Monday, September 27, 2021

Holy Batman, Spartans

Hollywood came to campus last week with the filming of 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.' East Circle Drive was blocked off and the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum was barricaded off. But that didn't deter starstruck students

October 20, 2014

The semi trucks that had lined East Circle Drive for the past week were gone. The barricaded road and closed-off sidewalks surrounding the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum were opened back up by MSU police on Saturday evening, and north campus looked normal again.

All that was left, besides a few fences, moving trucks and the faux-grass barriers along Grand River Avenue, were some photos of celebrities posted online and the stories a handful of lucky students get to carry with them.

Though it took just a week for most of the set building and filming to complete, speculation surrounding the possibility of the movie coming to East Lansing had been swirling since the early parts of the year.

Director Zack Snyder had stopped by campus in January for a private tour of the museum, and rumors started flying.

But then things had gone silent. Other than a casting call that had been released in September, nothing official was known about the movie’s ties to the Lansing area.

Anticipation grew as more and more structures had begun to pop up around the Broad Art Museum. Film trucks and production equipment had surrounded the set, and MSU spokesman Jason Cody had confirmed that the museum would be closed for the week of Oct. 13 “as part of a rental for a private function.”

Though university officials were tight-lipped, it was widely known what the “private function” was for.

Then finally, a source close to the production of the film confirmed Batman v Superman” was coming to East Lansing .

Hollywood was on its way to MSU’s north campus.

Lucky memories

While most students were left out of the loop when it came to just about any detail regarding the movie, a lucky few got an insider’s look at the people and events surrounding the filming.

Like the time when Ben Affleck grabbed the biceps of senior sociology major Antonio James , a member of the MSU track and field team and reportedly told him, “Hey, you’re pretty big to be a runner.”

James was at an MSU athletics weight room when Affleck stopped by during the team’s practice. He said he quickly explained to the movie star that he’s on the “field” end of “track and field.”

“I’m a discus thrower, actually,” James told Affleck. “I’m just trying to get in shape like you.”

Another MSU student, who cannot be named because of a non-disclosure agreement, was asked to play a role in the film. They spent “about 32 hours” filming between Thursday afternoon through Saturday morning.

That student called the experience both “unreal” and “exhausting.”

According to that source, the museum will serve as Lex Luthor’s home in the film. The scenes in which the source was involved were based around a red-carpet party thrown by Luthor, featuring many of the film’s A-list stars.

“They waited until it got pitch dark out to start shooting,” said the source. “But once it started, it was pretty consistent shooting scene after scene and different variations of the scenes.”

The source estimated they got about a total of nine hours off between Thursday afternoon through Saturday morning, when filming on campus concluded.

“It was exhausting,” said the source. “I kept having to do the same movements 20 to 30 times in a row.”

Catching a glimpse

The filming brought lots of attention to campus, and students were doing almost anything they could to get a better look at what was going on.

At the beginning of last week, set building had begun inside the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum before the area was blocked off by law enforcement. Individuals could walk right up and look into the windows of the museum to clearly see the construction of a fully-stocked bar. But the ability to gaze inside didn’t last long, as the sidewalks were blocked off Tuesday evening, before the set was completed.

To get a better view after the barricades went up, many students were found huddled around the second and third-floor windows of Berkey Hall, peering out the east-facing windows of the building.

However, much to the chagrin of those in Berkey Hall, most of the view of the museum and its set was obscured by a large tree, which had leaves that hadn’t yet succumbed to the throes of autumn.

“We can’t see that much,” said food science freshman Lauren Tamm . “Mostly we have just been waving to the workers — there was a waiter that waved back. Most of them just laugh at us.”

Too much hassle?

But along with attention, filming also brought lots of traffic for both cars and class-goers. It was common to hear students walking around the art museum’s barricaded perimeter, voicing complaints about the detours they had to take to avoid police and MSU event staff shooing away those who got close to the set.

“It added 10 minutes onto my walks to class,” said journalism senior Rachel Droze , who lives above Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Grand River Avenue. “They wouldn’t allow you on the sidewalk, and you got swarmed by cops if you set foot over there.”

“You can’t get from Bessey through Berkey,” said professional writing senior Simon Zagata . “So, I had to go all the way around, which is kind of inconvenient when you’re on a tight schedule.”

It didn’t add an overwhelming amount of time to Zagata’s commute, but he was one of the many who ran into long detours during the week of filming.

“I was a couple minutes late (to work), so nothing big,” he said. “It was just more of a stress thing than anything.”

But it seems that, at least for a little while, a majority of students were willing to put up with the inconveniences to welcome Hollywood to campus.

“For a week, I think it’s really cool,” said economics and environmental sustainability junior Max Lippitt . “If it lasted for a month, it would be kind of annoying. But for a week, it’s good.”

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