I was watching what I thought was a documentary about a boy interviewing all his ex-girlfriends to find out where he went wrong in relationships. It quickly became apparent that what I was actually watching was a mockumentary; a fictional documentary.
When I thought it was real it was quite funny. As soon as I started to suspect it was fake it lost all appeal. Doesn’t it seem odd that the exact same thing can go from entertaining to boring just by a change of context? Shouldn’t something just be intrinsically entertaining or not?
It is hard when you are presenting something as real when it is not. I would like to suggest that you should be up-front about the fictional nature, but then Blair Witch depended on belief to be scary. If the film opened with a disclaimer about it all being fake people would have walked out of the cinemas long before the motion sickness kicked in.
There are some great mockumentaries and there are many terrible ones, but I cannot tell you what puts one in one category and the next in the other. Maybe the question to ask yourself is if what you are presenting is likely to be real for some people, should you be making it as mockumentary, or should you go and find the real thing? I really don’t know the answer.
I’ve actually written a mockumentary, coincidentally enough it was about a girl’s search for love in all the various dating mediums available back in the naughties (when there actually were options besides online dating). Now I wonder if perhaps I was lucky I never did anything with it. Would people have felt cheated when they learned that my heroine, and her eventual suitor, were just actors?