Interview: ‘Catfish’ Filmmakers Get Real About Their Documentary

You take people at face value and it’s like this is what you’ve presented and I have no reason to doubt that. Until things progress to the point where you’re like, wait a second, here’s this other song. There’s always the one lynchpin, but aside from that there’s no reason to suspect that she’s anything other than what she purports herself to be.

Rel: It was so much nicer than meeting like another defensive New Yorker, another judgmental, defensive New Yorker. This whole family was just like so open to all of his best qualities and they were looking to make friends. And he sort of was like well that’s a better perspective on life.

Henry: It could have been disastrous what we found. You know, it could have been like a nightmare.

I think one of the more horrific scenes is where you’re pulling up to the barn in Gladstone. It’s late at night anyway, which is automatically scary. You’re somewhere you’ve never been, that you’ve driven from Chicago all night and you don’t know what you’re going to find. I don’t know, how terrifying is that? It seems terrifying in the film, I guess I’m just kinda assuming it must have been the same for you.

Nev: Somehow, fear was not on my radar. I was just…

You were just looking for the truth.

Nev: That was some of the impulsivity that has gotten me into situations like this in the past. Which is just like, we’re here let’s do it. Like don’t ask questions, just go for it.

Henry: Drive into the driveway, do it.

Rel: I had never been more scared in my life.

OK, good, I’m glad someone else had the same reaction I did.

Henry: That’s why I wanted to back into the driveway cause I was like in a second a light’s going turn on in the house and a guy’s gonna run out with a shotgun and I’m gonna have to peel out, so I wanted to be pointed in the right direction.


Rel: But he was so brave that he sort of psyched us up. It’s like, he’s already out of the car, better catch up. And then there was always this like sort of dream that if shit did hit the fan and we died, that there would be footage, and that maybe this would be like a Grizzly Man.

So instead of a documentary you’ve got a nice found footage movie.

Rel: Yeah, like Grizzly Man, that’s one of our favorite movies of all time. So at one point in Colorado we started sending footage home. Just in case. So that they would have some of the background.

Henry: Yeah, to our editors.

Understandable but kinda paranoid.

Rel: Yeah.

Totally with justifiable reasons.

Henry: We didn’t know what was going to happen you know.

Are there things you wish you could back and change about how you handled the situation? Like if you had it do over again would you do the same things?

Henry: There’s only one thing I would change, and that’s recording your [Nev’s] voicemail messages.

Nev: Oh gosh yeah that’s it. I had an iPhone and Megan had left me 6 or so longer messages that were particularly interesting or had to do with some event that had taken place in her life that I had been saving for months.

Henry: We just slacked off.

Nev: We hadn’t recorded them yet. And then one day they were gone. And I called Apple, and I was just like “uh, what happened to my voicemails?” And they said, “oh, sometimes the iPhone needs memory to run an application and it default clears your voicemail.” And I was just like “that’s it, they’re just gone?” And she was like “sorry.” And we never got ‘em.

Henry: But that would have been so great at the end of the film.

Nev: Yeah, oh, “beep, call me.”

Do you still think about it?

Nev: Those voicemails?

Well I mean, the whole thing. It seems like the type of thing that would pervade your thoughts for awhile, do you get to the point where you can just kinda look at it…

Nev: It’s interesting, now I almost only remember it as a movie. You know how when you’re a kid something happens to you and you were a little too young to really remember, but you remember the story that your parents told you. And so you tell the story like it’s your memory. Or from a photo…

Henry: Right. Yeah, you’re like, “yeah, I think I remember that.” But you just remember the photo.

That’s how it feels already?

Nev: That’s sorta how it feels now, because they will constantly bring things up, details from the emails or…cause they spent so much time studying it. And for me it was an email that I wrote two and a half years ago, I don’t remember what I said. But they read it three or four times. They know it better than I do. And they’re constantly sort of reminding me of things I had forgotten about cause you just don’t remember everything. It wasn’t something I was studying, it was an experience I was having.  So I’m really glad that the film exists…

Rel: It’s a document.

Henry: A record.

Nev: Yeah, it’s an important part of my life.

So going forward do you see yourself staying friends with Angela and continuing that relationship?

Nev: Yeah, I mean I…hope that you know…in a strange way our lives will forever be…


Nev: Linked. And my attitude towards anybody that I’m involved with is I hope that it’s a positive link. You know?  And I think she’s a talented, very creative, smart, passionate person. And yeah, I hope that we can continue to correspond and collaborate even at some point and stay friends.

What do you guys hope to continue doing?  Do you want make another film, what’s on the table for you? Obviously you’re probably caught up with this.

Henry: Right now we are, yeah. I mean we have…

Do you want to keep going with documentaries, do you want to kinda dip into narrative?

Rel: There’s too much pressure on it. We love docs, we consider ourselves documentary filmmakers, but it would be so hard to top this one right now. Especially if you were looking for it. So…maybe I’ll write a movie.

Henry: We’re reading scripts, people are sending us scripts, now…

Rel: Yeah, we’re looking for stories.

Henry: Which is strange.

Luke Mullen has a beard.

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