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F is for Fake: Precursor to Reality TV?

pfischer's picture

While watching this film I was struck by the editing - the splicing in of different shots in an almost frenetic way gave the movie a fast pace and a flashy air. The editorial presence of Welles himself was strong as well, and he was shown in some scenes to be sitting at his editing desk going over the footage. The heavy emphasis on editing coupled with the disputed 'real-ness' of the film made me think that I was watching the first example to reality TV, or perhaps the inspiration behind the kind of programs we see today.

Reality shows are usually arranged in a game-style format or in a 'true life' observation style, and F is for fake would definitely fall into the 'true life' category. The scene where Kodar walks down the street and is observed by a number of men is filmed by a camera unseen to the male subjects, and their reactions are 'real' and unscripted. Much of the movie appears to be unscripted and based off of informal interviews, sort of like the confessional box in reality shows such as the Jersey Shore and Real World. The confessional box allows reality show participants to explain their dubious behavior to an audience in an attempt to appear sympathetic, I believe that the interviews in Welles' documentary did the same.

Additionally, editing on reality shows is the most important component of those programs. Camera crews follow the subjects constantly and capture everything from the exceptional to the inane. The 'ratings gold' comes from thoughtfully and sometimes deceptively editing cuts of different events, spliced with confessional box narratives from the participants. F is for fake uses the same technique to present the story as exceptional, exciting, and tongue in cheek. Welles is certainly more clever than most of the reality TV editors today, and his film was artfully done and interesting to watch, but I couldn't help thinking of all of the 'bad' TV I've watched.



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