Leave Only Footprints


Harvard students got an unexpected chemistry lesson last week. We learned that fake snow doesn't melt like real snow. We also learned that fake wind comes out of big machines that go boom. Fake Harvard students run to class--and carry their books in bookstraps. Fake seniors only keep a single copy of their theses.

And we've learned another lesson in the past two weeks the movie life just isn't that glamorous. The Hollywood-comes-to-Harvard experience hasn't been exciting, or enthralling, or even ego-boosting. It's just been a nuisance.

Harvard has a strict film policy, according to News Director Peter Costa. No filming of feature films in the Yard (Love Story, long ago, was a notable exception). Accordingly, With Honors, the latest from Truth or Dare director Alex P. Keshishian '86, was filmed only on the public streets around Harvard. The cops who blocked students from their destinations were Cambridge police, not Harvard police. And according to Traffic Department spokesperson David Bryant, Cambridge received only the fares for a few bagged meters in compensation for movie inconvenience.

Harvard, on the other hand, didn't get any money for this. University officials did negotiate with the film crews, Costa said. They agreed that students would only be denied access to streets for 30 seconds at a time. Film liasons promised to work closely with house masters so students would inconvenienced as little as possible. It didn't quite work out that way--but then, reality is always hazy in Hollywood.

Some students said they were late to class because police wouldn't let them out of their own entryways. Film crew workers barged into students' rooms to ask them to turn off their lights. They caught at least one student naked.


We at The Crimson were also inconvenienced; Plympton Street's fake snow stayed far too long. They used our space and accosted staff members on their way here.

No, there's nothing tragic about taking a roundabout route to your destination (although it has been cold outside). And there's nothing unusual about yet another film that puts Harvard in the spotlight (although this movie doesn't sound like the most accurate representation of undergraduate life).

We guess it's just a question of who should be inconvenienced--us, or the movie crew that has barged into out home.

In light of this, we have a few suggestions for future movie crews. Need to film in the dark? How about the midnight to four a.m. shift? In the daytime? Sources say the sun rises before six.

By opening the campus to movie land, Harvard is doing this film crew a favor. That's OK--we're all for hospitality. But guests have responsibilities. There's a back-packer's adage that says "Take only photographs, leave only footprints." Eco-friendly Hollywood should know better.

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