Pomona College’s Marston Quadrangle briefly filled in for Austin, Texas this week as filming commenced for season 3 episode 11 of Fox Network’s television series “9-1-1: Lone Star.”
On Feb. 1, Pomona students were notified of the upcoming production in an email from Pomona’s Director of Public Programming KJ Fagan. Although few details were disclosed within the email, students were told to expect emergency equipment including police cars, fire trucks and ambulances with flashing lights.
Set construction began a week before filming commenced and included the construction of a gateway at one of the entrances to Marston Quad, tall shrubs blocking the Smith Campus Center from view of the cameras and the placement of benches along Marston’s central walkway. On Monday, filming commenced around emergency vehicles lining Stover Walk.
Students were permitted to walk amidst the props and observe the action but were instructed where to stand while filming was in progress and not invited to act as extras. Filming locations were limited to Marston Quad, Stover Walk, outside Little Bridges and inside Bridges Auditorium. By Tuesday night, all filming was completed and crews began packing up.
“9-1-1: Lone Star” is currently in its third season and stars Rob Lowe as Captain Owen Strand, a firefighter who relocates to Texas from Manhattan to rebuild an Austin firefighting company. Onlookers hoping for a celebrity sighting Monday afternoon were rewarded with a smile and wave as Lowe met with directors on Marston Quad.
Later on, a number of students were given the opportunity to take pictures and talk briefly with Lowe and other actors. And during a casual game of catch unrelated to filming, a poorly aimed toss on Lowe’s behalf hit Alexandra Szczerba PO ’25 while she was sitting on the steps of the SCC.
“He threw a football to somebody who was behind me and ended up hitting me square on the head,” said Szczerba. “He felt so bad. He ended up running up the stairs to give me a hug. He even got someone to give me a shirt from the show. I was like, you know, if there’s anybody I could choose to get hit with a football by, it would be Rob Lowe.”
“If there’s anybody I could choose to get hit with a football by, it would be Rob Lowe.”
Szczerba, however, appreciated the gesture.
“Everyone says not to meet your heroes because they’ll let you down. But he was such a sweetheart,” she said.
Although the show is set several states away in Texas, the majority of the filming takes place in Los Angeles rather than Austin due to budget restrictions, according to a production assistant named Jake who declined to give his last name. Pomona was chosen as a filming location due to its proximity to the Fox studio in LA and a resemblance to the Texas state capitol building.
“[Pomona’s] campus was built in a kind of northeastern style. The grounds are similar to the grounds in Austin, but it can be anywhere in America in a way,” he added.
The crew travels to various filming locations over the course of each season; however, this is the first time they’ve worked on a college campus, according to Jake.
“As long as the students aren’t disruptive, we don’t mind [having them around]. And I think it’s good you guys are interested,” he said.
Julian Works, who plays one of the show’s main characters, Austin firefighter Mateo Chavez, echoed this sentiment.
“It’s actually been very cool,” Works said. “You’ve all been very welcoming.”
Filming for “9-1-1: Lone Star” marks Lowe’s return to Pomona’s campus. He previously starred in the show “The West Wing,” which shot scenes for two episodes in Bridges Auditorium back in 2000.
Pomona has been the site of television filming on a number of other occasions, including serving as Yale University for an episode of the popular television series “Gilmore Girls.”
Rob Lowe was on his way to film a scene when approached for an interview but exclaimed, “Journalism rocks!” as he walked away.
Although crew members were unable to disclose specific details regarding the storyline of the episode, many actors were dressed in hazmat suits and smoke was visible inside Big Bridges.
Scenes shot at Pomona for “9-1-1: Lone Star” will air in roughly five weeks on March 21.