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A friend in college told me that studying film soured him on his major. Everything was too expensive to make, and he was much more interested in art that was accessible.
Today, art has the opposite problem: You can film a whole movie on your phone and enter Sundance, but poorly regulated streaming platforms offer egotistical, tone-deaf, amateur, and paranoid content at every click. Some of it damages the very societal fabric of democracy, to boot.
That’s why I liked the recent NYU film grads who made Fake News at Night, a webseries about nothing that doesn’t bother with political satire and actively avoids the T-word. Like a good post-hardcore band, they’re thrifty, well-organized, and work hard around shared goals. When I was invited to cameo on the webseries, playing myself (a person who works in the news business), the six-person team of DIY script supervisors and directors sprinted through the day’s work to maximize the meager operating budget they’d pooled. It was downright punk.
As creator Brian Baldocchi writes on Facebook, the comedy series is “news, but with no consequences” because “it’s all made up.” Watching the news, whether timelines or TVs, is so stressful these days, Baldocchi told the Daily Dot, and so the gag should be to sidestep Alec Baldwin-style impersonations and make jokes about universal punching bags like Elon Musk and energy crystals. The comedy is more loose and sketch-oriented than post-Daily Show stuff by contrast.
BREAKING NEWS: Astrology is real. Here are the facts.
BREAKING NEWS: Astrology is real. Here are the facts.Update: "Outer Space," Moon, and Aliens also confirmed. ***NOT Sponsored by GoPro (but open to the idea)*** Like/Follow Fake News at Night for New Episodes EVERY Wednesday (until we get shut down).FOLLOW us on: http://www.instagram.com/fakenewsatnight for bonus content.FOLLOW us on: http://www.twitter.com/fakenewsatnight for bonus content.Presented by: New America DigitalCreated by Brian BaldocchiStarringMelan SalinasJake BurbageLaura NelsonWritten by: Christina CordanoDirected by: Brian BaldocchiDirector of Photography: Grant DuncanProduced by: Caroline De QuesadaEditor: Asher PinkAdditional Story Material: Sabina Meschke(Full Crew List available on IMDB).Important Links:https://www.instagram.com/brianbaldocchihttps://www.instagram.com/newamericadig/https://www.instagram.com/pharaohsantanahttps://www.facebook.com/PharaohSantanaPosted by Fake News at Night on Tuesday, November 13, 2018
He told me that one of the Tangerine creators, a film famous for being shot via an iPhone, once guest-lectured his class. Baldocchi thought it was disingenuous that this person wouldn’t admit that the iPhone angle also doubled as a marketing gimmick and helped the film find an audience. As a result, the show makes absurdist Facebook statements like “Fake News at Night would like to make it public, that we are the first show in the history of the world to shoot exclusively on GoPro.”
In the season finale, which has garnered more than 175,000 Facebook views since debuting recently, the series gets shut down because its host (played with fast-talking wit by rapper Melan Salinas) runs out of money and gets buried under false promises, Fyre Fest-style.
Correction: This article previously misspelled Brian Baldocchi’s surname.
Ramon Ramirez is the news director, and formerly the Dot's entertainment editor and evening editor. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, Grantland, Washington City Paper, Austin American-Statesman, and Austin Monitor.