Written by Gedvile Bunikyte
13 Monday 13th December 2010

One of the big hits out of Sundance this year was Catfish. It follows Yaniv “Nev” Schulman, a New York photographer, and his correspondence with an eight-year-old Michigan girl named Abby; a young artist who paints one of Nev’s photos and sends him one of her prints. As their relationship develops Nev is introduced to a host of family and friends of young Abby — and a network of acquaintances via the social networking site, Facebook.  

Whether Catfish is the documentary it claims to be, or really a fiction story, as it's now accused of being, the film is entertaining and it looks like it was fun to make it. Three handsome young men with a camera on a Facebook journey leads to a big reveal at the end. Social networks are now the source of the start for most real relationships, as between Nev and Abby's older sister, Megan, who he photoshops alongside photos of himself to 'test' their compatibility (see below). Nev's brother along with his film-making partner document the entire story from Nev's end of the make-believe, but possibly real, online fairy-tale. Catfish has generated an impressive buzz since its premiere at Sundance so here at Don’t Panic we caught up with the main protagonist and the star of the film, Nev, to find out first hand what the hype is all about.

Hi Nev, how did the idea to make this film come about?
It was never our intention to make a film. Ariel and Henry film any and all things that interest them. My relationship with Abby/Angela/Megan was something they were simply keeping track of. We never thought it would turn into something so huge.
How would you describe the film?
It’s really tough. I usually say “it’s not like any other movie you’ve ever seen. It’s a comedy, a road trip adventure, a suspense thriller, and a human drama.”
There was some controversy over the question of “realness” of this documentary. What was your reaction to that?
Mostly confusion. I mean I understand the skeptics, but honestly we are just not smart enough to come up with a story this good.
Are you generally concerned with the concept of real in film and TV? Is it even possible at all?
The state of documentaries and reality television does trouble me a little. It’s frustrating how there are so many genres there are for fiction, but only one for real life. I think there need to be some new names for the fake docs and “reality tv” shows.
What was it like working with your brother?
The same as it’s been our whole lives. Mostly awesome, with occasional arguments that are quickly resolved by some shouting or a hug.
How much time do you spend on Facebook on daily basis? Any more weird stories from the Facebook world since the film came out?
I try not to spend too much time on the 'Book, but its impossible now with my fanpage, the Catfish Movie page, and my personal page. Now that I have 5000 friends and 459 unread messages, I tend to spend more time on it than I’d like. The truth is that Facebook is a great network for promotion and I’d be a fool not to use it at this point in my career.
What do you love and hate right now?
What’s next for you?
Good question. Developing a TV show about online dating with me as the host. Also putting together a photography show of my work.
Catfish is released on 17 December.

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  • Guest: marcoisapolo
    Wed 15 - Dec - 2010, 00:45
    This looks like a shit rip off of Four Eyed Monsters. 5 years too late.