Before Thanksgiving break, Emory students crowded outside White Hall to catch a glimpse of Chris Evans as he entered the building to film a scene for Fox Searchlight’s upcoming movie Gifted.
Such events have become increasingly commonplace at Emory, as the school’s aesthetic appeal and Georgia’s tax incentives to film in-state have brought various movie crews to campus.
Film production companies’ general interest in filming at Emory has noticeably increased, said Bill Dracos, associate vice president for administration and chief Business Practice Improvement (BPI) officer for Emory.
Eddy Von Mueller, senior lecturer in the department of Film and Media Studies and faculty coordinator for the Film and Media Management concentration, said that he has noticed a similar trend over the past five to six years.
“Emory has been, very consistently, an attractive locale,” Von Mueller said, in light of the Gifted filming. “The production sector in Atlanta is really exploding right now, and I think that’s bringing slightly more [filming] traffic [to Emory].”
Movies such as Hall Pass (2011) have scouted locations on Emory’s campus over the last few years, including the Lullwater Preserve and Eagle Row, Mueller said. Into the Wild shot a scene during an Emory commencement ceremony and the Sleepy Hollow series sought out space to film in the abandoned Candler Mansion. Denial, a film about Emory’s Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies Deborah Lipstadt, is set to begin filming on Emory’s campus this year.
It will be “interesting to see how much ‘real Emory’ shows up in a film about ‘real Emory,’” Von Mueller said, referring to Denial and its Emory setting.
Additionally, over the past few years, production companies representing Vacation, Divergent and the Ring series have requested to film on Emory’s campus, Dracos wrote in a document emailed to the Wheel.
The increase in interest toward filming in Atlanta can be attributed not only to the area’s aesthetics, but also to some economic incentives, including a tax incentive, that reduce the high costs of production, Dracos wrote.
For certain projects that are produced in Georgia, a 20 percent tax credit is awarded in accordance with the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development. An additional 10 percent credit is awarded when a company embeds a Georgia logo in its projects and campaigns.
Gifted finished filming on Emory’s campus on Thursday Nov. 19. The production brought several key Hollywood figures to Emory’s campus over the course of Wednesday Nov. 18, and Thursday Nov. 19, Dracos wrote. Several weeks before filming began, the production company for Gifted approached Emory’s BPI and expressed interest in scouting locations on campus for production, he added.
The cast and crew, including Evans, the film’s lead actor, and Marc Webb, the film’s director, shot several scenes for the upcoming movie in front of White Hall, Goizueta Business School and Emory’s School of Medicine.
“I think we’re accommodating about as much traffic as we can,” Von Mueller said. He added that in hosting an increasing volume of productions, Emory must continue to emphasize its overall education mission. He implemented Gifted’s production into his own teaching goals and took some of his students to White Hall on Nov. 18 to observe the film’s cast and crew.
To his knowledge, movie extras had been pre-casted by an agency, but some Emory students were cast as background, Von Mueller said. Even so, his students were able to observe the filming and had the chance to establish relationships with members of the production company.
“We have been able to create opportunities for Emory students to be observers, production assistants and occasionally to shadow members of the crew,” he said. In some cases, production companies that have worked on campus have offered full-time employment to Von Mueller’s students.
None of Von Mueller’s students saw such a pay off during the filming of Gifted, he later added.