Makers of ‘CSI’ film episode on campus
CSUN temporarily became West Las Vegas University last Thursday, as the cast and crew of the TV show “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” came to campus to film the seventh episode of its eighth season.
Key Set Production Assistant Kenny Hanson said the episode’s title is “Goodbye and Goodnight,” though not too many details about the episode’s plot could be revealed, as the episode was being filmed on the same night that the second episode of the season aired on CBS.
Scenes filmed on campus involved series regular Jorja Fox, who plays Crime Scene Investigator Sara Sidle, and guest star Juliette Goglia, who’ll be reprising her role as Hannah West, a 12-year-old genius introduced in the sixth season episode, “The Unusual Suspect.”
Filmed on the quad outside of Eucalyptus Hall, the crime scene features Sidle speaking with West and showing her photograph. Sidle’s words and the photograph provoke West, who becomes upset and starts crying and shouting at her.
The scene was filmed outside in the breezeway between Sierra Hall and Sierra Tower, which appear as WLVU’s dormitories in the episode.
Catherine Willows, played by Marg Helgenberger, another investigator on Sidle’s team, along with Captain Brass, played by Paul Guilfoyle, and Nick Stokes, played by George Eads, investigate the death of a girl who appears to have fallen from one of the upper dormitory rooms.
While the outside of Sierra Tower will be used to portray as a dormitory building, CBS studios will likely be utilized to simulate the rooms inside.
Scenes were also filmed outside of the Oviatt Library, near Sequoia Hall.
A member of the crew responsible for scouting locations, who wished to remain anonymous, said that filming on location could sometimes take about two days.
Larry Mitchell, a former crime scene investigator for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and one of the show’s technical advisors, wore a CSUN sweatshirt to the filming, as did a few other members of the crew. Mitchell never attended CSUN as a student, but his daughter did, and he spoke highly of the campus as a filming location.
“CSUN’s a good location because it’s easy to move equipment,” Mitchell said, citing the campus’ wide walkways, especially near the final filming location in front of Sierra Tower. “There’s lots of parking, so it’s easy to get in, easy to get out.”
Mitchell also said that the crew shot at CSUN before, but only filmed in the parking structures, not near buildings as they did last Thursday.
CSUN was scouted out because of the look of the campus, something that’s usually done two to three weeks in advance of an upcoming shooting date, the locations crewmember said. Once a suitable location is found, arrangements are made with property owners or campus liaisons, the locations crewmember said.
Because location scouts are only given a single script at a time, it’s unknown whether or not the “CSI” crew will return to CSUN to film upcoming episodes.
Christopher Mahony, a campus liaison, said that when the script was given to his department for clearance, only portions relevant to the on-location screening were distributed to anyone other than members of the crew so as to prevent unaired episodes from being shared with the public.
Though “CSI” takes place in Las Vegas, Nev., very few shoots are filmed on-location there. Beside the CBS studios, the “CSI” crew has also filmed in Santa Clarita, which appears as suburban Las Vegas in the show.
“CSI” and its two spin-offs, “CSI: NY” and “CSI: Miami,” are sometimes criticized for their lack of realism regarding crime scenes and police procedure.
“We have to cheat time,” Mitchell said. “We only have 42 minutes for an episode.”
Mitchell said the show is very realistic even though crime scene and police procedures are not as thorough as they are in real life.
Very few extras were picked from the crowd watching the filming. Most of the extras portraying college students were hired from Los Angeles-based Central Casting.
The episode is scheduled to air sometime in November.
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