INSIDE THE HOUSE
“Great Aesthetic” Attracts Hollywood to Morehouse By ADD SEYMOUR JR.
RECENTLY, Morehouse has been the site of a NASA building in 1960s Virginia and a fictional, contemporary public historically black university campus. It is courtesy of Hollywood as Morehouse has become a popular site for the movie and television industry. While Georgia is experiencing a boom in movie and television productions being shot in the state (third only to California and New York and has accounted for an economic impact of $6 billion), that activity is beginning to trickle down to Morehouse. Since mid-March, the movie “Hidden Figures” and the television pilot “The Quad,” have been shot on campus. “Hidden Figures,” starring Taraji P. Henson and Kevin Costner, is the story of a group of African American women responsible for the mathematical computations that put astronaut John Glenn into space in 1962, making him the first American to orbit the Earth. “Morehouse was chosen by our production designer because he had been here before and knew Morehouse has the period-correct buildings,” said Jordan Schmidt, key assistant locations manager/ scout for 20th Century Fox. That production designer is Wynn Thomas, who worked with Spike Lee ’79 when they filmed “School Daze” in the Atlanta University Center.
“The Quad” director Rob Hardy (second from right) MOREHOUSE MAGAZINE
10 WINTER 2017
Cameraman and Morehouse Man Alfeo Dixon ’90 sets up a shot during filming of “The Quad.”
“It was important to him and our director that, since this is a true story about these African American women showing what great heroes they were for our country, why not shoot it at a black college? So we reached out to Morehouse. We didn’t really reach out to anyone else. Everything came together and worked perfectly.” “The Quad” is a BET production debuting in January 2017 that follows a first-year HBCU president (played by Anika Noni Rose), students and other parts of the campus through daily black college life. “We wanted to film “The Quad” at
Morehouse because it is one of the most prestigious historically black colleges and there is a lot of history here in civil rights and black history in general,” said Rob Hardy, executive director who lists among his credits episodes of the hit show “Empire.” “Morehouse has a great aesthetic because you have a centralized quad that’s surrounded by all of these historic buildings. You have great iconic monuments throughout campus and you have a state-of-the-art gym, band facility, football facilities, swimming pools, workout rooms, even a barber shop. So whatever you’re looking for to shoot, a campus movie or a period piece, you can find it right here at Morehouse.” “Having the productions on campus isn’t only good for those finishing film or television projects,” said Cathy C. Tyler, executive director of the Office of Strategic Communications at Morehouse, “it’s a lucrative, revenue-raising tool for the College.” “If you can play as NASA, as well as playing Georgia A&M, you have a very versatile location,” said producer Jim Bigwood. You’re going to have a lot of people who are going to want to take advantage of a new batch of buildings and a new batch of geography.” n