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Anti-Muslim film was cast as low-budget 'Arabian Desert adventure'

September 13, 2012 |  5:30 am

This post has been corrected, as noted below.

Casting calls for the anti-Muslim film that sparked outrage in the Middle East described the project as an "Arabian Desert adventure movie" and indie "historical drama."

Cast members for the movie, originally titled "Desert Warrior" and later changed to "Innocence of Muslims," say they were duped by the film producer and misled about the intent of the film.

The casting call does not seek an actor to play the prophet Muhammad. The lead character is "Dr. Matthew," described as a Middle Eastern pharmacist, aged 40 to 50, and an "intelligent, family man." It also features, George, a romantic and charismatic "warrior leader."

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A statement released to The Times on behalf of crew members said: "The entire cast and crew are extremely upset and feel taken advantage of by the producer. We are 100% not behind this film and were grossly misled about its intent and purpose. We are shocked by the drastic rewrites of the script and lies that were told to all involved. We are deeply saddened by the tragedies that have occurred."

One crew member told The Times that specific attacks against Islam were dubbed and re-recorded in post-production.

"It's unmistakable that most dubbed portions are a different voice than the original actor," he said.

One actress told CNN: "This makes me sick to my stomach to think that I was involved in that movie that brought death to somebody else."

Late Wednesday, FilmL.A. Inc. confirmed that the movie was shot in Los Angeles County in August 2011, but the president of the film agency said he didn't know what the project's intent was.

“By law, the content of film projects need not be disclosed in order to apply for or receive a film permit from FilmL.A. Neither FilmL.A. nor its government partners had any foreknowledge of this project’s content, and the release of a film permit can in no way be construed as endorsement or approval of this film,” said a statement from president Paul Audley.

A Duarte-based Christian nonprofit, Media for Christ, submitted the request for the film permit, according to Duarte City Manager Darryl George.

The producers also used Blue Cloud studios in Santa Clarita, also known as Blue Cloud Movie Ranch, as the film's location, George said. The ranch has a popular "Middle Eastern town" set that has been featured in several movies and television shows.

[For the record, 4:30 p.m. Sept. 13: An earlier version of this post referred to the film as "Desert Warriors" instead of "Desert Warrior."]


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-- Times staff writers