heartbroken but not enough to compliment you on yet another good performance. I just wish fate hda turned me in the other direction.

    • Charlie Todd says:

      This is tragic! You were so close!

      • Umandsf says:

        I know. At least a personal reply from you is a plus. :) Thanks, and I await the next mission (I’ll at least try to make the next MP3 Experiment, if there is one.)

    • Vikki says:

      Aww that really sucks… hopefully fate will guide you to another mission someday! I want the same to happen to me!

    • whitebellysheep says:

      I can understand how you feel! That IS unfortunate. But they say lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice, so since you missed this one, maybe it will strike you the next time?

      I really hope I get to see an Improv playing out one of these days too!

  14. Jill says:

    I love that you caught some patron very clearly mouthing the words “What the F—” around the 1:00/1:05 minute mark.

  15. andrea says:

    Loved it!! Greetings from mexico!

  16. kukubear says:

    epic man!!!

  17. Frank says:

    You just make me so happy!

  18. Patrick says:

    Great work! Very creative.

  19. Ann Stewart says:

    Awesome apparitions, but if Improv Is Everywhere, will your next mission please be in Pittsboro!? We need some ethereal intervention down here…

  20. SebiMeyer says:

    Funny as always and better plot than Ghostbusters II.