Starting tomorrow, April 11, millions of people around the globe will have an opportunity to see the Brenau University campus when the major motion picture Rampage opens its worldwide distribution in the United Kingdom, followed by early screenings Thursday, April 12, in locations throughout the United States including Gainesville, before finally opening in theaters worldwide on Friday, April 13.
The film, starring Dwayne ‘“The Rock” Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, features several scenes that were shot in and around the bamboo forest on the Gainesville campus – converted by the magic of Hollywood set designers to double as an urban zoological research park’s sophisticated natural habitat for a silverback gorilla. The Brenau scenes are prominent early in the movie. Without spoiling anything beyond what the title does, the plot is not limited to the bonding that occurs between human and animal.
The film production unit picked Brenau because of the bamboo forest and other considerations after several scouting missions by various members of the crew. They started work last spring making some extensive modifications to the area, and started actual filing in the area shortly after graduation last May. Although it was a closed set, scores of personnel – including “The Rock” himself mingling with nearby residents and onlookers – dozens of trailers and trucks, signage and other highly visible temporary additions to the public streets and parking lots around campus sort of blew the cover. When they finished filming a couple weeks later, the production folks put everything back the way it was – with some nice improvements.
Brenau frequently gets requests from film and television companies that want to do all or part of their productions at Brenau. Most do not come to fruition because of scheduling or financial considerations. Some are very small operations with the entire crew working out of an SUV, but many can be quite impactful. The university has to make certain that any production does not open it for liability, cause irreparable damage to facilities, cost it money or frustrate the central mission of teaching students.
The Rampage project “was by far the most extensive – and the most professional – that we’ve worked with,” said events and facilities director Danielle Miller, who is usually the university’s point person for filming. “Everyone involved was very respectful and easy to work with. It was a great experience.”