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The genesis of Mirage Men
By John Lundberg
It was 20 March 2003. Just past midnight I placed a call to Washington to speak to 'Don' a CIA Analyst at the The Directorate of Science and Technology.
The call was part of my research for a documentary I was making about a latter-day Walter Mitty character. He had a habit of cold calling high ranking military and intelligence officials to try to glean nuggets of information relating to esoteric subjects such as crop circles, ufos and mind control. It turned out to be a very long... and very strange... phone call.
Just over two hours in Don told me to turn on my TV and switch to one of the rolling news channels, just in time to see the first bombs dropping from stealth fighters onto high value targets in Baghdad.
As I watched I said "Don... surely you have more important things to do right now than speak to me about crop circles and UFOs?!"
"Forget about the film you're making John, you're wasting your time. You should make a film about Rick Doty, he's a far more interesting character, we've been trying to get to the bottom of what he's been up to for years now, maybe you'll have more luck".
"Me? But you're the CIA..." my thoughts trailed off.
"Rick Doty?" The name rang a vague bell.
"He has a network of very devoted and senior supporters" said Don "If he's not a criminal... he's involved in some very serious government-related activities..."
I stayed silent. The phone call came to a close sometime around 4am in the morning.
Don signed off, "...Unfortunately the answers will not come easy nor in a transparent format. Good hunting!" click.
The next morning after a sleepless night I met up with my friend the writer Mark Pilkington to digest the phone call with him over breakfast:
"What do you know about Rick Doty?"
Mark took a large gulp of his tea...
"In a nutshell all I know about Doty is this...
In the early 1980s Doty had worked for the US Air Force Office of Special Investigations, a sort of internal FBI for the Air Force. Working as a Special Agent Doty become embroiled in one of the strangest espionage campaigns of the post war era. His job was to deliberately inject absurd UFO rumours into the conspiracy underground to throw Russian spies and overly-curious Americans off the trail of genuine top secret military projects.
Doty's disinformation campaign destroyed careers and drove some of its victims insane. His tall tales came to be believed by millions of ordinary people as the hidden truth behind the modern era's greatest mystery."
That morning we decided to take Don's advice and make a film about Doty. A chance encounter on a train brought filmmaker Roland Denning and artist Kypros Kyprianou on board to help put the pieces together and clear away the fog of disinformation. Nine years later, Mirage Men is that film.