This blog, brought to you by UPP Studios, discusses the advent of the mockumentary. Christopher Guest took the world by storm when he released "This Is Spinal Tap" in 1984. It was far ahead of it's time. Most people couldn't wrap their heads around the concept of the mockumentary. Upon it's release, there were many that thought that Spinal Tap was a real band, making it difficult for them to get the joke. The things satirized in the film were so realistic, as many rockstars are hyperboles of themselves, that they were mistaken for truths. It wasn't until much later that the film became a cult classic and the world realized how hilarious it really was. Christopher Guest went on to make many other films within the Mockumentary genre, each more ridiculous than the last.
Mockumentary filmmaking lends itself to improvisation as improv comes across as the most true and real form of performance, being that it is unscripted. As such, most mockumentaries have the highest caliber of improvisor. The cast members of the Christopher Guest films come from Second City, SNL and many other reputable comedy and theater communities. There seems to be a never-ending well of material that can be used to create mockumentaries because, if presented correctly, anything can have a comedic spin. This is a sentiment put to practice by comedian Jerry Seinfeld. A master of observation, Seinfeld is able to take the things we mindlessly do every day and shine a light on the many absurdities that exist within these things.
After the success of the genre in film, the mockumentary began to show up as a genre of television as well. While Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant were not the first to do mockumentary television, I believe they may have been the first to popularize it. In 2001 the two wrote and directed a series that aired on the BBC called "The Office." While the show received terrible ratings at first and was almost taken off the air, it went on to become one of the biggest shows the BBC has ever aired. After it's popularity in the UK, Greg Daniels adapted the series for American television. Although the original creators and executive producers Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant did happen to write the pilot episode of the American verson of the series, Greg Daniels is credited as the show runner for seasons one through four. After the fourth season of The Office, Daniels teamed up with one of the writers of the show and the two created Parks And Recreation. These two shows are easily the most notorious, most successful mockumentary series to ever appear on television.
UPP StudiosUPP Studios' first release was an original web series entitled "Actpartment." The series followed the mockumentary format and, as such, a lot of the show was improvised. Of course there was an outline that dictated the arc of the show, but the format allowed the actors to "play" during the scenes and in turn come up with some really awesome, funny, goofy, material. UPP Studios founders Adam C. Lively and David M. Goldman love to perform improvisational comedy. The two had a really great time creating Actpartment and the experience made the two want to create more material in the mockumentary format. As such, there is a new UPP Studios mockumentary web series currently in the works.
Even though they are extremely proud of the first season of Actpartment, Adam and David realize that it is far from perfect. There is always room for improvement, but the two also acknowledge the fact that they have grown exponentially as filmmakers since the creation of that first series. This is rather exciting for UPP Studios, as they are so much more aware of certain mockumentary techniques that are extremely conducive to the flow of the show. The boys are excited to implement many of these techniques. They are of the school of thought that every next release should be better than the last because there is something one can learn. Hopefully, when UPP Studios releases this new series, you will be able to make a clear distinction between the two works and see first hand how far they have come.
Thank you for your interest in UPP Studios. There is a new blog every Friday and an original new media sketch comedy video every Monday, right here at uppstudios.com, so stay tuned!