Last updated on Apr 17, 2019
By Jada Butler
Students may have noticed the camera crews, wires and signs that read “set here” in various spots on campus in the past few weeks. These are all a part of the filming process for an upcoming HBO show, “Mrs. Fletcher” set to premiere in the fall.
“Mrs. Fletcher” is a comedy about a dual coming-of-age story, exploring the impact of internet porn and social media on the lives of an empty-nest mother (played by Kathryn Hahn) and her college freshman son (played by Jackson White). Filming began Jan. 24, just as spring classes began.
This isn’t the first time there has been filming on campus. Past TV shows that used locations on campus include “Unbreakable: Kimmy Schmidt,” “My Gay Roommate,” and “Crashing” to name a few.
Theresa Duggan, director of conference and guest services, is the main organizer bringing filming crews to campus. Scouts first come to campus to take photos of various locations for the creative teams to visualize scenes. Once they agree to use the locations, Duggan works with the crew and the departments of public safety and facilities services to get an idea of the scope of the project – how many people will be involved, how many trucks will be on set, and how it will impact the day-to-day operations on campus.
Projects that come to campus pay a rental fee, provide a contract and insurance, and pay for any services that the university offers, according to Duggan. She didn’t want to go into details of the costs, but said she is hopeful the money gets used to help student programs. Duggan could not confirm the funds that benefited from the revenue.
Chris Fevola, the university chief financial officer, said the university engages in a series of auxiliary activities that help to minimize tuition and fees, including rentals of our space by film projects.
“The university’s primary focus is providing students with a high-quality, affordable education. Over the past three years, the university’s tuition rate increases have been two percent, at a time when tuition rate increases in our region have been close to four percent,” he said.
Public safety and facilities services hold an important role when it comes to film projects on campus. Sometimes the project coordinators will hire electricians and public safety aids in setting up the filming crew’s basecamp and blocking off areas for their trucks.
Some locations being used for filming “Mrs. Fletcher” this semester are Kumble Hall, the laundry room and lounge in Post residence hall, Hillwood Commons, and the library.
“It’s not ideal to use a dorm space that is occupied, but we are taking great strides to inform the students working through residence life and the RAs, slipping flyers under their doors,” Duggan said in regards to the space in Post Hall. She said it was only being used for that weekend until they wrapped up that scene.
Duggan said they do their best not to inconvenience students when filming in a public space like Hillwood Commons, and said the film crews are accommodating to students needs by allowing students to pass through between takes. On Thursday, Feb. 21, the section of Hillwood Commons from the campus concierge to Starbucks and in front of the Gold Coast Cinema was blocked off from 2 p.m. to about 6 p.m. to film a scene.
Some students enjoy watching the scenes come to life.
Ashley Damis, a junior broadcasting major, said this type of film work is something she wished she learned in her classes. “It’s different when you’re in the studio and you’re just making up shots with your classmates,” she said. She’d like to be involved with TV shows, movies, or music video production, either as an assistant director or assistant producer, when she graduates.
Something Damis learned from watching “Mrs. Fletcher” film is the amount of detail that goes into each take. “Every detail matters. I didn’t really pay attention to that when I’m shooting. [They say] position your hair this way, wear this that way – I’m really seeing how tedious that is,” she said.
Duggan said one student is working as an extra for the show, but did not have any further information on which student. Duggan tries to set up opportunities for students to be involved with film projects on campus, whether it be as an extra, doing a Q & A with the production team, or even attending red carpet premieres.