Catfish Filmmaker Interview

Exclusive: Geeky Tech Details From the Making of Catfish

The first time I saw the trailer for the movie Catfish, I didn't think it was real — it's unlike any trailer I've seen. But after heading to an advance screening of the film, which opened in select cities over the weekend, I learned firsthand that it is real.

Without giving away too much (as the film's tagline says "Don't let anyone tell you what it's about"), the film is shot on nontraditional movie cameras — mostly point-and-shoot — and incorporates apps like Google Maps, Google Earth, and lots and lots of Facebook. I had a chance to chat with the filmmakers and stars of the movie, brothers Ariel ("Rel") and Nev Schulmann and friend Henry Joost, and chat about some of the technical aspects of the movie. Check out a few interesting facts from my exclusive interview (don't worry, no spoilers!) after the jump.

  • The film was shot almost entirely on portable cameras: the Canon TX1 and Samsung NV24HD. They also used an Olympus underwater camera to film the movie's swimming scene. And according to Rel, "It never worked after that."

  • Because so much of the action took place online and on the phone, Rel and Henry had to come up with innovative ways to capture the action and make sure it sounded good. "At first I'd make him put the phone on speaker and film really closely so the audio was good," says Rel. "A lot of the time we're shooting with two cameras but using one as a microphone."

    "Then we came up with this really innovative solution," says Nev, who used an iPhone in the film. "When I was on the phone I would wear headphones and have one in my ear and we'd put the other headphone on top of the mic in." It worked!


  • Henry and Rel used Final Cut Pro on a MacBook Pro to edit the film, but when it came time to ready it for wide release, they had to turn to the pros. Henry recalls sitting in on a session at Technicolor. "This is probably the first film that Technicolor has had that's been shot on cameras like this," he says. "We'd be sitting in these big fancy color correction suites and I'd be like, 'By the way, that's the camera we shot the movie on sitting on the desk there.' And they couldn't believe it."

  • Technology also had a starring role in the film, and applications like Gmail and Gchat assume the role of a narrator. "Instead of a talking head we used Internet applications. They are very much a character in the movie," says Rel. "And we think they look great. We've shown the movie at Google headquarters, and everyone who worked on each application, the creators of Gmail, the creators of Gchat, they were really psyched to see their creations on screen."

For more on Catfish, check out TresSugar's interview with the creators — just don't tell anyone what it's about!

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