The entire found-footage genre hinges on the ability to convince viewers that what they are watching (no matter how fantastical) is in fact “real.” Blair Witch Project had people freaked to go out into the woods at night, while Paranormal Activity convinced people (the more ‘imaginative’ ones, at least) that creaks in their home and drafts in the night were evidence of real supernatural activity. Even second (third?) generation found-footage films like Chronicle give something as impossible as telekinetic superpowers a real-world grounding people are more willing to accept, even while questioning their eyes.
However, found-footage is about to take on a whole other beast with the release of The Upper Footage. This time, the debate won’t be about real vs. fake ghosts – this will be a debate about whether we’re watching a real ghost in the making, and so much more surrounding that hot-button issue.
The background on this film is a sordid affair, to say the least. Here’s the official synopsis, then we’ll get into the deeper details of this strange tale:
‘THE UPPER FOOTAGE’ is the first film experience of its kind. The film is an edited version of 393 minutes of recovered footage documenting a young girl’s tragic overdose death and subsequent cover up by a group of affluent socialites. What started as a blackmail plot played out over YouTube, became Hollywood’s biggest drug scandal, turned into a heavily controversial film property that was rumored to be held by some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Now, after playing itself out in the media for 3 years it is finally making its way to the public.
Some quick digging into the subject matter reveals a story from 2009, in which “affluent New Yorkers” Blake Pennington, Will Erixon, Taylor Green and Devon Petrovsky left a nightclub bar with a young woman who was never seen alive again. In 2010, a video called “Socialite Overdose” hit YouTube, depicting four young men with pixilated faces standing over a pixel-faced girl who was overdosing in the bathroom of a what is asserted to be Pennington’s NYC apartment. The video was blackmail, part of a 393-minute reel that Pennington had allegedly shot on the night of the woman’s disappearance.
In 2011 more clips from the video surfaced (and were quickly pulled), this time said to feature some popular young celebrities partying with Pennington and co. over a mountain of cocaine. At that point the story hit the media radar – despite all info about Pennington and his three friends having been clean-swept from the Internet just a short time after the young woman’s disappearance.
The story and celebrity connections were curiously dropped by the media – until filmmaker Quentin Tarantino allegedly purchased the rights to the entire tape that same year (2011), and began production on a documentary and featurette called Upper, said to be a scathing inditement of the upper class’s ability to circumvent justice. Tarantino released a trailer in September 2011; however, shady behind-the-scenes backlash had him suddenly pulling the trailer from the Web and killing the film. In October 2011, a cryptic message appeared on the Upper movie site proclaiming that ”we” were now in possession of the footage – with no explanation of who “we” is, exactly. Strange stuff.
Now the movie is making rounds in full exposé (i.e., no more blurred faces), under the “direction” of one Justin Cole – whose face is, ironically enough, now pixelated for anonymity on his IMDb page. The question in all this is: Are we seeing actual evidence of a massive cover up? Or is his just yet another way Hollywood is exploiting the “authenticity” of found-footage to create a buzz for a movie?
You can find out for yourself: The Upper Footage will be released on the Web starting at Midnight November 21st. Buy “Tickets” HERE.
Source: Upper Official Site