There's no question that Edward Snowden's life would make for a killer spy thriller, and independent and Hollywood filmmakers alike have been mulling over the idea since the first intelligence leaks last summer.
In June, a small company called J.Shot spent $540 on a five-minute film about Snowden's time in Hong Kong, before the first reports about the National Security Agency's secret surveillance programs went public. This year, another group is shelling out a little more cash on its own project about the whistle-blower.
Filmmakers Jason Bourque and Travis Doering—who are, interestingly enough, Canadian—are seeking to raise more than $1 million through crowdfunding for their dramatic film, "Classified: The Edward Snowden Story." In their video description of the project, which you can watch here, the filmmakers say "we'll be answering the question, 'What made him the man he is today?' "
The script will be revised by "various consultants, some of which are currently employed by the U.S. government, and others that have personal ties with Snowden himself."
Fundraising efforts through the film's main website, which ended Wednesday, raised $842,330 from a mere 136 donors. Eleven people gave $2,500, which granted them spots as associate producers. A Kickstarter campaign that ended in October raked in $10,916 from 18 backers. A note on the movie's website says the filmmakers plan to announce new shooting dates for 2014 after reassessing their just-short budget.
The two-hour movie, filmed in Vancouver, will cover Snowden's life from the time he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2004 until he released classified information that would dominate news and policy debates in 2013. The time frame may be a smart move, as other filmmakers have shied away from fast-tracking a film because they, along with everyone else, don't yet know how Snowden's story ends.
In the spirit of Snowdenism, "Classified" will be distributed under the Creative Commons license, which means it can be viewed and shared for free by anyone with an Internet connection. It will be available for download on The Pirate Bay, a not quite legal file-sharing website, in September.
Borque and Doering would like some help from the star of the film if he's willing. "It is very important to us that the story be portrayed as accurately as possible, and we would love the opportunity to speak with him directly," the pair says in the short clip. "So Edward, if you're out there, you know where to find us."
While Snowden has been working for an unnamed website in Russia since the fall, the 30-year-old is short on cash, according to his lawyer. All those federal espionage charges would obviously get in the way, but Snowden could probably make a pretty penny off film rights and consultations on major studios' biopics.