We are, obviously, fans of Sacha Baron Cohen. Borat was pervasive play in media culture; It was real and a hoax at the same time in a way that was both fun and intelligent. I have high hopes for Brüno. The latest issue of Winq, like pretty much all the other magazines on the stand right now, has an article on the upcoming film. In this one the method of creating this kind of candid camera is explained:
Borat was hard to make for Baron Cohen. He stays in character as long as he’s in public and then goes on to do whole lot of press – in character as well. After the movie came out a number of people who appeared in the movie sued, unsuccessfully. The machine behind Baron Cohen knows exactly what it’s doing. Here’s roughly how it works. Fake production companies are set up that send out interview requests. People take the bite, and Baron Cohen shows up in character, keeping his distance, posing as some kind of assistant to the clean-cut director, who is also present. Everything is set up, and the interviewees are mildly surprised when Ali G, Borat or Brüno starts asking the questions. They assume he’s just there to warm them up, but it’s too late… Cameras start rolling and here come the inane questions. For scenes that are filmed in public, vaguely worded waivers are handed out to everyone who might appear on camera. These don’t state the actual name of the channel or media outlet where the segment will be shown. People happily sign them and bedlam ensues. Tough Luck. As a final precaution a lawyer is always on stand-by during shooting to make sure that the line between comedy and criminal behaviour is never crossed.
You can imagine all this was intensified after the runaway success of Borat. Apparently no less than 29 fake companies were set up in preparation for Brüno, in order to convince people to cooperate and to ensure them everything was legit.
Like I wrote a while back, Baron Cohen’s reality comedy is based on the kind of social expansion that most game designers can only dream of. You can’t get away with that in the name of a game – or even in the name of art. You can only get away with it with Hollywood lawyers.