Since its launch on August 11, more than 2 million people have visited nestflix.fun to check out titles like Angels With Dirty Souls, Satan’s Alley and The Crows Have Eyes 3: The Crowening. This would be great news for any new streaming service except that Nestflix isn’t a streaming service at all and none of these movies are real.
Creator Lynn Fisher describes the site as more of a “wiki” for films within films. Angels With Dirty Souls is the (fake) gangster film that Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) watches in Home Alone (1990), the trailer for Satan’s Alley, an illicit romance between two 12th Century Irish monks, appears in Tropic Thunder (2008), and horror movie The Crows Have Eyes 3 only exists in the universe of Netflix’s Schitt’s Creek.
For a website that hosts 450 of these fictional films, a staggering amount of work has gone into making Nestflix look authentic. Each movie or TV show is accompanied by a thumbnail, four stills, a description that includes a quote from the project, the genre, an estimated runtime or number of episodes, the in-universe actors or directors who “worked” on it, and the original movie or TV show that it’s featured in. The Satan’s Alley description also highlights its impressive achievement as the (fictional) Beijing Film Festival Crying Monkey Award winner.
“It’s a lot of work, but I wanted to capture the fun of these films and shows somehow,” says Fisher, a web designer and developer from Phoenix, Arizona, whose past projects include The Food Place, an online menu that includes every food item ever mentioned in The Good Place, and Dress David Rose, an interactive site that lets Schitt’s Creek fans put the character in his iconic outfits. She spent two months putting together Nestflix, scouring the web for potential titles, collating them on two spreadsheets (one for films, the other for shows), jotting down details about these fake stories, taking screenshots and then adding them to a custom interface. “I went looking to see if there was a common term for these films within films and the closest I got was the literary term of ‘nested story’ for stories within stories. Then the pun Nestflix popped into my head and felt just perfect,” she says. While she did consider adding footage of these nested stories to the site, the thought of dealing with copyright issues made her decide against it.
She also has strict criteria for what constitutes a nested film. For starters, it must be fictional, which means that real films within films or recreations of them won’t make it to the site. Secondly, footage of the nested film must appear in the original movie or TV show, which disqualifies movies that are only mentioned in passing or spotted on posters. Movies or shows within video games don’t make the cut, neither do stage plays and news channels within films or shows. Fisher’s stringent rules means that some of her own favourite nested films like Rochelle Rochelle from Seinfeld won’t make it to Nestflix. Since the site is Hollywood-focussed, neither will nested Bollywood films or TV shows like Return of Disco Fighter from Delhi Belly.
“I had to set some boundaries or it would get really big really fast,” says Fisher, who’s currently wading through 600 user submissions and adding new entries to the site daily.