Hey, Kids, Remember You're On Our Side: The FBI Makes A Movie | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

Hey, Kids, Remember You're On Our Side: The FBI Makes A Movie

Play associated audio

Earlier this week, the FBI posted a video on their website. It's a 25-minute movie called Game of Pawns, based on the true story of Glenn Shriver, an American college student who was recruited as a spy by the Chinese government.

According to the FBI's website, the film is aimed at college students about to study abroad themselves. The message is obvious: Don't be a spy. The rationale is that a dramatic movie will capture young people's attention better than public service announcements or PowerPoint.

In recent years, the FBI has been making movies to get their message across — both to the general public and their own agents. In fact, the FBI spends between $500,000 and $800,000 each year on videos for training and development.

"They really demand accuracy," says Sean Paul Murphy, the film's screenwriter. He tells NPR's Arun Rath "they want something that is as close to reality as possible."

When it came to actually writing the script, Murphy says FBI agents were far easier to work with than Hollywood types.

"Generally, everybody's on the same page, and you're not being pulled in different directions by people's egos. On this, everyone was pulling in the same direction."

Murphy has written movies for two other FBI films. Betrayed, his first film, is about an inside threat in the intelligence community. His other film, called Company Man, is about selling trade secrets to foreign powers. Both are short, dramatic narratives that emphasize the importance of national security.

In the week since its release, Game of Pawns has generated a lot of Internet ire and snark. Critics call it cheesy and cliche.

"I think it actually has very decent production values," Murphy says. "Some people were complaining about cliche dialogue, and some of the things they cited as examples were things that Glenn had actually said in the interviews."

Shriver himself cooperated extensively with the FBI in the making of Game of Pawns. Murphy says Shriver was pleased with the final result.

"He didn't like the way his father was presented," Murphy says, "but other than that, he had no complaint that I'm aware of."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Puerto Rico Is Sowing A New Generation Of Small Farmers

Decades of industrialization have left the island reliant on imported food. But change is coming — from government subsidies for small farmers, to classes that teach school kids how to grow food.
NPR

Puerto Rico Is Sowing A New Generation Of Small Farmers

Decades of industrialization have left the island reliant on imported food. But change is coming — from government subsidies for small farmers, to classes that teach school kids how to grow food.
NPR

A Long Way From Wax Cylinders, Library Of Congress Slowly Joins The Digital Age

Through the library's website, you listen to the recording of a former slave and millions of other items. But critics say the library needs to move more aggressively to adjust to the digital age.
NPR

A Startup Scene That's Not So Hot: Japan's Entrepreneur Shortage

A risk-averse culture is making it a tough road for fresh ideas and fledgling Japanese startups. But venture backers are starting to see some signs of hope that new tech firms will take off.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.