Have you heard of the so-called Upper Footage? No? If internet marketing and carefully placed YouTube videos are to be believed – and really, when are they not – it’s six hours of actual, honest-to-goodness found footage (BLECH) showing socialites and Hollywood B-listers boozing and blowing coke, culminating in the overdose death of one of their number. And a 90-minute cut is coming soon to a theater near you! Or, well, me.
It should go without saying: do not for one second believe any of this bullshit. The trailer above reeks of fake and not even very well done fake. The guy talking into the camera looks like he spent more time memorizing lines than snorting them and the camera itself is awfully steady for an amateur camcorder. To be fair, massive amounts of drugs and liquor do generally make for excellent cinematography.
And yet I support this endeavor because of, for all reasons, its marketing scheme. Viral videos are nothing new. Filming an ersatz documentary without leaving tangible evidence that it’s fictional has been tried many times since Blair Witch without much success. But the lengths to which the producers of Upper have gone to make their project appear authentic is staggering. Whoever is behind this – someone named Justin Cole is mentioned as the “filmmaker” on the movie’s website – has been dutifully seeding rumors and viral videos going back at least two years, even managing to trick one or two legitimate news outlets into commenting on the story (so long as you consider NY Daily News legit). But when you look at the list of sites that ran Upper stories last year – The Dirty, Radar Online, Entertainment Tonight – most seem susceptible to being fooled or, more likely, complicit in shameless product placement.
And then there’s the alleged involvement of Quentin Tarantino. Obviously Q was not cutting together a low budget thriller at the same time he was filming Django Unchained. But I could totally see that wacko agreeing to lend his name to a fledgling auteur’s ambitious project, albeit with total deniability.
Though I remain convinced this is only so much hooey, and that the finished product will be unconvincing and forgettable, for the nonce I am intrigued. I won’t be contributing to the movie’s Indiegogo campaign (almost certainly a red herring to make it seem like there are no investor dollars behind it), but I may just be tempted to see it when it hits the Landmark Sunshine Cinema here in New York at the end of the month.