Rick Rollers got nothing on these three.

In an effort to bring attention to the piracy of their “Photographing the World” series hosted by Elia Locardi, FStoppers decided to produce a parody of a tutorial and seed it on Pirate Bay. Would-be piraters, they presumed, would be so disappointed by the bogus nature of the tutorial that they would think again next time they try to steal people’s work. While the video was a great success, it wasn’t exactly in the way they expected.

Rather than leaving only a bunch of disappointed “leechers” in their midst, FStoppers succeeded in creating a viral craze which quickly hopped to the top of the pirating site’s leaderboards. Not only that, but the “shadow tutorial,” as they term it, became their most downloaded pirated tutorial of their stock. Others, even those who already pay for real tutorials, were so eager to see it the trio decided to post the full video on YouTube, this time with an intro declaring its “mockumentary” nature. They even posted a video explaining the whole story—from start to finish—which has received 28K views in under a day. Here’s why it’s so good.

For starters, the crew choose the juiciest location possible. While in past tutorials they could be found in Italy, Cambodia, Hong Kong, and Singapore, here they decided to set up shop on a scenic Olive Garden in North Carolina. Surrounded by parking lot and seemingly nothing else, the choice could not be more ridiculous. Yet Mr. Locardi plays it so straight that you are SURE he is the serious one and you’re simply naive in your idea of good locations. The choice of Olive Garden, Elia assures us, is a way of “bringing Italy to you.”

Some highlights:

  • Using a pool of liquid something in the parking lot as a reflector and referring to it as a “body of water.” 
  • Listing off historical facts about this “fine establishment,” such as the fact that it was founded in 1982 by a unit of General Mills and that, only a few years later, it was “more successful than Red Lobster.”
  • Elia standing in front of an industrial garbage looking for a “better vantage point.” 
  • Numerous random people walking by, one employee waving after dumping off a bunch of trash.
  • Referring to the “beautiful trees” in the parking lot, Elia suggests: “I think I’ve seen these trees in Italy.”

Of course, as per the “Photography of the World III” series curriculum, the second half of the video captures post-processing. And this is where it begins to go noticeably off the rails. Specifically, they take this whole “Olive-Garden-is-Italy-for-Americans” thing to its furthest extremes. For example, one of the first tips Elia gives is that “you can leave the cars” in the frame “if they’re Italian cars.” The “like, uh, Honda Civic” that he finds? Gone.Next he imports an image of Rome and pastes it behind the Olive Garden. Despite its patent silliness, he persists in the ruse, warning that you have to slide the image down a little so it appears realistic.Finally, he reads your mind: “I know what you’re thinking,” he says, “could we put pizza in the image?” And while he admits we could, he warns against the inauthenticity of such a move. The Garden, he notes, doesn’t serve pizza. Instead, he imports a cartoon image of a gladiator. Once again, he warns, “I know what you’re thinking,” teasing, “It looks a little weird…because he’s facing the wrong direction.” And with this unexpected punchline I become assured a second career awaits Mr. Locardi in entertainment. The video then ends shortly thereafter, with the joke becoming apparent to all as Mr. Locario very obviously draws a penis on the screen. He ends on a thoughtful note, though, saying that as much as he’d like to take you on a trip around the world, teaching you everything he knows about photography, he simply can’t do that.Why, you may ask? “You downloaded this,” he says knowingly, “illegally.” Lesson learned.