Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Mystery of Those Shipping Containers at the Sepulveda Dam

(Photo by Michael Owen Baker/Daily News)

Rest easy -- the city didn't decide to start storing empty shipping containers at the Sepulveda Dam (although, given its past assaults on Los Angeles' historic sites, I wouldn't have been surprised).

You've probably seen it while passing by the Sepulveda Dam near the 101/405 interchange: Piles and piles of shipping containers, with scaffolding on top. It almost looked like the set up to a music festival stage to me. Thankfully, it's just temporary, according to the Daily News.

The paper writes that the stack of containers -- at least five stories tall -- is a part of a top-secret film shoot there, known only by its code name: "Rasputin." Most believe that "Rasputin" is code for the real movie shooting there: "Iron Man 2."

Writes the paper:
Hollywood insiders, masters of cinematic deception, have refused to even acknowledge the colossus next to one of the busiest freeway interchanges in the nation.

"If I can comment I'll let you know," said an email sent by a not-for-attribution official of Paramount Pictures, distributor for the "Iron Man" films. "But for the most part they haven't let me say a word about anything."

However, another person familiar with the set said it will support a massive "green screen," used to film actors in front of digitally produced backgrounds for special-effects filmmaking.

For the past week, motorists driving through the 101/405 interchange have craned their necks to see the growing block of containers just south of the Art Deco bulwark.

The Army Corps of Engineers, which administers the dam, issued a film permit for "Rasputin Locations." Many movie bloggers view that as code for "Iron Man 2," a Marvel Comics superhero action sequel starring Robert Downey Jr., set for release next May.

"They do have a permit," said Jay Field, an Army Corps spokesman in Los Angeles. "They are working with FilmLA. We have had our environmental, our engineering and our safety staffs review the permit application and have agreed there would be no problem.

"There will be no impact to the dam structure, or its operational capability, as well as an environmental impact."

But like a typical Hollywood mystery, FilmLA, which supplies local permits for TV and film productions, said it had not green-lighted a Sepulveda Basin shoot.

The shoot will continue until August, the paper wrote.

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