Filiming in progress

The film team for the Netflix series “Messiah” visits Sewanee to shoot scenes on the University of the South campus. 

There’s a local connection to the “Messiah” drama/thriller series that Netflix added to its catalog on Jan. 1.

Buck Butler, University of the South’s director of publications, said The University of the South received an inquiry in spring of 2018 about the possibility of filming a portion of “Messiah” on campus.

“The producers were looking for a location in Tennessee that could stand in for Georgetown University, where the scenes that were shot in Sewanee are set in the series,” Butler said.

Georgetown University is a private research university in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

Butler said: “I think they liked Sewanee’s neo-Gothic stone architecture for the exterior scenes, and they found Blackman Auditorium a good setting for the two classroom scenes that were shot here.”

The film team, which included dozens of location scouts, visited the Sewanee campus in April 2018. Five months later, on Sept. 29, they started shooting the five scenes in the movie. Shooting was completed in just one day in two locations on campus, Blackman Auditorium and the Quad.

Butler said, “Shooting took all day and involved some 200 extras from the Sewanee community, mostly students, but also faculty, staff and other community members.”

Extras reported to Cravens Hall early in the morning for hair, makeup, and wardrobe and the first scene was shot in the Quad later in the morning. Butler said the last shoot was for a nighttime scene in the Quad and didn’t finish until late in the night.

“The highlight for us was that so many students were hired to be extras and many of them can be seen in episodes six and sevenof the series,” Butler said. “The only parts of the series that I’ve watched so far are the scenes filmed in Sewanee.”

Butler said that without having seen the whole series, he can’t say whether he is a fan of the series or not.

“But Sewanee and the students look great,” he said. “It’s been a lot of fun for the people who were able to participate on shoot day to see themselves and their friends on screen.”

To see more photos of the filming at Sewanee, visit the University’s Facebook page.

About the series

“Messiah,” a fictional, geopolitical thriller series on Netflix, was created by Michael Petroni and includes 10 episodes in season one.

The series follows CIA officer Eva Geller as she uncovers information about a charismatic man who’s gaining worldwide attention because some believe him to be the Messiah.

As Geller searches for the truth behind the stranger’s intentions, the tangled web of lies and secrets surrounding his existence gets more complex as his popularity grows and the thin line between miracles and madness continues.

In addition to Sewanee residents serving as extras in the series, the main cast includes Michelle Monaghan, Mehdi Dehbi, John Ortiz, Tomer Sisley, Melinda Page Hamilton and Beau Bridges.