This past summer, SUNY New Paltz’s campus was transformed into a television set.
The HBO hit series “Girls” traveled to New Paltz to film scenes on campus, which were featured in their second episode of season four, titled “Triggering,” which aired on Sunday, Jan. 18.
Not only did filming take place on campus, but faculty, students and alumni were featured in the episode as extras.
SUNY New Paltz became involved with “Girls” in June when the Media Relations Office was contacted by a location scout from HBO to film on campus, said Media Relations manager at SUNY New Paltz, Melissa Kaczmarek.
“Last summer’s filming of an episode of ‘Girls’ was an exciting event for our campus,” Kaczmarek said. “The college accommodated this request because of the benefits it brought to our community, including the experiential learning opportunities for our students. Several dozen New Paltz students and staff had the unique experience as extras and learned first-hand what it takes to execute a full-scale television production.”
According to an article on the New Paltz Times’ website by Brandon Missig, over 40 SUNY New Paltz students were featured in this episode. The campus was used in order to resemble Iowa University, which is where Hannah Horvath (Lena Dunham) attends graduate school.
Missig reported that Regina Heyman, the unit production manager for “Girls,” said that scouts found that some of Iowa University’s campus looked similar to SUNY New Paltz’s campus. Since it is easier to bus a crew from Long Island City to New Paltz than to Iowa, they decided to incorporate New Paltz’s campus.
In the episode, students are seen walking, socializing and skateboarding as the sun shines on Old Main Quad. At the very end of the episode, Hannah (Dunham) and Elijah (Andrew Rannells) are seen walking through the calm and peaceful quad.
Faculty and students were very enthusiastic when recalling this once-in-a-lifetime experience they had just six months ago.
SUNY New Paltz Events Coordinator Brendan O’Brien, recalled his experience as an extra in the episode, dressed in an Iowa sweatshirt on the Old Main Quad.
“It was a really cool experience. I had never participated in something like that before so it was interesting to see how a television show is made,” O’Brien said. “I know the students were appreciative of the opportunity. A few of us got to meet Lena Dunham and she was very kind. She took a group photo with us at the end of filming.”
O’Brien’s job was to act like he was heading to class. He said they had to do this about three times before the director, Dunham, was satisfied.
Chris Marchitelli, a fourth-year digital media programming and management major, had a lot of fun but had no idea what to expect during his first time being an extra on a television show.
“I felt like I got to experience something completely new,” Marchitelli said. “I always wanted to see what production was like on such a large-scale show.”
According to Marchitelli, the extras saw a lot of the award-winning director/actor Dunham. Although he was not formally introduced to Dunham, she would say, “Hey, how’s it going?” or “Hey, cuties!”
Marchitelli was surprised by the amount of micro-managing that goes into production.
“We filmed, at most, maybe a minute of what would end up airing on the show,” he said. “Just thinking about the amount of work that went into so little actual screen time was mind-boggling.”
A huge fan of the show, fifth-year childhood education major, Tamara Litt, was so excited to experience her first time as an extra on one of her favorite shows.
“It was such a unique opportunity,” Litt said. “I have never had the chance to do anything like this before.”