When the movies came to campus



Miley Cyrus, Wayne Brady and Demi Moore once set foot on the Detroit Mercy campus – while working on films.

And so did silent-movie star Cullen Landis.

It may come as a surprise to some that several movies have featured this university as a filming location.

The most recent movies to do so were “Crossover,” “LOL” and “It Follows.”

Gary Lichtman, university media relations director, has worked with the crews of those three films.

And he’s not alone.

“Many students were paid on campus as extras,” he said.

Lichtman offered some insights on the more recent films and some context surrounding the time periods they were made.

“Crossover” is a basketball movie, released in 2006, that features actors Anthony Mackie and Wayne Brady. It was directed by Preston A. Whitmore II, who was born in Detroit.

“LOL,” a romantic drama, was directed by Lisa Azuelos. Released in 2012, it starred Cyrus, Moore and Ashley Greene – and also brought Moore’s then-husband Ashton Kutcher to campus when filming took place in 2010.

In the movie’s trailer, you can spot the inside of the Chemistry Building.

“It Follows” is a horror movie released in 2015.

Maika Monroe and Keir Gilchrist star in the film, directed by David Robert Mitchell, another director born in Michigan.

Lichtman said this movie had a small budget of $2 million but went on to make $23.3 million nationwide.

The school’s dining room and Engineering Building were used for scenes.

Several students appear as extras in this film as well.

Aside from these movies, a TV pilot was filmed at the university.

Called “Prince of Motor City,” the show pilot was then the most expensive pilot ever shot by ABC, Lichtman said.

It was directed by Jack Bender, known for directing episodes of “The Sopranos,” “Game of Thrones” and “Lost.”

Lichtman said the Michigan Film Incentives effort, introduced in 2008 by Gov. Jennifer Granholm, played a key role in attracting movie projects to the state.

Granholm hoped it would create jobs for Michigan residents by attracting the film industry.

The effort gave a nearly 42% tax break to film productions in Michigan during the time it was active. However, this effort was later ended by Gov. Rick Snyder.

Lichtman said that recently some have been hoping that the incentive might be restored by new Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the state legislature.

That tax break, however, had nothing to do with the earliest movie ever filmed on campus.

In 1925, Cullen Landis – a famous actor who would appear in more than a hundred silent pictures – arrived on campus to film a locker-room scene with members of the Titan freshman football team.

The result – the film “Then Came the Woman” – premiered a year later.

In covering Landis’s appearance on campus, The Varsity News noted that in decades to come the grandchildren of the football players would likely “be bored to extinction with tales that are prefaced with ‘Now, when I was in the movies.’ ”