Netflix’s satirical comedy “Space Force” has been one of the streaming service’s most popular shows since its May 29 debut – and millions of viewers are getting a great look at the CSUDH campus every time they tune in.
Much of the show takes place on the newly-formed U.S. Space Force’s sprawling base, which the CSUDH campus doubles for in many of the exterior shots. When General Mark Naird, played by Steve Carell, races between buildings or John Malkovich’s character Dr. Adrian Mallory strides out of his science office, that’s CSUDH in the background.
Filming took place during the summer and fall of 2019, with the University Library, west walkway, and University Theatre as the main locations. “We try to have filming take place on days when the university isn’t so busy with students, to limit the impact on campus operations and disturb things as little as possible,” said Eric Oum, marketing and innovation project coordinator for the CSUDH Foundation, which oversees and arranges campus shoots in partnership with Ferguson’s Location Library. The foundation has worked with the company for almost 20 years to market CSU Dominguez Hills as a potential filmmaking location.
Members of the on-campus Toro community couldn’t help but notice what was going on at times – the production transformed a portion of the west walkway into an extension of the fictional Space Force base for a few days. The production’s eye for detail extended to replacing the CSUDH branding on trash cans and banners with the Space Force name and logo, even though they can barely be glimpsed in the finished production.
The “Space Force” name also got the show some unexpected free publicity in June, when it was reported that Netflix had secured trademark rights to the term “Space Force” in Europe, Australia, Mexico and elsewhere – before the Trump Administration had claimed the trademark themselves. The government’s embarrassing oversight made headlines around the world, giving the show even more exposure.
“Space Force” is just the latest production to use CSUDH’s spacious, green campus and unique brutalist architecture as a backdrop. Films such as Larry Crowne and Lucy in the Sky were partially shot at CSUDH, as well as episodes of numerous television shows including “Silicon Valley,” “The Good Place,” and “24,” and a variety of commercials.
CSUDH gets more than just exposure from all these film shoots – the money received from the productions is used for various campus initiatives. According to Richard Chester, associate executive director of the CSUDH Foundation, “The average film shoot grosses between $2,500 and $10,000 per day, depending on the location and needs of the crew. All monies over and beyond operations costs are used by CSUDH in some capacity, whether for scholarships, construction support, or other university needs that fall outside a department’s budget allowance.”
While Netflix hasn’t made a decision about a possible second season, the show’s popularity makes it a good bet. Oum says that CSUDH will be ready if the “Space Force” decides to descend onto the campus again. “We would definitely welcome them back!”