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Indiana Jones Production Films at Law School

The Yale campus got a taste of show-biz recently when a crew from Paramount Pictures arrived to shoot several scenes for the new Indiana Jones movie, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Harrison Ford.

The fourth installment in the adventure series is set in 1957 and as a result, required several days of prep work to transform the shops along Chapel Street, where some of the action takes place, to the way they looked 50 years ago.  In the block surrounding Old Campus, street signs were “de-modernized” and parking meters removed so that a scripted chase scene down College Street would look authentic.  Extras decked out in 50s attire strolled the streets, which were lined with cars, buses and taxis from yesteryear.

The script also called for a “small but important” scene, according to the Location Manager, in a “Dean’s office” and corridor adjacent to the office.  Scouts from the film’s production team decided Yale Law School would be the perfect place, so as the Chapel Street storefronts were getting their 50s facelift, and Starbucks and Savitt Jewelers were morphing into Woolworth’s, certain areas of the Law School were going under the Hollywood knife as well. 

Set dressers arrived June 25 to convert the Faculty Dining Room into a Dean’s office, replacing the existing furniture and portraits with pieces period to 1957.  In the Dean's Row Seminar Corridor, crew members painted the walls, replaced doors and changed the lighting fixtures. Outside, three 135-foot Condor cranes were positioned alongside the building on High Street, their task—to lift huge 18,000 watt lights over the rooftop into the moat behind Room 127, where they’d be used to enhance the lighting in the corridor and simulate daytime.

After a number of schedule changes, necessitating some fancy footwork by Associate Dean Mike Thompson, who coordinated Law School logistics, filming went off without a hitch the morning of June 29, and cast and crew were off to the next campus location. 

Dean Harold Hongju Koh, who presented Steven Spielberg with a Yale Law School baseball cap, said, “We are tickled that Steven Spielberg chose to film a ‘small but important’ scene of his classic series at our small but important law school. Apparently, his first Indiana Jones film had a scene set at ‘Marshall College,’ named after that movie's producer, so we urged them to revise it this time to add ‘Thurgood’ or ‘Chief Justice John’ as a prefix.  We also suggested the title 'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Legal Realism,' but they doubted that would grab the summer blockbuster crowd! Certainly, having them here made for a fun few summer days for the members of our community.”

When Indiana Jones IV debuts in May 2008 and filmgoers see the “Marshall College” campus, those of us who work at Yale will wink knowingly, remembering our fifteen minutes of Hollywood fame during the heady summer days of 2007. 

Read more about the new Indiana Jones movie on the Indiana Jones official website.

To find out more about filming at Yale, visit the Yale University Licensing Office website.