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Abby pierce catfish

Maintaining privacy in the digital age is no easy feat — particularly if you are the subject of a movie.

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But Wesselman-Pierce comes off in a far more questionable light. Or do they have the artistic license or even duty to share her bizarre story? The painting is based on his photo, and Schulman is impressed with it. He begins a friendship with the girl via telephone, e-mail and Facebook. Over the course of eight months, the two share intimate phone calls, text messages and photographs. Eventually, Schulman decides to pay her a surprise visit.

The Schulman brothers and Joost pile into a car with their cameras and head to Ishpeming, a town of fewer than 7, in the remote Upper Peninsula of Michigan. But those who have seen the movie know that the guys from New York quickly learn that things in Ishpeming are not as they seemed online. Enter Wesselman-Pierce, a middle-aged married woman who was actually the one corresponding with Schulman all along — taking on multiple Facebook personalities, posting fake pictures online, and affecting a higher-pitched, sexy voice on the telephone.

The filmmakers catch Wesselman-Pierce on camera telling other lies, including when she says she has cancer. You have to understand where we live, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan — it seems far-fetched that this so-called person would be from here.

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Some local artists heard about the movie and really had no idea who she was. She decided not attend Sundance in January, Nev Schulman said, because it was too difficult to travel with her disabled son. She has a voice, and she wants to be heard. Obviously, I completely understand her feelings of — not remorse, but in some ways, embarrassment that this is how her chance at being heard has come about. Schulman said he believes that, in a way, Wesselman-Pierce wanted to be found out, which is why she allowed herself to be filmed and why she signed a consent agreement so readily.

Schulman said the filmmakers paid for a lawyer to represent Wesselman-Pierce and her husband to make sure they fully understood what the film entailed. Amy Kaufman covers film, celebrity and pop culture at the Los Angeles Times. Hot Property. About Us.

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Brand Publishing. Times News Platforms. Times Store. Facebook Twitter Show more sharing options Share Close extra sharing options. Amy Kaufman. Follow Us twitter instagram email facebook.Please refresh the page and retry. The object of his affection was a woman he had never met, but they exchanged emails and voice messages, MP3s and pictures.

Megan was model-pretty, a sensitive musician with an artist kid sister, and Nev was enraptured. The Circlewhich debuted last night, sees eight contestants living together in a large block of flats, but only interacting with each other online. I t is, for better and for worse, the most millennial reality series in existence, drowning in emojis, text speak and Snapchat vernacular.

It is also, in its full-blown dystopian horror, incredibly fascinating. But it similarly works as a natural heir to Catfish, only with the same elaborate ruses actively cheered on rather than condemned. W hen the original Catfish documentary was released init garnered immediate buzz due to its sheer novelty. With Facebook then in its mass-market infancy and social media still generally seen as an unknowable curio rather than a destructive hellscape, the idea of creating an entirely false life to fix the parts of yourself broken by the outside world was vast in its implications.

Even viewed today, the extremities of the duplicity on display was shocking. Catfish begins innocuous enough. Schulman is filmed interacting via email with an eight-year-old girl named Abby, who had sent him a picture she drew of a photograph Schulman had snapped for a newspaper.

B ut then others join the conversation, among them a network of family members connected to Abby, including her older sister Megan, a lonely virgin who dreams of escaping her quiet Michigan home to launch a career as a musician in the big city. The pair exchange emails, texts and talk on the phone, and Schulman confesses to his brother Ariel, who is filming the entire thing, that he has fallen for her.

O n an impromptu trip to Michigan to surprise Megan, they are met by Angela, who eventually confesses that she had orchestrated the entire online interaction with Schulman from the very beginning, crafting personalities, voices and digital lives for Abby, Megan and the strong community of associates interacting with them online.

Cute stories they may be, but their worth as actual movies is questionable. But the reaction was far kinder when she pretended it was the work of an eight year old girl. Wesselman explained that her online interaction with Schulman had reawakened her passion for painting, even if she was worried about having to one day explain to the real Abby how the experience came to be.

C atfish was enough of a success to convince MTV to create a spin-off series, with Schulman and co-host Max Joseph roaming America and unearthing numerous incidents of people being deceived online.

abby pierce catfish

Its first season was, in many respects, quietly revolutionary, documenting how catfishing can sometimes provide salvation for those on the fringes of society, among them trans youth or individuals forced to conform to fit in.If you've already seen the documentary "Catfish," or encountered any of the fervid media coverage surrounding the film, then you already know how difficult it is to write about it without giving away its so-called secrets.

I'm not even going to try. As I see it, the story has become primarily about how people react to the movie's twists and turns, and what that may or may not tell us about honesty and veracity in the new-media age.

So if you haven't caught "Catfish" yet or haven't heard much about it and would like to preserve that innocence, I suggest you go elsewhere.

I was in Toronto when the film opened and didn't review it for release, but no critic faced the "Catfish" challenge more imaginatively than Dana Stevens of Slate, whose review features embedded hyperlink revelations you can either read or ignore. Basically, Dana shifted the spoiler onus to the readers, which is pure genius -- but did even one person read her review while avoiding a peek at the pop-ups? Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman have said that certain expository scenes and screen captures in "Catfish" were re-created after the fact, because the decision to make a film about Ariel's brother Nev Schulman's troubled Facebook love affair came relatively late in the story.

That awkwardness may explain, in part, the alarm bells some viewers keep hearing in the movie, despite the filmmakers' insistence that the story itself is entirely true.

`` Catfish `` Directed By Henry Joost And Ariel Schulman

At this point, Joost and the Schulmans have been accused of punking the audience in any number of ways: Maybe the whole thing is fictional, maybe they have exaggerated and distorted real events, maybe they took a germ of truth and used it to set a cruel, reality-TV-style trap for their star antagonist.

The three young men who made this slippery, inexpert and totally addictive movie have also been accused of being "supremely douchey," which is not a charge that can be objectively rebutted.

Thing is, the others aren't either.

abby pierce catfish

I am not remotely arguing that there is no such thing as truth -- as filmmaker Errol Morris has said, people who believe that should go to prison for a crime they did not commit. But when you tell a story that's about false identity and self-delusion and the shape-shifting magic of the modern media -- a story that strongly evokes both real-life hoaxes and works of fiction -- and you do not command the boundaries of your story with confidence, you can't be shocked when people think you're bullshitting.

It's easy, in hindsight, to say that when Nev Schulman got a painting in the mail that was based on a newspaper photograph he'd taken -- a painting supposedly made by an 8-year-old girl in rural Michigan -- he could and should have known better. This is almost your last chance to bail out without learning too much! Still, the picture is impressive and flattering no matter who painted it, and there seems little risk in exchanging a few e-mails with Abby, the prodigal 8-year-old, who is Internet-chaperoned by her friendly and attractive mom, Angela.

As we see in the film, Angela's older daughter, Megan, then joins the mix, and she turns out to be a lonely, gorgeous year-old with musical and artistic ambitions, who is endlessly impressed by this handsome and successful stranger from the big city.

Anyone and everyone who sees "Catfish" will strongly suspect from the outset that all is not exactly what it seems to be with Abby and Angela and Megan, and that was true from the film's first screenings at Sundance. If anything, the early part of the film is about Nev's willing and even willful desire to be deceived, or at least to play along with the pulchritudinous possibilities. My life was in limbo. I was unbelievably self-convincing," Nev told New York magazine.

Those who feel that Nev's reaction fails the smell test are not giving the filmmakers, or the human capacity to believe highly improbable things, quite enough credit. They look at this guy and see a plugged-in, prepped-out, good-looking Manhattanite with a burgeoning media career.

If you look at him and see instead a year-old kid -- a person experiencing the first flush of adulthood, who, like year-olds throughout history, is consumed with his own emotional dramas and imagines himself as the hero of a whirlwind romance out of Jay Gatsby's back catalog -- you might be more forgiving. Furthermore, Nev's upscale New York-ness is also a limitation, a form of parochialism.

He has said that he Googled Abby's family and found no evidence that they existed, but simply concluded that folks in Ishpeming, Mich. This is where the film gets itself in trouble, engaging in some clumsy shorthand storytelling and apparently forcing the audience to choose between two unappealing conclusions: Either Nev has embarrassed himself by acting like a total buffoon, or he has embarrassed himself by acting like a total dick.

To put it more bluntly: Either he has spent weeks of his life on a steamy long-distance love affair with a mentally ill Michigan housewife in her 40s, or he purposefully played along with her in order to entrap her on camera.

Arguably, the fact that many viewers seem eager to vote for the second option in which Nev is evil, but not naive says more about the pervasive force of conspiratorial thinking, and about our collective reluctance to suspend our disbelief, than it does about "Catfish.

But if their execution is flawed, as I read it their intentions were pure. Nev Schulman allowed himself to be seduced by Angela Wesselman-Pierce, who painted all the paintings and invented a grand and artful fictional Facebook universe -- an entire social network, in fact -- out of her personal and artistic isolation. She invented online identities, complete with stolen photos, for herself and her daughters, along with numerous other people.

Abby and Megan exist, but played no role in her invention. As with every successful work of fiction and every con game choose your own term Nev was more like a willing collaborator than a mark or passive spectator.

Of the fact that smart people are all too eager to fall for artful deception? That's it exactly. Now, as for Wesselman-Pierce, arguably she deserves a moment of her own, and a much longer one than she gets at the end of "Catfish.Pic documents in tantalizing detail the twist-filled true story of a young man fooled by Facebook.

By Peter Debruge. Chief Film Critic. What inspires a Michigan-based 8-year-old girl to paint a photograph from the New York Sun, why does she reach out online to the guy who took it, and where could that connection possibly lead? Documenting in tantalizing detail the twist-filled true story of a young man fooled by Facebook, the pic should easily hook domestic crowds.

Until now, the movies have been fairly clumsy in their depiction of online behavior. Does Abby really exist? Though editor Zac Stuart-Pontier assembles the sprawling personal journey into swift and suspenseful shape, it helps immensely that Nev is such a charming screen presence. Pic might have provided a bit more insight into how he coped with confronting the truth about his pen pals — just one of the many unanswered questions that make this tale so intriguing.

Jan 23, am PT. Peter Debruge Chief Film Critic askdebruge. See All. Co-producer, Zac Stuart-Pontier. Directed by Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost.

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Facebook, Relationships And 'Catfish': It's Complicated

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Expand the sub menu VIP. Expand the sub menu More Coverage.It involves a young man, Nevbeing filmed by his brother and friend, co-directors Ariel and Henry, as he builds a romantic relationship with a young woman on the social networking website Facebook. The film is credited with coining the term catfishing : a type of deceptive activity involving a person creating a fake social networking presence for nefarious purposes.

In the film, the husband of the "catfish", Vince, relays a story of how, when live cod were shipped to Asia from North America, the fish's inactivity in their tanks resulted in only mushy flesh reaching the destination. However, fishermen found that putting catfish in the tanks with the cod kept them active, and thus ensured the quality of the fish. Vince then states that his wife Angela acts as a catfish, keeping the lives of those around her interesting.

The title of the film is based on this dialogue, and is where the term "to catfish" is derived. Abby Pierce, an 8-year-old child prodigy artist in rural Ishpeming, Michigansends Nev a painting of one of his photos. They become Facebook friends, which broadens to include Abby's family, including her mother Angela Wesselman ; Angela's husband Vince; and Abby's attractive older half-sister Megan, who lives in Gladstone, Michigan.

She sends him MP3s of song covers she performs for him, but Nev discovers that they are all taken from performances on YouTube. He later finds evidence that Angela and Abby have lied about other details of Abby's art career. Ariel urges Nev to continue the relationship for the documentary, although Nev seems reluctant to continue. The siblings decide to travel to Michigan in order to make an impromptu appearance at the Pierces' house and confront Megan directly.

As they arrive at the house, Angela takes some time to answer the door, but is welcoming and seems happy to finally meet Nev in person. She also tells him that she has recently begun chemotherapy for uterine cancer. After leaving multiple messages while trying to call Megan, Angela drives Nev and Ariel to see Abby herself. While talking with Abby and her friend alone, Nev learns that Abby never sees her sister and rarely paints.

The next morning, Nev wakes up to a text message from Megan saying that she has had a long-standing alcohol problem and has decided to check into rehab and cannot meet him, which is confirmed by one of Megan's Facebook friends, but Nev realizes that this is likely another lie from Angela.

After meeting with the family back at their house, Angela admits that the pictures of Megan were of a family friend, that her daughter Megan really is in rehab downstate and that Angela had really painted each of the paintings that she had sent to Nev. Nev thus realizes that, while believing he was talking to Megan, it was really Angela posing as her with an alternate Facebook account and mobile phone. As he sits for a drawing, Angela confesses that the various Facebook profiles were all maintained by her, but that through her friendship with Nev, she had reconnected with the world of painting, which had been her passion before she sacrificed her career to marry Vince—who has two severely mentally disabled children who require constant care.

Through a conversation with Vince himself, the siblings learn that Angela had told him falsely that Nev was paying for her paintings, and that he had encouraged her to seize the opportunity to have him as a patron.

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Vince, talking with Nev, tells the story about how live cod were shipped along with catfish in the same tanks to keep the cod active, and thus ensure the quality of the fish. He further explains this as a metaphor on how there are people in everyone's lives who keep them alert, active, and always thinking. It is implied that he believes Angela to be such a person. Some time after, Nev receives a package labeled as being from Angela herself; it is the completed drawing that she labored over during their meeting, although Nev seems ambivalent in his feelings about it.It begins as a roundabout version of a classic Internet love story, if such a thing can be said to exist.

He gives it, and soon receives a copy of the painting in the mail. Nev falls for Megan, and the two exchange more than 1, text messages over eight months, planting the seeds for a long-distance romance and a possible meeting. More paintings arrive in the mail. Is it? Want to know more? Keep reading, but be warned: Spoilers lie ahead.

abby pierce catfish

Rel and I run a busy production company, and we let off steam by filming each other. We keep these little HD cameras on us at all times to capture little things that amuse us, and Rel had the instinct to start filming Nev. We always wanted to make a movie about his brother because Nev lives life the way we wish we could — he just jumps right into things.

And I always have a camera on me. And YouTube certainly changed the way movies look and stories are told. Advertising companies commission filmmakers to create intentionally viral videos that look and feel real but are not. But the movie is real. During those first couple months, Rel only filmed a handful of clips. I asked Rel not to shoot certain stuff because I thought it was too personal, but once I discovered Megan had lied to me about her music, the switch flipped.

I wanted Rel to film everything, because I needed to have a truthful account of how things went down. But our suspicions were responded to in a very smart way. Plus, Nev was able to explain everything away. He wanted it to be true so badly that he overlooked any red flags that popped up. So we stopped thinking it was a scam. This also goes for Rel and me. We wanted the story to have a happy ending, too. Once you watch the film, you see that it fits.

After I met Angela, I needed a break, but we remain friends, and we remain in contact. More surprising still was that we all got along so well. We found Angela to be fun, smart and engaging. I think she has a lot to offer as a writer and an artist, and I hope this movie helps her accomplish that. It was also a pleasant surprise to find Abby to be a very real and very normal 8-year-old girl.He would later learn that the girl, who said her name was Megan, and her family were not at all what they appeared to be online.

But just because you've seen the film doesn't mean you know the whole story. The story began inwhen Schulman, then 24, heard from an 8-year-old girl named Abby via MySpace. A budding artist, Abby said she had seen one of Schulman's photographs published in a newspaper and requested permission to paint it.

Schulman said yes and, weeks later, received a watercolor rendition of his photo. Schulman sent Abby more of his photographs to paint and with her mother Angela's blessing, the two began corresponding online.

Schulman was soon deluged with packages filled with Abby's paintings and drawings. That's when Ariel Schulman and Joost -- both filmmakers who shot Schulman and their friends hanging around all the time -- began to see a story taking shape.

Simple as that. Within two months, Schulman became Facebook friends with a small throng of Abby's fans and family, including her year-old half-sister Megan. Like Schulman, she was a photographer and he was intrigued by the photos of herself which she posted online.

As part of their virtual courtship, Megan, who was also a talented musician, would write songs for Schulman -- often singing them as duets with her brother and mother, Angela -- and post them on Facebook. The two talked on the phone and exchanged steamy text messages. Schulman even doctored a photo to look like the two of them were posing together.

I'm not going to reserve the fact that I really do like her and that I'm hoping it works out," he said. Schulman was ready to meet Megan and a photo assignment in Vail, Colo. Schulman was planning a trip to Vail to shoot a dance performance and decided he'd make the hour drive from there to Megan's home in Michigan to finally see her face-to-face. But before the meeting could take place, Schulman learned something disturbing. Spoiler alert: The twists and turns of the movie "Catfish" are revealed in the remainder of this article.

He, his brother and Joost found song lyrics Megan claimed she and her mother had written together actually belonged to another artist. The rendition was nearly identical to a version Megan had sent them. But the discovery didn't keep Schulman from continuing with plans for his trip from Vail to Michigan's upper peninsula.

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Now, however, the journey -- to be undertaken with his brother and Joost by his side -- would be about finding answers.