"Filmmakers Paying for Right to Film On Campus"

by Linda Shin, The Daily Californian, 20 October 1999

Miramax Films is tentatively paying the UC Berkeley administration $100,000 for the right to shoot its movie "Boys and Girls" on campus, university officials said yesterday.

Most of the money will be used to pay the wages of UC Berkeley personnel who are required to work on the set, including electricians and security officers, according to UC Berkeley's Real Estate Services Office.

A quarter of the money will finance undergraduate scholarships and the other $25,000 will go to business and administrative services, said UC Berkeley spokesperson Marie Felde.

Business and administrative services is the largest employment unit on campus, said UC Berkeley spokesperson Robert Sanders.

"It handles everything to do with business, from purchasing toilet paper to overseeing the cleaning of campus to the construction of the buildings," Sanders said.

The university decided to allow the movie crew to film on campus for the next few weeks despite possible disruptions to students and faculty, Felde said.

Daily Cal Staff / Irene Tang
Filmmakers shoot the graduation scene for "Boys and Girls" in front of Dwinelle Hall.

"We review all requests to film on the campus very carefully," she said. "Those we accept are opportunities that can benefit the students and the campus."

The figures have not been finalized because negotiations between the university and the film company are ongoing, said Barb Evans, campus filming coordinator and analyst for UC Berkeley's real estate office.

Modifications to the schedule are likely to occur on a last-minute basis, making the budget negotiation process more difficult, Evans said.

"The production company often changes the location schedule after filming has begun," she said. "While the university requires a location schedule with filming dates and times in advance of the shoot, we are aware that such schedules are subject to change."

The producer and director may have conflicting ideas about a particular scene, lighting may be wrong at the designated time of the shot, or bad weather may interfere, Evans said.

"It's the nature of the business," she added.

Evans said the average location rate for a feature film in California is approximately $10,000 per day.

As a major motion picture, "Boys and Girls" is operating on a budget of at least $15 million, said David Linck, spokesperson for the film.

During the 1997-98 fiscal year — the last time the campus hosted a feature film production — the university received a total of $76,500 in fees for the right to film. The majority of the money came from Universal Studios, which paid the university $56,000 to shoot the Robin Williams movie "Patch Adams," Evans said.

The remaining portion of the $76,500 came from four commercial print advertisements, three commercial television advertisements and 10 non-commercial documentaries, Evans said.

Helen Levay, the real estate services office manger, said the university does not actively market itself as a potential location for films.

"We don't advertise and we don't solicit," she said. "They come to us. It's just a huge hassle (to host a film) and it takes away from the work we're supposed to be doing."

Nevertheless, some university officials have said UC Berkeley's image stands to benefit from the film's production.

Although the university's involvement in the film is not designed to be an advertisement for prospective students, the movie will emphasize the positive aspects of campus, said Barbara Duncan, building coordinator for the Life Sciences Addition and the campus location contact for the movie.

The filmmakers are taking great care to portray the university in a positive light, Duncan said.

"(The film crew) is extremely conscientious," she said. "They want to put a good spin on UC Berkeley. They picked sites that were especially photogenic."

UC Berkeley students had mixed reactions to the film crew's presence on campus.

Sophomore Peggy Hsieh said the money does not compensate for the hassle the film is causing students.

"They may be paying us, but that doesn't excuse the fact that they're really rude," said Hsieh, an intended business administration major. "When we're trying to get to class, they say 'Hurry up, hurry up,' like we're in the way. This is our campus."

Junior Misun Chung, however, said she believes the money compromises the honorable institution of education, but that it is beneficial to students in the end.

"In principle, I don't think the school should be making money off a Hollywood movie," said Chung, an intended art history major. "Hollywood goes against the principles of education and doesn't put useful ideas into your head. But in reality, you have to be happy that the money is supporting schools."

Another student said the film provides a valid source of money and a minimal amount of annoyance.

"It's a good way to get extra revenue," said freshman Jason Harper, who worked as an extra for the film. "It's not a huge inconvenience. The amount (the university was paid) does seem a little small, but I have nothing to compare it to. It's probably reasonable."

©1999 The Daily Californian

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