Written by Shona Smith on Feb 14, 2020. Posted in On Location

How The Good Place gained access for filming in LA’s Getty Centre

NBCUniversal’s The Good Place is one of the few projects to have gained access for filming in LA's Getty Centre. The Getty, a galley and campus with gardens and views overlooking the city has only permitted filming on three occasions in its twenty-five year history, previously featuring prominently as Starfleet HQ in Star Trek into Darkness. “They were casting the Getty Center as the Good Place – what could be better?” says Julie Jaskol, Assistant Director, Media Relations at The Getty.

The philosophical sitcom from Michael Schur (The Office, Parks and Recreation) sees self-obsessed Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) mistakenly find herself in the “Good Place”, usually reserved for morally uncorrupted souls, after her death. The penultimate episode of the final series reveals the real “Good Place” to be LA’s Getty Centre.

The Good Place was a great show, with thoughtful, funny writing, an uplifting message, and a popular cast. We knew we were going to be part of a high-quality production that was going to reach a big national – even international – audience” says Jaskol. “We get 2-3 inquiries a week, easily, for all kinds of filming, from student projects to commercials. We have to turn down the vast majority – we have to be very selective about what we do, because of the sheer number of requests we receive. We are very careful about maintaining a good visitor experience for the nearly 2 million people who visit both the Getty Center and the Getty Villa each year”.

The Good Place location manager Caleb Duffy (Veep, True Detective) had already established working relationship with The Getty Centre for Marvel’s Thor in 2011, although “I think we ended up on the cutting room floor”, says Jaskol. When Duffy approached the Getty as a filming location for The Good Place, the team already had a high degree of confidence and trust in him. Moreover, “they were casting the Getty Center as the "Good Place" – what could be better? It also helped that so many of us were fans” she explains.

When negotiating the filming, assurances were made that the Getty Centre would be prominently and recognizably featured in the episode. “The producers and cast also agreed to create a brief PSA, which The Good Place production team wrote and shot on site, featuring Kristin Bell (Frozen, Gossip Girl) and D’Arcy Carden (Bonding, Broad City) highlighting Getty’s Arts Access Program for students, which we could use on social media. They also signed our standard location and licensing agreement, which contains some restrictions about shooting Getty collections and on Getty property”.

The filming itself took place on one day in the centre’s central garden, museum courtyard and entrance pavilion, showcasing the entire Getty Centre and not just the museum.

“Getty Center is closed to the public on Mondays, so getting it all done on that single shooting day was critical. They started loading in late Sunday night, and they were completely wrapped and off site by 11pm Monday night” says Jaskol.

“The protection of our collections, grounds, and buildings are of paramount importance in every consideration” notes Jaskol. The production did not shoot inside the galleries, but outside features were protected by the Getty. “There were two sculptures in the entrance hall that we covered with large crates before they arrived, and outside they were very careful about protecting our architecture—our travertine surfaces and landscaping”.

Image Credits: Colleen Hayes/NBC | 2019 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

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