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The Truth About Loch Ness

Project type:
Movie promotion
In support of:
Incident at Loch Ness (Fox)
Date:
Summer 2004
Description:
So, here's the story: Acclaimed director Werner Herzog decides to make a movie about Loch Ness, one that will finally reveal the truth about Nessie, its resident monster. A ship is chartered, a crew is assembled, and production on Enigma at Loch Ness begins. But as the shoot proceeds, things go more and more wrong, Herzog, in keeping with his reputation, becomes more and more unhinged, and the production ultimately collapses, resulting in a flurry of arguments and lawsuits about ownership of the footage and plans for completing the film. Fortunately, there was a second film crew, led by producer/director Zak Penn, on the ship to shoot a documentary of the Herzog film. Their footage of the collapse of the production results in a second film, Incident at Loch Ness, which might be thought of as a Scottish version of Lost in La Mancha, a record of the collapse of Terry Gilliam's production of Don Quixote. However, as Incident at Loch Ness begins to make the rounds of the summer film festivals, it is attacked by a website -- www.thetruthaboutlochness.com -- built by Greg Atkins, a member of Herzog's original crew. He claims that the producers of Incident at Loch Ness are covering up an accident that took place during filming -- the collision of two boats that led to the deaths of two crew members may actually have been a collision with (or attack by?) Nessie, and that indisputable evidence of the existence of Nessie is being suppressed to avoid legal liability with the accident. Atkins is doing his best to get the truth out, but he's being sued by Penn's lawyers to get his website taken down. However, if we hurry, we can still get to his site and find out the truth about Penn and his misguided production...

If you're still with us, you've probably figured out that this is all a crock. Herzog was not making a movie about Loch Ness, but agreed to be in Penn's "mockumentary" and play the role of an unhinged, out-of-control director not unlike, well, Werner Herzog. "A role that he was born to play!", as they would say in the old days. So TheTruthAboutLochNess site is a Blair Witch-like faux site designed to create buzz around Penn's movie, taking a stance not unlike Sega's Beta-7 site -- "Something bad is going on here, but The Man is trying to stop me from getting the truth out!". The official site for Incident at Loch Ness plays it pretty straight, although it describes one of the ship's crew members as a "cryptozoologist", a branch of biology that most universities have yet to discover.

TheTruthAboutLochNess has the right idea, but it's ultimately too light on content to make a big impression on its visitors. The blog-style home page has a couple of updates dated in August, and the promises of incriminating video footage drawn from the Penn and (supposed) Herzog films are missing, allegedly because of threatened legal action. The site has caught some attention on the Web, as a bit of Googling will show, but there's ultimately just not enough stuff here to declare the campaign a success. There's a minimum level of effort you have to apply to create a plausible faux reality, and TheTruthAboutLochNess is perhaps useful as an example of a site that fell below that minimum.

I've heard the movie is pretty good, though...