Movie Scenes to be Filmed at Yale

Scenes from Julia Robert’s next feature film, “Mona Lisa Smile,” will be shot on the Yale campus on November 1.

In the movie, scheduled to open next year, Roberts plays an idealistic graduate of Berkeley who moves to Wellesley College in 1953 to teach art history. The movie addresses the clash between East and West Coast cultures within the context of a coming-of-age story. Yale does not appear in the script, serving only as a filming location. Director Mike Newell (“Four Weddings and a Funeral,” “Pushing Tin,” “Donnie Brasco”) is familiar with Yale’s residential colleges and expressed early interest in the possibility of filming some scenes at the University. Filming will take place over the course of one day primarily in Silliman College and Sterling Memorial Library, in the evening, after the library’s regular closing time.

This is the first major motion picture in recent decades to be filmed on campus, although there have been an increasing number of documentaries and news shows filmed on campus. “In considering this request, the priority was to ensure that the academic enterprise would not be disrupted,” said Linda Koch Lorimer, University vice president and secretary.

“We have worked with the production company to provide at least some students with the opportunity to be extras or production assistants,” said Donald Filer, associate secretary, who has been working on this project. To be considered for positions as extras in the movie, students must apply to the casting agency. Approximately 15 students who live in Silliman College or are members of the Yale Dramat will be selected to work as production assistants.

Other members of the cast who will be on campus are Kirsten Dunst (“Spider Man”), Gennifer Goodwin (“Ed”), Julia Stiles (“Save the Last Dance,” “ ‘O,’” “Wicked”) and Dominic West (“Rock Star,” “28 Days”), among others. Julia Roberts starred in the 1988 release of “Mystic Pizza” which was filmed extensively in southeastern Connecticut. She won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Erin Brockovich in 2000.

The City of New Haven and the Connecticut Film, Video and Media Office, which is a division of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, have been working to attract film productions to the area, given its experienced production crews, many historical assets, and proximity to New York City. “Yale is pleased to help in the State’s and City’s efforts to increase New Haven’s attractiveness as a desirable filming location,” said Lorimer.

According to Guy Ortoleva, executive director of Connecticut Film, Video and Media Office, “Film and television production from in-state companies as well as filmmakers who visit Connecticut as a location, provide a considerable number of jobs in the state.” In addition, they infuse money into the economy. “For example, the producers of a recent Intel commercial reported spending $400,000 in the New Haven area,” Ortoleva reports.

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