Secret Government Studio In Hollywood Hills
Produced Thousands of Still-Classified Films

1159 Lookout Mountain studio today. CLUI photo
FOR TWENTY-TWO YEARS DURING the Cold War, the federal government operated a secret film studio in the Hollywood Hills, in a complex (pictured above) which has since been converted into a private residence. Called Lookout Mountain Air Force Station, the studio produced thousands of films from 1947 to 1969, for all branches of the armed services, as well as for the Atomic Energy Commission and other federal and private advanced weapons organizations.

Few of these films have been seen by the public, and as part of a effort to declassify at least some of them, the 50th anniversary of the studio was celebrated at the American Film Institute last October, at an event organized by the filmmaker Peter Kuran. Many of the "Atomic Cinematographers" (so called as their work included creating films about the nation's nuclear testing program) were on-hand at the event to reminisce about the antics of the early days of filming nuclear explosions.

The self-contained filmmaking compound employed around 250 people, and covered 2.5 built-up acres, housing studios, film vaults, production areas and screening rooms. It is surrounded by residential structures in the eccentric and hilly neighborhood on Wonderland Avenue, five minutes from the Sunset Strip, and is now the home of a Municipal Court Commissioner and an artist.