Directed by Justin Simien, Netflix’s ‘Dear White People’ gives its viewers a satirical look at the lives of students of color who end up in one of America’s seemingly post-racial Ivy League universities. With the events that follow, the show’s premise deals with several didactic themes along the lines of cultural bias and social injustice. The show’s fictional university setup and period-based set designs play a crucial role in adding more heft to its impactful drama and enlightening examples of everyday racism. So if you’ve watched the series and you’re wondering where its filming took place, here’s everything you need to know.
Dear White People Filming Locations
Netflix’s ‘Dear White People’ is based on the 2014 film of the same name. The original movie was primarily filmed in several spots surrounding the Twin Cities, including the University of Minnesota, the Woman’s Club of Minneapolis, and Summit Avenue in St. Paul. However, although the main setup of the Netflix series remains the same, it wasn’t shot in the same locations as the movie. The show was entirely filmed in Los Angeles, California.
Los Angeles, California
The primary setting of both the movie and the show is a fictional Ivy League University named Winchester University. According to the series, the university was established in 1826 and was initially only known for providing high education to white students. While many scenes depicting the university in the movie were shot at the University of Minnesota, the series shows the same university with the University of California as its backdrop. As pointed by a Reddit user, you can spot UCLA’s Royce Hall is some scenes of the second season along with other locations of the university such as Shapiro Fountain, Student Activities Center, and Kerckoff Hall. Check out the Reddit post below:
Here’s another geo-tagged picture posted by one of the cast members of the series:
Here’s another image from the sets of the series, posted by a twitter user:
They're filming Dear White People today pic.twitter.com/x72ufdHJwH
— ACAB & Mango Advocate (@joh_ango) December 1, 2018
— Abigail Yohannes (@abigailyohannes) December 3, 2017
In an interview, cinematographer, Jeffrey Waldron, explained that he and the director, Justin Simien, meticulously studied the works of everyone from Ingmar Bergman to Fritz Lang to Spike Lee. Due to this, the film is replete with references. But instead of being sporadically distributed throughout its runtime, these references have a very subtle flow to them. As explained by Waldron, “There were a lot of film and filmmaker references at play, but each was carefully curated and designed to flow pretty seamlessly within the show’s overall look and language, which was heavily influenced by Ivy League architecture, photography and style references.”
The creators used RED’s Weapon camera systems, Zeiss Master Prime lenses, and Angenieux Optimo zooms for its filming. When it comes to its lighting, Waldron and the crew used Quasar tubes to give the show a dimmable ceiling ambiance, along with several LED sources. Moreover, several tungsten sources were also provided to the sets of the series. According to Waldron, so many efforts were put into the technical specs of the show because the creators had a “specific aesthetic ambition” through which they wanted to tap into a wide array of skin tones. But because of their emphasis on celebrating different skin tones through lighting, it became quite challenging for them to shoot scenes that involved six-ten different characters. Though, ultimately, it’s these complications that became the favorite aspects of the show’s filming for the cinematographer.
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