Catfish: Why the ‘Hoax’ is Probably Fake

Catfish

***Warning: In-Depth Spoilers of Catfish to follow***

Since its premiere at Sundance, the documentary Catfish has had more than its share of controversy. Many critics, bloggers and industry types have loudly challenged the filmmakers’ ethical stance towards their subjects and the credibility of their document (on occasion citing the film to be, if not liberally fabricated, then an outright hoax). Having had some time to mull over the fine points of the debate and my own distilled impressions of the experience, I wish to defend the documentary against what I consider to be largely baseless accusations of its lack of authenticity. I do not claim to know the whole story and if any undiscovered evidence one way or the other should grace the comment thread I would welcome any revision to my opinions, but as it stands Catfish, though fortuitous, appears sufficiently plausible.

With the cover my ass clause out of the way, let’s proceed.

First, I dismiss wholesale the claim that everything in Catfish is faked, my mind cannot process how that could even be possible, and in particular, how mentally handicapped children would be used as props in such a deceit (forget ethics, what about commonsense?). This rebuttal is in response to the claims that Nev and the filmmakers (hitherto known as ‘the protagonists’) covered-up their foreknowledge of the peculiarities of the online encounters; whether they knew that Abby, Meghan and Angela were all manifestations of the same person or knew in vaguer terms that something was fishy earlier than the Colorado visit, it becomes an accusation of entrapment and exploitation for what transpires in Michigan. I believe the integral part of the official story in Catfish to be true: until Colorado, the protagonists were unaware of any deception. For me their version of the story hinges on the authenticity of one scene: the discovery that Meghan did not perform the songs she claimed to. If some of the interviews of Nev were staged at the beginning because of lack of footage that, to me, is excusable and no different than what a lot of documentaries engage in. If the song scene is genuine and place-time specific in Colorado before deciding to surprise visit ‘Meghan’ in Michigan then everything that follows has a strong probability of being authentic.

My confidence in the official story is fueled by a variety of considerations: first, the burden of proof trumps biases of perception and, as in a court of law where one is innocent until proven guilty, the accusations need to rise above circumstantial evidence of which the bulk of what I have read online appears to be. Second, the situations, when considered in context, are plausible and it’s only when you think of them anecdotally that it becomes harder to accept. Lastly, the film passes my Turing Test of believability: the detective work of reading the minutiae of facial and body language and the tacit interactions captured on camera provided me no indication that the ‘performances’ in the film were anything but genuine.

Let’s start with the obvious: as constructs all documentaries lie. Compare the span of time that is alleged to be marked in Catfish (eight months) to that of the running time of the documentary, clearly the narrative insinuated in the movie is a mere anecdote to the experience as it was lived. Even if the protagonists were genuinely naïve prior to the Colorado revelations, the way the story is conflated in the documentary (the music underscoring the absurdity, how quickly we jump from introductions to first phone call to affectations of love) all create a quick impression for the viewer that unintentionally makes their gullibility seem all the more implausible than had it transpired over months of habitual development. If you throw a frog in a boiling pot it will jump out, but keep it in the pot while gradually increasing the temperature and it will ignore the danger to its own peril; were the protagonists victims of the same slow boil? In order to discredit the official version of the story the proof required needs to go beyond the surface impression of the documentary and appreciate that it is quite plausible that the eight months of online discussion with Nev was one thread among many in their seemingly busy lives. Life, unfortunately, comes without prescient framing devices.

Many of those disputing the official story mistakenly point to the marketing campaign as proof of the malicious nature of the filmmakers and to the feigned sincerity of their film. Time and again I have read that the decision to frame the movie as a ‘reality thriller’ (building the Angela mystery component as some kind of predator in waiting) trivializes the human drama of the last forty minutes and discredits any notion of the cautiously sympathetic onscreen personas of the protagonists. But, as Nev puts it in the Screenrant interview:

When we saw the marketing strategy, we were definitely shocked. And I, at least for me, I was upset. I didn’t like the idea of this story, this thing that happened to me, being sensationalized. It felt like there was enough of an experience that people would see it and have a reaction. And I didn’t want to mislead them into seeing it for some other reason. But what I started to understand is that it’s hard to get people to spend hard-earned money to see something instead of something else if they don’t have any reason to. And you can’t just tell someone, “See it, it’s good”.

In what alternate reality could these lightweight filmmakers dictate the terms of the marketing campaign when their documentary had been purchased by corporate giants, Universal Pictures and, for Canadian distribution, Alliance Atlantis? However callous the marketing campaign may be, it has little to do with Nev and the filmmakers and more to do with those acquiring it for distribution wishing to maximize profits. On a side note, I probably would not have seen this film were it not for the clever marketing strategy they used, and the end result of my experience was anything but callous disdain for the subjects. Just as the documentary is a conflation of events into a quasi-fictional narrative, the marketing campaign is itself yet another layer of fiction added by a third party.

The belief in a deliberate cover-up by the filmmakers comes chiefly from the misperception that the film was a considered documentary from frame one of what we see onscreen. The gotcha argument seems to be that any filmmaker engaging in this project would have thoroughly researched the blossoming online romance between Nev and Meghan long before it is claimed in the movie. That would be a valid point were it not extraneously built upon unfounded premises. According to the less glamorous official story, the footage that comprises Catfish was not a considered documentary until the Colorado incident, some eight months in. So what was their reason for filming Nev then? Aside from being the brother of one of the filmmakers and photogenic to boot, they have an established history (see Red Bucket Films) of being part of a circle of filmmaking friends that make good use of their HD cameras filming each other incessantly. In the Screenrant interview they talk about it as a collective culture:

Among the 15 of us, or however many there are, we just do this all the time and we mostly just share it with each other. And it’s kind of like filmmaking practice in a way. It’s kind of like doing, you know, like a pick-up basketball game as opposed to the championship. It’s just like fun. We do it for fun.

Fun? Sounds suspicious. Indeed, in the very first scene of the documentary Nev addresses the fact that the footage being shot is extraneous, he being less interesting than the real subject, ‘Abby’. The impression for the viewer is that what we are seeing is something more defined than they are letting on. In the Film School rejects interview they refer to this footage more as diary sketches than documentary footage, Abby being a natural subject to be drawn to considering there was the novelty of a pint-size artist and the event of opening boxes of her latest paintings. And what, in fact, is the footage prior to Colorado, is it really a treasure trove of remarkably implausible moments? Considering that all or most of the online footage is post-production, what you have is approximately two or three phone calls, two or three scenes of Nev opening boxes, him sending the postcard (by that point the Colorado trip was established) and a couple of interviews of Nev explaining the situation and his feelings for Meghan.

Catfish

The residual gotcha arguments continue to pile up. The most telling of these is the accusation that tech-savvy, twenty-something hipsters in this day and age would have easily saw through Angela’s ruse – why hadn’t Nev tried a basic google search long before the Colorado tip-off? The ‘hipster’ moniker creeps up everywhere in reviews. From what I am able to piece together about Nev and the filmmakers from the limited amount time they are onscreen, ‘hipster’ is not exactly what I would call them: in what way do they embody and promote a sense of in-the-know pop-cultural zeitgeist? Hipster is typically used as a derogatory term. Tech-savvy, sure. But as someone trained as an information specialist, I know that your average university student searching online does not use boolean operators, and rarely uses advanced features of any kind, this irrespective of being ‘savvy’ in a particular technology.

According to this Salon article, Nev admits to googling Abby’s family early on, and having found nothing he just assumed that their rural locale had something to do with it, uneventfully shrugging it off. This to me sounds like a credible ‘search’ and it is only because of the story that follows and the context of it within a documentary is he held accountable to a level that most of us would not sustain in our own lives. In the ether of the daily grind there are a thousand non-descript distractions and miscues that are edited out of our ‘narratives’ and aside from the predatory class of over-achievers the bulk of people are not nearly as clever and forward-thinking in unrehearsed life as our fiction-saturated imaginations would lead us to believe. Nev, prior to being a festival circuit celebrity wasn’t anyone particularly special when Angela (as Abby) first contacted him, it wasn’t immediately intimate, it developed over months of casual interaction, and he was 23 years old. Also, in this particular case, Nev had an abundance of evidence on the surface to support his conviction that Meghan was real, undercutting any real urgency to go that extra step in his google pursuits. Is it so naïve to expect that one person had not created ten fictional characters on a facebook page to have them all interact with one another, and put on different voices on the phone? Either that is an exceptional scenario, which few of us would prepare for, or all of us right now should be cross-referencing every online acquaintance we make for fear of the Angela epidemic.

On the one hand, I understand the skepticism towards the official story, the protagonists do come off as murderers with air-tight alibis: events happen conveniently, the music discovery is in Colorado which is place-time specific, the sending of the postcard establishes chronology. If this is deceit, it is a level of sophistication that requires one to sit back in awe. Presupposing the first half is by design, and they had complete authorial control over how they wished to portray their innocence, it seems excessive the lengths that are documented to which they are willing to blur the line and keep up the pretense of verisimilitude. If they are covering their tracks why do you hear one of them joking about Angela probably being a dude within the edited version of the documentary? If they wanted to make their position more credible, why didn’t they explicitly mention in the documentary that Nev had googled Abby’s family? Another unspoken bit of realism is at the farm, when the driver decides to back into the driveway. It’s not explained in the film why he chose to reverse (negating any clear logic of it being staged for the hoax) only in interviews do we find out that the driver choose to back in first because he was afraid that if the shit hits the fan they could make a clean getaway. Also, the postcard has a return to sender stamp that makes sense only in a rural location (the protagonists are born and bred city slickers, and my understanding is that return to sender requests in New York require a residing individual to make the request, not the mail system). The on-camera revelation that Meghan did not perform the songs she claimed to appear on the surface to be unusually fortuitous and likely staged, but going by the logic of the official story, why on earth wouldn’t they be filming at that moment? Irrespective of any foul play, the online romance finally has something cinematic to work with as Meghan’s music becomes an audible conduit of their infatuation for one another. If this was by design, give them credit, it’s the most believable scenario of having cameras rolling one could conceive of.

In his review, A.O. Scott of The New York Times chastises Nev and the filmmakers (“shame on them”) for the perceived exploitation of Angela in the movie. If Catfish is only a cautionary tale or ‘reality thriller’ then I can see the ethical quandary where suffering outweighs the purpose, but what I took from the film was far more than that. I believe Angela expresses herself quite admirably considering the circumstances. The accusations that the filmmakers were bullying this defenseless mentally ill woman, is to me, somewhat presumptuous and a bit insulting in its own right considering that what is onscreen is Angela in her own words acknowledging her mistakes and explaining herself (as you would hope for from any responsible adult). In the 20/20 interview which Angela partook of voluntarily she states quite articulately that she was at fault for the deceit (“I couldn’t apologize enough”). Was 20/20 exploiting Angela too by giving her an opportunity to make her case?

Permit me this radical caveat in closing. As a construct, documentaries lie, however our actual experience of documentaries occur not as whole commodities but in moment-by-moment interactions with what is onscreen. Despite the construct, outside of narrative and the pull of an edited choice, there are truths, incidental and undeclared, that exist like bubbles rising to the surface. Such micro-effects cross-referenced with your own lived-in cache of experiences are not bound by narrative but by recognition of behavior. Narrative, in this case, presumes continuity like a nicely paved road over the images that exist, so that you cannot respond to them without this blockade intruding. The fallacy is in this notion of continuity, as if there is a fixed narrative in a split second of film that can be forever linked to authorial intent. Each moment contains its own possibilities for recognition, if there is pavement, its cracked, and no more cracked than in the last forty minutes of Catfish which blossoms with these small moments, which, depending on your proclivity, becomes a choose your own adventure for how the film resolves itself.

What I found in the interviews of Angela were not brow-beating ridicule from a camera-wielding Other but an unrehearsed, intimate and true expression of one person’s deepest sorrow. Loneliness is a universal emotion, and rather then see Angela as this carnival attraction I saw her as a bona-fide human being; her confessions may have made me wince but it came from a place of familiarity more than some imagined transgression. When Nev was sitting for her drawing, nothing about that scene felt devious or inauthentic to me. Far from the shit-eating grin of a sinister hipster that some have been describing in their reviews, I see Nev as an uncomfortable, young adult caught up in something he was not prepared to experience. In his book, Blink!, Malcolm Gladwell spoke of the persistence of snap judgment in our interpretation of the world around us, contrary to our best presumptions of impartiality. Maybe, instead of elaborately conceived deceptions, it is these micro-burst biases of perception that cause such diverging viewpoints on what took place in Catfish. It could be the slightest trigger: the all-too-bright glint of Nev’s teeth, an unspoken ‘hipster’ swagger or glimpse of shower-room chauvinism in the sexting scene.

I mean, really, would this face lie?

Catfish

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mickey oldfield
Guest

the author of this text seems to confuse the words "than" and the word "then"

Deric
Guest

I have to say, this is perhaps my favourite movie of the year (tied with The Disappearance of Alice Creed), but I have my doubts about how conveniently things take place as you've mentioned.

My other major gripe is: this movie is shot last year, don't tell me they've never heard of webcams.

Deric
Guest

Point noted. I'm still mildly frustrated though, as far as I know if there's an internet connection, there shouldn't be a problem using a webcam; feed would just be very laggy. But you've tried it before so perhaps I'm missing some technical info.

Chris Stein
Guest

The backing into the driveway seems obscured. Sure, he was backing in because he wanted to make a fast getaway because? Quite possibly… they didn't know the owners of that house and they were snooping on their property to get a shot they needed. Not to mention that they drive up to what them city boys thought was a barn where a pregnant horse was? Really? They don't think that's a car garage?

I think the return to sender stamp is inconsequential… The mail would be delivered to "Meghan's" address no matter if she lived there or not… it was probably looked at by the residents then stamped by them to be returned and left in their mailbox to be picked up the next day. Or… it is feasible for them to make up another postcard, attach the coin so from afar you know it's his card, and then film the drive up.

I don't get why the acknowledging the possibility of fraud would derail the notion of truth… in any case, it strengthens it because that's what the audience is thinking; is this for real? There's a similar VO technique used in the Shawshank Redemption when Red dismisses Andy's intentions of the mineral pick, so the audience does as well. With Catfish, it only eases the audience in that we think it's more 'real' since we're asking the same questions and discount that as an option

Another weird occurrence is why did they fly into Chicago if they're going to Ishpeming? Why not fly into Green Bay or Marquette? Weirder though is the fact that let's say everything is true… This means that after finding out about the music in Colorado that he doesn't confront her on the phone (he does a wussy version and backs off immediately in the film) and that he is going to spend all this time and money to confront her in person? We're talking a couple grand here to get to her… I think that's the part that it feel like they had previous knowledge.

Here's what I think happened and would still be considered a "100% true".

– Everything up to Colorado happened like it did, but was filled in after the fact.

– In Colorado, they got a whiff that Meghan might not be who she says she is. They confront her, get the legit answer about what is happening and they ask her if they can go talk with her and film her about what has happened to what she did. I don't think it's implausible for them to ask subjects to act out certain scenes like them arriving in order to get to the meat of what they wanted to film…

The above would produce the emotions and realism because their internet relationship would have still existed, but would make sense for their 3 person crew to actually fly out there to film it. It's like doing a recreation doc like Thin Blue Line but purporting it to be, "in the moment" with the last 40 minutes being 'interviews' of how they feel about what she did aka 'the story'. It's a weird hybrid doc that I thoroughly enjoy.

Probably the most damaging to people actually believing it was a documentary was the marketing, which I agree has nothing to do with the actual filmmakers. It just makes the pill harder to swallow since most studios like to play up that it's 'true story', where they did the total opposite here.

Also, check out "Lake Mungo"; which goes through extraordinary lengths to make a "documentary" film. So, I think it's possible that something like Catfish could have happened that way… however, I don't think Catfish did. Being from Michigan myself, Angela and her family come off as authentic Michiganders from Ishpeming.

devinepaul
Guest

Well, after having watched the movie once I really feel as though the entire film is a fake. Having said that, I think it is a decently well constructed fake and a decently constructed concept. I’m pretty sure the whole concept came from the realization of just how easy it is to forge online social interactions.

Anyways, the scene where they first walk into Angela’s house and there is an unfinished painting on an easel downstairs right by the door seems scripted. It seems even more scripted later when you see her in what appears to be a room more suitable for painting. (when she is sketching Nev) You have to ask why the painting would be downstairs by the door in a house where the inhabitants are likely to knock things over etc. Why isn’t it in the studio-like room if it is a work in progress?

The phone conversation also seems scripted. The first thing he say to Angela/Meghan is a comment about how her voice sounds unlike what he expected. Then after the conversation I think one of the first things he says is how she sounded mature. So this is momentous point in their relationship and that is the most interesting topic of discussion? This is something that they rehash later in the movie as well. Seems fairly scripted..

The post card is pretty much the tell though. I think it had a kitten on it? Why is he writing her on a post card with all the other means of communication available and already in use? And the postcard happens to be in the mailbox of the farm house on the one night they arrive? A discussion about reversing the car gives the scene credibility? Really?

I’m sure there are more elements that seem highly coincidental. These are just things I noticed after having watched it for the first time.

Also, in the format of a documentary, regardless of whether or not it has been done before, fabricating scenes is not documentation. That is story telling. If scenes have been fabricated in a movie claiming to be a documentary I guess you can argue whether certain parts of the movie remain a documentary but as a whole the movie is no longer a documentary.

Also, I could not follow what your point was about them being tech savvy was. As for boolean operators, they do make use of quotations in one of the few scenes showing them searching. I do agree that any searching on the internet would have probably yielded very little to indicate Angela’s true identity so that argument to disprove the movie’s validity is pretty weak.

Regardless, this movie is a fake documentary. I give it about two months after home video release before revealing the truth becomes financially viable.

Tom Clift
Guest

I just saw the film with a Q+A with Nev and the directors directly afterwards. They were pretty convincing when answering questions about the experience of making the film.

Incidentally, I LOVED this movie. New favourite of 2010 (despite the fact that it’s only just being released in Australia now)

Kurt
Guest

I had a similar experience with the Catfish guys (minus Nev) in Sitges. Henry Joost seemed flabberghasted (and was convincing) that this fell into their lap.

BTW, has anyone seen NY EXPORT: OPUS JAZZ, Joost’s ballet doc (which by the way features that initial photo of the two dancers in the field that ‘Abbey’ paints for Nev)?

Tom Clift
Guest

Someone in our audience asked why JJ Abrams was thanked in the end credits – one of the guys joked that it was because he wrote the script, followed by a loud exclamation to the crowd: “please don’t blog that!”

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Excellent.

When I think of the credits for that movie, it always amuses me that the two executive producers are Andrew Jarecki and Brett Ratner. Now if that ain’t a strange and appropriate indicator of the film, well, nothing is.

Bob Turnbull
Guest

Kurt, our good friend James saw NY Export and it was his favourite film of 2010. The trailer he includes in his review is terrific and I really want to catch it at some point.

I just saw Catfish today and I’m certainly leaning towards rot’s point of view. There’s a few eyebrow raising moments I admit, but overall, I think it’s reasonably accurate. If you want another “Internet couples and false identities” documentary, seek out the film “talhotblond” – it’s not as slick as this, but is put together to maximize its impact.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

This comes up a few times on THE MOVIE CLUB podcast when we talk Catfish, F For Fake and Exit Thru the Giftshop. That episode should be up early next week. Alas, nobody on the pane had seen NY Export: Opus Jazz

Aquaman
Guest

Hello Mike,

I appreciated your detailed rebuttal blog of the many claims that Catfish is a fake or a hoax. It is my opinion that Nev and the filmmakers knew there were serious problems, if not blatant lies coming from Michigan before they went to Vail Colorado. Most likely, Nev knew from very early onwards.

There is no single piece of evidence that shows this (a smoking gun) but there is an array of circumstances that strongly suggest it. The three men were always in control of what they filmed and did not film and ultimately what was handed over to the editors and producers. They would be able to manipulate various scenarios either in real-time or by editing to the extent that the audience would experience only what they wanted to convey.

You wrote: “This rebuttal is in response to the claims that Nev and the filmmakers (hitherto known as ‘the protagonists’) covered-up their foreknowledge of the peculiarities of the online encounters; whether they knew that Abby, Meghan and Angela were all manifestations of the same person or knew in vaguer terms that something was fishy earlier than the Colorado visit, it becomes an accusation of entrapment and exploitation for what transpires in Michigan. I believe the integral part of the official story in Catfish to be true: until Colorado, the protagonists were unaware of any deception.”

You may recall a scene where Nev displays and then drops two postcards into a mailbox for Megan. We are only shown one of them but we can see that it is a Wyoming card with a cute picture of a wolf pup. A close-up shot shows what Nev has written, an attached elongated penny from Yellowstone National Park, and the full address to Megan’s farm in Gladstone Michigan. A close frame-by-frame examination of the mailbox lid shows that Nev is mailing the cards from Gardiner Montana which is the north entrance to Yellowstone NP in Wyoming. Nev is wearing a motorcycle jacket.

For whatever reasons they decided to not specifically inform the audience that there was a trip to Wyoming over a month before they went to Colorado. There was only a vague hint of this in a scene where Nev and Rel are sitting in an airport with Nev using his iPhone for texting. Rel asks how long have they been calling each other “babe”? A shot of the phone shows Nev has written to Megan “Howdy from Denver Colorado. Next flight in an hour to Rapid City South Dakota… Rel is with us now and so are my Aunt and Uncle.” The timestamp is June 26, 2008 at 12:58pm. This Supermarche blog shows the record of their motorcycle trip to Yellowstone: http://gosupermarche.com/deardiary/2008/06/ .

Many viewers have mistakenly thought that this airport scene showed them on their way to Vail and that the postcards were either mailed in NYC (just before Vail) or from Vail. But no, these postcards were mailed from Montana on or about June 26th. Nev would end up pulling them from the vacant farm mailbox on about August 11th. This was about 7 weeks after mailing them. They may have sat in that mailbox for almost the entire time.

Only a few days after mailing them in Montana, Nev would have expected Megan to cheerfully announce by phone or text that she had received postcards from him. Obviously, that would never happen. So why isn’t Megan getting the mail at her farm? Because the farm is still vacant and she never goes there. She had previously sent Nev a hyperlink to the real estate listing for the farm and he could easily check it again to see that it is still for sale.

In spite of the postcards figuring prominently in the film, they are only vaguely represented in their complete reality. We aren’t told anything about how Nev dealt with the cards being unaccounted-for for 7 weeks or that this was even the case. Additionally, Nev took those cards with him to Ishpeming after removing them from the farm mailbox. We are never shown him presenting them to Angela, nor any mention of them or the visit to the farm. Why?

My suspicion is that filling in all of these blanks would have revealed that they knew it was a complex scam before they left for Vail.

There are certainly other evidences but we can start with this one.

David Brook
Admin

That’s some impressive detective work!

I finally got a chance to watch this last week and loved it. I’m still unsure where I stand on the whole hoax thing though. My suspicion is that it’s not all fictionalised, but a good chunk of the lead up footage will have been filmed retrospectively (not necessarily after their ‘visit’, but at least after learning they were being lied to) to build up a stronger narrative. This might sound a bit shifty but a lot of documentaries do this to some extent. You can’t expect a documentary crew to have their cameras on 24 hours a day and hit every angle they want.

I really want to listen to the Movie Club Podcast on this, but I’m waiting until I’ve seen Exit Through The Gift Shop – my brother’s got it on Blu-Ray, I just haven’t got round to watching it yet.

Kurt
Guest

We do spend over an hour on Catfish, much of it on the veracity of the film and the nature of the filmmaking.

rot
Guest

Well done Aquaman, I like the way you think. I haven’t looked at the mailbox scene in as much detail as you, but I will take your word for it that the postcard was sent from Montana. It puts some dents in my argument, but again, it is still not quite enough to convict. I don’t know how the US postal service works, but I have had items of mail going cross country take six or more weeks to arrive… it is not outside the realm of possibility. If it was a staged event though why do it from Montana, wouldn’t you do it from New York afterwards? If sent from Montana it sort of corroborates the notion that it was sent BEFORE the encounter. A postcard isn’t that big of a deal either, it may have been said in passing between them, or it may have been meant to be a surprise. If Angela did know about it, it does seem weird she wouldn’t pick it up (but she does say in the film that she was secretly hoping to be found out – and this follows with how little guile was used to pass off music as her own, using the same song titles and everything).

What is uncertain is the time spent between the night in Vail when they figure out the music fraud and them actually encountering Angela. They wouldn’t be able to leave their job there until it was finished… there may have been a week or two with them stewing over this plan to travel to Michigan. During that time they may not want to mention the postcard, or just forgot to mention it (shaving a couple weeks off the suspicious time lapse between sending and acknowledgement).

Also I don’t remember in the film any mention of a hyperlink that the farm was for sale… what was for sale was the studio space.

I don’t know, I admit it is kind of fishy that Angela wouldn’t have picked it up, but the whole Montana confirmation makes me think even stronger that it was real, because without overtly addressing it, they have a time specific record of the postcard delivery. It is still possible that the farm scene was added after the fact, but the evidence to convince me completely is not there yet.

Aquaman
Guest

Hello again Mike,

Thanks for taking the time to respond. I want to make it clear that I do not think the film is entirely fake or that everything that occurred was orchestrated or planned. I think that Angela really did create a Facebook world of fictitious characters and it was her own doing. I need to say that because some detractors go as far as saying that she was a hired actor and everything was created for the purpose of the film. I specifically think the “hoax” is that Nev knew he was being played from very early on and that honesty was not the common denominator coming out of Michigan… and yet he plays to the camera that he never knew until that filmed moment in Vail. Catfish would be entirely different (or never even exist for us to see) if Nev had not pretended and lied that he had no clue.

It seems to me that the basic main dispute between you and I would be that you think Nev & Company didn’t know they were being duped until that filmed moment in Colorado while I think they knew (or at least Nev did) before the trip to Colorado. There would also probably be a variety of other “sub-disputes” as well.

You wrote: “…I will take your word for it that the postcard was sent from Montana. It puts some dents in my argument, but again, it is still not quite enough to convict.”

As I said, there is no single smoking gun to support my position. There are a number of things which in totality strongly suggest to me that Nev must have known much earlier than Colorado. One of which is that I feel that the filmed “moment of discovery” in Colorado is not truly spontaneous and that the surprise/shock/anger is staged and insincere because they already knew beforehand. They just needed to decide how and when to let the audience know what they already knew. It’s a fake moment/scene.

You wrote: “If it was a staged event though why do it from Montana, wouldn’t you do it from New York afterwards? If sent from Montana it sort of corroborates the notion that it was sent BEFORE the encounter.”

I don’t really understand the point you are trying to make here. Maybe you misunderstand my position. I think that Nev really did mail postcards to Megan’s farm from Gardiner Montana on about June 27 or 28th. However, I do not think he had any real confidence that she was living there, let alone that Megan wasn’t actually Angela using a slightly modified voice. IOW, he already knew Megan was a complete scam in every way and the postcards would make for an interesting hook in the film no matter what happened to the cards afterwards. The gesture of mailing the cards also makes it look as if he really does “believe in Megan” so to speak. In my opinion, this implied sincerity and naivety is a lie. Nev is lying to the camera in the same way he lies to Angela (Megan). He lies to Angela by not busting her even though he absolutely could… any time he wants to.

You wrote: “What is uncertain is the time spent between the night in Vail when they figure out the music fraud and them actually encountering Angela. They wouldn’t be able to leave their job there until it was finished… there may have been a week or two with them stewing over this plan to travel to Michigan. During that time they may not want to mention the postcard, or just forgot to mention it (shaving a couple weeks off the suspicious time lapse between sending and acknowledgement).”

I have been putting together an apparent timeline of sorts that starts even before the trip to Colorado. I’m using various time and date stamps (there are many in the film) and even the clothing worn by various people to indicate normal expected continuity. What is rather shocking (and difficult for me to believe) is that these guys really did have a major and spontaneous change of plans in Colorado. They would not return to NYC after their job in Vail but instead would last-minute book 3 new flight itineraries that involved a stop in Chicago, a rental car to drive to Michigan and the motels for their stay there. In theory, they would have already had NYC to Vail roundtrip airfares for their scheduled work there. Remember, they had no plans to go to Michigan until they were already in Vail (or so we are told). Those would get cancelled at the last moment and a new set of one-way tickets would need to be bought to get from Vail to Chicago and then later from Chicago to NYC. That is some seriously expensive impulse purchases. And they (supposedly) don’t even have Angela’s permission or a signed film release from her. If she refuses to sign a release… they are totally screwed and possibly worse. It’s illegal to tape phone conversations without the consent of the other party. Angela could call the FBI and/or sue the guys.

In my opinion, they knew they would make the detour to Michigan before they even left for Colorado. Knowing this, they wouldn’t buy roundtrips from NYC to Vail. All they needed to do was film the phony moment of discovery in Colorado. Megan/Angela had already uploaded plagiarized songs way back in June (this can be seen upon close inspection of screens) claiming that she had been the singer.

You wrote: “Also I don’t remember in the film any mention of a hyperlink that the farm was for sale… what was for sale was the studio space.”

Mike, you are at a disadvantage for analyzing this film if you do not have access to it. Much of this stuff comes quickly and sometimes the Facebook and emails scroll quickly across the screen… or the camera pans across the computer screen. I have the DVD and am able to take the time to examine. Some things can only be seen when you pause and go ahead frame-by-frame. These things cannot be seen by the naked eye when watching the film at normal speed.

Indeed, Megan did send the actual real estate listing hyperlink to Nev. Nev even clicks the link and we get to see the farm in Gladstone, the clawfoot tub in the bathroom, the stable building (which he would end up peeking into) and the asking price. Nev tells us that she did buy the place and was given live chickens as house-warming presents… blah blah blah. Oh, and Megan is 19 years old and she is also already a veterinarian and bought this $210,000 horse farm. Hot diggety!

Abby had also sent him a hyperlink to the commercial building that she bought in Ishpeming. Hers was only $29,000 which is obviously affordable for an 8 year-old child. This was not just a studio space, since she bought the entire building. It was her new retail art gallery.

Of course Angela chose these two properties for her fantasy characters, but interestingly they are listed by the same realtor… a guy named Irving Krellwitz with Town & Country Real Estate in Ishpeming. Neither place had been sold to anyone before the guys showed up in Michigan.

What I think is fascinating is that Angela did absolutely nothing to prevent Nev from finding out that neither location had ever been sold to her daughters. She gave him the actual links to the property listings! I think that this “not caring if he finds out” is actually part of their relationship from the very start. Nev knows that she is lying, and Angela knows that Nev knows. They played that game with each other for 9 months.

I’m going to listen to the podcast that was mentioned a few days ago.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Wow! I am absolutely loving this police work here! Fantastic stuff. Have you emailed any of this to Henry or Ariel?

Aquaman
Guest

I have not contacted anybody from the film and don’t intend to either. I’m just not interested. I’ve read quite a few critiques of Catfish and many do say that something is wrong (or fishy). I’ve not seen anybody do this kind of exhaustive analysis. It can’t be done with a casual viewing or two – even if you are paying attention. You really need the film in a player with a remote control and hours to kill.

Here’s another interesting factoid. Early in the film we see Nev open a package from Michigan which contains t-shirts. He holds one up for the camera (Rel is filming) and announces that it’s Megan’s brother’s band. The shirt shows what looks like an artistic logo of a skull with wings. It says in big letters “Casualties” (as if that were the name of the band) and below that in smaller letters “Skate Snow Surf”.

Hmmm…a band t-shirt that says skate, snow and surf? WTF is that about? Well guess what? Casualties is a small retail sport shop in Marquette Michigan which specializes in things for skaters, skiers and surfers. Marquette is a city only about 15 miles from Ishpeming on the shore of Lake Superior and it is home the of Northern Michigan University. Have a look: http://ridewithcasualties.com/about-2/ . Here too: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Casualties-Skate-Snow-Surf/128060147032 .

Again, Angela did absolutely nothing to prevent Nev from easily discovering that it’s all just a fantasy world. All he had to do was Google the local band name and boom he would see he had been sent a shirt from the sport shop instead. At one early point in the film he even says to Rel that their music is great and that they should use their music for “the movie”. What movie is he talking about? Uh, the one about little Abby the painter. Yeah, that’s the ticket!

But it gets better than that. Little Abby included a gift note for Rel to go along with the band t-shirt she sent him. She liked his online skateboarding video but was worried about him. She wanted him to wear a helmet (“brain bucket” she says). Hot diggety… Casualties sells skater helmets!

rot
Guest

my point about Montana and the postcard is it is time specific, it came BEFORE Michigan, so it is less likely that scene was staged afterwards (some people have been saying that). But you are saying it was staged before, I get that.

In the post I split up my argument as so: “My confidence in the official story is fueled by a variety of considerations: first, the burden of proof trumps biases of perception and, as in a court of law where one is innocent until proven guilty, the accusations need to rise above circumstantial evidence of which the bulk of what I have read online appears to be. Second, the situations, when considered in context, are plausible and it’s only when you think of them anecdotally that it becomes harder to accept. Lastly, the film passes my Turing Test of believability: the detective work of reading the minutiae of facial and body language and the tacit interactions captured on camera provided me no indication that the ‘performances’ in the film were anything but genuine.”

So let’s ignore one another’s subjective take on the believability in the ‘performances’, they cancel each other out. You see insincerity, I see sincerity.

as for your other points:

1) the likelihood that they would pay the expense of switching flights on the unknown factor of what awaited them in Michigan.

Nev appears to live in New York City, not a cheap place to live, I don’t know what exactly their incomes are but it didn’t seem like at least Nev was hurting for money. Let’s follow the official line. Supposing Nev really did care for Megan, and the music scene is a real representation of him coming to the realization that he has been had. Supposing the ‘documentary’ was (as the filmmakers have repeatedly said in interviews) not a considered feature until the moment in Vail. Is it so improbable that the feelings of anger and perhaps curiosity on Nev’s part combined with the newly discovered narrative/financial interest in a potential documentary subject on the part of the filmmakers inspired them to risk whatever modest amount of money it costs to reroute a flight? Chicago is between Colorado and New York, so it is like breaking up a direct flight (which usually costs more) and doing two smaller ones. If you are using the same flight provider, you can adjust your flight for a nominal fee, like $70, on top of what the difference in price between flights are. To me, in context to the official story, it makes perfect sense they would impulsively go to Michigan then and there.

2) Megan/Angela had already uploaded plagiarized songs way back in June

I go back to my post: “in this particular case, Nev had an abundance of evidence on the surface to support his conviction that Meghan was real, undercutting any real urgency to go that extra step in his google pursuits. Is it so naïve to expect that one person had not created ten fictional characters on a facebook page to have them all interact with one another, and put on different voices on the phone?” Hindsight is 20/20. Appreciate what it must be like in the moment (and not being a detective). Had Nev been looking for flaws in her cover story, sure he could of found them, and I think (along the line of some of your other points) Angela gave opportunities for this to occur. To me it is not enough that he should have known better… in the real world, and I speak from experience, I do not cross-reference every online acquaintance, and foregoing the conflation of time that is presented in a documentary, this relationship developed over an extended time. In the ether of the daily grind there are a thousand non-descript distractions and miscues that are edited out of our ‘narratives’ and aside from the predatory class of over-achievers the bulk of people are not nearly as clever and forward-thinking in unrehearsed life as our fiction-saturated imaginations would lead us to believe.
Also remember, in Vail, what triggers his suspicion about the music is that she plays an impromptu song, what amazes him in that scene is that she it did it so fast. What song is it that you see listed in June? She also had instrumentals, and this may have been the first time he heard her singing.

3) Megan buying a farm at 19

I will rewatch the dvd, I truly don’t remember this, I remember Nev saying the farm was owned by Angela (because of all the money coming in from Abby’s paintings), and that Megan went to her family’s farm to eat pancakes. The house they go to in town is where Megan is supposed to live, because Angela is saying “oh Megan isn’t home now, she went away”. But even if it is said in the film that Megan owns a farm that is $200k, it is called having a mortgage (paying a down payment of that), and if Abby is brining in the money then it is plausible to assume that she would share the wealth. In context to what Nev knows about the money Abby is bringing in, it is not that shocking.

4) Abby’s brother band t-shirt

I have watched the film twice KNOWING something was going to be fishy about the story and I didn’t even notice this, so not exactly incriminating evidence if he overlooks that. I agree that Angela was deliberately trying to be found out, but that doesn’t mean Nev had to discover it and was pretending to not notice for the sake of having a story to sell. Only someone combing over every frame after the fact would notice that… I can say that because I have read a lot of comment threads on this movie, and talked to a lot of people and NO ONE has mentioned this until here. It is interesting but not incriminating.

5) At one early point in the film he even says to Rel that their music is great and that they should use their music for “the movie”.

first point: they are established filmmakers, so it is any number of projects large or small that may be referring to. second point: If this was incriminating evidence that goes against everything they have been saying in the official story on press tours, would they REALLY keep that in the film? To me it is a flippant remark, they are filming in the moment ands Nev is commenting on what they are doing, perhaps. I call my home videos movies sometimes.

Like Kurt, I find these observations of yours awesome, and you have inspired me to revisit the film to catch these extra bits, but they do not convince me of a cover-up because in each case it is plausible that Nev was that naive. I don’t even think he was exceptionally naive, I think if we are honest with ourselves the bulk of us, if confronted with the complexity of the lie that Angela devises, added with the relative youth of Nev and the flattery born of a beautiful woman being interested in you, would go with the flow to a believable point – where the act of playing a song on request so perfectly inspires Nev to look up the song on Youtube and indisputable evidence changes everything.

Aquaman
Guest

You wrote: “Let’s follow the official line. Supposing Nev really did care for Megan, and the music scene is a real representation of him coming to the realization that he has been had. Supposing the ‘documentary’ was (as the filmmakers have repeatedly said in interviews) not a considered feature until the moment in Vail. Is it so improbable that the feelings of anger and perhaps curiosity on Nev’s part combined with the newly discovered narrative/financial interest in a potential documentary subject on the part of the filmmakers inspired them to risk whatever modest amount of money it costs to reroute a flight?”

Yes, I regard that scenario as improbable. I think they would even weigh the probabilities that they would be able to get usable footage in Michigan along with signed releases. They would mutually agree that there was <10% chance that they would be able to complete a film about Megan & Nev – let alone one about Abby. Showing up unannounced would almost guarantee failure of the film project. In my opinion, their decisions were swayed by knowing and sensing things that we are not privy to.

It is also my opinion that Angela knew they were coming… because Nev either explicitly told her, or he hinted in a way that was obvious to her. I think that was hidden from the audience. She knew approximately when they would get there and took steps to ensure that Megan would not be around for them to meet. IOW, she developed a plan that would allow the Megan daughter character to still exist but yet at the same time be out of reach. One main reason she would do this (instead of doing a sudden 100% confession of everything) is because she was unsure that Nev really did want to end their mutual fantasy game. It would be up to Nev to force her confession moves. She was going to hold the status quo because she couldn’t know that Nev wouldn’t still want to make kissy talk with his fantasy girlfriend after he returned to NYC. I’m not committed to the idea that she knew he was coming but I think it’s something to be entertained. She knew but didn’t tell Vince or Abby that they were coming.

You wrote: “Is it so naïve to expect that one person had not created ten fictional characters on a facebook page to have them all interact with one another, and put on different voices on the phone?”

I even read an interview stating that Angela had once faked a male voice when talking to Nev. She was playing the role of Alex (Megan’s brother). There are myriad problems with this particular “Facebook Family” and friends (about 15-23 people) which would have been right in Nev’s face. For one thing, this group is only friends with each other. No person could have any more friends than the grand total number of fake characters. None of these people had Facebook accounts prior to Nev creating a friendship with Abby/Angela. They all popped into existence right in front of his eyes. Photos showed that Megan was extremely popular in the bar/club scene (in spite of being only 19) but yet had no Facebook account at all… then when she created her account it was a tiny circle. Obviously, there could be no photos of Megan with Abby, nor could there be any photos of Angela (mom) with Abby. No photos of Vince (dad) with Abby either. A happy family that does not have a single photo of themselves together… in any combination. It was all good-to-go for Nev? Want to buy the Brooklyn Bridge from me?

You wrote: “Also remember, in Vail, what triggers his suspicion about the music is that she plays an impromptu song, what amazes him in that scene is that she it did it so fast.”

That is not what prompts him to go to Google. We are given a somewhat vague and possibly nonsensical context of why he suddenly does a Google search for a song. It goes like this: On the screen we see a song posted/uploaded by Angela at 8:00am on July 26th. The song is called “Where Are You” and is credited to Megan. Nev tries to play it by clicking “play” but it won’t play. We hear him say “That’s not good.” It looks like it says “unavailable” but it’s fuzzy (out of focus). Then the camera switches to a shot of the Google search window. My expectation was that he would search for the song that won’t play. Instead, he types in “It’s All Downhill From Here” and runs a search for that song (in spite of Megan clearly calling the song simply “Downhill”). Then we are shown a screenshot stating… Megan Faccio posted at 9:16pm July 25th “Downhill” Artist: Mom and Megan. Then zip zip we begin to hear and see various identical tunes available on the web.

You wrote: “What song is it that you see listed in June?”

Well, “Truman Sleeps” is marked as being posted/uploaded on June 18th. He responded to that on the same day with “I didn’t know you could play the piano too…” But we are shown a page with a list of many uploaded songs attributed to Megan, Angela, Alex etc. It’s all of the songs they are talking about including Tennessee Stud. It looks like she had previously uploaded 6+ songs before she started doing the impromptu requests… and the spontaneous requests and 20-minute takes are never more than songs she had already posted before. This seems unclear and maybe fishy.

At about the same time we see another strange thing happening on the screen (or at least it seems strange to me). The context is that we are watching as the guys discuss the awesome music being created in 20 minutes and we see Nev is in live Facebook chat with Megan. But then we can see that he has two different chat windows opened and active simultaneaously. He is chatting with “meganfaccio” at the same time he is chatting with “Megan Faccio”. It’s as if Megan had two different FB accounts and Nev was talking to both of them at the same time. Again it was two different chat windows, not two different names in the same chat window. I don’t know enough about the mechanics of Facebook chatting to know if this is truly unusual, but it seems weird to me.

You wrote: “3) Megan buying a farm at 19: I will rewatch the dvd, I truly don’t remember this, I remember Nev saying the farm was owned by Angela (because of all the money coming in from Abby’s paintings),..”

No. Nev doesn’t say that Angela owns the farm nor does it have anything to do with Abby’s money. He explicitly states that Megan has bought this farm. There is no implication that she got any financial help. Remember he was told she is a veterinarian and they make big money.

You wrote: “and that Megan went to her family’s farm to eat pancakes.”

No. Nev tells us that the entire family gathers at the parent’s house (Angela & Vince) in Ishpeming on Sunday mornings at 8am for breakfast.

You wrote: “The house they go to in town is where Megan is supposed to live, because Angela is saying “oh Megan isn’t home now, she went away”. “

No. The house in town (Ishpeming) is where Angela, Vince & Abby live. Angela never represented it in any other way (although she never mentioned the handicapped twins) to Nev. Megan is never represented as living there. At the moment of first meeting on the porch, Angela announces twice in rapid succession that “Abby’s not here”. The guys have brought presents for everyone including the dog. A few minutes later Rel produces a wrapped package saying “I have something here for Megan too” then it goes like this…

Angela: “OK. Well, she’s not here, so.” (takes and looks at package)
Rel: “Is she in town?”
Angela: “No. She lives way out in Gladstone, so. Goodness. Oh my goodness you guys are so sweet.” (Gladstone is obviously a reference to Megan’s farm).

Concerning Alex’s band: Any attempt to look for the band’s website or any more info by Nev or Rel would not simply turn up blank… it would show that it was a scam. It would show that Casualties is a retail store – not a band.

Any attempt to look up Megan Faccio as a veterinarian (let alone anything else) would come up blank. When people are veterinarians you don’t get blanks when putting their name into Google. That is a serious red flag. Nev has said that he did look up Megan and found nothing.

Nev also said that he looked up Abby/Abigail Pierce. He found nothing. That is a serious red flag for a locally famous child artist whose works sell for up to $7000.

Interestingly, Nev says he never looked up the mother Angela Pierce or Angela Wesselman-Pierce. If he had, he would have found her own art website immediately. It had been in existence since 2007. He would have known that the paintings were done by her. She never tried to hide.

The very first painting sent to Nev from Abby is shown at the beginning of the film (and then again near the end). The editors used a digital smear to block the signature. It says “A. Pierce”. That is the signature of Angela Pierce. Other paintings sent to Nev were also signed A. Pierce. It was only later that a painting or two was actually signed “Abby”. Apparently Nev didn’t find it odd that an artist would suddenly change their signature.

I think he knew what was going on.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

You are a fascinating individual, Aquaman.

“I have not contacted anybody from the film and don’t intend to either. I’m just not interested.”

So you have spent (I imagine) several hours watching the movie in freeze frame and put together a pretty detailed case study, but have no interest in engaging the filmmakers, informally? Why not. You clearly are interested by the time you’ve spent analyzing the situation. Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly enjoying these detailed posts and the gumshoe work, just struck me as an interesting position by yourself to leave it at that.

Goon
Guest

if that Facebook Family only has 15 people in it on any given profile and theyr’e not really in each others pictures, then Nev would have to be the naivest man on the face of the planet.

Aquaman
Guest

I don’t trust those guys to tell the truth. I’ve watched the Q&A extra on the DVD, the ABC 20/20 program and read numerous printed interviews. I think they are engaging in deflection, hyperbole and strawman arguments.

The thing is… they can simply say “you are wrong” and that is the end of that.

You knew, Nev.
No, I didn’t.

You weren’t that stupid, Nev.
Yes, I was.

End of conversation.

If you guys want to invite them here, I will engage them. But I have no interest in seeking them out.

BTW, I like the film a whole lot and it is now one of my all-time favorites. I would not call it a documentary but rather a “reality genre”. For myself, Angela is far more interesting and appealing than the guys. I would disagree with the hoards who have declared her insane, pathetic, etc.

Her “type” is actually a fairly common… artistically-talented but depressed and with a boredom thing going on. She told ABC 20/20 that she was diagnosed with schizophrenia. That is almost certainly bullshit. There is no indication that she is truly schizophrenic which is a very serious disorder having symptoms entirely unlike what she exhibited. Spending each evening developing and playing with your own complex bunch of Internet characters is not schizophrenia. There is too much coordination, coherence, intelligence and reactive empathy for her to be schizo.

Thing is… there is a layman’s (street) definition of schizophrenia that simply means “multi-personality”. But the clinical diagnosis and definition(s) and symptoms are quite different from that. I think she either flat-out lied to ABC or she was diagnosed by a non-professional. That’s my opinion.

David Brook
Admin

I’m beginning to think you’re on to something Aquaman.

Totally with you on Angela too. I found her story incredibly moving, not once did I think she was insane. Clearly she’s a depressed individual who is crying out to be released from her trapped existence.

Matt Gamble
Guest

Their is absolutely no way that Angela is schizophrenic.

Goon
Guest

I babysat for a schizophrenic neighbor for years, and I’d agree, she doesn’t seem schizophrenic to me.

rot
Guest

I don’t have the time today to respond to everything in detail Aquamanx but here is the best I can do. I will say quickly there is a lot of ways Megan’s facebook friends page could have been convincing: Angela may have had 15 active characters in her story, but she could have added any number of friends just to pad the numbers. It is also possible that this is not the first offense for Angela, and that she may have multiple fantasies going on with additional real friends put into the mix. Also, you can always say “I went to high school with you, friend me” and if you have a picture of a hot girl, there are enough people out there that would probably accept. Have you seen a screenshot showing the actual number of friends Megan had?

As for pictures on facebook… I don’t think I have any pictures with my parents or siblings… so I don’t find that particularly strange. She can always say she was just newly added to facebook… I know people who are just now getting onto the site (and she lives in a rural area where these sorts of things take awhile to catch on).

As for it being unrealistic they would go out there without first getting signed releases… um, they did the exact same thing in the 20/20 segment with the real Megan. They paid for her to come to New York. It would seem that they are willing to take the risk, also Nev had a relationship with whomever in Michigan and he could probably gage by Vail that there was a real connection on her part, so they probably thought they could manipulate her when the time comes. Completely believable to me.

Your theory about Angela knowing ahead of time Nev was coming and not confessing right away seems like a real stretch. She is a habitual liar, and lying on the fly, of course she could immediately make up a lie about where Megan was and not admit the truth right away. Again, completely believable.

as for the google search of the song… I think it also makes sense you would not just type “downhill” to find song but use the chorus line. No conspiracy there.

Is it possible he never noticed the songs on her facebook, hadn’t bothered to listen to them, or hadn’t bothered to make the connection that she was playing the piano on Truman Sleeps? Of course it is possible. Most of them if not all were not solo efforts, they were with other people.

The multiple Megans on facebook chat doesn’t make sense either way… if it was a scam why would they film that and what purpose would it serve?

The veterinarian and owning the farm aspect I am interested in. I will rewatch, I still think perhaps not all the information is provided onscreen… it is easy to say short form in conversation… Megan is a vet rather than say she is studying it, and considering how wealthy her sister is, it seems pretty obvious to me that some of the financial help would have came from her, whether or not that is said onscreen.

you wrote: “Any attempt to look up Megan Faccio as a veterinarian (let alone anything else) would come up blank”

Show me where Nev said he googled her, he did say he googled Abby, but it was a cursory google, and he just assumed that because this was a small town there wasn’t that much online about it. I would have made the same assumption, if I wasn’t tipped off otherwise. I come from a small town, I know how little visibility there is for local affairs.

I also have suspicions of Angela being schizophrenic, I wonder if 20/20 did their homework on that.

Andrew James
Admin

I love @rot’s “I’ll say this quickly…”
And then goes on to write about 8 paragraphs. Your definition of quickly is awesome.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

@Matt, “Their is absolutely no way that Angela is schizophrenic.”
I love how Gamble thinks in Absolutes!

@Goon “I babysat for a schizophrenic neighbor for years, and I’d agree, she doesn’t seem schizophrenic to me.”

Schizophrenia is a catch-all psychiatric term with hundreds of variations. It doesn’t lend itself well to this type of one-off dismissal.

Goon
Guest

“I don’t think I have any pictures with my parents or siblings… so I don’t find that particularly strange.”

if all of them are only FB friends with each other, and they’re not in pictures with each other, I’m sorry, but thats not something you can justifiably write off as nothing.

Kurt, true, but I think Angela is far too organized and methodical to blame any of this on schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a matter of delusion/hallucination, and becuase of this I’m pretty sure that universally schizophrenics are clumsy and disorganized. Angela doesn’t seem to be deluded at all about what she’s doing, and she’s obviously quite co-ordinated.

I don’t know enough about MPD to make a guess there, I know people with MPD aren’t born with it, its something that comes out of trauma or something, and there’s usually one alt personality in control of everything. But from the film it seems that Regular Angela is pulling the strings and aware of what she’s doing.

Aquaman
Guest

You wrote: “Angela may have had 15 active characters in her story, but she could have added any number of friends just to pad the numbers. It is also possible that this is not the first offense for Angela, and that she may have multiple fantasies going on with additional real friends put into the mix.”

Think about this, Mike. She can’t genuinely add any of her real life friends to the Facebook circle. They would already know that she doesn’t have a veterinarian daughter, a rock star son and an art prodigy little girl. She has to exclude real people that know her, and that is exactly what she does. The entire circle is for nobody but her and Nev. A fantasy game for the both of them to play within.

You wrote: “Have you seen a screenshot showing the actual number of friends Megan had?”

Yes, it is actually featured in the film and graphically shown when Angela is sketching Nev. She explains the origin and context of most of them. Some actually were her friends in Ishpeming but she had given them false names. There were like 15 main active characters and a few more (seven?) that had insignificant roles. There are also Facebook screenshots showing her list of friends but they are scrolling by and the camera never captures the full list.

You wrote: “I don’t think I have any pictures with my parents or siblings… so I don’t find that particularly strange.”

The lack of family members together is exceedingly strange. Especially considering the context of this particular Facebook Family. They were joyful of each other and together often.

You wrote: “She can always say she was just newly added to facebook… I know people who are just now getting onto the site (and she lives in a rural area where these sorts of things take awhile to catch on).”

You are out-of-touch, Mike. Young people in smallish communities (Ishpeming is not rural anyway) are all over Facebook. That social network caught on like wildfire everywhere. This family contains exactly the kinds of personalities that live and breathe Facebook… their friends would be the same way.

You wrote: “as for the google search of the song… I think it also makes sense you would not just type “downhill” to find song but use the chorus line. No conspiracy there.”

Mike, the context of why and how he goes looking for the song on Google doesn’t make sense. The song was written by Megan and recorded with her brother. It shouldn’t even exist on the Internet. It’s like Megan’s private song that she shares with Nev. There is a credibility problem with this scene and it is a key scene for sure. The guys never establish a believable reason for poking around Google for this music. They do not say anything like “wow she sounds too good – let’s go see if she is stealing songs” or “wow she is creating this stuff too quickly – let’s go see if she is stealing songs” or “wow she sounds exactly like that singer I heard before – let’s go see if she is stealing songs”. Two different cameras were rolling at the time they “discovered” the stolen songs and yet we remain confused about exactly why it even happened. I think the scene is faked and they knew she had already posted stolen songs before they left for Colorado.

You wrote: “Is it possible he never noticed the songs on her facebook, hadn’t bothered to listen to them, or hadn’t bothered to make the connection that she was playing the piano on Truman Sleeps? Of course it is possible. Most of them if not all were not solo efforts, they were with other people.”

We know for certain that he noticed and listened to Truman Sleeps because he messaged her about it right after she uploaded it back on June 18th. We know that he was listening to the various uploaded songs because we see him playing air drums to the beat in his computer chair and telling Rel that the music is great and they should use it for the movie. It was ALL STOLEN MUSIC because there is no Alex, no band, and no studio session music being made by Megan or Angela.

You wrote: “The multiple Megans on facebook chat doesn’t make sense either way… if it was a scam why would they film that and what purpose would it serve?”

If it was nefarious…the editors may have not noticed or thought it wouldn’t be seen or that it mattered. It appears to me that there was a variety of things that should have been edited or blocked out but weren’t. These things are mostly only seen in frame-by-frame inspection and cannot be seen in real-time viewing. It’s as if the editors never planned on or imagined the film going to DVD where viewers could meticulously examine everything.

Throughout the film, the editors were systematically blocking (blurring) any references to the last name Pierce (while leaving Wesselman and various fictitious last names untouched). Pierce shows up in a variety of places and contexts and while watching the film you never see that name. But, with a remote and frame-by-frame you can find a number of places where the editors missed the blocking and the name Pierce is right in front of your eyes. In real-time it goes by too fast to see.

You wrote: “The veterinarian and owning the farm aspect I am interested in. I will rewatch, I still think perhaps not all the information is provided onscreen… it is easy to say short form in conversation… Megan is a vet rather than say she is studying it, and considering how wealthy her sister is, it seems pretty obvious to me that some of the financial help would have came from her, whether or not that is said onscreen.”

Nev certainly had the opportunity to say that Megan is studying to be a vet, but he doesn’t. She already is a vet. Here is a transcript…

Nev: “She works as a vet… She has six chickens now. Her neighbor gave them to her as like a housewarming present.”
Rel: “Tell us the gifts she got.”
Nev: “So she bought a house. One of the presents was that Abby got her a baby goat. So she’s got a goat now. She has horses that live there. (sort of stutter speaking) Part of the buying the house… came with these horses that are held there… you know, like stables.”

During this verbal exchange we are shown a Facebook message. But the full message cannot be seen – the far right side is cut off so long sentences can only be partially read…

“Real estate listing from Megan Faccio
to me

Your friend, Megan Faccio, has sent along the following…
http://uparidx.com/idx/ncentral/irvingkrellwitz/residential… (full hyperlink was cut off but it is non-functional now anyway)

This is the house I looked at yesterday. I went to the…
not sure if I actually want to go that high. I could board…
consider it. If you have any thoughts I’d love to hear them…”

Then we see Nev clicking on the link which goes to a picture of the farmhouse “Gladstone MLS #1037379 $210,000 View Details” He clicks on “view details” and pictures open up showing the bathtub and the stables building.

You wrote: “Show me where Nev said he googled her (Megan), he did say he googled Abby, but it was a cursory google, and he just assumed that because this was a small town there wasn’t that much online about it. I would have made the same assumption, if I wasn’t tipped off otherwise. I come from a small town, I know how little visibility there is for local affairs.”

Nev and the guys mention him Googling Abby and Megan (but never Angela) in various interviews. Here is one: http://www.thewrap.com/movies/column-post/catfish-star-truth-fiction-and-facebook-21552?page=0,1 .

Interviewer: “You started an internet correspondence with a seven-year-old girl who was using your photographs for her paintings, and then a romance with her older sister. It turned out that the entire thing was essentially fabricated by their mom. Why did it take you so long to suspect that something was fishy?”

Nev: “I had Googled both Megan and Abby and found nothing. They live in Ishpeming. Why would there be something on them? But that got left out of the film because Rel and Henry discovered that as soon as you introduce suspicion in the audience, they’re immediately expecting it not to be real. And even though those things existed in real life, the overwhelming conviction that this was real and I was going to fall in love with this girl also existed. So we focused on that. That’s just a storytelling choice.”

Why would there be something on Abby or Megan in Ishpeming? Duh! Because Abby is a locally famous child art prodigy and Megan is a veterinarian, dancer and singer. Megan is known to sing back-up for the Casualties band and so her name might pop up on the band’s website. Oops, the band doesn’t have a website. The band is actually a sport shop.

Ishpeming is not such a small town with no Internet presence. Local media is fully represented online and events and whatnot are posted. In the real world, Ishpeming and Marquette residents would have learned about and followed the activities of artist Abby Pierce by looking online. Local residents were already doing that with Angela Pierce who actually had her own website featuring her artwork. Fans of the band Casualties would have found out where they were playing and all sorts of other information by looking online where they would find a devoted website. People follow artists and bands in Ishpeming in the same way they do in NYC.

You wrote: “I also have suspicions of Angela being schizophrenic, I wonder if 20/20 did their homework on that.”

You do know that medical records are confidential, right?

Goon
Guest

I feel like Aquaman is about to full of Nev’s face and reveal it was Old Man Withers, the guy who runs the amusement park.

Catfish would have gotten away with it too, it weren’t for all these meddling kids

rot
Guest

Ok Aquaman, let’s start with what I think you are just wrong about:

There is no specified number of friends that is on Megan’s Facebook list. If you are talking about the scene where she is listing off the characters she played, fine, there were like 15 characters, but you say yourself there is no screenshot of the full list, or an exact number of friends. So where are you getting this conviction that it was a small number? You have not in anyway disproved my notion that she could have over time made more fake friends on Megan’s list the same way she did with the 15, but without making them key characters, she could have also ensnared other strangers with the whole “I know you from high school and I am a hot chick” method. Now, I again fall back on my own experience (as someone that was on Facebook before everyone I knew except one) I do not spend my time searching through my friend’s friends facebook pages. And even if I did, and this is what is supposed to be believed of Nev as a detective, in 2008 you could have your facebook page private, so all he would see is the picture.

Which brings me to my second point, this was 2008. Social networking has changed rapidly and it is easy to overlook that this took place nearly 3 years ago. According to Wikipedia there were 100 million users in 2008, and 600 million now. The instant messengering feature on Facebook premiered April 2008, so put in perspective that there is some room for novelty. The assumption that everyone was on facebook and for a very long time is (to return to my main argument) not enough to convict. Megan was 19, possibly 18 by the time they corresponded, there are very plausible reasons that she would be someone new to the whole networking experience. But then again, I still don’t see any evidence that there were not an adequate number of friends on her page to send alarms going off.

If it is exceedingly strange for a 19 year old to not have her facebook page full of pictures of her with her family, then so be it… I know a lot of people with like 2 pictures up, and that is it (and it is 2011!). Again, not enough to convict.

you wrote “The guys never establish a believable reason for poking around Google for this music”

what?! You have been saying since the beginning Nev should have been more suspicious and the one time he actually is, you don’t find it believable? Isn’t it more believable when not all the narrative points are caught on camera? That scene could have been an hour long, and with one edit you have them listening to the song and then in the next (with 5 tangents in between that would have lengthened the run time) they get to googling. I think part of the problem you have Aquaman, is you take everything onscreen as evidence and don’t take into consideration it is a conflation of a longer denser period of time. The narrative is by nature of this conflation, false. You will always be able to find holes in it because they couldn’t possibly cover for every contingency (i.e. like him saying off hand using music for “the movie” he doesn’t elaborate, but the people in the scene know what he is talking about and edited out we miss essential context). It is quite possible that in the music googling scene, undepicted in the film, the guys do voice their opinion that the song sounds too good and they should google it and that for the sake of withholding that information for dramatic impact, they edit it out, but that the discovery of the YouTube clip onscreen is genuine. Doesn’t that make sense? As filmmakers wouldn’t you want to hit the note of revelation on the moment of hearing the youtube song? It doesn’t change the sincerity of the movie, it just doesn’t show you every moment leading up to the revelation.

You wrote “If [the two Megan chats on facebook] was nefarious…the editors may have not noticed or thought it wouldn’t be seen or that it mattered”

But again, explain to me how it is nefarious, what is your understanding of that event. What is uncovered? Are you thinking that at the scene everyone is in on it and Angela needed to have two different chats going on using the same name? That makes no sense whatsoever.

You wrote “Throughout the film, the editors were systematically blocking (blurring) any references to the last name Pierce”

This argument, too, makes no sense to me. I think from your previous comment your argument was they removed the name A. Pierce on Abby’s canvas because it was a clue that it wasn’t really Abby and that the guys would have figured it out from that. Her name is Abby Pierce. If I saw A. Pierce on it, I would think “there is her signature”. I don’t have an answer for why the name is blurred, but your reason for it makes no sense to me. Maybe they thought for the sake of the story, having two characters with the possible name A. Pierce and wanting to hide the surprise they chose to blur it, so that subconsciously that thought didn’t rise up in the audience. Maybe Angela requested that it be blurred. I have no idea, but to cover their tracks seems ridiculous to me. Maybe if it said Angela Pierce, sure, then you got yourself a conspiracy, but A Pierce is a logical signature.

Regarding the transcript on Megan being a vet, I still say he was not in a court of law, he was shooting the shit with his friends, and him saying Megan is a vet could have been a slip, a boasting and short form of saying she was studying to be one. That whole part of the transcript seems boastful, she is a vet, she bought a house, she has goats, it is a litany and people are prone to exaggeration. And as per my previous statement, we don’t have enough context of the purchasing of the home, did she say she had an inheritance, did Abby help her, we get the information informally secondhand from what could have been a more elaborate explanation online. I also take it that Angela as Megan was exaggerating their wealth, and that this was being corroborated by any number of her characters. Is Nev supposed to be instantly suspicious of someone he meets who says their family is well off? It does happen. By the way I bought a 1 bedroom condo for the amount of that farm, to put the price tag in perspective, downpayment was 20K, but in the States, in 2008 BEFORE the financial crisis, you could probably buy that farm with no money down.

As for the interview you quote from regarding Nev googling Megan and Abby, that is an example right there of Nev mistakenly lying… he says they cut that out of the film, but he says in the film that he had googled Abby (in a scene after the music reveal). Is he hiding something??!! No, he misspoke. In the real world, we do it all the time. Also listen to his reasoning why they cut that from the film: “But that got left out of the film because Rel and Henry discovered that as soon as you introduce suspicion in the audience, they’re immediately expecting it not to be real.”

That there might be your explanation for the blurry A. Pierce.

you wrote: “Fans of the band Casualties would have found out where they were playing and all sorts of other information by looking online where they would find a devoted website.”

Sure, IF they were looking for them, but he wasn’t. He did a cursory search, the kind of search 99% of people do (I am a librarian, and I cannot tell you how many people I have talked to that don’t understand anything about nuanced searching). It is nowhere said nor should it be assumed he was searching out of a desperate desire to know if she was real. He could have been doing it out of curiosity, spent a minute or two, found nothing, considered it a question of rural news not being online (Nev is a New Yorker after all) and that was that. Again, it is so believable it hurts. I have searched people before on Google and found absolutely nothing. If Megan was studying to be a vet and not actually a vet, that wouldn’t be online.

As for 20/20 and confidential records, sure, but Angela could have volunteered evidence, they could have chose not to run that part.

and Andrew… this is the normal length.

Matt Gamble
Guest

Schizophrenia is a matter of delusion/hallucination, and becuase of this I’m pretty sure that universally schizophrenics are clumsy and disorganized.

Actually no, schizophraneics can be incredibly meticulous. One of the greatest and most prolific contributers to the original OED was an institutionalized paranoid schizophrenic and his submissions were legendary for how well organized they were.

Spoiler Alert – my grandfather was a paranoid schizophrenic. He thought he owned Detroit, that he was high level in the Cosa Nostra , and that everyone in his family (outside of his son [my father] and daughter) was trying to assassinate him in order to take over the family. Because of this he slept with a shotgun under his pillow every night and no one was allowed to see him do to the threat of violence (and schizophrenics tend to be incredibly violent).

Schizophrenics are living in a delusional fantasy world, but they have no idea that they are. That is what the disconnect is. They can be quite good at all sorts of everyday things, but they simply see the world completely differently than you or I. If you ever encounter one, it will quite likely be highly disturbing to you because you are completely unable to connect with them in any “real” manner. The best way I can describe is like talking to someone in a waking dream. A horrible waking dream. They have no idea they are suffering from these delusions, so any feelings of guilt or admissions of wrong doing for her deceptions immediately would eliminate schizophrenia as something Angela is suffering from.

Goon
Guest

“Megan was 19, possibly 18 by the time they corresponded, there are very plausible reasons that she would be someone new to the whole networking experience.”

I had around 50 friends within my first days on facebook. your first days of activity on FB make up for quite a large percentage of anyones friends lists, you identifying other people, and other people finding you.

to Gamble: I can’t argue with experience, but I’m going on the (limited) reading I’ve done on the subject. A quick glance at wikipedia also seems to place disorganization among the top schizophrenic traits.

Aquaman
Guest

Megan had 370 photos posted in her Facebook account. None showed her with her sister Abby or her brother Alex. We can’t see the number of friends she had.

Angela had 24 friends and 88 photos posted. No photo showed her with husband Vince, daughter Abby or son Alex.

Most of the songs she posted were under 4 minutes.

One possible nefarious explanation for seeing two different “Megan” chat windows going simultaneously is that one of them could have been created by Rel or Henry. They could type anything they wanted and it would appear that Megan was doing the talking.

I never meant to imply that Pierce gets blocked out because of a scam on the part of the guys or the editors. My suspicion is that it is blocked so that some privacy protection can be afforded to Abby, Vince and the twins. Maybe there is some legal reason. That name is blocked everywhere it can be seen including the fictitious Alex Pierce. They blur Pierce and leave his first name visible. When Angela’s name appears as Wesselman-Pierce they only blur out the Pierce part. When the guys walk up to the side porch to meet for the first time there is a wooden plaque on the wall next to the door saying “The Pierces”. That plaque is blurred out. There are a couple places where they obviously missed a Pierce blur out.

FWIW, further inspection shows that Angela was using two different Facebook names. She had Angela Wesselman and Angela Wesselman-Pierce. I can’t yet tell if she had two different accounts or just changed her profile name at some point.

Aquaman
Guest

Here are some more factoids that I found. A few of these I submitted to MovieMistakes…

Just after arriving at Chicago O’Hare Airport and on their way to Ishpeming, the filmmakers are shown riding in a car through a mountainous area. There are no mountains anywhere in this vicinity.

On the way to Ishpeming from Chicago the filmmakers point a camera out the window of their car at the reflective wheel hub cover of a truck riding alongside them. The reflection shows that they are in a small white sedan. Yet the car that they are eventually shown driving in Michigan is a black Subaru station wagon.

The Google Earth Streetview route shown through downtown Chicago (I-94/90) is not part of the computer-plotted route from O’Hare Airport to Ishpeming which they used. It would have been a long detour from the suggested path laid out for them.

On the drive from Chicago O’Hare Airport to Gladstone, MI (the farm) we are shown the car in Manitowoc, WI., then crossing the border into Michigan at Marinette/Menominee, then in Green Bay, WI., and then in Gladstone, MI. That sequence is out of order. These locations can be verified by looking at the GPS navigator shown inside the car and by roadsigns.

The proper order would be:

Manitowoc, WI
Green Bay, WI
Menominee, MI
Gladstone, MI

rot
Guest

Maybe Pierce is Vince’s family name and it was a condition of release that it be blurred out, I don’t know.

Correct me if I am wrong but wasn’t Megan’s brother Alex actually one of the guys in the fake photos? So there would be some family in her photos. Clearly Megan is portrayed as a popular gal in the photos, out with her friends, I can totally understand a 19 year old being myopic with her facebook page… It is also possible Megan’s page had photos of Angela and Abby, just not with Megan in the same shot. Also Megan could have introduced herself as a newbie to facebook, in which case we are talking about a year’s worth of photos.

I don’t see why Angela wouldn’t have pictures of Abby on her facebook as they do live together.

Your explanation of the dual chat windows makes sense now, that actually is probably your best point, why would thee be two chats with the same name happening simultaneously?

@goon Sure but its not like Nev would be surfing Megan’s friends list to see if they had any friends in common, they are worlds apart. Also I am pretty sure in 2008 Facebook told you on the sidebar what friends you had in common, which is an indicator. Like I said, even if Nev browsed Angela would just need to set the fake friends pages to private.

rot
Guest

I am guessing the hubcap flub is due to them adding footage afterwards they may not have gotten the first time.

Aquaman
Guest

You wrote: “Maybe Pierce is Vince’s family name and it was a condition of release that it be blurred out, I don’t know.”

It is his family name.

You wrote: “Correct me if I am wrong but wasn’t Megan’s brother Alex actually one of the guys in the fake photos? So there would be some family in her photos.”

That is wrong. Megan couldn’t be in any photo that also showed Alex.

You wrote: “It is also possible Megan’s page had photos of Angela and Abby, just not with Megan in the same shot.”

Of course Megan could not be in the same photo as Abby. But she was in the same photo with Angela and the explanation is outrageous. We know that Megan was actually a woman named Aimee Gonzales from Vancouver. Angela chose to use Aimee’s actual little sister to be her photo of herself. Follow me? The mother of Megan was actually her own little sister. Nev and his buddies were looking at little sister and allowed her to be the mom. Imagine somebody actually thinking that you are the father of your father. Unfreakingbelievable! Are you ready to buy that bridge from me yet?

You wrote: “I don’t see why Angela wouldn’t have pictures of Abby on her facebook as they do live together.”

She no doubt did. But no shot showed them together and that is the super strange part.

Aquaman
Guest

You wrote: “I am guessing the hubcap flub is due to them adding footage afterwards they may not have gotten the first time.”

The hubcap flub is the same thing as the out-of-place mountains shot. They put footage from Colorado into Illinois. The small white sedan was almost certainly their rental car in Vail.

The film is a mish-mash of editing discontinuities. Take a little bit from over here and put it over there. Then from over there and put it back behind over yonder.

Aquaman
Guest

There is no way in hell that Nev could have thought he was getting emails directly from an 8 year old. No thinking human could have thought it was anyone other than her mother doing the writing for her, or that there was no girl at all. Look at this sampling of what was written “from Abby” to Nev…

…and a little studio space of my own…

…and since the price is really low…

…would cover the utilities, insurance…

…property taxes and that kind of stuff…

…going over my budget…

…I use acid free cold press paper and high quality paint so the paper ones are fine framed or stored properly…

…I’ve only been drawing people for a short time so I was nervous about painting so many people in one picture that’s why I was only going to do a sketch…

…That party looked like more fun than our party. It’s kinda hard for me to believe that you’re the same age as my brothers. You seem really a lot more grown up…

…Well I’m really not supposed to be bugging you with a lot of email so I probably should stop writing now…

…my address is…

…You should probably make it care of either my Mom, Angela Wesselman or my Dad Vincent Pierce…

…Peace and Love ~ Abby…

This is not the grammar, spelling, vocabulary or sentence structure of a little girl. Angela never even tried to write like an 8 year-old. The significance is that it plainly sets the stage for a fantasy relationship between Angela and Nev in a way that is not really deceptive. She puts everything right in front of him without any cunning tricks. Angela wants Nev to know that it is all make-believe.

Pretending to be Abby writing sophisticated email letters and then signing them as Abby is no different than creating sophisticated paintings and pretending they were done by Abby and signing her name on them.

The only way that Angela could have made the make-believe world more obvious to Nev would have been to tell him outright. “Dear Nev… I’m going to create a fake Facebook account for a daughter that I don’t have. I want you to communicate with and befriend that fake person. Her name will be Megan.”

rot
Guest

“That is wrong. Megan couldn’t be in any photo that also showed Alex.”

But Alex is no more real than Megan I thought, Angela didn’t have a son named Alex.

Also how are you so confident about what images were or were not in their facebook pages in 2008? And please provide a source for the claim that Angela passed herself off as Megan’s younger sister in a photo.

as for Abby’s writing… I am no expert on 8 year old’s writing ability but even if that is above what is being portrayed as an exceptionally talented 8 year old’s ability, there could have been mentioned anywhere offscreen that Angela helped her with the wording of the emails. That is not unheard of. Don’t they read a written letter of hers and it sounds very kid like? I remember them laughing about it, how sweet it was.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

I write emails all the time for my children, and correct grammar and whatnot as we go along. My son thinks about money, and cost, and stuff (well maybe not property taxes) and I offer suggests which he considers and then we add it to the final email or whatnot.

Now I’m not sure that Nev would or would not consider this when reading ‘stuff from an 8 year old’ but either way it is irrelevant.

I’m not saying you do not have valid points, I find this thread exceedingly fascinating and the research is excellent; but some of your arguments veer into your own obsession-coloured-glasses sometimes. Do you have children, Aquaman?

rot
Guest

on Abby’s age and writing from Vulture interview:

“Nev’s relationship with Abby didn’t begin on Facebook: The beginnings of Nev’s friendship with Abby aren’t included in the film — but they go a long way toward explaining how Nev could have perceived the interaction as harmless. Abby’s first message to Nev appeared in his rarely checked MySpace account — and “she” said she was 12, not 8. He replied, complimenting her paintings. Then he received a near-immediate response, this time from Angela, who apologized, saying Abby’s Internet habits were usually monitored and that she’d somehow made it onto the computer unnoticed, and disclosed Abby’s real age. “Which was like, perfect opener,” Rel says. “’Cause you’re like, what an aware and considerate mom!””

http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2010/09/what_got_cut_from_catfish.html

it also confirms what you said that Nev was thinking Megan was a Veterinarian and owned a house and his mother questioned him on it. Seems a strange thing to admit if you were covering it up, it might be a case of Nev really being naive though, not understanding the education required to be a vet. That and the multiple chats under the same name are the two red flags I agree with you on, at least as possibilities.

rot
Guest

this part of the Vulture article is particularly interesting:

“Their monetary relationship was more complex than we’d imagined … : Joost, who admits he was always the most skeptical of the trio, says he and Rel questioned the constant stream of paintings Abby/Angela sent Nev without asking for any money, wondering if they’d want payment down the line. As it turns out, they wanted to pay him for his advice to Abby. Abby (or Angela — the boys still don’t know) won a painting contest with a thousand dollar prize and wanted to split the earnings with Nev, who refused repeatedly. She insisted and sent him $500. “I was amazed that we could tell the story and leave out that scene,” Rel says now.”

Someone giving you $500 dollars, no questions asked… that can buy you a lot of trust I think. Again, reinforces the idea that the family is not hurting for money.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Actually, $500 no questions asked would invite suspicion in me, not build trust. That’s just me though, I’m a bit more paranoid/suspicious by nature.

Aquaman
Guest

Aquaman wrote: “Megan couldn’t be in any photo that also showed Alex.”

Mike responded: “But Alex is no more real than Megan I thought, Angela didn’t have a son named Alex.”

Mike, there is something here you are not grasping. Angela stole photos of people that were already on the web. She created false names and personas for each of them. In some cases, she would declare these various people to be directly related to each other… but in real-life they didn’t even know each other. The important point is that Megan cannot be seen in any photo with Alex… because a photo of them together cannot exist. This should have presented a bizarre situation for Nev. He knows that Megan is a back-up singer for Alex’s band and that they even record together. Besides that, they are siblings. But he will never see a photo of them together in spite of Megan having 370 photos in her profile.

Mike wrote: “Also how are you so confident about what images were or were not in their facebook pages in 2008?”

See above. Certain kinds of photos cannot exist in the first place.

Mike wrote: “And please provide a source for the claim that Angela passed herself off as Megan’s younger sister in a photo.”
Angela used a photo of Megan’s younger sister for herself. This is confirmed by Aimee Gonzales in the ABC 20/20 program. See here: http://www.hulu.com/watch/184528/abc-2020-fri-oct-8-2010 .

Mike wrote: “Don’t they read a written letter of hers (Abby) and it sounds very kid like? I remember them laughing about it, how sweet it was.”

You are probably recalling the note from Abby where she says her snake died and so now she has a pet mouse which was supposed to be snake food. Nev reads the letter aloud and a portion of it is shown on the screen. It is written in the same adult style as everything else. There never was anything shown that was signed by Abby that was distinctly “kid-like”. Here is another flub of sorts: They show a picture of Abby hugging the “mouse” which the snake didn’t eat. It’s obviously a pet rat – not a mouse. Later when they get to her house, they film her playing with another (different) rat. Abby had pet rats and probably didn’t even have a snake named Zoey.

Kurt wrote: “Do you have children, Aquaman?”

No, I don’t.

Of course the big difference with you writing for your children is that Angela wasn’t writing for Abby. Angela was pretending to be Abby. Abby couldn’t care less about Nev and even had to have it explained to her who he was when he showed up in Michigan.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

“Of course the big difference with you writing for your children is that Angela wasn’t writing for Abby. Angela was pretending to be Abby. Abby couldn’t care less about Nev and even had to have it explained to her who he was when he showed up in Michigan.”

My point, however, was that people write for their kids online all the time, and it is quite reasonable for the other side to expect this, in text form. My point was that your suspicion on that point was not really argued well.

Aquaman
Guest

Another factoid: Only one of the two postcards was USPS stamped with “Returned to this address for proper disposition”. This is in spite of both being mailed at the same time and addressed the same way.

Aquaman
Guest

Kurt wrote: “My point, however, was that people write for their kids online all the time, and it is quite reasonable for the other side to expect this, in text form. My point was that your suspicion on that point was not really argued well.”

I understand your point. But my point still stands in the context of what was going on. Angela was pretending to be Abby.

If Nev were to ask Angela “Did Abby really paint these pictures?” her answer would be – yes.

If Nev were to ask Angela “Did Abby really write these emails?” her answer would be – yes.

Aquaman
Guest

I found a screen capture showing the two different chat windows open at the same time. But it doesn’t capture everything you can see in this scene when you watch the film. Look here:comment image . The image timestamped at 00:24:57 is what I am talking about.

The chatbox on the left is being used by “meganfaccio”. The chatbox on the right is being used by “Megan Faccio”. In the film, you can see text being generated in both of them at the same time.

This is not a recreated Facebook scene done later back in NYC either. They are really sitting there at the hotel dining table in Vail and the camera pans back and forth between the guys and this compter screen.

Aquaman
Guest

More photo stuff…

Here is the scene of them riding in the mountains just after they arrive in Chicago. ROFL.comment image .

This is the opening scene from the film showing Nev explaining how he shouldn’t be the subject of the documentary… it should be Abby. He’s wearing a yellow v-neck and is eating pizza with the pizza box in front of him. This same setting (shirt and pizza matching) will then be used two more times later in the film but for different contexts. Then he is on the phone with Megan and being romantic.comment image/

Abby’s first paining for Nev. It is signed “A. Pierce”. The name Pierce is blurred out by the editors while leaving the “A.” intact. comment image/

rot
Guest

and Aquaman, do you have confirmation that the picture of the person that is supposed to be Alex IS NOT just one of the individuals in a lot of Aimee Gonzlez’s pictures? If you were doing this, and making up two characters that are supposed to know each other, doesn’t it make sense you would use people that are already known to one another?

I agree with Kurt on the Abby writing thing… they are on record as saying Angela was said to be monitoring Abby, in some point not shown in the film that could have been even more clearly spelled out. Again, the problem I find with a lot of your theories is they presuppose that the documentary footage is enough to understand entirely the conditions of the online relationship. If ALL that existed was what was onscreen you would have a case… but as the Vulture interview shows in small anecdotes, there was a lot that wasn’t in the film, information that changes the context.

will watch the chatbox clip when I am at home.

rot
Guest

I might do another post after some of these insights, something like 5 hard questions for the Catfish filmmakers to answer.

Once I check out your links and they are as you say, I would include the dual chatrooms, Nev’s understanding of Megan as a veterinarian, and this claim of Angela as the younger sister of Megan in one of the pictures.

Aquaman
Guest

Kurt, pay close attention to this quote/info from the article Mike linked to above…

“Nev’s relationship with Abby didn’t begin on Facebook: The beginnings of Nev’s friendship with Abby aren’t included in the film — but they go a long way toward explaining how Nev could have perceived the interaction as harmless. Abby’s first message to Nev appeared in his rarely checked MySpace account — and “she” said she was 12, not 8. He replied, complimenting her paintings. Then he received a near-immediate response, this time from Angela, who apologized, saying Abby’s Internet habits were usually monitored and that she’d somehow made it onto the computer unnoticed, and disclosed Abby’s real age. “Which was like, perfect opener,” Rel says. “’Cause you’re like, what an aware and considerate mom!””

Now, we know it was Angela that wrote that very first letter to Nev on MySpace. She gave Abby’s age as 12 instead of 8 yeard-old. But she was pretending to be Abby. Then Nev responds. Immediately Angela responds to that with an apology letter from herself saying that her daughter had written an email to Nev containing a bit of false information. She let it be known that Abby does sit at the computer and write emails and send them off. So when subsequent emails come to Nev signed as Abby – they probably are to be taken as actually written by Abby.

The article and quotes from Nev do not say that from that first email onwards all emails from Abby would be written by her mother instead.

Regardless of what the situation actually was, I would want to ask Nev… “Did you think, or were you under the impression that, the emails signed by Abby were actually typed on the keyboard by Abby?” If the answer is no… then… “Did you think that Abby spoke those words to her mother and Angela simply did the typing?”

Next question… “Did you think that those paintings were actually painted by Abby?”

Aquaman
Guest

Mike wrote: “and Aquaman, do you have confirmation that the picture of the person that is supposed to be Alex IS NOT just one of the individuals in a lot of Aimee Gonzlez’s pictures?”

I thought I had that but can’t find it. There are no pictures shown in the film that appear to be Megan with Alex. I suspect that Alex was a local Ishpeming kid but cannot be certain. Angela did use a number of local Ishpeming people that she knows for various characters.

You wrote: “If you were doing this, and making up two characters that are supposed to know each other, doesn’t it make sense you would use people that are already known to one another?”

It makes sense if you want to pull a quality scam. But that isn’t what Angela did. We know for a fact that Megan could never be in a picture with Abby… Angela still went with that. We know for a fact that Angela herself could not be in any photo with Abby. We know for a fact that Vince could not be in any photo with Abby. We know for a fact that Alex could not be in any photo with Angela or Abby if he can be seen in any photo with Megan. So you see, these are the things that don’t make sense according to your statement above.

You wrote: “I might do another post after some of these insights, something like 5 hard questions for the Catfish filmmakers to answer. Once I check out your links and they are as you say, I would include the dual chatrooms, Nev’s understanding of Megan as a veterinarian, and this claim of Angela as the younger sister of Megan in one of the pictures.”

I’d like to help you before you commit such things to a new blog on this. It might be more than 5 questions. Do you have the DVD at home? I can give you the timeclock position on the disc for any scene or factoid that I have written about.

Don’t forget what I said in my very first post here. As far as I can tell, there is no single smoking gun in the film that proves my theory. My base theory is that Nev knew, or strongly suspected, that lies were coming out of Michigan before they went to Vail Colorado. I can only say that I have presented a good number of observations that could support my theory. The totality of the observations is stronger than any single one of them on its own.

My theory has not yet been disproven.

Aquaman
Guest

Here we go…

A photograph Angela described as a son, Alex, is that of rapper Joshua Paul Liimatta, also known as “The Sisu Kid”.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catfish_(film)

http://www.myspace.com/thesisukid

Don’t know if it’s true.

Aquaman
Guest

It’s now confirmed that my picture is indeed used for Angela’s fictional son “Alex” in the movie Catfish.

http://twitter.com/TheSisuKid/status/26521997385

Again don’t know if this is true but he seems to have Michigan roots.

Aquaman
Guest

Sisu Kid is from Marquette Michigan. That is 15 miles from Ishpeming.

http://www.mostlymidwest.com/?tag=the-sisu-kid

Aquaman
Guest

Mike, according to Aimee Gonzales (Megan Faccio) this picture is of her actual younger sister…

comment image

Kurt
Guest

“Now, we know it was Angela that wrote that very first letter to Nev on MySpace. She gave Abby’s age as 12 instead of 8 yeard-old. But she was pretending to be Abby. Then Nev responds. Immediately Angela responds to that with an apology letter from herself saying that her daughter had written an email to Nev containing a bit of false information. She let it be known that Abby does sit at the computer and write emails and send them off. So when subsequent emails come to Nev signed as Abby – they probably are to be taken as actually written by Abby.”

I cannot even begin to parse that logic, aquaman. As I see it (and a lot of your other arguments could be bucketed with what follows) there is neither a case for or against, or rather there are equal cases for or against that we cannot understand. In this instance, either A) ‘Abby’ (and I’m using quotes to say Abby from Nev’s point of view, not that she was all along Angela…I’m keeping my eye entirely on Nev’s point of view here) got away with a single email to a New Yorker significantly older than her, and was then stopped (and continually checked/edited by mom) or B) Abby got away with one, was caught by her Mom, and then was sneaking behind Mom’s back to continue to correspond.

What I ask is why do you take your position, when either (and perhaps other options still) are equally plausible.

I commend your research into this, as I’ve said above, it is AWESOME. But you can ride the horse of skepticism constantly looking at the ground, right into a brick wall. Be Careful! 😉

rot
Guest

Oh wait, you are talking about the painting of Angela being taken from Aimee’s sister. I don’t find a problem with that, one embellishes in paintings, and it is a pretty crude representation, so of course in a painting you make your subject look better than they are. Also Abby could have taken the image from a picture of her mom in the prime of her life. That is not an issue at all to me.

as for Alex being from Michigan, that is pretty clumsy of Angela, intentional or not, she can give herself away in other ways, but all she had to do was use a person already in Megan’s photos. I still don’t think, however, the absence of a photograph of Megan with her family together does not sound off alarm bells. I say again, she may have said she was a newbie to Facebook and pictures are from the last year or so.

I agree with Kurt on the if either side is plausible it cancels out the proof. A lot of your points can be cancelled out by ‘lack of information’.

Imagine this undocumented scenario:

Nev: Angela, your daughter is a very good writer for her age
Angela: oh yeah, I monitor her and help her with wording.

That this does not exist in the film is not proof it never happened. Innocent until proven guilty, not guilty until proven innocent.

Aquaman
Guest

“Oh wait, you are talking about the painting of Angela being taken from Aimee’s sister. ”

No, it’s a photograph. Angela uses a photograph of Aimee’s little sister as her own Facebook profile picture. Abby also did a painting of that photo and we see it too.

There is no getting around this, Mike: Nev had been presented with photos of mother and daughter standing right next to each other. We are shown these photos in the movie. The mother is younger than her daughter.

Aquaman
Guest

There is no smoking gun that could not be defused by Nev if he wanted. All he has to say is that although he did see the photos of mom and daughter together… he is a horrible judge of age.

A smoking gun would be irrefutable proof that Nev knew he was being told lies before going to Colorado. That proof might exist (or once existed and has been destroyed/deleted), but not in the film itself.

Aquaman
Guest

My source is the film itself, Mike.

With all due respects, you really owe it to yourself, me and the readers of this blog to thoroughly review this film again. Throughout our debate here I feel as if we watched two different movies. I know that isn’t true. The problem is that you cannot remember the movie in detail. Sometimes you think the movie shows things that it doesn’t actually show. Sometimes you think the movie doesn’t show things that it does actually show.

We are shown the front Facebook profile page for Megan Faccio. It states that she has 370 photos. The camera lens does not dip down far enough (or it’s cropped) to show the line that states how many friends she has.

We are also shown about 60 of the photos found within her profile (60 of the 370 total). Among those 60 are several that show mother (Angela) with daughter (Megan) together. These photos actually show Aimee Gonzales with her younger sister. The 60 photos zoom past in real-time, but with the DVD and a remote you can pause and go frame-by-frame and spend time examining them.

At another point in the film they stop and focus on one particular picture from Megan’s profile. It shows her and mom (actually Aimee and lil sis). The cursor drags across their bodies and reveals that they have been “tagged”. The tagged names are Megan Faccio and Angela Wesselman.

This is not a joke, Mike. Angela presented Nev with photos of two sisters and told him that they were mother and daughter. Even more astounding is that she used the younger sister as the mother.

Ms Curious
Guest

Wow Aquaman, your attention to detail is brilliant! I have been haunted by this film since I first saw it and embarded on a reserach project of my own. I have been driving around in the google car looking at Ishpeming, the house at 421 N Main street and even tried to work out where they all went swimming (got lost after Angela mentions the Ski museum). Found the obituary for Ronald (Vince’s son), tracked down that the owners of the house at 421 N Main are Vince Pierce and his mother, found numerous blogs written by Angela (though they seem to stop Dec 2010, listened to a pod cast where Angela mentions being able to see a street called Ridge street from her studio (however it looks to me as if Ridge st is too far off for her to see from there). Tried to work out the restaurant they all dined in, though it might be Mama Mia’s (but the car park scene didn’t match) with outside of this place and I couldn’t find any inside shots to make a comparision from film to actual. Contacted the Mining Journal to see what further light they could shed on things, (not much), contacted Ishpeming Carnegie Library (Cindy Mak) got a reply but she didn’t do much more than confirm Angela does live in that house (just up the road from the library and that the gallery (studio) Angela claimed Abby had bought in the film), still sits empty and is scheduled to be torn down later this year. Found out the family moved to Ishpeming in 2004.

What I find most amazing is how this film is laced with symbolism and clues: in the paintings, in the dialogue, in the song choices, even in the name of the Alex’s band.

Examples:
Name of the band ‘Casualties’ (they all end up being casualties one way or another)
‘Catfish’ (lends itself to something being ‘fishy’, or ‘not quite right’
‘Subject of the paintings’ so many of them depict ‘lonliness’, ‘desire for escape’ – bird in a cage, woman sleeping, woman in field with a suitcase in her hand, a woman surrounded by ‘red’ apple cores (apple – eaten = perhaps given into temptation)
‘Gladstone’ as a place name broken down = ‘glad’ ‘stone’ = ‘happiness’ (‘cold/heart of stone’)
‘dollhouse in the main window’ symbolic of fantasy/childlike

Things I found odd:
On one hand, Vince doesn’t appear to be the brightest chap, then he comes out with an insightful story about carfish and cod (an allegory if you like) for Angela’s behaviour. Felt like he might have been spoon fed these lines (especially due to the blog by the runner about catfish and cod where the story that VInce tells appears almost word for word early 2007)

Abby’s writing is rather mature for an 8 year old, even a gifted one. Moreover, even if a mother was correcting the child’s email it seems unlikely that a child would mention taxes, or that a mother would see fit to include such information. Only an adult, wishing to look business savy might include such information.

The romance between Nev and Megan reached quite an intense level. It seemed odd to me that it took him so long to get his act together to go and visit. Why not jump a plane a few months earlier?

Anyway, I so enjoyed reading an informative blog filled with information that no one else seems to have picked up on as yet. I love how you even picked up the difference in the car used (hud cap) shot.

Look forward to sharing more information that I find.

Aquaman
Guest

Hi Ms Curious,

Thank you for your very insightful post. It’s nice to see another person who is dissecting this movie like I am. I was getting lonely in this thread as the only one who is actually examing the film itself. I’ll have more to say about your post later, but wanted to give you the restaurant now. Do you have the DVD?

You wrote: “Tried to work out the restaurant they all dined in, though it might be Mama Mia’s (but the car park scene didn’t match) with outside of this place and I couldn’t find any inside shots to make a comparision from film to actual.”

The restaurant is Applebee’s Bar & Grill in Marquette. There is a stained glass sign with the name above the bar. It’s in a kind of strip mall called Westwood Mall Shopping Center. They are about 15 miles away from Angela’s house.

They must have been in there for a pretty long time. When we see them eating the windows show bright daylight outside. When they leave giving hugs it’s night in the parking lot. All the clothing matches with the scene inside the restaurant so it seems legitimately to be a continuous scene.

The reason I mention that is because the editor(s) cannot be fully trusted to give us proper continuity. Don’t forget that we are shown Colorado mountains in Illinois.

I read an interview stating that the guys got Angela to sign a release (the first of two releases) at a dinner restaurant on the night of the first day they met her. This restaurant scene may not be that first night. I reckon they were in Ishpeming for about three days or so. I’m trying to nail down a timeline for that.

I also read that after Sundance accepted the film they returned to Ishpeming to have Angela sign a much more detailed and comprehensive release.

Aquaman
Guest

Ms Curious wrote: “and even tried to work out where they all went swimming (got lost after Angela mentions the Ski museum).”

The beach house where Abby was visiting is on Lake Superior. About 20 miles out of Ishpeming. I haven’t been able to pinpoint it but it is either within the city of Marquette or nearby. You can see some shoreline landmarks and they are within a small bay.

Just after the guys leave the beach they start talking about what they have just experienced and how Angela is probably playing the role of all of the characters. At that point, I’m looking out the windows at the surroundings. They are in Marquette driving on Lake Shore Boulevard just outside Presque Isle Park, then past La Bonte Park, and then into downtown Marquette. Ironically, it is quite possible that they drove right past the Casualties sport shop in downtown Marquette.

Matt Gamble
Guest

Am I the only one who finds these two more than slightly disturbing?

Ms Curious
Guest

Hello Matt
You wrote: Am I the only one who finds these two more than slightly disturbing?

I take it that you are referring to Aquaman and myself. What is it that you find so disturbing Matt? Is it the fact that both Aquaman and I have taken the time to look closely at the film, to dissect it, to question its authenticity? Or is that we don’t ramble on about Schizophrenia? I’ve had a look back at your post/s and they don’t really address the film itself, but mainly appear to obsessed with Schizophrenia and making sure we all get the right definition (well at least your definition of that illness). You go so far as to provide a ‘personal’ insight into your grandfather’s illness. No doubt you had a difficult time dealing with a relative who suffered from this condition. That being said, this blog is about the movie ‘Catfish’, so I for one am delighted that someone with tremendous attention to detail like Aquaman has taken the time to provide us all with wonderful insights into the film. I mean seriously, the information that Aquaman has found/discovered would involve a very painstaking and meticulous annalysis, potentially ‘frame by frame’ and then an enormous amount of digging/annalysis after this. Film students undergo this type of annalysis all the time, Literature buffs write thousands of words for their thesis and sometimes only address one aspect of a work (example symbolism or femininism). I find it perplexing that you are disturbed by people who ‘go that extra mile’ who are ‘passionate’. Not everyone is prepared to take things on face value Matt, some of us like to look deeper into things and resolve aspects that don’t match, to question, to find the sub-text that lies beneath a superficial veneer.

Perhaps you would find our type of determination and attention to detail less disturbing if you looked at your own ‘passions’. I suspect you have read, researched and/or experienced a great deal to do with Schizophrenia. Without a doubt, far more than I have or would care to. If that be your passion, or interest then fine.

Please try not to put people down, or make comments that are insulting just because your own passion does not lie in the same area as another persons. It seems a bit ironic that you’re disturbed about postings/people who are posting directly in relation to the topic of the blog. You might be less ‘disturbed’ if you found a blog about your passion ‘Schizophrenia’.

There are thousands of people out there who are fascinated with the film “Catfish”, and who are extremely appreciative of those who do take the time to research/dig deeper etc.

I’m currently trying to find out the source of the sirname ‘Wesselman’ (as in, is it Angela’s maiden name, her 1st husband’s sirname etc?). I was thrilled to have Aquaman reply to my post and reveal the name of the restaurant in which the group dined and the lake that they swam in. Moreover, noting the time duration by way of identifying the daylight/night etc. I think it was terrific that Aquaman took the time to reply to me. My own research looks a bit shallow compared to what Aquaman has found out. However, as a team I’m sure we can find a whole lot more.

Anyway, Matt I’m sorry you’re disturbed…(by our level of interest in the film). If you have anything interesting to add about the film I’d love to hear about it.

Aquaman, I will reply separately to you regarding your latest bits of information (so appreciated!). Keep digging!

Matt Gamble
Guest

What’s disturbing is the fact is that you are the same person posting as two different ones. Though truly what distubs me is how terrible at it you are. Any idiot would know not to use the same repetive styles of typing (the over use of parantheses and the mimiced indroduction format for starters), but I guess you need to stroke your ego that badly.

I’m sure Kurt will ramble in and go on about how “meta” this whole thread has become.

Aquaman
Guest

Matt, are you saying that you think Ms. Curious and I are the same person?

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Ms. Curious — you have to understand that Gamble’s terse text is part of his ‘schtick.’

FYI Matt, the Mr. Curious and Aquaman both have different ip addresses. (not that that cannot be spoofed…)

as to my own. Yep, this thread has gotten quite meta. Still enjoying the banter very much.

Aquaman
Guest

I can assure you that we are not the same person. Matt should offer an apology as his post was beyond terse and was insulting.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

I don’t disagree with you Aquaman, but I’m also thinking the odds of getting an Apology from Mr. Gamble in a web-forum is pretty slim. He’s much more amenable in person.

Goon
Guest

I believe Ms C and Aquaman are different people. If we didn’t know rot I think you could look at his contribs to the thread and wonder too, and its only because of the more disturbing thing for me: That people find Catfish interesting enough that they would bother researching to that degree 😛

This is not a murder mystery, its a dude who had a relationship with a girl over the interwebs which turned out to be faked by a woman with a sad life. Whether or not elements of it are a hoax are thus only so worthy of this level of dedication.

Ms Curious
Guest

Matt, just saw your most recent post. Again, nothing to do with the film (just some more insults), which culminate in an unfounded and ridiculous allegation that Aquaman and I are the same person. What is your problem? You claim that ‘Any idiot would know not to use the same repetive styles of typing (the over use of parantheses and the mimiced indroduction format for starters)’. I am not Aquaman and he is not me. If you ‘imagine’ a similarity in our in style, that is only your perception (I don’t see it personally). It appears that what Aquaman and I have in common, is a desire to dissect/annalyse this film. Do you find it so hard to believe that two people could both be extremely interested in the one subject and want to look behind the veneer? As I mentioned in my earlier post, it is quite common for people to devote enormous amounts of time and energy to reseraching all manner of things, from the poetry of WB Yeats, Wilde’s use of the dialectic, Andy Warhol’s pop art, right through to organic gardening. I can’t explain why certain people are drawn to certain things or why some people just scratch the surface and others look deeper. By way of example, I’m not sure why you’re obsessed with Schizophrenia (but that’s your thing).

I’m in Australia. I stumbled across this blog in the process of looking for more information on ‘Catfish’. I found Aquaman’s research amazing and thought, awesome..someone else out there is as into this film as I am. It is disapointing that you find it necessary to degrade someone else’s efforts. Irrespective of whether you you think the film deserves this level of annalysis or not, it seems downright mean to to criticise someone for their hard work in research.

Your hostility is ‘disturbing’ Matt, not sure what is compelling you to behave like this, though I have my suspicions.

Ms Curious
Guest

Hello Goon

On the face of it, you’re right when you state: ‘This is not a murder mystery, its a dude who had a relationship with a girl over the interwebs which turned out to be faked by a woman with a sad life’. However, I think it’s a bit presumptious to conclude with ‘Whether or not elements of it are a hoax are thus only so worthy of this level of dedication’.

Isn’t it up to the individual to determine how much dedication a subject deserves, or do you think the masses should determine what is and isn’t interesting? Doesn’t worthiness of devotion depend on an individual’s level of interest in the subject? I have a friend who has spent 10 years restoring a car and although I’m not interested in cars to this degree, nor would I devote my time to restoring one, I still respect his passion and dedication. I think all of us to one degree or another have our own passions, that potentially might appear unusual to another person who doesn’t share that passion. I respect the fact that you only want to go so far in looking at the film, that’s your choice. I just don’t think it’s very fair to put someone down because they are very interested in something or to suggest that their behaviour is ‘disturbing’. You are right when you conclude that ‘Ms C and Aquaman are different people’. We are.

Goon
Guest

I guess I’d just prefer someone took this level of investigation to Exit Through the Gift Shop, which to me relies so much more on whether ot not it is a hoax to maintain any interest in it whatsoever. Waiting for someone to conclusively prove something and perhaps in the process out Banksy’s identity so people will stop talking about such a bland, poorly made film.

Ms Curious
Guest

Hi Kurt

Thanks for trying to explain Matt’s hostile behaviour by advising that I need to ‘understand that Gamble’s terse text is part of his ‘schtick.’ Sorry though, I just don’t get why anyone would want to come off looking like such a cock sure arse? You say you know Matt and he’s more ameniable in person, (this may well be the case). I do think he owes Aquaman and I an apology, though I doubt such will be forthcoming. I really think it’s a bit rich Matt spouting off claims that Aquaman and I are the same person without the slightest bit of proof. Just don’t get why there is such an issue because someone wants to look deeply into a film and why this has caused Matt to become so hostile. Thanks for your more balanced approach to this.

Ms Curious
Guest

Goon
To conclude whether or not the film is or isn’t a hoax requires investigation and annalysis. A gradual piecing together of informaiton and aspects that increase or decrease the level of probability. Are the inconsistencies in the film evidence of ‘poor film making’, do they support the notion that the film is a ‘hoax’? The detect the inconsistencies one has to look at the film in depth and ask ‘why did that happen, is there a purpose or was this unintentional’? I’m not sure what you mean by ‘exit through the gift shop’. Do you just want the goodies (as in the answers) quickly? Is that what you mean?

Ms Curious
Guest

Hi Aquaman
It seems that Matt believes us to be the same person. Both you and I know this is utter nonsense. Quite annoyed at his idiotic and unfounded allegation. He appears to be basing this on some style similarity he imagines we both share. He’s very scathing about this style too, ahhh…thanks for your literary criticism Matt, so very informing.

I applaud the level of research you have undertaken thus far on the film. Thanks so much for letting me know the name of the restaurant and the lake they went to (how you worked this out is incredible). I’m curious as to whether you’ve found out anything on the other little girl in the film (I couldn’t see any credits for her appearance), Laura. I thought it was interesting that Angela chose ‘Dawn Farms’ as the place she claimed Megan had gone to for re-hab, (Angela’s middle name is Dawn). It seems to match in with her m.o. (as in using the sir name of Gonzales) for Abby’s pet. A bit of truth mixed with a lot of lies.

Yes, I do have the film and have slowly been going through it a third time looking for more clues (only released in Australia a month or so ago). From my perspective the amount of symbolism in the film tends to suggest hoax (or at least in part). The symbolism is so elaborate that one feels that it would require an enormous amount of planning. Even the songs that were used are ‘perfect’, as in ‘All Downhill from here’ (depicts Angela’s emotions brilliantly. On the other hand, one tends to wonder why there are so many inconsistencies within the film, as you point out the mountains in a scene where there should be no mountains. Have you had any luck with the sirname ‘Wesselman’? I’ve found an alias Angela runs under ‘Macminion’. Have you done much research on her company Panorama? Anyway, look forward to chatting more with you and hopefully contributing some more information as I find things.

Matt Gamble
Guest

Matt should offer an apology as his post was beyond terse and was insulting.

Aquaman/Ms Curious,

I’m sorry that you feel the need to felate yourself on a public message board in order to satisfy your own needs.

All better?

Goon
Guest

if Aquaman and Ms Curious are so eager to prove they are different people, I could be of some assistance.

Tell me where you are from and what browser you are using, and then visit http://www.corey-pierce.com – I can check my statcounter and see if its two different people and if it lines up with what is claimed.

Andrew James
Admin

I think Matt’s comments are an insulting way at getting at what I sort of agree with. Whether or not Exit Through the Gift Shop and/or Catfish (or I’m Still Here for that matter) are “real” or not, is (for me) completely beside the point and the least interesting aspect of the films. So for some of us you have to understand that watching a film frame by frame several times is a little odd.

I’m much more interested in what the films have to say and the differing angles of entertainment the films provide. Whether or not it’s made up seems to me to be of no importance whatsoever.

Aquaman
Guest

Does this website have a designated Administrator or Manager? I don’t see any Terms of Use, but I would still like to make a complaint about the last few postings of Matt Gamble.

Goon
Guest

Pretty sure complaining isn’t gonna get you anywhere.

Aquaman
Guest

Most websites do not wish to have posts where people accuse others of fellating themselves.

How does this site prevent or stop a descent into insulting chaos?

Goon
Guest

You’re not making it any better by letting him distract you from why you’re here. If you can continue arguing with rot, do so, and ignore Matt. If you can’t ignore Matt, well Matt ain’t going anywhere, so…

Andrew James
Admin

See the FAQ for this site. About halfway down it asks if we ever modify, censor or delete readers comments. In general, the answer is no. We’ve been around for 3+ years and the commenters at this site usually do a pretty good job of policing themselves. If you’re offended by any of the comments on this site, we’re happy to listen to complaints, but unless it’s ridiculously out of control or over the top, you should probably just ignore people you’re not interested in hearing from. But Goon is right… Gamble isn’t going anywhere.

FAQ:
http://www.rowthree.com/FAQ/

Aquaman
Guest

Ms Curious wrote: “found numerous blogs written by Angela (though they seem to stop Dec 2010,”

She had her own art website/blog starting in 2007 onwards. If Nev had searched for her name (any variation of it) he would have found her site and seen that the Abby paintings were really done by her. He said he searched for Abby and her art and found nothing. If he had any brains he would have then looked for her mother online since she would have been the representative/agent for Abby.

You wrote: “listened to a pod cast where Angela mentions being able to see a street called Ridge street from her studio (however it looks to me as if Ridge st is too far off for her to see from there).”

I just looked and I’d say she could see a building on Ridge Street. I listened to the same podcast. She says when she is upstairs she can see her neighbor on Ridge. She probably has a clear view of a house or building over there that is 2 floors or higher. She’s only 2.5 blocks from Ridge and I think she is on a hill as well.

Interestingly, in that same podcast she said that she cannot discuss the contents of the film. That means she signed a legally binding non-disclosure agreement. Hmmm. What don’t they want her to tell us?

Were you able to find the farm in Gladstone on Google Maps? I can help you if you want.

You wrote: “On one hand, Vince doesn’t appear to be the brightest chap, then he comes out with an insightful story about carfish and cod (an allegory if you like) for Angela’s behaviour. Felt like he might have been spoon fed these lines (especially due to the blog by the runner about catfish and cod where the story that VInce tells appears almost word for word early 2007)”

I don’t know the exact context for what prompted Vince to tell that story. He may not have meant it to describe Angela or anyone in particular. We don’t hear what the guys said or asked of him before he goes into his fish monologue. I’ve read review sites where people said that Vince repeated that story as it is seen online. I compared the online version with his words and there is considerable variation.

I wonder what they told him they were filming for. They had the camera pointing right at him. We know they didn’t say it was a film about Angela’s lies.

“The romance between Nev and Megan reached quite an intense level.”

Or so we are led to believe. There’s no way to know if it was sincere. You basically have to take Nev at his word. He said he was hoping to move to Michigan to live with her on the farm. He went on to say that college hadn’t worked out for him and he wasn’t getting anywhere. But he had his own photography business and steady work including photographing the NYC Ballet. You can find many pictures of him and the two other guys mixing with the young and rich socialites in the Manhattan art scene. It’s odd that he would fall for Megan when he was constantly exposed to all the beautiful people around him.

“It seemed odd to me that it took him so long to get his act together to go and visit. Why not jump a plane a few months earlier?”

There are points in the film where you hear him mention attempts to get together. I seem to recall a message from Megan saying she’d see him soon (but long before Vail).

“I’m curious as to whether you’ve found out anything on the other little girl in the film (I couldn’t see any credits for her appearance), Laura.”

I’m not really interested in any info on her.

I will say that Nev did a couple odd things at that beach house. Remember this is supposed to be a stranger’s house where he has never been. Angela leads him into the house through an enclosed porch with her walking in front. Just before going into the main inside door he grabs something to his left (off camera) and moves it. Like he moves something sitting on a table on the porch. It sounds like he is hanging up a tabletop telephone receiver. Like a hard plastic on plastic clunk. As if he sees a phone “off the hook” and hangs it up. What is he messing with?
Then after he is inside and meets Abby he suddenly reaches over on a table and grabs what looks like papers and DVDs and rearranges them. Why is he messing with stuff inside these people’s house?

“Have you had any luck with the sirname ‘Wesselman’? I’ve found an alias Angela runs under ‘Macminion’. Have you done much research on her company Panorama?”

I haven’t researched those things other than finding she had various creative companies and ventures since at least 2007. She was doing art, writing and acting before contacting Nev. Her businesses seem to designate Marquette rather than Ishpeming.

I’ll give you a new tidbit to research. When Angela is sketching Nev she says a name that we hadn’t heard in the film. Megan LeCrone. Angela says she was going to put all her various Facebook profiles on Private after hearing from Megan LeCrone. Hmmm. Who is that and why didn’t they put the last name into the subtitles and what did this LeCrone say to Angela? I know who she is but you can have fun looking her up.

Goon wrote: “I guess I’d just prefer someone took this level of investigation to Exit Through the Gift Shop, which to me relies so much more on whether ot not it is a hoax to maintain any interest in it whatsoever. Waiting for someone to conclusively prove something and perhaps in the process out Banksy’s identity so people will stop talking about such a bland, poorly made film.”

I saw that film on streaming Netflix HD and enjoyed it. ETGS doesn’t seem to lend itself to the analytical critique and fact finding that Catfish does. But I know there are people who think that numerous aspects of that film are hoaxed or grossly misrepresented.

Andrew James wrote: “So for some of us you have to understand that watching a film frame by frame several times is a little odd.”

Maybe this is just sarcasm. I didn’t watch the entire film frame-by-frame. There are a few points in the film where you need to do that to see what is there. You even get to see the name of Nev’s actual NYC girlfriend for like only 2 frames when his Facebook quickly status flashes by on the screen… “In A Relationship With: her name”. It can’t be seen with the naked eye in real time.

Ms Curious
Guest

From my perspective it’s okay have a different point of view, a different level of interest in a subject and/or even a different focus on the same subject. It is not okay to insult other people just because they don’t approach a subject matter in the same way as another person does or because they display a level of tenacity that does not appeal to you. Matt, your attacks are completely unjustified and to date I have not seen one single posting from you that offers any great insight into the film (hoax wise or other). Feel free to chime in anytime with something relevant to the film that you may have to offer. You seem hell bent on only two themes (Insults and Schizophrenia). Your ‘pseudo’ apology is really ugly and I doubt there’s anyone on here who finds what you wrote even mildly amusing. Matt you need to stop listening to the voices in your head telling you to behave like this.

Andrew, no matter whether you’re into the hoax aspect or not, that’s fine. Perhaps you’d like to share some thoughts on the filmic elements, camera angles, use of lighting or if it’s the demographic target audience you’d like to discuss I’m up for that too. In respect to your comment about being ‘more interested in what the film has to say’, I did post some aspects in relation to the symbolism I found in the film and symbolism is a great way to look at what the film has to say. I’m very open to hearing any information from any perspective.

Andrew you wrote ‘for some of us you have to understand that watching a film frame by frame several times is a little odd’. Frame by frame watching is not as unusual as you might imagine: Directors, Producers, Editors, Academics all engage in frame by frame watching. This type of close annalysis enables one to locate flaws, study particular aspects of a film in isolation or as a whole, consider elements such as continuity, thematic unity, sub-text and the list goes on.

I’m really disapointed that hard work and research have been misconstrued and twisted to appear as some kind of ‘disturbing’ behaviour. What is ‘disturbing’ is Matt’s complete disregard for other people’s feelings.

Goon I’m in Australia, using internet explorer so by all means check into whether Aquaman and I are different people. I can assure you that we are different people and I’d love you reveal Matt’s claims as nonsense.

Anyway, I look forward to reading more on the film and less on Matt.

Goon
Guest

I actually have to agree I’m noticing the writing style is similar enough to see why someone would think you’re the same person.

Anyways yes I got a hit on my site logged from Australia. If Aquaman wants to visit http://www.corey-pierce.com and let me know where he’s surfing in from I can confirm such a claim and you can maybe settle this thing and move on, and hopefully ignore further diversions from why you’re here?

Even if you were the same person, I’d say unlike some of the Filmjunk trolls I’ve seen over the years, you’re writing something with substance that other readers surfing in may find interesting, even if some of us don’t, or even get sick of seeing in the front page sidebar.