21 AND OVER
In finding the perfect locale to stage the story's fictitious Northern Pacific University, the top choice for Lucas and Moore was clear: The University of Washington in Seattle. "We fought for it," said Moore. "It is a gorgeous campus." The look and feel of the campus architecture matched what the filmmakers originally envisioned. "The expansiveness of it, the, the foliage, the beauty, the old brick buildings," recalled Todd Lieberman. "This is exactly what the movie's supposed to be like."
Filmmakers selected the Pacific Northwest location after scouting a half of dozen cities in places like Oregon, North Carolina, and Canada looking for a big, striking college campus where the audience could believe the characters could easily get lost. "We wanted the film to have a big epic feel, like the characters were going to a large, gorgeous state school," said Moore. "When you go see the movie it should be like you are going to the college that everybody wanted to go to. We scouted a lot of schools and when we got to UW, it was so beautiful that it seemed like the ultimate college.
"We first wrote the setting as the University of Colorado at Boulder, which is where I went to school and is also a beautiful campus. There's something funny about having a gorgeous, lush setting with these huge old buildings, and having the young kids tearing it up," laughed Moore. "We also wanted that big state school feel, because the joke of why can't they get this kid home, would not work on a campus where there's three buildings. You needed a huge school where you could feel at sea."
It was important for the campus to be large and sprawling for the simple reason that the plot revolves around the guys getting lost. "We wanted that big state school feel," said Lucas. "The joke would be you shoot at like, I don't know, Williams [College] or something and there's like three buildings and it's like why can't they get this kid home?" The logistics of plot aside, having the majority of filming contained in one general location meant less moving around and a more efficient shooting schedule. "Eighty percent of the movie takes place on campus and all the other locations that we have outlying the campus are, are really close," said David Hoberman. Ultimately, Washington University offered everything the filmmakers dreamed of in a location. "We must have scouted, I don't know, six or seven different, different cities," continued Hoberman. "Vancouver, Montreal, I think North Carolina --- all over the place. The guys always wanted to shoot in the Pacific Northwest."
The cast too found their surroundings to be enjoyable. "I love this city. It's beautiful," said Sarah Wright. "And what's, what's funny is everybody that lives here is like, 'It's never this gorgeous all the time, this many days in a row.' It's been, you know, eighty degrees and sunny every single day that we've been here."
The energy that comes with shooting on a real campus, explained Teller, can't be replicated on a soundstage. There's also the matter of becoming... comfortable with one's surroundings. "When I saw pictures of this campus, and then obviously once you walk naked on a campus, you really feel close to it. You feel connected to it." As many college students past, and many more to come, can attest: Miles is onto something with the naked-thing.
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