Lights! Camera! Action!

Chicago PD filming in the quad

Crew members and actors from “Chicago P.D.” film in the UIC Quad in January. ­(Photo: Jenny Fontaine)

Cast from the NBC show “Chicago P.D.” and more than 250 extras were on campus last month to film scenes for the drama in the Quad.

It’s not the first time the show has filmed at UIC.

“Whenever we have a scene that calls for a college campus, UIC is the first phone call I make,” said Jim Turner, location manager for “Chicago P.D..”

Filming on campus has been occurring for decades, “but for the past two years, there’s been a strong uptick in filming requests,” said Miguel Alba, director of multicultural marketing and communications. Alba coordinates all campus filming requests from movie production companies, TV commercials and not-for-profit access.

Captive State filming in SES

Scenes in the upcoming feature film “Captive State” were shot at Science and Engineering South. ­(Photo: Jenny Fontaine)

UIC’s first big break was in the 1970s film “Mahogany.” Since then, filming for big-screen productions on campus has included “The Blues Brothers” (1980), “Candyman” (1992) and “Divergent” (2014), among others. On the small screen, scenes for “ER” and “Hill Street Blues” showcased campus locations.

On average, one commercial shoot happens every month at UIC. Recent filming on campus has included scenes for the movie “Captive State” at Science and Engineering South; independent drama film “Teacher” at the UIC Pavilion; Showtime’s “Shameless” at the UIC Pavilion; “The Chi” at the UIC Police Station; Fox’s “Empire” at the Atkins Medicinal Plant Garden, and Amazon’s “Electric Dreams” at Science and Engineering South.

Recent commercials for Quicken Loans and Samsung were also filmed on campus.

The reason for the high demand?

“There’s a lot of interesting architecture,” said Alba, referring to UIC’s award-winning angular, geometric buildings. Designed by renowned architect Walter Neisch, the oldest buildings are prime examples of Brutalism. They play well in sci-fi work like “Captive State,” a film about extraterrestrials living in Chicago. The movie is set to release in August.

Other spaces have been used to stage courtrooms, labs and police stations. Location and proximity to the city help lure production companies, too. But the most attractive university-wide quality might be UIC’s push to be a more film-friendly campus.

“One of the biggest issues a location manager deals with is the impact our filming has on the community,” said Turner.

The relationships UIC Police and other staff continue to build with Turner make the filming process easy.

“We make sure whatever filming is taking place doesn’t disrupt any classes,” said Marwan Chehade, superintendent of buildings and grounds.

Marketing, facilities management and UIC Police work together regularly to make sure day-to-day business operations aren’t disrupted either, and everyone’s safety is taken seriously.

“Some filming is event driven,” said UIC Police Captain Eric Hersey. “We make sure our campus community is not startled by it.”

“Everything is a team effort,” Chehade added.

Filming also provides funding to support campus efforts. A contingency fee for using university buildings and spaces supports campus beautification and renovation efforts. Money made from last fiscal year may bring Bluetooth speakers to the Quad or help display student work in or near engineering buildings. The atrium in Science Engineering South could get banners to showcase engineering programs.

“It helps the students and departments,” Chehade said.

More filming requests are welcome.

Alba plans to reach out to the city and state film offices to drive filming on campus up and to cooperate more with production teams filming in and around the Chicago area.

“We are certain that there are more people who haven’t really thought about UIC as a filming destination,” said Alba. “We’d like to change that perspective. We are Chicago’s film-friendly campus.”

Productions seeking to film on the UIC campus can email Alba at


Recently filmed on campus

TV Shows:
Chicago Fire
Chicago Med
Chicago P.D.
Electric Dreams
The Chi

Action Hero
Captive State
Death Wish

Activia yogurt
Aqua Mermaid
Quicken loans

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