Monster eel reels in viewers
Thousands of people have taken the bait and viewed a 19-second video of a "monster eel" in the Manawatu River.
Brothers Tim, 20, and Ray Hamilton, 19, created a clip of what appears to be a massive human-sized eel swimming in the river, posted it online and the video has gone viral.
It has nearly 50,000 YouTube hits in just over a week and has captured the attention of international audiences, with analytics data showing viewers from Japan, Australia and the United States.
An American viral videos show called Right This Minute has also contacted the brothers asking if the footage can be featured on the show.
Also hooked in by the pair's production was a Palmerston North City Council worker with an interest in water quality, a radio station and people keen to dish out both criticism and support of the clip.
The Hamiltons have admitted the video is fake, but say they were pleased with the amount of attention it gathered and the discussions it generated.
The eel was caught in a stream near the brothers' parents' Pahiatua property using luncheon ham.
It was filmed in the bath tub using a "red screen" – an eel would appear invisible on a green screen – and the recording compositioned alongside one of Ray Hamilton hobbling down a rocky bank of the river throwing bread at an imagined eel.
They even made an additional 21-second clip of a closer encounter with the "monster eel", where it's fed a pizza base before it squeals and slithers away.
"We've done this stuff before and we know what convinces people," Tim Hamilton said.
"It was supposed to be a bit hoaxy and it's done what it's needed to do."
The brothers have been making movies and experimenting with special effects since they were young.
They now run a company called The Shiz, which specialises in cinematography, post-production work, photography and special effects, alongside Katie Parkinson.
The eel video was an elaborate ploy aimed at boosting the production company's profile.
"I used to believe that you couldn't manufacture a viral video, but now I'm considering it more," Tim Hamilton said.
"You go to a movie, even though you know it's fake, but you're still impressed with how real it looks.
"That people feel the need to tell us it looks as fake as a flying pig, that kind of says, well, actually it's not really obvious and people feel they have to point it out."