‘The Upper Footage’ Trailer: Real Death on the Movie Screen?

Published 1 year ago by , Updated April 15th, 2014 at 11:23 am,

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.

The Upper Footage Trailer Movie 2013 The Upper Footage Trailer: Real Death on the Movie Screen?

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

Follow Kofi Outlaw on Twitter @ppnkof
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  1. Hmm.

    I have a feeling this could end up similar to Cannibal Holocaust or The Poughkeepsie Tapes where real life events are fabricated as part of the eventual movie’s appeal and “realistic” setting (like the Cannibal Holocaust director having to void all contracts he made the actors sign to stay out of public view for a year after the movie’s release to avoid being charged with murder in an Italian court because they believed the movie to have actually happened and caught real deaths on film).

    Seems interesting though, I’ll give it a watch at some point.

  2. I’m fascinated, who were the celebrities partying with them I wonder?

    • I as well want to know which celebs were involved.

      • I should imagine they are confusing the words socialites and celebritys.

      • I might have fallen for this crap 15 years ago. Just giving the internet a wipe down.

  3. Kofi-

    Do you buy this? I wish this would have caught your guy’s last podcast. This would be crazy if it is true?

  4. Pfft, this is scary? I’m more scared of the massive coverup right in our face by our government.

    Sounds interesting though.

  5. Not buying it.

  6. Hmm, if it’s not true then it’s one hell of a publicity stunt.

    • + a blank check


  7. Wow. The effort this took is immense. Very amped to see this film.

  8. Kudos for taking viral marketing to a new level, and diluting any remaining trust in modern media even further in the process, but I’m sure the final (fake) result will not be worth the effort and consequences. Nothing to see here.

  9. Seems like this Blake Pennington is a real guy:


    • Wouldn’t take much to post a few fake articles, same goes for the comment above.

      • Or below.

    • Poor guy. Seems like he got screwed over pretty hard.

    • Sounds like a forced response to throw people off IMO.

  10. Fake.

    • It’s as fake as those old Faces Of Death videos but still, the fun is questioning yourself as you watch, not instantly crying “fake” and ignoring the movie.

      • +1

  11. Unbelievably entertaining lead up to what hopefully proves to be a fun tormenting game!

  12. I think someone else nailed it: this movie is a not the real footage, but is based on the actual event. It has the unique circumstance that it’s viral marketing has already been done, and built up over 4 years of mystery.

    • Sort of like that movie Welcome To The Jungle that was based on four young people trying to find Michael Rockefeller and wanting to bring him back home for the financial reward so they can get rich off it.

  13. How could it be real footage? Wouldn’t that be tantamount to a snuff film? Illegal as far as I’m aware?

    • Exactly.

      There are sites out there showing actual deaths and suicides (seen some on Youtube too) but as long as it’s not for profit, I think it can be shown, though I don’t know the exact rules.

      Considering this is a movie with paying audiences? Yeah…

      • I’m not 100% on the legal side of it either however the individual/individuals involved with supplying the drugs would certainly face prosecution as would the people filming the event taking place without contacting the authorities in due course. Following that trail of thought the footage would be held as evidence against them, not covered up and later released for profit.

        • Yep.

          Like I said in the first comment, it’s all reminiscent of the murder charges the Cannibal Holocaust director faced until he had to prove it was a movie and no one died (apart from the animals they did kill during the making of it).

  14. Apparently this is not REAL. Here it is http://ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com/76009054.html. The Source link at the end heads to the facebook page of the movie (yes is the official facebook page) which i am currently reading to see if i can find this entry.

    • If you search it on the facebook page you won’t find it but when you google it and cache it you can see the original post on March 6th saying its fake from the director or rights holder or whatever you want to call him Justin Cole.

  15. i like the viral marketing strategy

    • I do as well, I’m just not understanding why or even how people think it might be real?

      • there is a sucker born every minute

        • And one dies to, on film for entertainment apparently! ha

      • I remember my sister asking if Paranormal Activity was real because her friends were convinced it was and didn’t believe her when she said it wasn’t.

        Likewise, a friend of mine was convinced Blair Witch was real and pointed to a documentary on the witch that aired on TV before the movie’s release as proof.

        Then I’ve seen comments from people who thought Saddam Hussein’s execution video wasn’t real so works both ways apparently lol

        • Welcome to the internet… You will meet all sorts of crazies online, lots of them spread rumors about me too!

          Want proof? https://www.facebook.com/michaelbayisterrible http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20130328152002AAc8c8R


        • People like to spread rumors about things all over the internet, example, how the holocaust actually happened, we landed on the moon, and if I suck or not. You all suck. Not me.

          —————SPOILER ALERT!!!—————-


          • 2/10 boooo

        • My sister was convinced the Blair Witch was real, well she may of been on the fence but when I started leaving rock/stick formations outside the front door knowing she was in the house alone she certainly did!

          Kept leaving 7 days messages for her after she watched the ring as well, these traditions still crop up around Halloween and it still gets to her.

          • Haha, nice.

            I almost got punched out for doing the death rattle down the phone to a friend after we saw the US remake of The Grudge.

            • not funny man, i’m jumpy

              after watching Final Destination while driving home from the theatre everyone was quite in the car, scared of doing something that might alter this timeline hahaha

              • Wow, I’d contribute further to this brief discussion on the effects of movies on people’s fears but apparently, two efforts so far have come up with zero posts on the subject.

  16. This is all really intriguing, not sure how I never heard about this until now. Well there goes my afternoon searching this s***…

  17. “this will be a a debate about whether we’re watching a real ghost in the making”

    You have a typo there.

    Also, I am not sure if I would want to watch this or not. Sounds interesting though.

  18. Now that I’ve read the dread central link, why don’t we speculate who this actress is or who her family is? Clearly she had to hve known how controversial this was going to be. There are a ton of people that come to this site, (granted her face is blurred), is there any chance any of you have seen this flick?

  19. Sounds like a bunch of BS to me, everyone thought Joaquin Phoenix had gone nuts and wanted to become a rapper for like a year, then it turned out it was all a stunt for a movie, this is all just some clever marketing strategy that was probably thought out a few years ago! Hollywood would never release a movie that would turn out to be actual footage of a crime or death or alien invasion, it just wouldn’t, that type of stuff stays online with everything else that tries to infect your computer!

  20. The new age Blair Witch Project. Create a bunch of fake news websites, pay the actors to go along with the marketing scheme and wait for the sheep to head to the big screen, LOL. I will be glad when this found footage phase goes away. I would have been more excited about this if they made a movie that was filmed great and then at the end they said it was based on actual events, i.e. Texas Chainsaw

    • Found footage has been a “phase” that goes in and out of fashion for decades, much like 3D movies. Cannibal Holocaust from 1980 is generally considered the first found footage movie.

      I love the genre myself and don’t think we’ve had enough of it while still awaiting some movies that blow me away like Cloverfield, Grave Encounters and Chronicle did.

    • @JaredDace Yeah IMDB, Entertainment Tonight, New York Daily News. Those all are surely fake websites right? I yearn for the days where trolls actually had some intelligence.

      • Those were paid off as explained in articles about the movie around the web. ET could have been paid to go along like it was done with The Blair Witch project. IMDB isn’t a reliable source. They were the ones that said a certain actor would make their appearance in an episode for TWD but has yet to appear. New York Daily News is the only creditable source but I have yet to find the new article that says this is all real. I’ve found one that says “potentially based on real events” but nothing that says it’s real.

  21. Oh great, a found-footage version of Very Bad Things. The finished result will probably be as edifying as watching a dog roll in carrion, and we’ll be getting the “unseen footage too dangerous to show” sequel in a year’s time. Pathetic. Not interested.

  22. Amazing how these “found footage” films always have sufficient lighting, sound and framing…

  23. It’s 2013, is this really still working ?

  24. Fake! Read Here.

  25. zzzZZZZZZZZzzzzzzz… oh, sorry, i nodded off when the studio was explaining its “guerilla” campaign.. “plant little fake backstory details in our usual outlets and let popculture ournalists uncover them to establish authenticity”… instead of stale found-footage retreads, how ’bout something fresh and original?

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