Dakota Laden from an outside perspective is a pretty normal teenage guy. He likes to goof around with friends, focuses on his school work as much as he can and obviously enjoys a dose of pop culture. To those who really know him however, he is the Ghost Adventures kid.
Dakota, with the help of his family and father in particular, won the Ghost Adventures Mash Up Contest in the Fall of 2011 where fans had to make their own music video that conveyed to them what Ghost Adventures was all about. The episode Dakota was on met with much fan fare, no pun intended, but his story didn’t end there.
“It’s still pretty fresh and kind of weird,” Dakota said in a recent interview about his new found fame, as well as his eagerness to truly get into the paranormal. “I’ve always wanted to be on one [a ghost hunting show], then I finally was and it was crazy… Now I wanna make one. I wanna make this my own thing now.”
Part of the reason why Dakota already had a touch of notoriety before his TV cameo was through his YouTube channel, where he and his friends posted a series of popular Ghost Adventures spoofs. The cast of the show even poked fun at Dakota for these videos on his episode appearance, as well as off of it.
During an interview with Nick Groff of Ghost Adventures on Mandogg House Radio, Dakota called in towards the end of the program to chat with the GA cast member. “Here comes trouble,” Groff stated cheerfully, while asking “any new spoofs?” when chatting with the young film maker on what he was up to. Among the spirit of jest, Groff told the young fan that it was was fun having him and his dad on location to film with them.
5 months ago, Dakota and his friends set out to do their own serious project on the paranormal called Ghost Boys (trailer here), which as of early May has two episodes completed and ready for upload. Dakota expressed that though he loves comedy and prank videos, he really wants to show his more serious side with this new venture.
The question remains: how does he feel these days about the GA spoofs, the project that first got him all this attention in the first place? “A lot of the response is really well,” he replied. “I’m surprised Zak [Bagans of Ghost Adventures] doesn’t get mad at me more because I kinda push the limit sometimes,” he stated with a laugh. Through his YouTube channel, he’s also had a clip of one of his videos featured on Rob Dyrdek’s Ridiculousness on MTV.
Jasmine Mae With, who was declared by Bagans via Twitter as the Ghost
Adventures super fan after releasing a spoof video of her own, is a good
example that Dakota for the most part has no ill will from fellow fans.
“I was happy for him,” Jasmine stated in a phone interview on May 17th.
“During the time of the contest, I was checking out his YouTube
Channel…and I just knew he was gonna win.”
Jasmine first got into GA for probably the same reason that fans got into
Dakota’s videos. She stated that her father had seen their documentary and
suggested she watch it because it was ridiculous and funny. “It wasn’t
love at first sight,” Jasmine stated.
When working on the projects he puts up on YouTube, Dakota spends a good 50 to 80 percent of his day editing and fine tuning, which is great preparation considering he wants to go to film school if he doesn’t land any big projects such as a TV show before graduating high school. Despite all the attention, which includes his very loyal fans and his over 18,000 Twitter followers, he says he’ll never forget what got him here.
“I watch all these episodes,” Dakota said when asked if he still watches Ghost Adventures after his experience, stating his favorite episode recently was the one which focused on the Galka family. What else isn’t going to change?
“No matter what happens, I’m still gonna make YouTube videos,” the young filmmaker says. “I could never leave YouTube.”
Dakota’s new three part documentary Ghost Boys will be out on YouTube starting June 12th. On a related note, Dakota was attempting to separate a clip from one of the episodes to share with this site as an exclusive, but continued technical difficulties prevented this, as displayed in this screen cap. Thanks for trying, Dakota!