A Peek Inside the Christchurch Internet Troll Agency

Through a family connection our documentary crew were granted special access into the Christchurch branch of the top-secret Social Cyberspace Agency on the condition that it would not be released for two years.

It has now been two years.

A Peek Inside the CHCH Internet Troll Agency gives us an exclusive look into a top secret company, hired by the Kremlin, who spread fake news and misinformation online.

Although our film is a mockumentary, these kinds of companies really do exist (The Internet Research Agency in St Petersburg interfered with the 2016 US election), insidiously shaping the thoughts and views of the masses. Using comedy as a
tool to highlight a serious topic, we explore and humanise the people behind the computer. Trolls for hire, but it could be your dad.

We meet the eclectic members of the branch through a series of talking head interviews: Tama (a middle-aged, passionate, conspiracy theory junkie), Josefina (a hipster, single-mum who thinks she’s above it all), Millie-Ann (the firm’s actor in residence), and Alexis (who has just been cut off by her rich parents). Liz, the doting manager and mother-figure, reveals to us that the branch isn’t doing so well. The Kremlin have said it’s their last chance: if they don’t impress them soon, the branch will close and merge with... the Aucklanders.

Out of desperation, the team comes up with a plan for an elaborate viral video to “blow up the famous Czekazanian Salmon”. This group of misfits will do whatever it takes to impress the Kremlin - even if it means a real act of domestic terrorism.

  • Lucinda Jones
    Director
  • Genevieve Kent
    Director
  • Lucinda Jones
    Writer
  • Genevieve Kent
    Writer
  • Mikaela Ruegg
    Producer
  • Susannah Kenton
    Key Cast
    "Liz "
  • Te-Wharerangi Mihinui
    Key Cast
    "Tama"
  • Lucinda Jones
    Key Cast
    "Millie-Ann"
  • Genevieve Kent
    Key Cast
    "Alexis"
  • Mikaela Ruegg
    Key Cast
    "Josefina"
  • John Ross
    Director of Photography
  • Thomas Sainsbury
    Script Supervisor
  • Project Type:
    Short
  • Runtime:
    13 minutes 1 second
  • Completion Date:
    September 27, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    15,000 NZD
  • Country of Origin:
    New Zealand
  • Country of Filming:
    New Zealand
  • Language:
    English
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
Distribution Information
  • Someday Stories
    Distributor
    Country: New Zealand
    Rights: Internet
Director Biography - Lucinda Jones, Genevieve Kent

Co-Directors/Co-Writer Lucinda Jones and Genevieve Kent

Lucinda Jones is an actor/director/musician/writer who pursued a film and music career in Melbourne after graduating from Monash University with a BA in Film and Theatre. At the start of 2019 she spent six months in Los Angeles working as a Creative Director Intern for a record label, before moving to New York for her music.
Genevieve Kent is an actor/writer/director who worked in film, theatre and voiceover for several years in Auckland after graduating from The Actors Program. She moved over to Los Angeles to further pursue her acting career in 2019.
During the pandemic at the beginning 2020, Genevieve and Lucinda both had to return to their hometown of Christchurch. The former high school friends had always wanted to create their own work, and after collaborating on a short film during lockdown, the women decided to join forces and create ‘Luckie Gem Productions’. Their first project, ‘This (but Better)’ is a musical-comedy mini-series about two best friends navigating the ups and downs of their quarter-life-crisis. The duo co-wrote, co-directed, co-produced and acted in the show, which is currently in postproduction.
At the end of 2020, the pair teamed up with fellow COVID-returnee, Mikaela Rüegg, to form Kōwhai Collab Film Collective. Lucinda and Genevieve co-wrote, co-directed and acted in the collective’s debut project, 'A Peek Inside the CHCH Internet Troll Agency' – a comedic, short film mockumentary that gained funding through 'Someday Stories'.

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Director Statement

“The Internet Research Agency (Агентство интернет-исследований) is a Russian company engaged in online influence operations on behalf of Russian business and political interests. It is based in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The agency has employed fake accounts registered on major social networking sites, discussion boards, online newspaper sites, and video hosting services to promote the Kremlin’s interests... More than 1,000 employees reportedly worked in a single building of the agency in 2015.”

Now, this is in real life — 2021 — here and now. In our world, a not so real, fictional version of this decade — the Russians have expanded their firms globally, to China, the US, Iran and well... even Christchurch, New Zealand.