Purpose, History, Justice, and the Paranormal

Anthony stands outside of Old Idaho State Penitentiary in Boise, Idaho

IAS alum Anthony Safai finds his passion in an unconventional place through his web series Existence in Silence

“Just go out there and you’ll find something. You won’t expect it, but you’ll definitely find it.” 

These are the words of Anthony Safai (’24), a recent graduate of UW Bothell who majored in Media & Communication Studies and Culture, Literature, & the Arts. Safai is the creator of Existence in Silence, a captivating YouTube series that delves into the haunted, paranormal, and controversial histories of some of the most infamous locations in the United States and abroad.  

Exploring Our Histories

Each episode features Safai and his collaborators exploring a new location. The premise is simple: stay the night in a location that is known for being haunted, and document what happens. As simple as the premise seems, explaining what is uncovered on the show is much more challenging.  

This challenge is much of what draws Safai to this work. In exploring each location, he isn’t simply looking to terrify viewers with a spooky gimmick. Instead, the goal is to reconnect the past with the present and unearth the sometimes long-forgotten histories of the land we all walk on each day.  

“When you do these episodes,” Safai explains, “you remind people of the land, you remind people of all the things that have happened there”. Each location holds a story, some dating back centuries. With his exploration, Safai hopes to discover evidence that helps draw conclusions to historical mysteries and advance our understanding of the paranormal along the way.

“I’ve noticed that as I’ve continued to explore [these locations] more and more, I can’t help but feel this sense of unjust abandonment from modern day society. So that said, the historical remembrance is what brings me so much pride and satisfaction to my work.”

Anthony Safai, Media & Communications Studies; Culture, Literature & the Arts ’24
Anthony Safai and a woman looking at video footage on a device

An Unexpected Passion

When speaking to Safai about his work, he describes it as purpose-filled. Although, it didn’t start out that way. “If you ever ask a paranormal investigator ‘did you ever think you’d do this when you grew up?’ I guarantee you they will say no” Safai says with a laugh. 

Safai first stumbled upon this work when visiting California with a friend. They had intentions to go to Disneyland and the beach, and as a joke, decided to stay at a haunted hotel. “We also said, ‘what if we like recorded everything, too, just like as a fun little memory’” Safai recalls. 

That night changed his life. “A lot of very strange things started happening that we couldn’t explain” says Safai. “Objects were like moving on their own. We were hearing like really, really strange noises that were caught on camera… [that was] the first time in our lives when we truly experienced something that was completely unexplainable.” From that moment, Existence in Silence was born. 

Safai launched the series in October of 2022, and in just over a year the show has managed to attract the attention of multiple media outlets, including Fox 13 News and UW Bothell’s own UWave Radio. With hundreds of subscribers and over a thousand views on some episodes, the show is just getting started. 

When asked about what’s next, Safai eagerly speaks of his intentions to take the show abroad. Japan is at the top of his list, with some other places in the works as well. In the meantime, viewers can get excited about season two, which is currently in post-production.  

While season one visited locations throughout the West Coast, primarily in California, Safai brings the focus of season two to the Pacific Northwest. The season, titled “Whispers in the Winds” will highlight the paranormal mysteries of Washington and Oregon. “It’s a completely untapped market,” explains Safai, “because a lot of my competitors haven’t been to the Washington and Oregon area, and so I thought it was a perfect chance for me to be able to see what’s going on in my own backyard.”

Anthony Safai and a collaborator using paranormal detection equipment

A Respected Community

For students with similar interests in video production, Safai encourages them to use their class projects as opportunities to build and explore their passions. Once you get started, don’t forget to lean into your connections as a student for support. “As an IAS student, you’re never alone” explains Safai, “you will always have teachers being interested in giving you their input as well as peers.” He also notes that his credentials as a student have given him a boost when finding new places to investigate, and has earned him discounts on filming equipment and software. 

Most importantly, Safai urges anyone who ventures into the world of paranormal investigation to do so with respect. “Always be respectful of the property owners that let you investigate there, and I cannot stress that enough” says Safai. This work explores topics that can be sensitive for some viewers, so it is important to do so with good intentions, and a little thick skin. You can connect with Anthony Safai’s work by subscribing to his YouTube channel, Safaii (soon to be renamed Existence in Silence), or by visiting his website.

The Media & Communications Studies and Culture, Literature & the Arts majors are a part of the Arts & Media focus in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences. You can learn more about these programs on their respective pages on the IAS undergraduate website.