Acclaimed restaurant dramedy ‘The Bear’ brings taste of Evanston to silver screen


Sam Froum

At Charles Bird’s house near the corner of Lincoln and Harrison.

If you were walking through Northwest Evanston on March 7, you might have noticed the blue flyers taped up throughout the neighborhood, the large white vans driving around the streets or the signs with directions to the “set” or the “crew lunch.” That is because the FX TV show “The Bear” was filmed in Evanston that day. “The Bear” is a critically-acclaimed half-hour dramedy series for FX about a chef who comes back to his hometown of Chicago to take over his brother’s restaurant. It stars Jeremy Allen White, who some might recognize from the show Shameless and also includes Ebon Moss-Bacharach, Ayo Edibiri and Abby Elliot. The Bear became one of the biggest TV shows of the summer and is beloved by fans and critics for its deeply flawed but lovable characters and its strikingly accurate depiction of the food service industry. 

The filming took place at a house near the corner of Lincoln Street and Harrison Street, which is where ETHS sophomore Charles Bird lives, so I asked Charles some questions about the experience.


What was it like having a TV show filmed at your house?

Charles: It’s really weird and cool at the same time. Weird because you just have all this equipment and people in your house. Cool because you get to see your house on TV and can recognize it.

For how long did you have to move out of your house?

Charles: We left the house for the day so we would not get in the way of filming. But later that night, when they were done, we came back and slept at our house.

What did they change on the inside of your house while shooting?

Charles: They changed the whole kitchen, repainted the walls and replaced our family pictures with the actors. Also, they changed the stuff in our kitchen, like they put flowers, plates and cookbooks in our kitchen. They also put cardboard all over the floors and walls to protect them from mud and the equipment.

Did they film on the outside of your house?

Charles: From what I was told they were going to have an outside shot but they canceled it due to the snow.


Next, I interviewed the show’s assistant location manager, Gilbert Morales, to ask him about his role as assistant location manager and about filming in Evanston.


What do you do in your role as assistant location manager?

Morales: The Locations Department is one of the first departments to be hired on any project (Movie, TV Show, TV Commercial). We are tasked with thinking creatively and logitisticaly when it comes to finding locations for any script. We scout and manage all the locations you see on screen. Once we creatively find the best location that fits both the Director and Production Designer’s vision we now switch to how logistically we will fit 100 -200 crew members in the neighborhood. We are also on set to help manage the crew to make sure we respect the location and neighborhood we are in. We are the first ones on set and the last ones to leave. Whether it’s a house, restaurant, office, public park/street, we work with the city/village to make it possible.

How did you get into doing this position?

Morales: I grew up on the South Side of Chicago in Bridgeport. I grew up a White Sox fan and truly love this city. I knew I wanted to be involved in the film industry at an early age, thanks to my Drama Teacher Mrs Glodo. She introduced us to making movies with Street Level Youth Media. I wasn’t really sure if it was something realistic I could pursue as I didn’t really know anyone in the film industry. However, I couldn’t really see myself doing anything else so I just went all in. But I didn’t want to move to the West Coast or East Coast. I wanted to stay and help Chicago grow and compete with all the other Hollywood cities.  So I went to DePaul University and enrolled in their Digital Cinema Program. In the end it paid off. Thanks to my mentor Maria C. Roxas (DGA Location Manager) I’ve been successfully doing this for about 6 years now. Maria has been in the film business for 30 years and is the biggest DGA Location Manager in the Midwest. She has worked on movies like Batman Begins, Transformers, Man of Steel, Insurgent and many more. She has taught me everything I know and eventually helped me get into the Directors Guild of America Union.

How did you find the Bird’s house to shoot at? What drew you to the house/Evanston?

Morales: We have filmed at this house a few times already and their neighbors as well. I scouted them for a Gerber TV Commercial when I first started out in the business. So I have known them and their neighbors for about five years now. They are a great family and have a beautiful home. We felt it was a great option for Sugar’s house (Carmy’s House) and love filming there. Any opportunity we can bring a project there, we are all for it.

As an assistant location manager, what do you look for when finding places to shoot?

Morales: Most of the time, we receive specific directions from the Director and Production Designer. They tell us “we want a two-story house, ranch style house, a burger restaurant with a drive through, a public park with a pond in the middle, etc.” From there, we look through our files and scout in areas we feel we can best find that type of location. That is the creative aspect but also, logistically, we think “can we realistically bring 100 people to this location with 20 trailers/trucks.” We have to constantly think creatively and logistically when scouting for locations.

Which character’s house is it on the show?

Morales: This is Sugar’s house. (Carmy’s sister)

Will the house be a recurring location on the show or is it just being used once? 

Morales: You will have to watch Season 2 to find out 🙂

What qualities were you looking for in your location? Why did you choose Evanston?

Morales: Evanston is a great area to film. They are super film friendly and have many awesome locations to offer. We hope to be back there for Season 2!

Is this part of the show supposed to be set in Evanston or is it set in a different town? If it is Evanston, are any other parts of the show set in Evanston?

Morales: No, it was not specifically mentioned that it was Evanston but it was meant to be outside the city of Chicago. There were no other locations filmed in Evanston.

What is it like setting up a location for a tv show shoot/set

Morales: A lot goes into it from coordinating with the specific city/village, to the local police department. In addition, we have to make sure we address all the other film departments’ requests. Art Department, Sec Dec Department, Grip Department, and Electric Department will all have their own individual requests at each location. So it takes a lot of coordination to make sure everything goes smoothly. Usually takes weeks to set up, sometimes even a month prior to filming. We have to apply for film permits in each city/village and then look for support as well (where will the crew park their personal vehicles, where will we eat lunch? etc). If we are shutting down streets, then we need to coordinate with local police and the Chicago Film Office to make sure it all goes smoothly and safely.

What is the most challenging part of your position? What is your favorite part?

Morales: It is a lot of hard work so it is hard to pick one challenging part. But one thing I think we can all agree on as a film community is that we never look forward to filming during the brutal Chicago Winters. Luckily it was not so bad when we filmed the Bear Season 1 and we hope it stays that way for Season 2. 

One of my favorite parts about our job is when everything falls into place and you see the final product on screen. Unless you’ve been on a film set and part of a big project like this you won’t fully understand what happens behind the scenes to bring a TV Show like this to life. There is a reason why the end credits of every movie is always like 5- 10 minutes long. It takes a village to bring these visions to life and it’s always a great feeling when it’s received well in your hometown.