Friday, September 3, 2010

10 Reasons why the documentary movie CATFISH is Fake, and 5 Reasons it is Real.

Here's the trailer if you want to watch it, it could ruin some of the movie for you.  This is the Alien Catfish in the garage theatrical cut.  Hope that's not too much of a spoiler, if so, stop reading now.

OK, hopefully you have seen the film if you are still reading this, which means you get the above opening of this article. 
Catfish was screened at Sundance earlier in 2010, and many of us had the same reaction.  This sucker is fake isn't it.  Here's 10 reasons why CATFISH feels like a fake documentary.  Let me preface this by saying I loved this film, and thought they SHOULD be allowed to lie, and I strangely enough wouldn't be mad due to some of the the storyline parallels.

1.  When the movie opens on our handsome main character Nev, in about 20 seconds you can sum him up as an "actor type".  If you live in Hollywood you know the type, just watch how his eyebrows individually move up and down and he seems to have that "actory" feel at times, especially later as he tells a story crossing his legs in his undies with a subtle theatrically homosexual fashion.  (He also picks at his nose in the beginning of the film in a suspiciously conspicuously obvious manner.)

2.  They just happened to fall into this wonderful story that seems very similar to the storyline of the Sundance darling documentary My Kid Could Paint That.  I could almost buy that, but the fact that when they meet the mystery woman behind the Facebook page, she is AMAZING on screen.  The chances of both of those happening is astronomical, and she did such a beautiful job, let me be the first to go on record and say SHE SHOULD BE NOMINATED FOR AN ACADEMY AWARD.  The scene when she paints our hero Nev at the end reminded me of  beautiful inspired acting improvisations.

3.  When we first meet the mysterious mother/love interest, the shot is angled so that her face is obstructed by a plant and then a post, we have been waiting the whole movie to see her.  If I was filming this I would at least try to move the camera a little to the side, unless of course, I was trying to increase the dramatic tension.

4.  The whole, "lets figure out how to use a wireless lavaliere microphone scene", with the comedic placement of static hits just afterwards stunk of filmmakers trying to make something look rough and real.  Not to mention the testing of how it would sound if you were being hugged, which also gets a laugh later when she gives him a long hug during dialog.  There is also another hidden camera a few feet away, did it not have a mic?

5.  Other audio issues included the fact that the guy behind the camera always sounded too good, not like a documentarian usually sounds, you know he's usually more muffled due to him being behind the mic.  As a matter of fact it sounded a little like the documentary the Last Exorcism, oh yea, that was fake, never mind.  
There are other suspicious scenes, like when they are in the car, and all of them sound great, you don't hear one the guy in the back sounding different or further away from the guys in the front, even with sound clean up, mixing and sweetening this sounds almost too good for the gear they were using. (cannon tx1 camera with crappy mics)

6.  Parallel 1 - While riding in the car away from the mysterious garage door ranch, our hero states that he didn't really feel fooled by her, because he was being tricked by believable harmless type lies that he didn't even really care about.  Which is why I don't feel too bad that they are tricking us, I love that the story line is small and believable enough to have happened, and I'm sure there is some truth to this, but really.  I mean really?

7.  Parallel 2 - What a great lesson, a story about a guy that gets fooled by media (website) by not checking into things, and yet thats what this media (film) may do to us.

8.  Parallel 3 - Think about this.  The mom sells slightly faked art to our hero, the film makers are selling a kind of slightly fake art to us my friends.

9.  Parallel 4 - The Catfish story, the Catfish is added during shipping to keep the Cod from getting soft and mushy by keeping it more alert, so to speak.  In the film it seems to refer to the mom being a trickster catfish.  But I think the MOVIE is the Catfish, we are the Cod, and we should not become complacent.  (BTW You're def not too complacent if you are still reading this)

10.  Parallel 5 - At the end of the film it says the story continues at their website.  The website contains another great parlor trick - you can make a full screen desktop that looks like our hero's computer.

Though I could go on talking about the genius of these parallels or casting actors that can't or don't have any false moments, like the mentally handicapped twins, I will stop here, and give you...

5 reasons why the film IS real.

1.  The filmmaker/actors say that it's real.  And the Studio website classifies it as "Reality Thriller".

2.  Shullman says if it was fake, "my brother would be the best actor since Marlon Brando."

3.  Exec Producer Brett Ratner would try to fool us ( Director of Rush Hour 3, X-MEN 3).

4.  There is a special thanks to JJ Abrams (LOST, CLOVERFIELD) he would never  leave more of a .

5.  All the above are all just things that I felt about the film, some sarcastic, and some unfounded. So who knows, the whole thing could be real after all.

Either way, I think this film is pretty much genius due to the fact that I have this odd feeling, not dissimilar to the way I felt about my ex-girlfriend.   I love it, and hate it, and can't quit thinking about it.

Nev says it's all true.  

Pick up a painted picture by yours truly before they go up in price.  Here's one painted of Abbey, is it painted by Abbey?   Paintings and prints range from $2450 to $6

What did you think about the film?  Please leave comments below.
If you are one of the film makers please drop a thank you note in the comments to all of the interweb junkies like me that will spend way too much time reading and writing about this film.
I hope to catch a catfish.

Special Thanks to for the full original article.


Anonymous said...

The biggest moment that I think shows that this is a fake is the underwater footage. Wasn't this a "hidden" camera, hidden in a shirt or something. So they went swimming fully dressed? Also was it an underwater camera they happened to have as their hidden camera? And the mics also conveniently water-proof.Thoughts anyone?

Anonymous said...

My biggest moment of doubt came when thinking back on the postcard detail: why suddenly send an old-fashioned postcard, when every other communication was electronic or phone? It seemed like the kind of staged moment common to old-fashioned thrillers: planting information for the audiance in one scene that can be re-discovered a few scenes later. They make a big point of showing the postcards to the camera, along with the attatched coins to make them recognizable, and later, showing them again to the camera, to re-inforce the physicall connection. The stamp that is on the postcard seems odd--something like "forward to correct adress": would the post office have stamped and delivered the post-card to the wrong adress? Maybe, I don't know. It just seems like the postcards were a plant, that only were sent in order to be found--a suspense moment like something out of "Blair Witch Project."
Yes, the water scene seemed suspisious. The various shots when they are on the porch--how many cameras did they have, in what position? While travelling, there is a shot of the spinning hubcap--which could only be taken by another car--unless that hubcap is not supposed to be on their car.
All the appearences by the filmakers is interesting--yes, they showed up at the end of our screening as well--but it makes me wonder if they doth protest too much the veracity of the film.
It's all very entertaining, and I am sure with more viewings than one more questionable details can be discovered.

Anonymous said...

Reasons Catfish is a fake:

The postcard scene: Camera time is spent with Nev EMPHASIZING that he sent Megan a postcard. He even goes so far to tape a coin to it, so the postcard is imprinted on our memories. Then, when the guys get to "Megan's farm", in Michigan, the postcard JUST HAPPENS to be in the mailbox on the day they arrive, and Nev, JUST HAPPENS to open the mailbox to retrieve it. AND IT JUST HAPPENS to have a postal stamp on it which states that there is no Megan at that address. SET UP!! Fake, fake, fake.

The hubcap shot. If the 3 guys are just 3 guys on the road makin' a doc. How did they get the shot of their cars' wheels spinning, UNLESS they had a crew or at least another person filming from another car. All 3 guys are in the car, when we see this shot! Fake, fake.

Nev and company appearing at theaters again and again to say, "IT'S REAL! IT'S REAL!" They doth protest too much!! Fake.


Look at the picture you have here of the guy placing a camera on the dash board. That is supposed to be the small cheap camera, yet, when we see that point of view, it is a high/professional quality image. They have bad lighting through out the movie, but then, all of a sudden, it is the type of lighting you see in regular movies, hard shadows are nowhere to be found. In the scene where they are going on the ski lift, they added sound effects to make it seem like it's hard to talk on the cell phone. If they embellished the sound, what else did they embellished?

Ray said...

Megan didn't exist, so the postman left the postcard (there was other mail in the box too!) at the empty farm. It wasn't *abandoned* so the postman didn't necessarily know if Megan was a new owner or tenant. It's a postcard with no return address, so where else would it go?

The underwater shots could've been made with one camera that wasn't hidden as one person normally would take out to document their vacation. Remember, she was so in love with Nev that she wouldn't be suspicious.

I noticed the spinning hubcap too and thought that was weird. Don't know why that is in there BUT it doesn't mean the entire thing is fake. C'mon, wouldn't there be more drama to it if it were? Wouldn't the guys look better on camera- what's with all the scenes in various states of undress? ick.

Anonymous said...

100% fake, but one of the better fakes out there compared to say 'the fourth kind' ( truly awful)

we should be happy that at least they put the effort , and they did make a very enjoyable film.

if they go to screenings telling everyone that its a fake -- it would possibly affect audience enjoyment -- why spoil the fun?

Anonymous said...

smells fishy to me.. who would make a 'movie'/documentary about a little girl painting and then a girl on the other side of the country and having started filming just so happen to stumble on this storyline? there seems to be little incentive to fly all the way to michigan unless the plot is either fake or at least manipulated.

Anonymous said...

I agree that teh Postcard indicates its a fake.
Its a fake because of the Postcard.

The mistake was to show us the postcard before he mailed it.
They invite comparison.
If you notice in the car at the farm when they open the mail box and comes back to car and shows postcard it has black lining over the top left, right and bottom left and right. It isn't post production thing. So why is it there?

Also the card from Abby is clearly written by an adult. Show me the 8 yr old who writes like that.

But its an enjoyable movie and it draws the audience in.

The plot of course is reminiscent of the Armistead Maupins' the Night listener>

Anonymous said...

We don't really care if the movie is real or not. Typical PR trick. They're putting you on their field of discussions. I'm pretty sure this website is owned by the dudes of the movie, anyway.

Speaking of this movie, it's really excellent. Full of truth and emotions. 2 thumbs up.

Anonymous said...

No way Vincent could make the profound Catfish statement.

Anonymous said...

I checked out the art website of Angela Wesselman. She goes by the name of Angela Pierce ( which seems legit enough as she 'never wanted fame'. But why does her site come up when you google "Angela Wesselman Art"? There are only about 2 dozen prints available through the site and about 1/2 dozen originals - seems kind of small collection - and she is not doing any new commissions - that seems strange to me especially as she has gone to a lot of effort setting up the website (which is mentioned right at the end of the movie credits). She also goes to great lengths in a FAQ to explain why she doesn't respond to emails. She makes no reference to Catfish which also seems reasonable - but maybe a bit too reasonable? She does however make reference to another film "U.P the movie" - seems like a marketing ploy perhaps...

Overall I think it is a fake - but a very good one!

Anonymous said...

What a clever piece of art! No film makers would 'dump on' and expose a pathetic, fraudulent internet dreamer like Angela Wesselman in real life. It would be too cruel for words, especially the exposing of her sad family situation. I saw the movie with a friend and she believed every word, thinking it was a low-budget, fairly amateurish, but still interesting doco about the horrors of social networking. But I could tell in the first few frames that it was a fabrication, a brilliant and entertaining one at that. I loved it!

Anonymous said...

I think you people are way to cynical for your own good, I'm quite confident this movie is real. Just because they have touched up the sound and lighting in editing doesn't prove anything. I think the thing you really need to take into account is if it is fake then they have found a handfull of the best actors in the world. And from the buzz of this film they would have been cast in something else by now.


If it's fake, I applaud it even more!

Anonymous said...

for all the people saying this is a fake - these are filmmakers guys!!! And they never said they weren't. Theres even a scene where they are commissioned to shoot a big perfpormance - which they would HAVE to have great cameras to do. And just because postcard shows up means nothing - they could have edited this hour and a half out of hundreds of hours of other things that DONT turn up in the film.


anyone that thinks this is still real can go f***k yourselves, evolution forgot to supply you with any kind of working brain.

Anonymous said...

Everybody in the film seems pretty tech savvy, so why didn't Nev and Megan ever communicate by video chat?

Not that it matters.

The film is more interesting if it is a fake.

Anonymous said...

if its fake, how do you explain the handicapped boys? it says one died in the end, plus it would be just cruel to get them to be in a movie like that unless it was an actual docu.

kevin casey said...

what if there were no trailers? if i was told it was fake beforehand, i would have been disappointed, but i wasn't and i really enjoyed it. after searching for the songs playing over the credits, i found many people believing this doc to be fake. upon reflection, they could be absolutely right. many scenes beg an unanswerable question. but i didn't have my doubts until the 3rd viewing so i got my money's worth. also i'm addicted to the song 'learning the lie' by the hidden cameras. bravo to the person who added it to the film.

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