Is "Catfish" Real or Fake? Answers to Questions…

by Eric Melin on September 21, 2010

in Columns,Overlooked Movie Monday

Catfish_movie poster“Catfish” the movie: Is it real or fake? Is “Catfish” a documentary or a hoax?

The new movie “Catfish” is being marketed as a “reality thriller” and not a documentary. Maybe that is part of the reason that so many people can’t quite swallow all of the movie’s claims as the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

My review of the movie explores this idea further.

DO NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE FILM. Actually, I’m trying to avoid major spoilers in the article itself but I can’t control the comment section…

OK, HERE WE GO:

Directed by Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost, “Catfish” stars Schulman’s brother Nev, a 24-year-old New York photographer. He is befriended on Facebook by an 8-year old painter named Abby, her mother Angela, and Abby’s older sister Megan. Nev and Megan start a long-distance Internet relationship and then things go haywire.

The main question is this: At what point did the filmmakers realize they had a movie on their hands and how exactly did that affect the way they continued to pursue the story?

With the Internet being what it is and these guys being as tech- and gadget-aware as they are, it’s a wonder nobody did a simple Google search or two to determine who they were really talking to. Were they simply milking the story for the sake of the movie?

Are Nev’s reactions to the revelations in the film (as they happen on camera) genuine?

Is it a cautionary tale about the perils of accepting social media at face value or is it a fake documentary with a bunch of really good actors?

I think it’s a documentary–and if anything, it points out just how much fiction we all actually like in our non-fiction. Fakery is already there, folks, and it has been since the invention of the documentary. Even the ‘March of Time’ newsreels were full of faked footage.

In The Wrap, Joost said:

“The only thing we re-created were the close-ups on the computer screen. None of the scenes were staged. People are responding to how the story is so streamlined like a narrative film. We actually considered having talking heads. Ultimately, we decided we had the footage to back up this straight narrative.”

At the Sundance screening in January, there was this exchange during Q&A (via Movieline):

So what happened when that man in the Q&A said that he didn’t think the film was a documentary? “What is it then?” Schulman sneered.

catfish_movie_nev_megan“I think it’s really a faux documentary,” the man replied.

Instead of asking him to explain, Schulman leapt to a conclusion. “Oh, so you’re saying that my brother is the best actor in the world? Let’s hear it for my brother! The next Marlon Brando, ladies and gentlemen!” he said, applauding.

The cheers Schulman led drowned out his questioner. Then, the filmmaker continued, his voice raising an octave.

“Thank you very much! Oh, and we’re the best writers in Hollywood? Thank you everyone!”

With that, Schulman cut off both the Q&A and his questioner.

When asked why people are suspicious by LAist, co-director Joost said:

catfish_filmmakers“I think that there has been a trend for a while of the mockumentary and also the fake documentary, which is kind of a different thing. The Cloverfield and Blair Witch Project type thing and then even more recently, those commercials that are trying to look like YouTube viral videos where something totally crazy happens and a visual effects company manipulates it. So I think people are trained now to be suspicious about what they see and wonder what the motives are behind it. So this question of whether the film is real or not never occurred to us while we were editing, because why would you ever suspect that people would be suspicious of something that actually happened to you? But when we started showing it at Sundance, that’s when we started getting questions from the audience. When we were making the film, there were many times when we thought, “Wow, this is too good to be true” in a lot of ways or, “I can’t believe that just happened the way that it did,” or that we captured that in the way that we did, but it did. It really happened. That’s the truth.”

For further exploration, New York magazine has a feature on what was cut from “Catfish.”

A feature in the same magazine on the brothers had this to say:

“Super Size Me director Morgan Spurlock has called the film “the best fake documentary I’ve ever seen.” One commenter on the website Deadline Hollywood wrote that “either the hipsters were incredibly dumb or else they knew exactly what they were doing.”

Nev admits that both those statements are half-true. “I was really bored. My life was in limbo,” he says of the moment Abby appeared. He’d dropped out of Sarah Lawrence and was paying his bills by making videos for bar mitzvahs. Megan provided the fantasy of a simple life. “I was unbelievably self-convincing,” he admits. “There were so many red flags, but I was looking for an excuse to say, ‘Oh, that makes sense.’ That’s the theme of all the trouble I get into.”

Scott from VeryAware has done some Internet detective work of his own and is drawing some far-reaching conclusions, using screenshots from the film against the filmmakers.

What do you think?

10/8 UPDATE: This interview with Nev Schulman from The Wrap also has more information about what happened that is not included in the movie and why it took him so long to Google Megan and Abby. Tonight, Angela will be interviewed on ABC’s “20/20.”

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers and regular critic for KCTV5. He’s a member of the BFCA, VP of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also the current 2013 Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Loren Visser September 21, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Thanks for the review/article Eric. I saw Catfish last week and thought it was a good take on how social networking and technology has become such a big part of our lives. Thanks! http://www.catfishmovie.ca

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2 mark September 21, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Catfish not showing near you? Demand the most exciting film of the year to your theater here @IAMROGUE http://bit.ly/9V2vk1

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3 Eric Melin September 21, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Loren – How’s your hand? Say ‘hi’ to the Coens for me!

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4 JkezBack September 21, 2010 at 5:05 pm

It’s fake duh! The trailer even states that (minus the “duh” of course). It’s still gonna be a winner regardless, as well the great Canadian horror Scar 3D. Everyone who owns a television will want to see this on VOD Oct. 1st.

http://bit.ly/cGmDg8

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5 Kristen July 16, 2013 at 11:10 pm

It’s not fake. Also, the trailer says nothing about it being fake either, you misinterpreted what it said. What the trailer states is “not based on a true story”, “not inspired by true events”, “just true”, which ironically means the exact opposite of how you took it. Movies that start with the whole “based on a true story” thing means that the movie you’re currently watching has facets to it that really happened, BUT happened before filming. What they meant by saying those statements was that this movie wasn’t made after these things took place, it was being made AS they took place, which is why it says “just true”. Therefore, the trailer stated that the documentary was the farthest thing from fake and that basically it’s more real than one of those movies that starts with “based on a true story”. That’s all they meant by the things that were said in the trailer. So again, you just interpreted it the wrong way.

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6 Jan Shaw September 21, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Sundance doesn’t lie and neither do all the positive reviews from critics. Everyone keeps on reading stuff online, but the real way to understand it is to watch the film itself. IamRogue is giving people the opportunity to request the Catfish in a theater near them: http://bit.ly/9V2vk1

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7 Eric Melin September 22, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Wow, there are a lot of Rogue employees trolling the ‘net looking for ‘Catfish’ mentions…

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8 Loren Visser September 23, 2010 at 2:27 pm

The hand still hurts Eric….hahaha…glad you “got” my handle, not many people do.

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9 C September 24, 2010 at 11:17 am

its staged they filmed this like 2 streets away from my girlfriends house in Chesterfield Michigan we tried asking what movie it was and they wouldnt tell us but its the same house in the trailer.

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10 Eric Melin September 24, 2010 at 12:55 pm

The claim you make that its staged has nothing to do with where it was filmed, C. How do you back up your assertion?

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11 Mike September 25, 2010 at 12:07 am

C, the film could have been staged but all the footage of Angela is in Ishpeming, MI, where they say she’s from. I can verify that because I lived in Ishpeming about a block away from Angela.

It seems like you haven’t seen the movie, so please refrain from commenting on whether it is staged or not. You really have no idea what you’re talking about and you just sound like an idiot.

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12 Shae October 1, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Yup, I also lived about two blocks (down Main St.!) away from the house on the corner of Main and Euclid for my entire life. I walked past it every day to get to the library, school, etc. The house, town, etc. are completely real. The house has a beautiful garden! I think it’s fake though, I would know about this family. Small town.

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13 Bjorn October 2, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Melin! We just saw this film, googled ‘is catfish true’ and your story was the first hit. Crazy. !!

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14 Eric Melin October 4, 2010 at 8:33 am

Shae- Did you know anything about the family that lived in that house or did you just not know who was there?

Bjorn- Sweet! So what’s your verdict? How much do you think (if any) was staged?

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15 Shae October 4, 2010 at 4:30 pm

I rescind my original statement. The movie is real…

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16 Shae October 8, 2010 at 8:05 pm

that wasn’t me – it’s not real

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17 James October 8, 2010 at 9:12 pm

This story is totally fake, no doubt, that this story was planned out and designed. Its obvious, I can’t believe people would actually fall for this, even the reactions are very insincere. And then the woman was willing to go on national TV and have a movie made after her, come on, anyone who believes this story needs their heads examined.

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18 Michael Austin October 10, 2010 at 11:01 am

Real or fake misses the point. This is a brilliant story. And if it isn’t real, that just makes it even more impressive. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we’ve been duped by a story about a guy being duped? I think Catfish is one of the best films of the year, whether you believe it or not!

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19 Vince Craig October 24, 2010 at 6:18 pm

I personally did not think the movie was a “fake”. Furthermore, what does “fake” even mean? Fake as in, every single incident was staged and Angela and everyone pretended to be artists and pretended to be surprised? The story is heartrending. So, if it is “fake”, then Schulman and every other character in the movie should win Academy Awards for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, etc…

I’ve never seen a film that showed the vulnerability of the figurative heart as this film portrayed. My wife and I cried at the end. We despised Angela for what she did, but could not help but also feel compassion for her.

The only thing I questioned at all was the part where Schulman removes the mail from the mailbox. This may sound a little silly to you folks, but that’s a Federal crime. You cannot remove mail under ANY circumstances. At the very least, he should be questioned about that incident…

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20 garrett October 26, 2010 at 8:21 pm

the girl angila in the story has a website showing her paintings i still dont know if its real thought….. would the producers of the movie do the exact same thing that angila supposedly did to make a fictional person seem real by making a fake website based on her art?

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21 Rucker November 6, 2010 at 11:08 am

Angela in the actuality of everything was completely naive and slow (But then again excellent painter.) Vince was Moderately cognitively disabled and someone typical of living in that part of the state.(lolk) The first part of the movie wasn’t extremely convincing- Some of the expressions on Nev’s face were not so genuine.
A lot of the emotions coming from Angela were extremely genuine and being slow as she (is/was/w/e) She could not have acted out the way she did regardless- She much like Vince is handicapped and living off Ramen noodles.(Like most retards in the upper peninsula of Michigan) Ya dar ay movie is good regardless. IMO it has a 65/35 chance of being real. Only due to the account of Angela’s acting.

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22 Andy November 10, 2010 at 12:17 am

I feel uniquely qualified to speak on this subject and movie. Not only because I’ve seen thousands of movies and am an excellent (and professional) judge of actors and their talent, but also because I LIVED IT. I’ve had similar relationships based on internet connections — and ultimately lies. And I can tell that I sat there watching the movie with a very heavy heart. It brought me back to a difficult time. And I can also tell you that Nev’s reactions were all VERY GENUINE. And Angela fit the profile to a T. As some have said, if this movie is a fake, then Nev and Angela are the greatest actors in the history of cinema. Their reactions were true, real, subtle, poignant, raw, and descriptive of years of pain. I couldn’t teach that to my acting students no matter how many years I would try.

The final ingredient that tells me this movie is not fake is that it’s not very good. I mean, as a piece of fiction. I would say, “This is what you faked??” They revealed their antagonist far too early; they lacked any sense of rising action or dramatic build. So what exactly was the fake??

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23 ade November 11, 2010 at 6:56 am

I am amazed so many people feel this film is actually real.

I have to admit I dipped in and out of watching the film until the farm house scene, that bit got my attention enough to watch the remainder of the film fully. Before that, quite frankly I found the film dull and the “acting” (:)) jarring, namely Nev was annoying. God knows how people see Nev as some kind of genius actor, his performance did not feel real to me at all, which is why I couldn’t watch it.

However, when it got to the scene with the soon hitting himself I started to question whether it was real or not. Surely they would not fake such a situation? That’s when I asked me wife it was actually real, she had assumed it was real all along:)

However, i’m convinced this film is a work of fiction, clever to some degree yes, but the entire thing was too neat and the story so fits perfectly with the overall marketing packaging of the film. Questioning how easy it is to be duped etc etc

Angela however was a supreme actress and she needs to be applauded, and, hopefully seen in more films in the future. Nev on the other hand is a bog standard “actor”, his performance was unconvincing. They would have been better to find someone who was actually a non actor for his part, would have been much more effective. He didn’t have the capacity to pull it off and felt like the characters in paranormal activity and the ilk.

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24 Hand Solo November 13, 2010 at 10:43 pm

Hah- congrats on the 1st Google results on “Is Catfish movie real?”, Melin. I just watched this today, and it resonated with me a bit because I did something similar with some friends, but to a lesser extent. Over a year ago, I made a fake Facebook character named Stache Thompson (http://www.facebook.com/#!/STACHEMAN), who is obviously Tom Selleck. I had some friends acting as Stache’s friends and family. I then acted as if Stache had graduated from Bayside High in 1980 (which I randomly chose) and friended everyone from that graduating class. I amassed 150 friends in a short amount of time, created a ridiculous backstory and narrative for Stache and his friends, and let it play out. Some people thought it was hilarious and some were thoroughly offended, which was hilarious to us. I eventually killed Stache off before it could become stale and boring. What I did was basically supposed to serve as weird entertainment for a random group of people and my friends, unlike “Angela’s” supposed obsession with Nev.

I enjoyed the movie, but I have to believe that it wasn’t real. I actually felt like the guy’s reactions to certain moments were completely fake. Just they way that they reasoned things out and reacted seemed off. Also, for a trio of young guys in this era to not have Googled any of these people before they found out something was wrong is ridiculous. If I’m getting packages from a random person of Facebook, of course I’m going to try to look them up on the internet first.

Also, the whole song request sequence was fishy. They found out “Angela” had been posting fake songs to her Facebook, and that they were ripped from Youtube videos and other sites. Most women her age and with her lifestyle would barely even know how to use Youtube, let alone rip audio from it and post it to her Facebook account in a matter of minutes. That, to me, screams setup for the movie. Finally, what was with the semi-mentally challenged Vince getting quite philosophical at the end? That came off as rehearsed.

Basically, I think that it was all staged, but it was a great idea for a film, and I definitely enjoyed it.

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25 Hand Solo November 13, 2010 at 10:46 pm

Also, if this was all indeed fake, how ingenious was it to include two severely mentally challenged individuals in the film? It definitely adds to the “how could we fake this” factor. Bravo.

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26 Tom Filby November 29, 2010 at 12:20 pm

“As the mystery unravels I find myself really involved in the whole endeavour, I just wish they’d come clean with it. If they’d followed the rules with a fairly convincing viral marketing campaign, but later, when pressed, admitted that all we have here is simply a cautionary tale concerning what constitutes identity on the internet, then I’d feel more inclined to enjoy the film in retrospect. Instead, I’m left wondering why they insisted on treating us like numb skulls and trying to pass off their film as genuine. It just isn’t.”

http://ewfbtw.blogspot.com/2010/11/film-catfish.html

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27 Haylzstorm December 13, 2010 at 5:14 pm

I really enjoyed this movie. It was light hearted to begin with, confusing (what man befriends a child?), funny, cute and romantic, suspense filled, scarey, sad and shocking. I remember when blair witch came out it had me trolling the net (like I am now for this movie) to find info on “is this movie real”? Kudos to Hand Solo for coming up with 3 valid points as to why this movie cannot be real..he confirmed it for me. Still was enjoyable though but it’s nice to know the truth too.

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28 ian December 19, 2010 at 7:51 am

For those of you who are doubting the authenticity of the movie and characters, check this out: http://www.miningjournal.net/page/content.detail/id/516869/Ronald-Grant-Pierce.html

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29 Thom December 29, 2010 at 12:21 am

After watching the trailer for this I expected something very different to what I got. I was certain I was about to watch a fake documentary with a horror twist so we could take with us a realistic feeling of worst-case-scenario in what can go wrong with facebooking unknowns. Instead I’m left totally confused and swaying 90% towards feeling it’s genuine.

If it is fake then I don’t blame the film makers for not coming clean – doing so would surely slice a large piece of potential profit still to be made out of our curiousity. Instead I think the truth will come from people who decide to research properly everything about angela and her family. I can’t help but feel they would have chosen a more exciting plot if it was fake.

And to everyone who thinks the “characters” were acting I couldn’t disagree more – they were the most real thing about this film to me. The fact you may find him irritating or fake doesn’t mean he is not real – he has a camera in his face and you don’t know him. If it is acting then hats off to him and, reluctantly, to you for clocking it. But until then.

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30 Cory January 1, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Ian: I don’t think anyone is doubting the authenticity of two handicapped twins. They may have been cast for roles in this movie and, sadly, one passed away after filming. It’s happened before in Hollywood.

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31 gimmeabreak January 2, 2011 at 12:45 pm

If they story was real, how come noone involved are concerned that they may be getting into a “hostel” situation? I’m sure the idea of “what if this person is/goes nuts and decides to kill/capture us?” would have come up as much as it did in my mind while watching. In a day and age where we flood the net with user-uploaded content, finding info on these ppl would take no more than the 1st 10 search results. And some noise of Angela/Abby would be easy to find with how much she herself was online. Not only hear of this talent once a film is made of her. If you search up on her, you will only find Catfish related content and studio made sites (no doubt) to better sell the “realness” of the film. A cool little story about how phony the internet can be, but still just a story nonetheless

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32 Jason January 10, 2011 at 2:54 am

The reason i believe that this is real is the progression of story. In a planned out story you have an initial set up also known as the exposition. The Expostion presents the main focus of characters to you and tells you about them. The next step is the rising action. The rising action leads you from the expostion to the climax. The climax consists of a major event that causes a change in thought or focus for the overall story. Following the Climax is the Falling Action. The Falling Action consists of the fallout of the Climax and leads us to the Resolution. The Resolution in almost any well plotted out story puts everything in a nice neat box and ties a little ribbon around it and says “here you go, have a nice day.” This movie lacked a decent Exposition. The characters were all presented to us but nothing was given to us other than the beginning of the situation. The films Rising Action was slow and drawn out much like time would be in real life. The climax of the movie happened in the scene with the song request but even then it was just the seed of an idea. Next the falling action went way to quickly until the Resolution which wasn’t even a real resolution. Yes Angela came out and explained her whole elaborate set up but the audience was left without that catharsis, that final release that comes with the successful completion of a narrative. I know there are those out there that will argue that you can make a narrative look like a documentary and they will use Paranormal Activity as a reference but you can also make a documentary look like a narrative. Other than the flaws in proper story progression there is no way that a group of people can have reactions like those and not have them be in a genuine circumstance. As for those people that will explain that it’s such a shock that nobody googled these people or how preposterous it is that a woman that lives in small town Michigan can know how to rip the audio from a youtube video, I say that you may be thinking logically but not everyone does. I personally look for the best in people and trust people, the only person I’ve ever googled has been myself. And as for Angela knowing all of this technical stuff, all you have to do is have an idea, the internet, and at most 20 minutes to figure out how to mess with video clips, audio clips, internet ins and outs and by the time these songs were being uploaded it had been a good SEVEN months into Nev and “Megan’s” relationship.

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33 jonny January 10, 2011 at 4:39 am

Film is 100% fake, why are people here so gullible? i bet these same people probably though ‘the fourth kind’ was real too — human intelligence seems to be wasted on many people these days.

What i am a bit annoyed with about the film is that they used handicapped men for the ‘shock’ factor and definately are capitalising from the death of one of them, this is wrong.

A theory of mine is that the prankers sought out a middle aged couple with disabled kids to play a part in thier movie, getting them to sign non-disclosure agreements etc , that way story seems more believable to the layabout chimpanzee , a.k.a the people that have posted above telling us that this film is real.

p.s really enjoyable film, you dont have to pretend its real to enjoy it.

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34 Tom January 11, 2011 at 6:14 pm

smells fishy to me. verdict: fake/heavily manipulated.

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35 bigdek68 January 15, 2011 at 11:42 pm

fantastic film. story is either well documented, or written. whether it’s faked or real didn’t matter, it goes a little way to enhance my belief that social networking sites are not that sociable!!

nice to view something that’s original, and not dismissive of human nature….

ps nice site guys!

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36 Dan January 19, 2011 at 8:42 am

How convenient, for the spacial and narrative expansion of the piece, that Nev had the revelation of Megan’s bogus character while he was more than previously geographically closer to \her.\

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37 Dennis Farkas January 26, 2011 at 11:31 am

Just finished watching Catfish, and truly enjoyed it…fits well with pop culture of today…Awesome movie fellas!
I am a 40 year old senior Avid DS editor in Ohio, and have been making home movies since I got my first RCA VHS camera back in 1986…I honestly believe that this is a real documentary, with a few reenacted moments to bring the story together…most if not all documentaries are cut together that way. Some of the earlier scenes in the movie may have been forged a little, but thats ok…If it helped bring the story to full circle, than so be it…

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38 TattooedEgo January 28, 2011 at 3:32 am

I just finished watching this flick. All the way through I was hoping and praying that it was a genuine documentary. The first or second scene in the movie was what made me think otherwise. When Nev opened up the box that contained a t-shirt for his brother that read “Casualties Skate, Snow, Surf”. Commonly that is found on skateboard shop shirts. Did Nev just assume Alex’s band name was “The Casualties”? Shouldn’t Nev’s brother have realized that it was a shop tee and not a band tee being a skateboarder? The shop is located close to where Angela is from so I don’t doubt that she sent it to Nev but it should have raised some flags that something wasn’t right.

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39 Dan January 29, 2011 at 12:01 am

Just saw the movie. I didn’t know much about the movie beforehand and I am glad.

I can say that I’ve never quite felt this way about a movie. The first 40 minutes are gripping and relative to how so many of us have manipulated the internet. The realness of the interaction between Nev and Megan is amazing. The deep emotions that ran between them is something that most of wish we could experience again at least one more time in our lives. Thier relationship reminded me middle school, writing love notes, nervosly holding hands, and being too shy and excited all at the same time to NOT give her the 20 dollar necklace you bought her and instead have a girl who rides the bus with her pass it along. Movies have brought out emotions in me, but to have the emotions be so genuine and this well acted in a film is so rare that I find it hard to believe that it wasn’t real.

I don’t think we can question the realness of the boys and the father. They look the same and have some simliar manerisms. Vince’s takes were so interesting. He apears borderline mentally challenged, but his lines are so succinct.

I have worked with disabled children and adults my whole professional career and Angela is a not all too uncommon product of a caretaker of severely disabled children and adults. Her life is spent taking care of those boys. Caring for disabled boys like in the movie will break people mentally and emotionally. Her escape is the internet and she needed to live her life in some other way.

I wasn’t a fan of some of the shots they used for the boys particularly the very short shot toward the end of the movie when the 3 from NYC are about to leave and a shot one of the disabled boys legs as he drags himself out the hallway. It was only for .5 to 1 second but it was a cheap shot and it was used to keep the odd flow of the movie on the weird side.

I’m going to go search around some more about the people in the movie. I’m sure by now there is a website devoted to debunking the movie. I hate to see it was a hoax, but if it is they tricked me much more than Megan/Angela ever did to Nev.

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40 Anthony Australia February 6, 2011 at 2:26 am

Its fake becasue the all important scene when Angela first laid eyes on Nev was only showed from a far distance obviously they had trouble getting all the expressions to be convincing. ALSO if anyone met Angela with two retarded children they would see how sad her life was and just leave her alone, why would someone toy with a person with such miserable life circumstance, the answer is FAKE FAKE FAKE, but still good to watch.

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41 Will Harris LA February 8, 2011 at 3:41 am

Look man the guys’ reaction to the Q&A did seem strange, but understand that when you make a documentary your not expecting the first reaction to be, “This is fake.” Maybe if you were making something that can be heavily opinionated like An Inconvenient Truth, so I can understand why they would get defensive. As for the authenticity of this movie I gotta say the truth is somewhere in between. I just can’t stand all you childish buffoons who are going FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE. I’m sure they had to pump up the realness of the girl in the beginning because that’s what sets up the whole movie. Did Nev realize he wasn’t chatting with a hot 19 year old in Michigan? Possibly, if he was really curious he could’ve used a reverse image search engine to see where the photos were coming from. Was the whole sequence with the fake music being sent staged? Could very well be, it is hard to believe that there’s 14 people on Facebook who are all friends with each other and they’re all real. If this movie happened to be fake it would be disappointing because that meant they probably were sort of exploiting those retarded kids, but it never should take away from the message of the movie. Angela is an isolated women in nowhere Michigan looking for some sort of validation that she’s still a human being with a dream and that her artistic skills aren’t for nothing, but if she had tried to just be herself people people would’ve judged her based on the photos she was tagged in, which is what social networking has done to us. People go through crazy stunts and do dumb shit to stay relevant and get noticed (Lindsay Lohan). So what’s so crazy about what Angela did? Like Christopher Nolan said about Inception you need to take a leap of faith with this movie. I’m sorry is this too smart for some of you, COULD BE FAKE COULD BE REAL COULD BE FAKE COULD BE REAL, there is that better?

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42 Jack Blue February 11, 2011 at 9:40 am

What about Nev’s tattoo on his lower back, I thought girls are the only ones that got those?

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43 Jahovah February 20, 2011 at 8:22 pm

Haters wanna hate, and lovers wanna love. The filmmakers obviously did something right to start such a wide-ranging conversation. To anyone who’s “shocked” or appalled that certain scenes may have been re-shot or staged for clarity, I would suggest you watch “F for Fake,” a late-career Orson Welles “documentary” on what, if anything, we can believe that we see in movies (i.e. not much).

Appreciate the way the flick made you feel, and how successful it was in that respect. It probably could have happened, you know? Why peak behind that curtain?

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44 psyman February 25, 2011 at 6:25 am

Jack Blue – Yeah I hear you!

Definitely a fake.

No heterosexual dude would ever get a tramp stamp like that!!

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45 Maybe March 13, 2011 at 11:06 am

2 things look ‘fishy’ – the way these NYC, correctly connected, techno, 20-somethings just buy into all this art/music/coolness coming out of Mich, then reacting like ‘omg, this internet stuff might be fake’, like they are my 85 yr old dad AND … the second thing is: the footage at the lake – how did they have swimsuits (possible) AND and underwater-capable camera at-the-ready, when they took an unscheduled drive to the ‘beach house’?

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46 Ms Curious April 4, 2011 at 6:32 am

Hello all

Here’s the deal. Angela is real, she does live at 421 N Main Ishpeming. So if you’re one of those who posted she’s not real…well you’re totally off base. From my perspective, the film is a mix of truths and half truths. Nev did get a painting, he did correspond with a girl called Megan, but he cottoned on much earlier to the whole hoax than the viewer is led to believe. I think he cottoned on around Dec 07 and then continued to milk this for all it was worth (because he hoped it might make a great film). Afterall, he was kicked out of film school for violent behaviour, so he proably needed a big break to make it. I think Angela was none the wiser, and that’s why his turning up on the doorstep is so real (because it is).well at least for the most part…

I think they knew months and months earlier (encouraged the deception) and then turned up to film what they themselves had actually been a part of.

Also, look out for the sloppy editing, mountains in scenes where they claim to be in a place which doesn’t have mountains, dates on computer screens that don’t match with the chronological aspect of their tale etc.

I think it’s terribly sad that they used two handicapped boys in the film for their own ends. This is what gives the film the high pathos. However, one has to wonder why or how anyone making a film, could in good conscience show these boys and why on earth the parents (Angela and Vince allowed such). Mmmmmm….something is very fishy here, who paid who to do what, to film this, to say that, to allow this…..and on it goes.

Probably as I say from the beginning…a whole lot of half truths!

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47 Anon July 30, 2012 at 11:40 pm

I saw the movie today. I understand how some might think it’s fake, but I’ve been in a similar situation. A couple of years ago, I started talking to a guy I met online and my actions, emotions, and the building of the relationship went very similarly to Nev’s and Megan’s. I did end up going to meet the guy, and thankfully in my case he was who he said he was. Things didn’t work out between us, but while watching the film I really felt like I was watching myself two years ago. If this was fake, it took a lot of research/interviewing/etc people in the same situation. His responses were genuine. Particularly in the scenes where he first talks to Megan on the phone and then when he is laughing and embarrassed while reading the text messages they had exchanged.

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