Watch your TV closely for familiar campus spots
UIC is more popular than ever as a place to film TV shows, movies and commercials.
“Since late March, early April, the amount of requests has skyrocketed,” says Reginald Smith, associate director of marketing and brand management, which handles the requests. “It’s two or three every week.”
In the last year a dozen productions filmed at campus sites, in addition to the two or three times a week that scenes are shot for the TV shows “Chicago Fire” and its spinoff, “Chicago P.D.”
UIC recently fielded a request to find medical facilities for an episode of “Chicago Fire,” airing later this season, that could spin off a new series called “Chicago Med,” Smith said.
Among campus shoots in recent months: outside the UIC Police Station for the Netflix series “Sense8,” where one of the main characters is a Chicago police officer.
UIC appears frequently on another TV series, “Shameless.” “You can clearly make out the medical side of campus,” Smith said.
The Onion used the Incubator Lab Facility on the west side of campus for a satirical fake news report, “Scientists continue developing alternative energy sources for Americans to waste.”
A Toyota commercial features ESPN analyst Michael Smith driven around campus by Terrell, a Toyota customer, with scenes of Terrell learning to scuba dive in UIC’s Sport & Fitness Center pool.
Another pool scene was filmed here for the movie “Divergent,” starring Shailene Woodley.
Some of the shoots are for films the public will never see, like the training video made by a pharmaceutical company.
What makes UIC so attractive to filmmakers?
“It’s the diversity of assets we have,” Smith said. “The other day ‘Chicago P.D.’ was looking for a morgue, and the department of kinesiology has a cadaver lab. I found it on a student blog.”
Demand is such that for every request for a location that pans out, there are three or four that don’t. That’s often because of scheduling problems or that the filmmaker “can’t find the exact look they’re going for,” Smith said.
He had to turn down “Chicago Fire” when it wanted to shut down an elevator bank in University Hall — impractical because of the number of people who use the building.
“One of our goals for the upcoming year is to encourage location scouts to show some of UIC’s architecture,” Smith said.
“That would mean potential growth for the brand and a way to expand awareness about UIC.”