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Mockumentary (a portmanteau of mock and documentary), is a genre of film and television, or a single work of the genre. Although a mockumentary may be one of the comedy genres, serious mockumentaries also exist. The mockumentary is presented as a documentary recording real life, but is actually fictional. It is a commonly used medium for parody and satire. They are often used to analyze current events and issues by using a fictitious setting around it.

Mockumentaries are often presented as historical documentaries with b roll and talking heads discussing past events or as cinéma vérité pieces following people as they go through various events. Examples of this type of satire date back at least to the 1950s (a very early example was a short piece on the "Swiss Spaghetti Harvest" that appeared as an April fool's joke on the British television program Panorama in 1957), though the term "mockumentary" is thought to have first appeared in the mid-1980s when This Is Spinal Tap director Rob Reiner used it in interviews to describe that film.[citation needed]

The false documentary form has also been used for some dramatic productions (and precursors to this approach date back to the radio days and Orson Welles' production of H. G. Wells' novel, The War of the Worlds).

Mockumentaries are often partly or wholly improvised, as an unscripted style of acting helps to maintain the pretense of reality. Comedic mockumentaries rarely have laugh tracks, also to sustain the atmosphere, although there are exceptions - for example, Operation Good Guys had a laugh track from its second series onwards.


[edit] Comedic examples

[edit] Film

[edit] Television

[edit] Series

  • Brass Eye, a series of mockumentaries by Chris Morris (UK, 1997)
  • Da Ali G Show, a mockumentary show about a wanna-be British rapper who asks the stupidest questions and lives in the suburbs (US 2003-2004)
  • Look Around You, a parody of educational TV (season 1) and documentary about "the world and future of science and technology" (season 2), set roughly 25 years before the actual release dates (UK, 2002 and 2005)
  • The Games, an Australian TV comedy that follows the mayhem and bureaucratic snafu faced by the organisers of the 2000 Sydney Olympics. (Australia, 1998 and 2000)
  • Jimmy MacDonald's Canada, lost episodes of a mid-1960s public affairs show hosted by Jimmy MacDonald who was played by Richard Waugh. The show combined new segments with authentic news and human interest archive footage. (Canada, 2005)
  • The Naked Brothers Band, starred two real-life brothers Nat and Alex Wolff and their real life friends about a teenage fantasy of a world-famous kids' rock band, with cameras following the band members everywhere they go. The series was based around the real-life band Nat and Alex formed back in pre-school. The series was created by their real-life mother actress Polly Draper, whom also wrote and directed the self-titled film, that became the pilot for the series. (US, 2007-2009)
  • The Office, British satire on white-collar management, later remade for US and other audiences (UK/USA, 2001/2005).
  • Operation Good Guys, a British satire of an incompetent police force (often seen as a precursor to The Office, see above).
  • People Like Us, a British radio and TV comedy, featuring an inept interviewer (played by Chris Langham), who interviews people in various jobs. (UK, radio from 1995 to 1997, and television series 1999 to 2000.)
  • Platinum Weird, a band formed by Dave Stewart and Kara DioGuardi, and the subject of a VH1 mockumentary.
  • Prehistoric Park, a six-episode mockumentary that depicts a hypothetical scenario whereby a time machine is used to create a wildlife park.
  • Reno 911! Comedy Central parody of COPS about an inept police force in Reno, Nevada.
  • Summer Heights High, an Australian TV mockumentary about three fictitious characters at a public high school. All three protagonists are played by the actor and show's creator, Chris Lilley. Two of the characters in this series are characters previously featured in two of Chris Lilley's past television shows, including "We Can Be Heroes". (Australia, 2005)
  • Trailer Park Boys, follows Julian, Ricky, and Bubbles, as they commit crimes, and hatch crack-pot schemes to make money, most of which are illegal and often involve growing marijuana.
  • Total Drama Island a Canadian TV mockumentary of reality shows about a group of teens competing for $10,000. The second series Total Drama Action will parody Films
  • We Can Be Heroes, an Australian TV mockumentary about five fictitious candidates nominated for the prestigious Australian of the Year Award. All five protagonists are played by the actor and show's creator, Chris Lilley. (Australia, 2005)
  • Gerhard Reinke's Wanderlust A travel show following the misadventures of a bumbling German backpacker as he travels the globe in search of reasonably priced culturally enriching experiences.

[edit] Specials & One-offs

[edit] Individual episodes

Sometimes an episode of an otherwise non-mockumentary series will be presented as a mockumentary.

[edit] Dramatic examples

[edit] Film

  • AFR (2007), a Danish mockumentary about the fictional killing of the Danish prime minister by his secret gay lover.
  • Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County (1998), a horror mockumentary that presents an "unedited" camcorder recording of a rural American family's encounter with aliens.
  • The Blair Witch Project, fictional story presented as non-fiction about three filmmaker's disappearances while making a documentary film about a supernatural being described in local folklore. (The backstory of the being, a witch, had no basis in fact, either.) Also see Curse of the Blair Witch.
  • Cannibal Holocaust (1980), perhaps the first horror mockumentary and a predecessor of the Blair Witch Project.[citation needed] It tells the story of film students who take a trip to the Colombian jungle and encounter cannibals.
  • C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, an alternate history in which the Confederates won the American Civil War.
  • Culloden (1964), a BBC "documentary" of the battle from 1746, presented as if cameras had been there to film it.
  • Dadetown (1995), a faux documentary along the lines of Roger & Me - conflict in a small town between a fading industry and an emerging one.
  • David Holzman's Diary (1968), one of the earliest examples of false documentaries. In it a young man creates a film "diary" of his life falling apart.
  • The Day Britain Stopped, detailing a series of events leading from a nationwide train strike in the midst of winter, forcing all Britain's motorways to become gridlocked. The lack of employees able to make it to work in turn leads to two aircraft colliding over London.
  • Death of a President, a fictional documentary presented as being produced in 2008 detailing the assassination of United States president George W. Bush on October 19, 2007.
  • Diary of the Dead George A. Romero's 2008 zombie film.
  • Fandom: A True Film (2004), a blend of documentary and mockumentary footage. Tells the story of an obsessed fan who travels to meet Natalie Portman and loses his mind along the way.
  • I Am a Purifier! (2002), a short film directed by Kiarash Anvari. Tells the story of a young Prostitute tries to adapt herself with two different layers of this film; fiction and documentary.
  • Interview With the Assassin, with Raymond J. Barry as a terminally-ill man claiming he, not Lee Harvey Oswald, killed President John F. Kennedy.
  • The Last Broadcast, a horror film — the first film to be shot, edited, and distributed digitally[citation needed] — in the form of a documentary about the mysterious disappearance of a pair of cable television producers.
  • Made in Secret: The Story of the East Van Porn Collective (2005), a fictional documentary about an anarcho-feminist porn collective.
  • The Magician (2005), an Australian mockumentary following the works of a hit man in Melbourne.
  • Il Mistero di Lovecraft - Road To L. (2005), an Italian horror mockumentary about H.P. Lovecraft coming to Italy in 1926.
  • Nothing So Strange, a fictional documentary about Citizens for Truth, an organization seeking further investigation into the 1999 assassination of Bill Gates.
  • No Burgers for Bigfoot (2007), a fictional documentary, spoofing the amateur filmmaking. From casting calls to, on locations shoots, to the film's premiere. No Burgers.. follows the director Michael Justice, and cast as they search for the Bigfoot inside us all.
  • Oil Storm (2005), a fictional documentary involving increased oil prices and a hurricane similar to Hurricane Katrina.
  • Punishment Park (1971)
  • REC (2007), a Spanish horror mockumentary about a news crew that while making an episode of their TV show runs into a mysterious and deadly infection.
  • The Second Renaissance (2003), a two-piece anime film and a part of The Animatrix. Presents fictional events leading to "machine rule" and to the Matrix series in documentary-style.
  • Supervolcano, a docudrama about the eruption of a Yellowstone volcano.
  • ...Va man dar khoshbakhti-e shirin be donya amadam! (aka ... and I was born to sweet delight!) (2000), directed by Iranian film maker Kiarash Anvari, is an experimental mockumentary in Samuel Beckett's style jumps from one time zone to another. Tells the story of a lonely man who films his daily life by an 8 mm camera and his lonely neighbour who talks about his daily life on reel tapes. They fill their lonliness in these ways.
  • The War Game (1966), a fictional, worst-case-scenario docu-drama about nuclear war and its aftermath in and around a typical English city.
  • The Forbidden Quest (1993), In 1931, an Irish film maker catches up with J.C. Sullivan, the carpenter and last surviving crew member of the Hollandia, a Norse ship that sailed in 1905 to Antarctica. The carpenter has old film footage to back up his tale of the events of the doomed ship.

[edit] Television

[edit] Specials

[edit] Individual episodes

  • The West Wing
    • "Access", a fake behind-the-scenes documentary about a day in the White House of President Josiah Bartlet, supposedly released after his term in office has ended.
  • The X-Files
    • "X-Cops", an episode made to look like an episode of the actual show COPS
  • ER
    • "Ambush", a fake documentary about a day in the ER shot by a PBS crew, and aired live.

[edit] Other Mock Films and Television

[edit] Reality Shows

[edit] News Shows

  • Special Bulletin (1983), was an NBC made-for-TV movie, which portrayed a live broadcast from a fictional American broadcasting network (Republic Broadcasting System, or RBS) on a nuclear terrorism incident in Charleston, South Carolina as they occurred. The realism of the broadcast caused a minor panic in Charleston at the time of its first airing, despite disclaimers shown after each commercial break.[citation needed]
  • Without Warning (1994), was another TV film in the form of a mock newscast. Produced by CBS, it covered an apocalyptic alien attack scenario as seen through the eyes of a network TV news crew. Like Special Bulletin, reports of panic were also associated with its broadcast.[citation needed]
  • Countdown to Looking Glass (1984), a cable-TV docu-drama presented as a series of news reports concerning an escalation in the Middle East between the US and the USSR, that eventually leads to nuclear war. (This film, however, isn't completely a documentary as it includes dramatic interludes).
  • Ghostwatch (1992), a BBC television special in which a fictitious "live" paranormal investigation goes awry.
  • Babylon 5

[edit] Found footage

Some films and shows take on the form of (fake) raw footage.

[edit] Filmographies

[edit] Footnotes

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

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