by: Jay Carlson – Editor-in-chief
I vividly recall the first time I saw Ghostbusters as a kid. I was five and had recently become obsessed with movies after my dad bought us our first VCR, a Panasonic 4 head stereo unit that opened up my world. At that age the plot and most of the jokes of Ghostbusters were lost on me, but I can still recall the moment the guys fired up their Proton Packs for the first time. The next morning I attempted to create a crude version from a backpack and an old piece of garden hose so that I could run around and battle spirits like Peter, Egon, Ray and Winston. I’m sure I wasn’t the only kid to attempt something like that after seeing the film. It was crude as could be, but it served me well in those early adventures.
As a thirteen year old I befriended a kid in my technology class who caught my eye with an amazing photo-realistic drawing in his notebook of Kevin Costner from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves with a flaming arrow drawn and ready to fire. The image was so amazing that my debilitating shyness was momentarily suppressed by a need to make friends with the artist. This is how I met Douglas Sullivan. Since that day we’ve bonded over our love of many film related things, including a deep love for Ghostbusters.
Over the years, I’ve seen Doug make numerous replica Proton Packs that would have blown my mind as a kid. Hell, they blew my mind as an adult. With each new build he refined his process, getting something closer and closer to that iconic pack that Venkman had strapped to his back. (Frankly, those earliest versions would fool most casual fans.)
Last fall Doug, via his company Ever & Oak, jumped into his most ambitious Proton Pack build to date, aiming to create the most accurate version of the original Peter Venkman Ghostbusters Proton Pack for a couple of friends. Since then I’ve had the honor of seeing this project progress from inception to it’s nearly completed state the night before it was shipped to the lucky new owners.
As you’ll see below the project was a success in every possible aspect. This Proton Pack is without a doubt the closest representation to that original Venkman pack in existence. I know, you’re probably thinking, “But wait, it can’t possibly be more accurate than the actual pack used in the film.” Actually, that original hero pack underwent heavy modification for the filming of Ghostbusters 2, to the point that that original pack is actually not as close to the original as what Doug and his team put together at Ever & Oak.
In order to build this pack, great efforts were made to attain as much reference material as possible, including “three different sets of HD images from the hero pack at Sony’s archives where it exists in its Ghostbusters 2 state,” as well as “production photos from the first film” and “Blu-Ray frames and a 4k scan of a 35mm print of the movie.” It’s believed that the quality of all of this reference material unearthed some new details that have not been available for other builds by anyone else previously.
On top of the exhaustive reference material, a great number of the original vintage found items used on the original pack were sourced and utilized for this build, not to mention a few production-lineage pieces as well.
This exceptional piece of work not only looks the part but it sounds it as well. “The pack also features a full electronics system – it has lights & sounds from the film and an amplifier, a woofer, and a tweeter built in. The tip of the thrower pops out when the green lever is pulled, as seen in the movie. A vibration motor is installed in the thrower to give it a realistic feel while firing, but the pack body itself may shake even more from the low rumble of the speakers! It’s very loud.”
As a final touch, Ever & Oak installed one last piece before assembling the pack that was not part of the original prop. “To infuse it with that last little extra bit of soul, inside the shell is mounted Bill Murray’s signature – written to ‘Alice,’ (as in the librarian!) reading ‘Wish I were here, Bill Murray.’ It was signed in the 1980’s in NYC and the autograph is PSA/DNA certified.”
If you’re anything like me, seeing the blood, sweat and tears that went into something like this is an inspiration. It serves as a reminder that our favorite films are brought to life by artists with amazing imaginations and vision, people who are able to create and transform ordinary things that we see everyday into the extraordinary.
As a Ghostbusters fan I can’t begin to imagine what it must have been like to be on the receiving end of that package.
For a LOT more detail on this amazing build head over to The RPF and see all the details.