Fake film project tries to create real film to hide fakeness (and fails)

In 2010, a group of scam artists pretended that they were making a film, appropriately titled A Landscape of Lies. They did this so that they could claim over £2.7 million in tax credits intended to boost the British film industry. Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs began to suspect something was up when no apparent progress was being made on the project and the film company's "office" was an empty room. The scammers tried to make the project look legitimate by actually making a movie for £84,000 and releasing it on DVD. (You can watch the trailer here.) The fake movie was convincing enough to trick one film festival into giving it an award (which it later had to take back.)

Related: The claimed DHS-based television show turns out also to have been a scam.

Comments (17)
  1. BZ says:

    How was it a fake movie and why should it not have won an award? Sure, it was made under false pretenses, but it was in fact a real movie, so why should it not be eligible for an award? Because they are criminals, maybe, but certainly not because it's a fake movie.

  2. JM says:

    I guess there was some ambiguity as to whether /A Landscape of Lies/ (the movie that didn't exist) won the award or /A Landscape of Lies/ (the movie that was made to cover up the fact that /A Landscape of Lies/ didn't exist). Now you might say that obviously no award could have been given to /A Landscape of Lies/ since it didn't exist and therefore nobody could have seen it, but award committees have never been known for their rationality so it's not impossible — especially since /A Landscape of Lies/ did exist.

    If I'd been on the committee I would have given them the award anyway. But a really cheap and fake one, to cover up the fact that the actual one isn't going to be awarded.

  3. Rob K says:

    It's the Producers in real life! Nobody audits the books of a flop!

  4. kog999 says:

    What constitutes a film being real? Could they have not shot 5 minutes of random video burned it to a DVD and called it a real film?  Why wasn’t the fake movie enough to fulfill the obligation of making a film? It was clearly real in the sense that it was a film regardless of its quality or marketability.

  5. frymaster says:

    @kog999 – well in terms of the tax scam, they'd received £2.7 million in tax credits but only spent £84,000

  6. Sure, but at that point it ceases to be "lying about making a movie" and just becomes "lying about how much they spent on the movie".

  7. Brian_EE says:


    Not exactly, since they had already received the tax breaks after lying about how much investment they had and not having made a movie. That's the point when the crime was committed.

    It was only after they were under investigation for the crime that they made the "fake" movie in an effort to avoid punishment.

  8. Brad says:

    Yeah, it would be more like The Producers if they had gathered all the money (from public funding) and then just waited around to get audited before even attempting to produce Springtime for Hitler.

  9. Danny says:

    Little kids, that's not the way to cheat, steal, get free money. Want some lessons? Come to Romania, in here the thieves are in Parliament and they make laws to cover their stealing and make it legit.

    Want one story? In one winter my boss imported from Germany some equipment and he paid 2.5 Million EURO as custom taxes for that equipment. He was very intrigued why an entire caravan of 10 trailers stood there in no man's land between borders even they were earlier and could easy entry in the country. He find out why 2 days later when the government passed an ordinance specifying that heavy equipment are not to pay custom taxes between 24 Dec and 5 Jan. And the punch is those trailers belonged to the Internal Affairs ministry at that time. You guessed, the guy just exempted himself from paying the 24% tax. Which means that he could simply sell them fast at a lower price, making millions in just a few days.

    Want another one? Just Google the number of members in parliament. It went up from 134 senators + 332 members for Deputy chambers to 176 / 412. Yup, in Dec 2012 they voted to increase their numbers. Free-loaders. I guess they need it the nephew to have police and special forces escort as well.

    Another one? In 2007 Romania entered UE. Of course that means access to European funds. Guess what happens with that money. 10% are invested in real projects, 50% gets "lost" and 40% are audited as extra-unexpected-problems. Yup, you guessed, 90% goes to mafia.

    Want to steal easy and never face prison? Became a Romanian citizen and run for politics, you'll live a long free of worries life.

  10. Not a political blog says:

    @Danny. Are you saying the world is a bit dodgy? http://www.youtube.com/watch

  11. Lockwood says:

    Protip: Never link to the Daily Fail in an article if you want to maintain credibility.

  12. Brian_EE says:


    Are you saying that the Daily Mail is the UK's equivalent to the certain newspaper in New York City? You know, the one who apparently owns a trademark on the Old English font letter "T"… arstechnica.com/…/nyt-tries-to-shoot-down-twitter-critic-who-tweaked-its-t-logo

  13. "Daily Mail: Being racist in public so you don't have to"

    http://www.qwghlm.co.uk/…/dailymail <- Typical DM headline

    http://www.youtube.com/watch <- "Yes, Prime Minister" on the topic of papers

  14. John Doe says:

    @Danny, for a replica of what you describe, you can also become (geographically from left to right through the Mediterranean Sea): Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Greek and, maybe, soon, Turkish. So, just get out of Romania to near some beach of your preference with subtropical climate, what are you waiting for? It's raining money, as long as you make the right friendships.

  15. Now all it needs is for someone within the British film industry to make a *real* film about a fake film project. They could call it, "A Landscape of Lies". They might even get tax credits…

  16. Danny says:

    @John Doe. There are 4 levels of corruptions: low (Norway, Island, Monaco), medium (most countries, UK and US included), high (usually African bananas republics are here and the so much hyped China and North Korea gets here) and Romania. Romania stands in it's own league.  The article mentions a tax evasion of roughly 2.7 M pounds. That's the any given custom worker money he makes in Romania in a year. We got a joke here:

    Ion (English John) birthday is approaching and his 2 good friends and custom co-workers, Vasile (no English equivalent IIRC) and Gheorghe (English George) talks about what to give as birthday present:

    Vasile: – Hey Gheorghe, how about a Mercedes SLR latest version?

    Gheorghe: – No way Vasile, he already got one, remember we gave one for Christmas? And for birthday we have to give a better one anyway.

    Vasile: – How about 20 kilograms (~42 lbs) of gold?

    Gheorghe: – Still is too little.

    Vasile: – You know what?! We let him have our shifts at work for next week and that should be enough!

    Gheorghe: – No way, that's too much!!

  17. asdbsd says:

    @Danny> There are 4 levels of corruptions: […] and Romania

    And Russia, you forgot Russia.

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