The filmmaker, Bahram Sadeghi, recently released a 3-minute video on the Internet of his asking for the NSA's help -- stumping one NSA employee and getting curt responses from another.
The Washington Post interviewed Sadeghi, who said there was no such errant email and that the situation was "only a thought experiment."
"My girlfriend and I thought to make the video because we are always thinking about ways to comment on the world outside," Sadeghi told the Post in the interview published Sunday.
He said a friend suggested he call the NSA and make the situation "as extreme as possible" by telling the NSA employee that the email was a love note from his girlfriend whom he hasn't heard from since she went to Pakistan. (She was with him.)
He said it took a couple of days to develop the scenario and possible replies depending on what the NSA employee said, then a couple of days to edit the video and post it.
While his friends have said they're concerned about his being harassed by the NSA in the future, Sadeghi told the post he wasn't worried.
"I don't want to worry about that, because in one way or another, NSA is a governmental organization," he said. "If I would be afraid of government, even when it comes to such an innocent phone call, then we are really lost."