HONG KONG (AP) — It was shot in single takes with amateur actors, hobbyist directors and about $650 — mainly to pay for a room in the same Hong Kong hotel that briefly housed Edward Snowden.
But the short YouTube film some bill as the first movie about the National Security Agency leaker is a source of pride for the friends who made it, even as they acknowledge its limitations.
"Verax" gained much popularity at first, having been released just two days after Snowden left Hong Kong for Moscow, where he remains, but praise of the film has given way to criticism, with many viewers berating the four directors for amateur work and bad casting.
The five-minute film is filled with Hong Kong scenery and melodramatic music and stars Andrew Cromeek, an American school teacher in Hong Kong with an uncanny resemblance to Snowden.
Cromeek is unfazed by the critics, noting none of the actors is a professional and that they didn't think the mere YouTube video would gain so much attention in the first place.
"I think the way it was shot was quite cool," he said. "We are all amateur actors. We all had one take. It was kind of like, shoot, go, OK, done. So it's fine. It's completely OK if people are like, 'It's the worst acting in the world.' It's totally fine with me."
Jeff Floro said he and the other directors, Edwin Lee, Shawn Tse and Marcus Tsui, had only wanted to hone their guerrilla filmmaking style and produce something that was relevant to Hong Kong at that time. Floro himself works in finance by day, and creates movies as a hobby.