At first glance, Nestflix looks like the real deal. It’s all there: sliders full of photo tiles, genre sections, featured movies displayed on banners, descriptive copy breaking down casts and directors when you make a selection. Unlike an actual streaming service, though, none of those clicked tiles leads to a video. You can look but you can’t watch on Nestflix, an interactive website home to hundreds of “nested” films and TV shows that exist only inside other media.
Nestflix is the creation of local web designer and develop Lynn Fisher. A self-described “huge movie buff” and trivia aficionado, Fisher is originally from Rochester, Minnesota, and moved to Arizona with her family in 1987.
She launched the site in August with close to 400 nested media grouped into 50-plus categories (ranging from standard genres like “Sitcom” and “Sci-Fi” to more granular classifications like “Game Shows With a Bit of Danger” and “Amateur Filmmakers”).
McBain, Satan’s Alley, The Rural Juror: Any comedy fan is likely to stumble onto a fake film from one of their favorite shows on Nestflix. The site feels like it’s operating in a parallel universe where The Itchy & Scratchy Show actually existed — an insane bizarro world where someone thought financing Amistad II was a sure thing.
Part art project, part deep commitment to the bit, Nestflix continues to grow as Fisher adds new films and shows to the site. We talked to her about the Nestflix project, the holiday classic that inspired it, and which fake film she’d love to actually watch.
Phoenix New Times: Let’s start at the beginning. What inspired you to make this site?
Lynn Fisher: I’ve always been interested in fake movies. It first started with Angels With Filthy Souls from Home Alone. I watched Home Alone a ton as a kid, and when I learned that that movie wasn’t real, it sparked something in me. And then I watched this video essay by a YouTuber named Patrick Willems about fake movies. After I watched that, it got me thinking about doing this project. It seemed like it could be fun. I started researching and I found a lot of incomplete lists out there full of examples of fake movies and TV shows, but nothing really comprehensive.
Did you launch Nestflix on your own, or did you work on it with a group of contributors?
It was just me originally. I compiled a bunch of lists and did the work of taking screenshots, writing content, and putting the site together. When I launched the site, it had about 400 entries. After that, I opened it up for contributions. I know that there’s just so many shows and movies that I’ve never seen or would be able to watch. I got bombarded with emails — I was able to compile another list of almost 700 titles. I had to shut it down for a little bit because I needed to catch up.
Which TV show has produced the most nested films/shows? I was looking over the comedy section and was amazed at how much 30 Rock is on there.
30 Rock has a bunch, but I think above that is probably The Simpsons. They’ve just been on the air for so long and they do these kinds of gags a lot. There’s a ton from The Simpsons that I haven’t even added yet. Same with Family Guy and all their cutaway gags to fake movies and TV shows.
It says on your contributor guidelines that you don’t take submissions about nested films or shows found in video games or in sketch comedy. I’m curious what made you draw a line there.
The sketch comedy show one was hard because there are so many really good ones out there and they’re so funny and well-done. But like I said, there’s so many. I just needed to put a cap on it — I’m going to do these more traditional, story-within-a-story titles first, and then maybe later I’ll address comedy sketches. And if I’m being philosophically strict, with sketches there wasn’t an overarching narrative that’s happening throughout the show in which these films and television shows are nested. They’re kind of standalone things — fake trailers that are just out there.
A lot of media companies have been getting trigger-happy with DMCA takedowns lately. Have you had any problems since Nestflix has gone live? I imagine fair use covers what you’re doing.
Not yet, thankfully. A few people have reached out and said that fair use covers this so I shouldn’t be worried … Lots of people wrote in and asked if I could include the clips of the shows on it so you could actually watch what’s available on the site. That to me felt like they’d get takedowns, so I’m just leaving it as images.
The site looks pretty legit. Have you had folks contact you thinking it’s a real streaming service?
I think most people got it, but the interface is pretty convincing — I tried to model it really closely to existing streaming services. So some people were confused — “How do I watch these movies?!” — until they realize that it’s more of a fun Wiki.
When you were taking contributions, did anyone try to submit a fake fake film — like a nested film that doesn’t actually appear anywhere?
There was this YouTube thing — a fan-made movie. “Shrek 6.” Someone submitted that. Which, technically it’s a fake movie, but it’s not quite right. A fan film is different from a nested film.
If you could choose a fake film or show on Nestflix and have it exist as a real thing you could actually watch, what would you most want to see?
If it’s fair, I’ll give you a couple. I think the Lucas Lee films from Scott Pilgrim — those kinds of cheesy action films — would be really fun. As far as TV shows, I’d totally watch Galaxy Quest. I also think I’d go back to the thing that kicked it off: Angels With Filthy Souls.
Some of the films that are really silly would be fun to see how they’d work as an actual movie. Like Conan The Librarian — a whole movie built around a pun. It’s funny as a clip, but it’d be cool to see if some really creative director and writer could make this into a full-length feature.
When I was going thru Nestflix, it made me think of the choice paralysis I go through on streaming services. I’ll spend like 10, 15 minutes going through Hulu or the Criterion Channel trying to find something to watch, but there’s just too much on there that I want to see, so I end up getting overwhelmed by viable options and give up. In a way, Nestflix feels very true to how I think a lot of folks really experience streaming: just constantly scrolling through images of films and shows we’ll never watch.
I have that too, where you just can’t really find the thing you’re in the mood for. So you always end up on like The Office or something else you’ve watched a million times. That scanning is totally familiar to me. And with Netflix if you’re scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, you start to get into the weird stuff, the more obscure stuff that makes you go “is this real? What is this?!” Discovering these weird titles you’ve never heard of is kind of a vibe, you know?