Cool (68) Geeky (64) Kitschy (36)


Is the Facebook Documentary Movie "Catfish" Fake?

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 Meisner 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 FAKE 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...

3 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."

4.  Exec Producer Brett Ratner would never try to fool us ( Director of Rush Hour 3, X-MEN 3).

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

3.  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 really do like the film, it stays with me.  It gives me 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.  

Art by Angela Pierce
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.

Please go to if you are seeking the truth of this matter. Share


Angela Pierce said...

Thank you for the shout out! ♥

Hank Storm said...

For a woman who was able to fake 3 elaborate facebook pages, which you can't find now, the apparent lack of past web presence before November 2009 strikes me as suspicious.

she has a ton of blogs.

All of Angela's sites are owned by "Panorama Management Group, LLC" which conveniently hides ownership.

Also on Oct 11, 2008 her son Ronald died.

I have not seen the movie, but am I correct that both stepsons were alive at the time of the "filming?" So that ages the film considerably.

The film premiered January 2010, right?

She makes no mention of the filmmakers in any of her blogs, maybe vague clues, but no hint that her life is about to change. Did she have to sign a nondisclosure agreement along with her release? ;)

And all her books have sold out!

I'd like to see blog postings from the 3 dudes during that time period to see if there is any mention of the Pierces.

I'm spending way too much time looking into this, for what I suspect is little more than an ARG for the Cloverfield sequel.

Hank Storm said...

of course, there is this:

Ronald's obituary...

Ian said...

Great overview, I just saw the film myself and had to write a speculation post. I personally decided to believe that it was true, and I explain my rationale here: Would love your feedback.

Daniel said...

In the trailer it says "Not based on a true story" IN HUGE TEXT.

Anonymous said...

Watch more of the trailer, Daniel and read ALL of the words.

Anonymous said...

Daniel...did you watch the rest of the trailer?

Anonymous said...

Why would the post office leave mail at a home once they've determined that a person does not live there? Clearly, there is deception at play.

Tom Filby said...

“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.”

Anonymous said...

If you want to know the truth, Google the "real" name of the girl's who's pictures were used by "Angela". Aimee Gonzales "professional" website for her "photography" was not created until 2007 and has NO activity until September 2010. I think that is more than enough indication that this was a half-assed setup......yes, I'm aware of the excessive us of quotes.

Julie Cornewell said...

I think the "documentary" is fake but that's the point. Just as you pointed out the plot is about a "catfish," someone who pretends to be someone they are not. The "documentary" is pretending to be true, exactly what a catfish does. Honestly, I hope it is fake. Why? Because that makes the film just completely brilliant. It makes an unbelievably deep statement about what's fake and what's real in the world.

Gregory A. Butler said...

Not to be a fishing nerd here, but Cod are saltwater fish and Catfish live in fresh water.

If you put them in the same tank, with the same type of water, one species would die.

Anonymous said...

five minutes in u know hes an actor. hes too chatty always have somethings to say almost explaining the plot to u. most documentrys are full of quiet moments and people correcting what they just said e.g. real life! just look at the guy over dramatises everything over does facial expressions. turned off after 30 minutes thank god

Anonymous said...

sigh, lots of interesting comments, but most can probably be explained by the fact they are a film production company and obviously are allowed some creative freedom, the hubcap for example (although i dont rememebr the scene) could have just been added later to dress it up or perhaps they took extra moments to arrange complex shots. shooting a documentary doesnt mean you;re oblivious to the fact you are shooting it, its the opposite, they know there is a story and they are filming it for that reason with great care.

but my reason for thinking its staged is more simple... he's clearly gay. (reinforced by the tattoo on the small of his back) so why would he be so seriously gaga over a hot girl. It's clear that this film is just the result of a "what's a story that everyone can relate to and what's its most simplest common form?" moment that came to light while three guys talked about facebook.

Also, many of the scenes are obviously recreated as mentioned by others(perhaps admittedly, but still..). The one that made me laugh was the one where he reads the sexual correspondance with megan from his phone. clearly they're out of character and laughing sincerely about the absurdety of the "script" they have created and not so much about the actual absurdety of what he supposedly wrote...

anyhoo.. funny, good stuff. but too much is going on to figure what is fake and what is real. i suppose he probably messed around and had some bizarre experience with someone on facebook and this film was the creative result. but real? hardly.

Anonymous said...

If this was a fake documentary, then it was brilliant. And if it is real, Nev was given a true gift in the whole situation. Knowing such naked truth about someone like Angela was by far, in my opinion, more remarkable and touching than a facebook love story. There is always more time for love. But a once in a lifetime experience, captured on film, with the inside of the mind of a person that is really so many of us

Anonymous said...

It's entertainment .

And , unlike many large budget films , it evokes
emotion and a natural curiosity that only comes from creative human interaction .These guys did an excellent job on this project . I have over 200 channels to choose from and this was the one I selected to watch .
Yes , I have recommended it to all my friends .

Anonymous said...

Those three guys are opportunistic low life's. At first I thought the whole thing was contrived but then I realized that early on they saw an opportunity. They made a fool of this woman who wasn't in the best place. There's no way three young computer savvy guys would be fooled by her ruse. Maybe in 1997... Not in 2008. Also you know how hard it must be taking care of those twins? So inappropriate. Those three guys make my skin crawl. Just media whores looking for attention. Passing that trash off as a documentary is laughable,

Anonymous said...

BQuidearFake or not, I loved it.....who cares either way....its all about entertainment .....In my opinion it well and truly delivered.....

Anonymous said...

Ha! At first I was pissed off at the filmmakers for creating this scam. But now that it seems pretty clear that this Angela person was in on it from the start -- and the gal in the photos too? -- I have to tip my hat to everyone involved.

It's kind of like this generation's Crying Game.

Anonymous said...

Fake or real, I just can't support any of the players in this story, because of the children involved.

If it's real, then I have a hard time believing that social services would not have been all over every single one of them for their inappropriate behavior toward Abby (Angela for impersonating a minor, Nev and the film producers for interrogating a minor... especially when they already knew enough of the story at that point, at least enough to know that it wasn't necessary to badger a little girl to the point of making her physically move away from them and shout at them for confusing her). And Angela, again, for keeping the 2 handicapped sons in a home with a young child, Abby, after Angela admits (on camera) that the boys are a "harm to themselves and others" (reason to remove them from the home and place them into a safe environment, where they can be cared for properly, and not present a danger to Abby or to themselves).

Angela's care for the boys (real/fake... doesn't matter) is presented as well-meaning, and I can understand that the film-makers just probably don't know enough about the reality of this situation to realize that it's not actually "good" for the handicapped person (or for the other child in the home, and even for the caretaker, obviously... look at Angela)... when the caretaking becomes too much for one person to handle on their own, and/or when the person/people needing care become a danger to themselves/others (even to no fault of their own (this includes mental/physical illness/handicaps/disabilities).

That alone takes away all artistic license and interest from this film, and makes it just plain irresponsible, socially.

And if it's fake, to fake the death of a handicapped child (or anyone, for that matter), and then go the next step as to fake an obituary online, is just taking it too far. In fact, even if it's real, I don't know why they needed to exploit that or even mention it at all. It's private, painful, and not relevant to the story at all.

If it's real/fake, doesn't matter, they should at LEAST, take the time at the end to educate the public... one paragraph?? Maybe? Links?? To the Dept. of Public Health. Respite Care. Personal Care Attendants. And other types of options that Angela could have turned to other than online manipulation and borderline child abuse (or at least neglect, or inappropriate behavior, mistreatment, if nothing else) toward Abby.

Supposedly, she already lost one daughter, due to her mental illness. Is she not worried about losing Abby? If it's fake, it's so not cool to make people out there worry about this fictional little girl out there, possibly stranded in this home, in the care of a mentally unstable mother who can't stop thinking about her own needs or long enough to keep her safe, emotionally or physically.

They didn't even properly portray what it's like to care for a disabled child, because someone caring for handicapped children around the clock would not have time to produce that much art, and still continue to do so (supposedly since 2008 or even before so).

If they say in a few years... haha! WE were the CATFISH and YOU were all the CODS... they should all be forced to spend the rest of their lives caring for handicapped children during the day, and then caring for abused and neglected children at night, just to know what REAL "reality" feels like. "Nev" and "Angela" included.