When David Martin decided to film his collegiate version of Pretty in Pink, he knew he needed the perfect dorm. He needed a dorm with cinderblocks, bad fluorescent lighting and permanently stained carpets. He needed Barrows.
"It's the feel of it, the look of it," line producer Craig Shepherd gushed. "My God, it feels like jail. It's absolutely perfect."
The first-year dorm was taken over last Friday by the crew of the Edge of Seventeen. Shepherd described the independent film, which borrows its working title from a Stevie Nicks hit, as the story of a young man's journey into adulthood.
"Eric is in high school," Shepherd said. "And this is his view of life."
In the scenes filmed in Oberlin, Eric spends a few days with a friend at college. The twists and turns of the script lead to a pivotal gay love scene, which was filmed in Barrows 115.
"I guess the scene's pretty sensitive," said Area Coordinator Jill Medina, who orchestrated the filming. "They said it would be like Sixteen Candles but a little spicier. So I guess that's the spice."
The film stars Chris Stafford and Leah D'Alaria. D'Alaria is currently filming a pilot with In Living Color star Damon Wayans.
The movie shooting, which was completed in one day, required the services of dozens of camera men, costumers and crew. Crew members parked their trucks on the lawn and milled around the buffet tables set up in the Barrows lobby. Many students quickly became annoyed by the unplugged vending machines and crowded lobby. Some glared angrily at the movie makers who were interrupting the movie they were watching on TV.
John Buff, who lives in the room destined for the silver screen, wasn't interested in watching the filming. "I left town," he said. "I was like, 'I'm getting out of here.'"
Shepherd professed surprise at the students' lack of interest in the filming process. Shepherd said, "We were filming in one guy's room, and he just wandered in to try to get a shirt out."
Barrows 115 was barely recognizable after the crew rearranged the furniture and redecorated the walls. Buff's posters of the Beastie Boys were taken down by crew members instructed to recreate the feel of Ohio State University in the 1980s. The halls were temporarily decorated with Penthouse pin-ups and American flags.
"They didn't put our stuff back like they said they would," Buff said.
Medina said the production team generally did a very good job. "They cleaned up pretty well," she said. "I didn't expect them to vacuum."
Negotiations between the production company and the College began in October. Medina handled the administration of the filming almost single-handedly.
"I said, 'okay, if you can do it, Jill,'" said acting director of Residential Life Barb Mehwald. "It went very well. Jill is very organized."
"I kept wondering if Jill really knew what it entailed," said locations manager Jeff Abramson.
News of the filming, which marks the first commercial production shot at Oberlin, didn't spread much further than Barrows lounge. President Nancy Dye was unaware of the shooting.
The film is slated for distribution in one year. First-year Evan Cobb isn't looking forward to seeing Barrows become larger-than-life.
"I see enough of Barrows as it is," he said. "I think it's the ugliest building on campus."
Copyright © 1997, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 126, Number 8, November 7, 1997
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