Screen Time for Vassar's CampusProducer Jeffrey Soros ’83 and Crew Shoot Scenes for Shirley

Thirty-five years ago, Jeffrey Soros ’83 lived on the third floor of Main as a drama major. Now a successful film producer, Soros returned to the campus this summer for the first time since he graduated, and he spent one morning reviewing a scene shot just one floor above his old dorm room for his new movie. “It brought back a lot of memories,” Soros said as he and President Elizabeth Bradley prepared to watch the shoot from the hallway of the fourth floor of Main.

Film Producer Jeffrey Soros ’83 and President Elizabeth Bradley met on the fourth floor of Main to watch the shooting of a scene from Soros’ movie.

The film, titled Shirley, is a fictional account of a few months in the life of famed horror story author Shirley Jackson, starring Elisabeth Moss (Handmaid’s Tale, Mad Men) and Michael Stuhlbarg (Call Me by Your Name, Boardwalk Empire).

Soros said about 8 percent of the movie was shot on the Vassar campus, and he said he appreciated the hospitality he and his crew received from his alma mater. “Everyone here at the college has been extremely helpful,” he said. “It was great to be back.”

The film crew prepares to shoot the scene.

Part of the movie takes place at Bennington College in Vermont in 1948, and there was some thought about shooting some scenes there. But Soros said his production firm was offered a tax credit from the State of New York, so it made sense to send a location scout to Vassar. The production crew soon followed, and two weeks of filming began in late August. “Many of the buildings at Vassar still look like the period when they were built, so it turned out really well to do the filming here,” Soros said.

Jon Read ’09, production supervisor

Given the strength of Vassar’s drama and film departments, it’s probably not surprising that three Vassar alumnae/i worked on the production crew for the film. Jon Read ’09 was production supervisor, Johnny Wojcik ’11 was a production assistant, and Sarah Gittins ’16 was an electrician.

Read said he uses many of the skills he learned at Vassar every day on the set. “My job is to coordinate all the tasks and iron out any difficulties, and at Vassar you learn to interact on a personal level with many different kinds of people,” he said. “That’s something I use every day on this job.”

Johnny Wojcik ’11, production assistant

Wojcik said he returned to Vassar for his five-year reunion two years ago, but it was different being back on campus for his job. “When I signed on to the film, we did not yet know we'd shoot at Vassar,” he said. It was a welcome sight to drive through the main gate early in the morning and see our catering truck with Main in the background.”

Gittins said she broke into the movie business by reaching out to Vassar alums. “I am really grateful that some of them saw my passion and hired me,” she said. “Coming back to the campus, I had had a bit of deja vu. We filmed in Joss (Josselyn House), where I lived my freshman and sophomore year, just two doors down from my friend's dorm room. It was great to be back for a few days, especially while working with some other Vassar folks.”

Electrician Sarah Gittins ‘16

Bradley and Soros donned headphones and watched the filming of a scene from the movie as it was shot in the Residential Operations Center on the fourth floor of Main, and the president chatted with all four Vassar alums during breaks in the action. Bradley said she was glad the college was able to host Soros and his crew. “A lot of artistic work goes on among the students and faculty here all the time,” she noted, “so it was great for our students to see real-life art taking place here.”