"Fraud" and The Power of Editing

With technology progressing and making the creation of videos easier than ever, what truly separates professionals from amateurs? In my opinion, there are strong arguments for the underappreciated arts of lighting and audio recording. But technology is to a point where it is really closing the gap between amateur and pro in those areas.

But to my mind, the real differentiating factor is editing. A good editor can take whatever material is provided and weave them into a beautiful and compelling story. Software may change the mechanics and make the process more accessible to the masses, but it will still take a keen eye and good sense of story to make something truly incredible.

The truth is, editing is a powerful force.

**Spoilers Ahead**

Nowhere is this more evident than the recently released “documentary,” FRAUD. You may have noticed the quotation marks around that film description and they are there for a reason. FRAUD has been the center of quite a bit of controversy at several recent film festivals because it intentionally blurs the line between authenticity and artifice, all in the service of a compelling narrative.

The story behind the film is a bit murky, but my understanding is that director Dean Fleischer-Camp, most notable for his short film series “Marcel The Shell With Shoes On,” became interested in a YouTube channel featuring family videos of a very typical middle class family living somewhere in the eastern US. Though the family wasn’t remarkable in any true way, other than the fact that a huge amount of footage of them existed online, Fleischer-Camp decided to turn that footage into a film.

But this is no traditional documentary. Using mostly the footage found on this family’s YouTube channel, but sprinkling in some completely unrelated footage found on YouTube, Fleischer-Camp turned this family’s innocuous videos into a “found footage” film about an outlaw family trying to stay two steps ahead of the law before the money runs out.

It is a fascinating exercise in the power of editing. It proves, that taking even the slightest of liberties with the source material, can have enormous effects on the story being told. And in the era of “fake news” and “untruths” that is a lesson we’d all benefit from learning.

At Scofield, we love video, we embrace all of the exciting changes in technology making it easier for everyone to create, and we encourage everyone to hop on board the video marketing bandwagon. But we also realize that there is power in the craft of editing, and we take great care to preserve that.

Have you seen the film yet? Any thoughts?


Jason Cooper