David Fincher to Film Scene on Campus for New Facebook Movie

The Flagstaff Quad will transform into a snowy Harvard Yard this weekend, when the film cast and crew of “The Social Network” drive onto campus. “The Social Network” is a film about the young adults who founded Facebook, the popular social networking site. It centers in particular on Mark Zuckerber, the Harvard student who co-founded Faceook. Acclaimed director David Fincher will direct “The Social Network.” Fincher is best known for directing “Fight Club” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” for which he received an Academy Award nomination. Fincher will be on campus this Sunday to direct the film scene and host a question-and-answer session with students. The cast of the movie boasts some famous names, including Justin Timberlake and Jesse Eisenberg, star of “Zombieland.” Aaron Sorkin, the screenplay writer behind “Charlie Wilson’s War” and “The West Wing,” wrote the film’s screenplay. The scene being filmed on campus this weekend is set in Harvard Yard in Cambridge, MA, according to Stephen Porter, Director of Public Information and Web Publishing. Because Harvard University does not allow film crews on Harvard Yard, the film’s location manager scouted out Andover’s Flagstaff courtyard because the architecture closely resembled that of Harvard. The scene will feature Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, played by Andrew Garfield, as he is initiated into “an elite Harvard fraternity” called Phoenix, Porter wrote in an email to all students, faculty and staff. The only confirmed cast and crew members who will be on campus this weekend are Fincher and Garfield, along with some producers, according to Porter. Timberlake will not be at the filming, but Porter said that there is a possibility that Eisenberg will appear on campus, although he is also not in the scene. Porter’s email said that the quad in front of Paresky Commons will “simulate Harvard Yard during a cold, wintery night” and will require the use of fake snow. Porter said that although the scene will most likely occupy only 30 seconds in the film, the shoot will last from about 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Monday night. Porter said that later that night, another two short scenes will be filmed in Lower Left and the Elson Art Center. Starting on Sunday, the movie’s set designers, technicians and crew will arrive on campus to begin preparing the fake snow. The actual filming will commence on Monday night. Students will be permitted to watch the scene from a distance, as well as attend the question-and-answer session with Fincher on Monday at 3 p.m. “There is an educational benefit to having a film shot on campus. Students, especially arts students, can get a behind the scenes look at the filmmaking process and have a chance to talk to some of the people involved in filmmaking,” said Porter. Columbia Pictures will pay Andover $20,000 to film on campus, according to Porter. The $20,000 covers the day of shooting, the preparation time needed to set the scene and the time required to clean the area after filming, Porter said. He added that any additional costs that the crew incurs will be added to the original fee. “The $20,000 works out nicely for the entire school. It fills a little hole in the budget created by the recent decision to keep Commons open longer,” said Porter. “The Social Network” is not the first film to shoot a scene on the Andover campus. A scene of the recently released movie “The Invention of Lying,” starring Rob Lowe and Jennifer Garner, was filmed at the Andover Inn in the spring of 2008. Porter said that the recently lowered taxes on filming in Massachusetts have made the state more attractive to many production companies. As a result, he said, many film companies have sought permission to film on the Andover campus. “We’re still trying to decide as an institution whether allowing a movie shot on campus is a good idea. We’re weighing the pros and cons,” said Porter. PA charged Warner Bros. $15,000 to film on campus for “The Invention of Lying,” said Porter. Porter said, “The [previous] experience… made us a little wiser this year. If we are going to allow filming movies on campus, we need to establish guidelines—what is acceptable to charge and where they can film.” “Whether it’s a small budget movie or a big budget movie, it still causes disruption on campus,” he continued. The Business Office, Public Safety, the Communications Office and the Office of the Physical Plant (OPP) are all involved with the filming this weekend. “When a production like this comes to campus, it involves an influx of a lot of people and a lot of equipment, and they all have to go somewhere,” said Porter. Before the school gave approval for the film shooting, OPP first tested the effects of fake snow on the lawns to determine whether the mess would be difficult to clean up afterwards. “The simulated snow was a big concern. We were worried about how easily it would come off,” Porter said. Although the snow did not affect the grass, many students tampered with it. Porter said it appeared that students had a snowball fight. Administrators realized that extra security would be needed to ensure that students would not tamper with or trek across the fake snow. Public Safety will patrol the Flagstaff Quad while the film crew is preparing the set and filming on campus. “An officer will be stationed at the Gelb [parking] lot to restrict parking and an officer will be assigned with the crew for the time of the shoot in the evening,” said Thomas Conlon, Manager of the Public Safety Office. Columbia Pictures will provide additional security personnel to watch over the set, Conlon said.