September 11, 2003

Proof will film in Hyde Park in October

Miramax announced earlier this summer that it will film scenes for its upcoming movie Proof at the University this fall. Film crews will arrive on campus sometime during the first week of classes and will likely stay for about a week, according to Larry Abeiter director of University communication.

Directed by John Madden of Shakespeare in Love fame, the film will star Gwyneth Paltrow, Anthony Hopkins, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Hope Davis.

The movie is based on the 2001 Pulitzer Prize-winning play by David Auburn, who received his bachelor's degree in English from the University in 1991. The play revolves around a woman whose dying father, a U of C math professor, is both brilliant and mad.

“An early draft of the play wasn't set at the U of C, and it felt too generic. I felt it had to be grounded somewhere. Hyde Park immediately came to mind as a perfect backdrop," Auburn said.

Because much of the play takes place on a back porch, producers scoured all of Chicago looking for a porch similar to the one described in Auburn's play. They finally found what they were looking for in a house on 48th Street, just north of the University. The convenient location will allow them to more easily shoot scenes on campus.

According to Arbeiter, a new scene of the professor's funeral that was written into the script will be shot at Rockefeller Chapel. Producers have also been considering filming scenes in Eckhart Hall, Ida Noyes, and the Divinity School, as well as offices in Harper and Swift.

“They want something that captures the feel of the architecture on campus," Arbeiter said. “Any alum would recognize the University in quite a number of scenes in this film."

Only about 20 percent of the movie will be made in Chicago. After filming here, the crew will move to England, where most of the production will be done. Miramax hopes to release the film by spring 2004.

As soon as the play became a hit off-Broadway, Auburn was approached about making it into a movie. After considering Toronto, producers finally decided on Chicago last spring.

Despite the disruption that 150 cast and crew members will inevitably cause during the first week of the quarter with their large film equipment, Arbeiter said the University is happy to provide a backdrop for what will likely be a quality film.

“There is going to be some inconvenience. I just hope that when people are inconvenienced that they agree that this is a good thing for the University," he said.

Arbeiter said that Hart-Sharp Productions, the New York-based company producing the film, has agreed to have three to six student interns help with production. The University and the company are also discussing the possibility of having student extras. Any student interested in being an extra should check the University News office's Web site for more information.