A copy of this film was sent to me by the wonderful people at the Unnamed Footage Festival.

    Film editing is an incredibly important tool. We honestly wouldn’t have film without it. Editing helps take all the chunks involved in the filming process and decides which goes or stays, when to cut and how, which order it all needs to go in, and so so much more. The fun thing about editing is that you can change things entirely based on how you do it, like how people have started taking nice, happy family film and editing together trailers that make them look like horror films. You can truly change something to the exact opposite of what it is through the power of editing.┬áSomeone could even take hours and hours of fun, family home videos and edit them into a Bonnie and Clyde style thriller based on a family committing fraud. And that is exactly what we have here.

    Fraud (directed by Dean Fleischer-Caan’t stop shopping.mp and edited by Jonathan Rippon) follows a family of four Americans who honestly just c The home footage is taken from the father as he shows us all the fun they have shopping at all the big brand stores. The family is constantly having fun after coming home with shopping bags full of clothes, electronics, even outdoor activities like skateboards and pogo sticks. Over time, though, we start to see the toll this excessive spending takes on the family with phone calls and emails from banks and card companies as they start to rack up debt. Eventually they decide to do the unthinkable: commit a crime that will get them tons of money back while essentially starting them over from scratch. There are, however, always consequences to acts such as these.
    This film is honestly so fascinating and at times difficult to really discuss. At it’s heart it really is two things. One of them is a crime thriller about a family and their money spending obsession, but it’s also a film made up of literal family home videos from 2008 through 2015. Camp found hundreds of hours of video and decided he could turn it into a mockumentary style film. So on the one hand, Fraud is an incredible work of art that explores the ways editing can effect anything, how just a few people can completely change the entirety of a story, and in that regard it can be considered an absolute masterpiece. It’s also a wonderful tale of the “American dream” gone to the extreme and a caution of our society’s obsession with materialism. The family is constantly going out and buying things, most times never fully happy after using them once or twice, and we even have an adorable video of their daughter singing a song with the lyrics “why don’t you give me a million dollars of Facebook.” Money is constantly being shown and addressed throughout the film, even in more subtle moments as the camera focusing just slightly too long on the money rolling up at the gas station.

    On the other hand, though, this film is literally made up of family shot videos. The camera angle shots are realistic, which does at times add a nice touch, but it also makes it really rough to watch. The “acting” is also that way. Since this wasn’t shot as a film, there’s a very obvious realism to the characters, but often times throughout the film the family doesn’t represent what is necessarily going on in the story. Speaking of story, that too gets rough at times. You can create this story and vision you have for the characters in the film, but since it’s not being written that way, you have many scenes that need expanding on that are barely touched. As a film of entertainment, Fraud often falls short.

    Overall, Fraud is just an absolutely fascinating piece. Editing together hundreds of hours of previously shot footage of a family just doing their day to day things is a massive feat that I give so much praise to. Dean Fleischer-Camp and Jonathan Rippon has created a total work of editing art. It’s a film that explores the nature of materialism and the “American dream” in such a well done and realistic way (also that ending is absolutely beautiful and heartbreaking), that it has to be applauded. Going into the film, however, I feel it almost necessary to know that this was originally just home movies, or else one might get bored and tired of the bland “acting” and “writing” scattered throughout. If you are a fan of first person cinema or at all fascinated by the creations one can make through the power of editing, I do suggest giving this one a shot.

    The Unnamed Footage Festival is a festival celebrating all that is First Person Cinema, such as Found Footage, POV, and Mockumentary style films. This year marks the third year for this San Francisco festival.

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