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A place called 'Gold'

Story by THOMAS C. TOBIN
Photos by ROBIN DONINA SERNE
of the Times Staff

GOLDEN ERA FILM STUDIO: Styled after a Scottish castle, this new studio is part of a 500-acre Scientology complex in the San Jacinto Valley, about 90 miles east of Los Angeles.

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 25, 1998


SEMET, Calif. -- Nowhere is Scientology’s trademark self-sufficiency more clearly in evidence than at its $50-million outpost in the arid hills 90 miles east of Los Angeles.


E-METER ASSEMBLY: A Sea Organization member, who pledges eternal service to Scientology, puts together an e-meter on Golden Era grounds. It takes one hour and 20 minutes to produce one meter, which Scientologists regard as “‘a religious artifact.”
Here, at Golden Era Productions, Scientology’s leader David Miscavige oversees a broad effort to enlarge the movement founded by L. Ron Hubbard in 1950, and frame it for a 1990s audience.

Seven hundred Scientology workers put in 60-hour weeks to remaster the scratchy tapes on which the late founder once recorded his lectures; translate his words into more than 30 languages; produce Scientology films, tapes, videos, television commercials, magazines and books; and manufacture e-meters, the electronic devices used in the core Scientology counseling practice called “auditing.”

That Scientologists do all the work -- from constructing movie sets and concrete echo chambers to operating high-tech sound boards and computers -- is a trait instilled by the founder, whose picture can be found in nearly every work space. Scientologists believe Hubbard excelled in many fields, including photography, writing, aviation and sailing.

Being self-sufficient also saves millions of dollars that otherwise would be spent on construction workers and pricey studios in nearby Hollywood, say Scientologists, who refer to their remote facility as “Gold.”

Even Scientology’s suit-and-tie executives say they have worked on such projects as installing dry wall in “Gold’s” Scottish-style buildings and tending to its 500-acre manicured grounds.


Main story: page one |page 2 | page 3 | page 4

David Miscavige Speaks
In six hours of interviews, Miscavige discussed and defended the organization he has led since age 26.

The cornerstones
Images and exhibits of Scientology.


“I think the best way to learn is just by doing,” said Miscavige, who trained with Hubbard in photography and filmmaking. Today, he gives artistic and technical direction to the “Gold” staff, which includes his father, a musician, and his older brother, who oversees “planetary dissemination” of Scientology materials.

Scientology uses Hubbard’s scripts to make films and videos that promote Scientology to outsiders and also train parishioners in procedures such as auditing.

Last year, the “Gold” staff produced 543 films and videos, an estimated 2-million audio cassettes and about 10,000 e-meters.

Among the most physically impressive structures at “Gold”: The new and cavernous movie studio built in the style of a Scottish castle, and the film lab where workers in whole-body protective suits wipe their feet on adhesive mats to ward off dust.

FILM PRODUCTION: A Sea Organization member edits a film that will be used for training Scientology auditors. Last year, the “Gold” staff produced 543 films and videos and an estimated 2-million audio cassettes.

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