Most actors have virtually no control over the direction of a movie once it reaches the editing room, so it's not uncommon to hear a few of them moan and groan (quietly, if they want to get hired again) after they see the final cut.
But few actors in Hollywood or elsewhere have more of a reason to be outraged over post-production than the ones who appeared in "Innocence of Muslims" -- that is, if we are to believe a joint statement released by the 80 cast and crewmembers who supposedly worked on the low-budget project (to call it a film would be an insult to celluloid).
The statement, posted on Wednesday by CNN, said this:
"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 re-writes of the script and lies that were told to all involved. We are deeply saddened by the tragedies that have occurred."
The actors claim they responded to a casting call for a film called "Dessert Warriors." That movie, which they say they shot with a filmmaker who called himself Sam Bacile, had nothing to do with religion, according to one actress quoted Wednesday by Gawker. Instead, the director said the movie was simply about life in Biblical times.
According to the actors, they were just as surprised as everyone to see the blatantly anti-Muslim sentiments in the clips, which sparked riots in Egypt and Libya and may have resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens. As of Thursday, the rioting has spread to Yemen and Iran, according to several reports.
The actors say that significant portions of their dialogue were re-dubbed during post production to give the storyline an anti-Muslim context that had not appeared in the original script. Judging from the 13-minute clip posted on YouTube by someone with the username Sam Bacile, the actors' explanation is certainly plausible. Much of the dialogue does not synch up with the actors' mouths, and the sound quality varies drastically from one line to the next.
Although the sound quality of the entire clip is poor, many instances of overdubbing appear to be more than just a case of slapdash editing. "You can totally tell it's two different voices," said Marshall Grupp, a sound engineer at Sound Lounge, an audio post-production house based in New York. "It's so obvious they did that. The question is why."
Grupp, who has 30 years of experience in sound editing, went through the one of the clips of the movie that first showed up YouTube -- 13.57 minutes of footage posted on July 2. (The title of the clip is called "Muhammad Movie Trailer," but it's more a sequence of scenes than a trailer.) The low-budget clip appears to be set in the modern-day Middle East as well as in Biblical times. Grupp said all the instances of overdubbing are references to Islam and the Muslim faith.
Grupp emailed his notes to the International Business Times on Thursday. One of the most obvious examples of overdubbing, he said, takes place at 6:31, when a sword-wielding character yells in anger, "Mohammed is our messenger and the Koran is our constitution!" The dialogue in that scene does not even remotely synch up with the character's mouth, Grupp said.
Grupp's transcription of the overdubbing instances follows below, along with his notes on each instance.
1:34- "protect Islamic crime"- sounds similar to actor but seems over-dubbed
1:56- "Islamic terrorist"- definitely over-dubbed, but again sounds like actor
2:54- "his name is Mohammed, we can call him the father unknown"- definitely over-dubbed by another actor
3:07- "Mohammed, Mohammed the bastard, your lady summons you"- definitely over-dubbed
3:42- "come in Mohammed"-sounds like actress but over-dubbed
6:31- "Mohammed is our messenger and the Koran is our constitution"- definitely over-dubbed
7:09- "have you heard what god has said in the Koran" - over-dubbed
8:32- "now go and read the Koran"- over-dubbed
9:04- "is your Mohammed a child molester"- over dubbed
10:11- "Islamic nation forbids adoption because of......" over-dubbed
10:16- "that is the next version of the koran"- seems like it is over-dubbed
10:32- "i have not seen such a murderous thug as Mohammed"- over-dubbed with another actress
13:37- "every non-Muslim"- over dubbed
The movie's original dialogue in these instances remains unclear, but if the reaction from the actress quoted by Gawker is any indication, the original context was far less inflammatory: "Now we have people dead because of a movie I was in," she told the website. "It makes me sick."