'Innocence of Muslims' Shot on Hollywood-Built Set
UPDATED: Hollywood production worker talking to FBI as authorities probe L.A. location.
The Innocence of Muslims, a movie that has enraged radical Islamists who have rioted and committed murders in the Middle East this week, was partially shot on a set that Paramount's TV unit helped to build for its TV show JAG, and a man with five decades of movie and television experience is helping the FBI figure out who is behind the controversial film.
Portions of the infamous, micro-budget movie were filmed in Saugus, about 30 miles north of Hollywood, on a portion of Blue Cloud Film Ranch called “Baghdad Square,” which is often used for TV and film productions seeking to replicate Middle Eastern war zones.
“JAG and Paramount and myself, we built this entire set for the JAG TV series,” says Blue Cloud owner Rene Veluzat in a YouTube video where he describes his movie ranch. On Thursday, though, that video was made “private” and protected by a password.
Paramount Television produced JAG, which aired on CBS from 1995-2005.
A Paramount spokesperson said the studio has no way to verify whether it built the set.
The building facades in and around Baghdad Square at Blue Cloud appear in episodes of JAG and The Innocence of Muslims, as well as other TV shows and movies.
The FBI and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department were interviewing Veluzat on Thursday, and Veluzat told The Hollywood Reporter that both law-enforcement agencies instructed him not to speak with the press or other interested parties about what he knows about The Innocence of Muslims.
Sources close to the investigation say they’re hoping Veluzat can, among other information, provide clarity as to the real names of the filmmakers. The Innocence of Muslims filmed Aug. 18, 2011, at Blue Cloud under the name Desert Warrior. The producer was listed in the film permit as Sam Bossil, though it’s an alias (reports also have identified him as Sam Bacile).
According to Film L.A., the county is holding the film permit under lock and key for now while it alerts those who are named on it that their identities -- assuming they are real -- are about to made public. Insiders say law-enforcement officials are concerned for the safety of the filmmakers once their true identities are known.
Other movies and TV shows partially filmed at Blue Cloud include Iron Man, Get Him to the Greek, Serenity, Arrested Development, NCIS Los Angeles, The Closer, Threat Matrix and CSI. The U.S. military has also made training videos at Blue Cloud.
Veluzat, 72, said the 100-acre ranch is for sale for $15 million.
Veluzat worked as a stand-in for TV shows in the 1960s. Later, he acted, did stunt work, worked in post production, transportation and in the art department of various productions. In 2003, he produced The Long Ride Home, a film starring Randy Travis, Eric Roberts and Ernest Borgnine that Lions Gate Films distributed.