The anti-Muslim "movie" that served as the spark or pretext for a wave of violent unrest in Egypt and Libya may not be a movie at all.
As the video above — cut from the YouTube video tied to a global controversy — shows, nearly all of the names in the movie's "trailer" are overdubbed. The video is a compilation of the most clumsily overdubbed moments from what is in reality an incoherent, haphazardly-edited set of scenes. Among the overdubbed words is "Mohammed," suggesting that the footage was taken from a film about something else entirely. The footage also suggests multiple video sources — there are obvious and jarring discrepancies among actors and locations.
However, CNN has reported that the cast and crew disavowed the movie, and the overdubbing could also have been to conceal the content from the cast itself. Gawker interviewed a woman who played a part in the movie, who said that she had had no idea what it was about when she was hired.
As The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg reported today, the supposed filmmaker, "Sam Bacile," appears not to be a real person — or at least not the director of the movie. A consultant to the movie, Steve Klein, told Goldberg that he didn't know Bacile's real name and that he wasn't Israeli as reported.
The person using Bacile's name told the Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal that the film had been made using $5 million from those donors, as well as a sizable crew of 45 people behind the camera and nearly 60 actors. The film's low production values make those numbers risible. Five million dollars is more than the budget of some reputable independent films, and could certainly buy a better production than what went into the Mohammad film.
"We continue to report this story and gather new information to explain the origins of the movie and the individuals behind it," said AP spokesman Paul Colford. "More coverage to follow..."
The film's author is still still unknown, though Florida pastor Terry Jones and Egyptian-American Coptic activist Morris Sadek have been involved in promoting it. Four Americans were killed in Libya in riots tied to the film.
But whoever made may well have made use of little more than the standard editing software Final Cut Pro — far from a cast and crew of over 100 and millions of dollars.
Rosie Gray is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. Gray reports on politics and foreign policy.
Contact Rosie Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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