Culture: September 2016 Archives

How Do You Make the Fake NASA Documentary Operation Avalanche? Hire a Really Good Lawyer, Wired

"As to NASA, well, the agency isn't too happy. In a statement, it says the "the film project was misrepresented" to the Science and Entertainment Exchange and to NASA, which supports more than 100 films each year. "We are disappointed the filmmakers would exploit the openness and transparency of those involved," the agency says. That might explain why no one at NASA accepted Johnson's invitation to see the film when it played at South by Southwest."

The director who fooled NASA into helping make fake moon-landing movie 'Operation Avalanche', Mashable

"After making a name for himself in the independent film world with The Dirties, Canadian director Matt Johnson is back with Operation Avalanche, a faux documentary about four CIA agents who go undercover inside NASA, where they make a startling discovery about the space agency's ability to put a man on the moon. And the way they did it is some real tinfoil-hat stuff: Johnson and his cohorts told NASA they were student filmmakers looking to do a documentary on the Apollo program. NASA was all too happy to oblige, giving them access to NASA officials conversations that were recorded and edited to fit the secret concept and facilities. Operation Avalanche debuted at Sundance earlier this year and has been making the rounds at film festivals. Lionsgate Premiere releases the low-budget thriller (the largely improvised film is presented in grainy 16mm to make it feel more authentic) on Friday, and it's worth a look, if only to see how Johnson and his collaborators talked their way inside the hallowed walls of NASA."

'Operation Avalanche': A Fake Documentary About A Faked Moon Landing, NPR

"To film this adventure, Johnsonwith collaborators Owen Williams and Josh Bolesreally did infiltrate NASA, telling the agency he was a student filmmaker shooting a documentary about the space race. No one at the research-rigorous center bothered to Google him, apparently, or they would have found a man with a history of video pranks. (The candid-camera approach may help explain why no one in the film talks like they're in the 1960s. Johnson and company likely had to keep up appearances in front of present-day NASA staff.)"

Sneaking into NASA and other money-saving strategies from the set of 'Operation Avalanche', Business Journal

"Think about it: Just from a raw economics point of view, how the hell are we going to rebuild all that [stuff] in a credible way?" he told me. "There's no way that we're going to rebuild the outside of Shepperton Studios or even anything that looked like Shepperton studios. We just would have had to cut it from the script. The same with NASA."

Keith's note: Rich people giving each other awards. I rented the National Air & Space Museum - twice - for NASA In the late 80s as a NASA contractor employee. I have been to a bunch of them over the years. I know what these receptions cost. This one was easily $50K - and most of the money went to caterers. To his credit, Jeff Bezos gave his $250,000 award to SEDS (Students for the Exploration and Development of Space) - an organization that Bezos once belonged to as a student. If only these rich people could skip the overhead that goes with these dress-up events and write checks to organizations that matter. The cost of this reception alone could have put someone through college. I get invited to this thing every year and refuse to attend.

The space community has convinced itself that it needs to have parties like this to make themselves feel good about whatever it is they do. Instead of receptions in fancy museums in DC why not write the checks that would pay for that party to fund students, small start-ups, and other "little" things that will have an actual difference. 99.999% of americans have no idea who the space elite are or what they do. Regular folks worry about their jobs and their kids' future. The space community needs to pivot away from this self-indulgence and focus on the taxpayers who pay for all of their toys. As long as the populace sees no clear value to space exploration and has no personnel connection to it they are not going to rise up to save it when budgets start to get thin.

One candidate for the presidency has wondered aloud whether potholes and crumbling infrastructure should be given priority over more funds for NASA. To be honest, in the minds of the vast majority rational folks who work hard every day to feed their families, better roads to cut their commuting times are far more likely to be seen as having an effect on their lives than some rocket to another planet. And yet the space people have big parties that they invite one another to.

This must have been what it was like when Rome was burning.

Keith's note: Someone just sent this to me - they found it on a bulletin board at the NASA center where they work. For a moment, as I started to read it, I thought it was legit. Then it became clear that it was not. Then I looked at the date on the letter. Lets just say that this letter is not real but given the way that this election has devolved since it was written it probably should be true. The original faux letter is presented below. The original can be downloaded here.


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