Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Innocence of Filmmakers

On the anniversary of our now fabled 09/11, angry mobs in Egypt and Libya attacked US embassies. In Libya, a US ambassador and three other Americans were killed. While this Libyan attack may have actually been linked to a predetermined al-Qaida plot (because killing diplomats is always a good way to start a war), news sources report that the violence has been linked to outrage over an anti-Islamic American film.

One can argue that the filmmaker has the right to make this film, especially if he is American. One can argue that making such a film is embarrassing, intolerant, and irresponsible; especially since any depictions of the Muslim prophet Mohammad are forbidden in Islam. One can argue that the filmmaker put himself in danger, following the footsteps of Theo Van Gogh. One can argue that if he is Coptic, he may have placed other Coptics in danger. One can also argue that the actions by Islamic extremists, including the choice to attack US embassies, have nothing to do with the film or its maker. Terrorists of any religion or creed are opportunists by nature. There are many arguments to be made about who is right and who is wrong. However, this is a filmmaking blog. We'll focus on the film heard around the world.

The Innocence of Muslims is an amateurish production, shot on what appears to be a soundstage. The film has financial backers and consultants with alleged ties to the Coptic and Israeli communities. The cryptic "Sam Bacile", now revealed to be Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, had been previously convicted on fraud charges. Five million dollars spent, and real sand wasn't even used. That is half the budget of your average 90s-era, star-studded romcom. Given the filmmaker's reputation, I say the backers were severely duped. The Innocence of Muslims is the type of video that no one would ever pay attention to, and no one did until recently. The original video was posted more than two months ago.

No wonder Muslims are offended. But there is something else. Watching the video above, you might notice something is a Not just the blatant oversimplification of a major world religion. I have read Jack Chick tracts more accurate. But technically speaking, something is off. The dialogue seems overdubbed. And it is painfully obvious. Then you realize something even more sinister than offending 1/7 of the world's population is at play.

That's right. The actors in the film were mislead about the production.To them, the film was titled Desert Warriors. It's one thing to lie to your actors to get a good performance out of them. Hitchcock did it all the time. It's another thing to put a price on the head of your actors in order to further your own cause. And as predicted, a fatwa has been declared on the actors. If you are going to make a film insulting a large part of the global population, at least have the balls to let your actors in on it.

Happy Filmmaking.

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