The six-part documentaries from HBO F: Into the Storm try to open the lid of the so-called “Q”

That was the first question on filmmaker Cullen Hoback’s mind when he tried to find out who was behind the far-right conspiracy called QAnon – a 2017 movement that warns of secret evil among the American elite that is secretly being fought by Donald Trump

The theory takes its name from the so-called “Q,” first published on the Internet in October 2017, calling itself a government insider falsely predicting the imminent arrest of Hillary Clinton

In recent years, QAnon has gotten bigger and more diffuse, more like a series of intersecting conspiracies united by common themes such as exploitation, cover-up, and undercover messages based on forums and on social media posts, its real popularity is – the number of its true believers – hard to measure The profile is clear, however: QAnon has spawned countless quantities of goods, has been approved by conservative lawmakers, and was present in January 6 Capitol attack by a pro-Trump mob

QAnon has been getting more and more booted from mainstream platforms, although it is still successful in some digital corners

In trying to answer who’s behind this, Hoback may have gotten more than he expected – and ultimately embedded himself for three years with those who believe in the conspiracy and those who may Whole created initially

Much has been written about those following the QAnon narrative, which makes a number of wild and macabre claims, including that a group of cannibalized pedophiles run a global ring for and active against child sex trafficking during its time President Trump planned office

Far less confirmed who actually pulls the puppet strings in the middle – as the author of the Q posts – was what Hoback was going to say: Determine who exactly is behind the conspiratorial prophecies that pretend inside information about the White House and the White House to exchange top levels of government

In short, Hoback wanted to use his six-part HBO documentaries Q: Into the Storm to find out the anonymous part of the movement

“I thought unmasking ‘Q’ might bring this whole thing to a close,” he tells PEOPLE

The QAnon phenomenon is based on a series of posts allegedly written by someone with “Q-Level” security clearance who first appeared on the anonymous forum 4chan almost four years ago (The “Q Drops” have come their way found 8chan message board website of the same name)

Q’s conspiratorial predictions were tight and slang – or nonsensical depending on your point of view – and were read to fans like code to be cracked

As time went on as Q’s number of posts increased, an online community emerged.Finally, Q’s warnings (the majority of which never came true) found their way to other websites, attracting more and more followers, and launching YouTube Channels from those who tried to decipher the latest “drops” “

QAnon, while still viewed as a fringe group, has undoubtedly had an impact on American voters.The conspiracy has even made its way into mainstream politics thanks to the Trump administration and lawmakers like Georgia Rep, thanks to Marjorie Taylor Greene who did in the past has expressed support for QAnon (your spokesman has since said she thinks it is “disinformation” “)

Many observers also noted the amount of QAnon paraphernalia during the deadly UprisingS. Capitol on Jan 6

While Hoback says he doesn’t blame QAnon for the riots, he also says that the attack probably wouldn’t have happened without him

“It’s the idea of ​​meme and magic – making something a reality Jan 6 was an attempt to manifest this, “says Hoback.” They had a number of people trying to make the Q-narrative real “

Indeed, an ABC News report examining the court records of those arrested for participating in the riot revealed that large numbers appeared to be supporters of QAnon

To understand the pull of the movement, start with the members of the little-known forums that Q first appeared on When the person who pretends to be a government insider is really just a scam (an Oz -like character that only exerts the appearance of power), doesn’t that make all posts – and thus also the system of beliefs – also a fraud?

“Those who follow Q see the magic trick and we show how the magic trick works,” says Hoback of his documentaries. “And I think once you’ve shown how a magic trick works, it can no longer work”

Based on the investigation he documents in Into the Storm, Hoback believes the main architects of QAnon’s “magic trick” are Jim and Ron Watkins, a father-son duo that took over Forum 8chan, which is now called 8kun is known from founder Fred Brennan

As the site administrator, Ron has long been rumored to be the man behind Q. Some say that even if he wasn’t the first to start posting as Q, he eventually took over as Q, or at least knows who the poster was is

Hoback explains that he believes Ron, Jim, and the conspiratorial message boards are “the engine that gets Q running” (The Watkins have denied this)

Some QAnon supporters claim they don’t care who the poster actually is – but Hoback isn’t buying that: “Deep down they all wanted to know the answer, even though it was about they don’t care”

“Masks have incredible power, and when you take a mask off someone, all of the luggage that comes with that person is revealed,” says Hoback

He continues, “It’s not my intention to get people to turn their backs on this. It’s just about showing them what was going on behind the scenes and allowing them to come to their own conclusions let “

Even without Q’s identity being released, Hoback says he saw support for the group begin to shatter after a series of Q predictions that failed to come true (such as the allegation that Trump died on Jan. March would be president again), he says: “There are many QAnons who are rudderless and feel misled and want to know the truth”

Still others don’t give up – an idea Hoback says that a believer featured in the documentary recently compares to basketball players who “run around trying to change the score even after the game is over.” “”

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As the Movement’s claims continue to go unfulfilled, the allure of the conspiracy has gradually waned in some for those who still believe the truth can be hard to learn

“It had a very playful quality [initially],” says Hoback, “I think people flirted with the idea, ‘Maybe it’s real, maybe it’s not,’ But if you pretend to be something long enough, you will you finally got to this thing “

Even if Q hasn’t posted anything since December, the QAnon community is unlikely to completely disintegrate, instead the group of believers could transform into something else

“I think we’ll have a Q element in the distant future,” says Hoback, “but when people sit down and take the bitter pill of what was going on behind the scenes, that will change”Stories They Tell”

That someone could invent an alter ego sharing government secrets on internet message boards and use that persona to inspire an entire community seems almost too tailored for television – and yet it may be, when Into the Storm points it out the finger points towards Ron Watkins

While Ron previously denied that he was behind Q, he said last month, “I’m not Q I’ve never spoken to Q privately. I don’t know who Q is “- Hoback believes Ron leaned into the narrative in exchanging text messages with him that were on the air when the documentaries aired

In one of the more recent messages, according to Hoback, Ron wrote something that Hoback says “appears to be” almost an endorsement in and of itself “

“I learned a long time ago that internet personalities are just actors on a stage,” wrote Ron, according to Hoback, “Making things bigger than life makes a better story and ultimately a more entertaining existence”

Ron Watkins

World News – CA – What this documentary filmmaker learned from QAnon after three years in the dark rabbit hole