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Don’t Forget: The ‘Catfish’ Guys’ Shaky Grasp of Truth

The Projector

"Paranormal Activity 3," which comes out Friday, is the next in a series that values, above all else, fiction that masquerades as truth. The movies have been hits because they feel like they're really happening; it's the central (some would say "sole") reason for the movies to exist. So, to direct the third installment, they went to experts in the field: The directors of "Catfish."

Oh, sure, "Catfish" calls itself a documentary, and continues to claim that it is ... but many (including us) have always felt large swaths of the movie were fabricated for maximum effect. Key among those people: The producers of "Paranormal Activity 3." Deadline pointed out (but didn't link to, for some reason) a particularly noteworthy account from a Huffington Post interview with co-director Ariel Schulman.

HuffPo: Can you talk about how you and Joost took the reins of this new Paranormal Activity film?
Schulman: Catfish had a lot to do with it. Paramount were big fans and we had been on their radar. When we first interviewed with the president of Paramount, he actually said, "If you tell me right now that Catfish is fake, you've got the job." And we just went real silent. And then I said, "I'm sorry, I can't tell you that." Because it was real.

HuffPo: Do you think he just wanted to know because it had been driving him crazy?
Schulman: I think he figured that if we could create that authenticity dramatically, then we could do it again for this. Ultimately, we convinced them of exactly that. Catfish is completely real, but I think we have a knack for identifying the authentic moments in home video, and it plays like a narrative.

Yeah, that'd be one way to put it. Another way to put it is that the film is pretty much total bullsh-t. (Here's a terrific breakdown of how many times, and in how many different ways, Schulman and his co-director Henry Joost, along with Schulman's tramp-stamped brother who "plays" the lead role, played with the truth for dramatic effect. Their goal in making "Catfish" was to get their filmmaking career off and running, and they were willing to break almost every rule of documentary filmmaking to do it. And it wasn't Werner Herzog, Get At A Greater Truth rule-breaking. They just cheated. They cheated skillfully, we'll give them that. They got what they wanted. Here's their big movie. Congratulations.

Ariel Schulman, 'Paranormal Activity 3' Director, Talks 'Catfish,' Controversy And Filming His Life [Huffington Post]
Catfish/Bullsh-t [FourFour]