On April Fools' Day, NZ On Screen's Nicky Harrop can't go past some local film and TV titles that have set out to pull the wool over our eyes.

While few of us relish being duped, we're generally appreciative of a well-executed hoax. Perhaps paying homage to Orson Welles (whose 1938 War of the Worlds broadcast is said to have caused widespread panic), many in our film and TV industry have attempted to hoodwink viewers - and occasionally their own subjects.

For more than 50 years, Country Calendar has been appointment viewing for all-things-rural. But that doesn't mean it's been above the odd spot of leg-pulling. Beginning in 1977, the show introduced occasional spoof segments -fictitious stories covering everything from a musical fence-playing farmer, to high-country fashion and more. Most were taken with a grain of salt, but a fake item on a radio-controlled sheep dog caused an outrage. Dozens of complaints of inhumane treatment poured in, with legend having it that even the then-Director General of TVNZ was fooled.

Watch the Country Calendar Spoofs Special here:


Reality show Living the Dream let everyone, including the audience, in on the joke - everyone except series lead Sam that is. The "joke" being that, unbeknown to Sam, he was the only one actually appearing in a reality series; the rest of the cast were actors, scripted to pretty much make his life camera-worthy hell. Taking The Truman Show concept to new - twisted - heights, the series remains a compulsive, if cringeworthy, watch.

See the debut episode of Living the Dream here:


An epic documentary chronicling the extraordinary, unbelievable life of pioneer Kiwi filmmaker Colin McKenzie. Or is it? In 1995, it seems Forgotten Silver had more than a few of us fooled. Directed by Sir Peter Jackson and Costa Botes, the film was billed as a serious documentary when it first screened on TV One, with much of the viewing audience believing it. Revealed as a hoax soon after, it sparked a fair share of controversy, no doubt helping it to secure a number of international film festival screenings.

Watch an excerpt from Forgotten Silver here:


A merciless send-up of the thespian world, Ash: Ashley Thorndyke - Work in Progress follows theatre director Ash as he devises a floundering production. Leaving no drama school cliché unturned (primal screams anyone?) this great mockumentary may well have the power to deceive some of our more earnest actor friends. The rest of us can enjoy some excellent laughs at their expense, plus an early appearance from Flight of the Conchords' Jemaine Clement.

Watch Ash: Ashley Thorndyke - Work in Progress here:



Gliding On meets Borat in 1972's Deciding. In it, a man pretending to be a small-town fisherman heads to Wellington to find out if any government agency will take action about fish he says are dying in his local river. His attempts to find someone to take his cause capture a succession of real-life bureaucrats - happy to participate in the "documentary", but only to explain, often at length, why they can't actually do anything. When the film was screened on television, it prompted an uproar from the public service participants who felt they were being made fun of. Upon a subsequent viewing, soon-to-be Prime Minister Robert Muldoon was said to have roared with laughter.

Watch Deciding here:


Perhaps in need of better work stories, Christchurch policeman Stefen Harris launched his film career with this feature-length adaptation of his own book The Waikikamukau Conspiracy, about a small town Maori land claim. When drama funding couldn't be secured, it was shot as a low budget mockumentary in just six days in South Canterbury. Starring Jim Moriarty, David McPhail and Mark Hadlow, the film has gone on to win multiple local awards.

Watch The Waimate Conspiracy here:



You can see a more spoofs and mockumentaries here in NZ On Screen's Fool's Gold spotlight.