For his first film, Andrea Marini was presented with the perfect opportunity to train his camera on a notoriously slippery subject: art-prankster Joey Skaggs, who has been hoaxing gullible media organs for decades now, convincing baffled talk show hosts of the existence of dog brothels, celebrity sperm auctions, mobile confessionals for the sinner on the go, and much more. We reached out to Marini to find out what we could about the challenges of documenting Mr Skaggs’ weird world.
How did you first become aware of Joey Skaggs?
That was in 2012, when I was working on a screenplay for a feature narrative with a producer in Rome. One day he presented to me the opportunity of doing a film about Joey Skaggs, I didn’t know Joey at the time, but when I realised what he has done in 50+ years of his prolific career, not making a film about him was not an option!
How receptive was Joey to the idea of a documentary about him?
I think that Joey knew that this was the right time to have a film about him made and I was lucky enough to be there and had the stamina to do it.
What was the shoot like? How long did you film?
The shoot was pretty long since I was willing to wait for him to come up with a new hoax for me to follow. I had a strong necessity of telling this story not just with archival footage and it took me almost three years to shoot the whole film.
What was the biggest challenge that you faced?
I faced many challenges, a big one was not knowing the outcome of a story that was unfolding in real time and since I was editing as I was shooting, it was very hard to stick to a storyline I had in mind since the beginning. In this case it’s key to be flexible and constantly adapt yourself to what happens and figure out all the possible ways to shape that into the story you are constructing.
Was there anything you learned about Joey that really surprised you?
I can’t think about anything that really surprised me; because of the essence of Joey, you are prone to expect anything from him! But I was very impressed by the humanity he has in making his art and in how he involves people for a good cause.
Was there anything you wanted to include but were unable to?
Most definitely! I had access to 150 hours of archival footage from so many hoaxes and I couldn’t include the “Bad Guys” hoax or “To Tell the Truth”…you should check them out! And these are just two, I could ramble on and on.
What are your plans for the film now?
Right now we are doing our film festival run and planning our distribution, I can’t say much right this moment, but I’m sure it will be very exciting!
What’s up next for you?
I’m working on another documentary now, it’s about a Formula 1 Ferrari from 1970, an iconic car that made history and now a group of passionate mechanics are working on it to make it race once again after 46 years on the track of Monaco; it might sound easy but trust me, cars from that period are a nightmare!
At the same time I’m working on my first feature narrative.
Art of the Prank is currently screening at Revelation Film Festival.