Students going to class last Thursday morning were surprised to be told that they could not pass through the majority of East Quad, as filming crews for the popular FX series The Americans had transformed it into a private film set.
The film crew arrived early in the morning on Dec. 7, their trailers lining the avenue. The crew got to work replacing various flags and posters with the intent of passing off East Quad as a replica of George Mason University in Virginia circa 1985. Hordes of extras in period-appropriate clothing ambled in front of Ingersoll Hall, the signage of which had been altered to read “West Building,” as the crew went about filming a scene in which lead actress Keri Russell talked with a tall, bearded man. By 3:30 filming had finished, and crew members began to vacate the premises.
Reactions were mixed. Some students, such as Grisele, a sophomore, expressed excitement at the opportunity to see their college on television. “They did Gossip Girl here too,” said Grisele. “I’m watching and I start to ask myself—why does it look so familiar? Then I see the library, then I see Boylan Hall… Somehow, I always end up watching these shows with Brooklyn College in them.”
However, general reactions were less than enthused, as the filming crews blocked off several entrances during finals week.
“It slowed me down! I had a presentation today that I couldn’t miss and I ended up late for it,” said Nathan, a junior. “Why would they schedule this when they know we all have finals?”
Students in Facebook group Brooklyn College: In the Know 2 expressed particular frustration at the short notice received. “I strongly believe that when filming is taking place, we should receive notice,” commented one student. Students also expressed mild bemusement at the filming crew’s selective depiction of the CUNY campus, pointing out that the crew seemed to congregate around the lecture hall currently being repaired in New Ingersoll.
The George Mason University signs set up around campus and college students from outside of the CUNY system acting as extras on a functional campus were particular objects of mockery. “Are they ashamed of being on a CUNY campus or what?” asked one freshman. “I just wanted to park and couldn’t even do that.”
Addressing these concerns, a spokesperson for the Brooklyn College Office of Communications & Marketing told The Kingsman, “Larger scale shoots are generally scheduled at least two weeks in advance, with occasional exceptions. Depending on the nature of the shoot, we notify the parties involved. As we schedule bigger and more complex shoots, we are determining the best method to notify the campus community.”
The spokesperson pointed out the financial benefits of television shows filming at Brooklyn College. “The fee collected by the College is dependent on the scope of the project. The money is deposited into the college’s Auxiliary Enterprise Corporation Fund, which is used to support various campus initiatives. For example, auxiliary enterprise funds were used to pay for the 2017 commencement ceremonies at Barclays Center.”
During future filming sessions, students may direct any questions to the Location Manager of the production, whose contact info may be found on the filming crew’s parking permits.