Hollywood Takes Notice of Morehouse College as a New Film and Television Locations Site

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Georgia's boom in film and television productions has trickled down to Morehouse College as several productions have sought out the campus as a shooting location

Cameraman Alfeo Dixon, a 1990 Morehouse graduate, sets a shot during filming of "The Yard"

"We wanted to film "The Yard" at Morehouse because it is one of the most prestigious historically black colleges..."

Over recent weeks, 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 locations site for the movie and television industry.

While Georgia’s 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 Yard,” have been shot on campus.

“Hidden Figures,” starring Taraji P. Henson and Kevin Costner, is the story of a group of African American women who were responsible for the mathematical computations that put astronaut John Glenn into space in 1962. That mission made Glenn 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.

The production designer he was referring to is Wynn Thomas, who worked with Spike Lee ’79 when they shot “School Daze” in the Atlanta University Center.

“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 Yard” is a BET production that follows a first-year HBCU president, students and other parts of the campus through daily black college life.

“We wanted to film “The Yard” 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,” added Cathy C. Tyler, executive director of Morehouse’s Office of Strategic Communications. “It’s a lucrative revenue-raising tool for the College. “

It’s also something that Morehouse should expect to see more of in the future.

“If you guys have been out of working with the movie business for awhile, you have things that haven’t been seen a lot,” said producer Jim Bigwood. “If you can play as NASA, as well as playing Georgia A&M, you have a very versatile location. 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.”

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Ranked America’s fifth “Most Entrepreneurial College” by Forbes Magazine in 2015, Morehouse College is the nation’s largest liberal arts college for men. Founded in 1867, the College enrolls approximately 2,100 students and historically has conferred more bachelor’s degrees on black men than any other institution in the world. Morehouse College has produced more Rhodes Scholars than any other HBCU. Prominent alumni include Martin Luther King Jr., Nobel Peace Prize laureate; Dr. David Satcher, former U.S. Surgeon General; Shelton “Spike” Lee, American filmmaker; Maynard H. Jackson, the first African American mayor of Atlanta, Ga.; and Jeh Johnson, the Secretary of Homeland Security.

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