Over the past week, students at Johns Hopkins and Phillips Academy Andover watched their campuses transform into versions of Harvard for the filming of “The Social Network.”
The film, directed by David Fincher and written by The West Wing’s Aaron Sorkin, chronicles the rise of Facebook founder and former Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg. Among other well-known actors, the movie stars Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake, and Andrew Garfield.
Though the film is meant to take place at Harvard, filming restrictions prevented shooting on campus causing location managers to scout out schools with similar Georgian architecture.
Though Andover and Johns Hopkins both had the right collegiate feel, production teams had to arrive early to make them resemble Cambridge.
In Andover, film crews arrived with fake snow and a John Harvard Statue. At Johns Hopkins, the “Latrobe Hall” sign was replaced with a “Kirkland House” sign and extra leaves were added to the ground.
“It’s remarkable to see the attention to detail. They looked at our bulletin boards and said, ‘the boards at Harvard are much neater than this,’” said Dennis O’Shea, Director of Communications and Public Affairs at Johns Hopkins.
While the filming caused some Johns Hopkins students to be excited, others were irritated that their campus served as a Harvard stand-in, said Ariela Fleisig ’12, a Johns Hopkins student.
“There’s a feeling of resentment for those people who got into Hopkins as a second choice to Ivy League schools,” Fleisig said. “They were reminded of their rejection [by the transformation of the campus].”
A Facebook group was created encouraging Hopkins’ students to wear their own school apparel and to walk in the background of the filming.
While some members of the community were annoyed, Keun Hee Oh ’10, a Johns Hopkins student, said he thought most people were generally intrigued by the film. The director and other members of the production team held question and answer sessions with groups of students at both schools about the industry.
For O’Shea, though, and other members of the Hopkins community, the entire process was tiring.
“The high quality of the people involved made it a compelling project, but I don’t have the energy to do it again next week,” he said.
According to O’Shea, Johns Hopkins decided to allow filming partially for financial reasons.
“The city and the state have tried to cultivate a film industry here,” he said. “We felt that by doing this we would be giving a lot of people some work, and that’s especially important in the recession.”
Both Johns Hopkins and Andover were paid by Columbia Pictures for the shoots. According to “The Phillipian,” Andover’s student newspaper, Andover was paid $20,000. Johns Hopkins would not disclose its payment.