Contact: Tom Parisi, NIU Office of Public Affairs
October 11, 2007
DeKalb, Ill. — In the summer of 2006, Northern Illinois University Communication Professor Laura Vazquez took six of her top students to Hollywood, where they worked on “Slipstream,” an independent film written and directed by Oscar-winner Anthony Hopkins.
Now the movie is hitting the silver screen.
Vazquez and a group of her current students will attend a screening of “Slipstream” during the 43rd Chicago International Film Festival. Two recent NIU graduates who worked on the film also will attend the screening at 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14, at the Music Box Theatre.
Hopkins, who also stars in the film, is expected to be at the event, along with NIU communication department alumnus Robert Katz, who provided tickets for the students.
Katz, co-producer with Stella Arroyave of “Slipstream,” worked with Vazquez to develop an internship-like course for NIU students who worked on the movie set in Hollywood and at filming locations in the California desert. A veteran Hollywood producer, Katz’s film credits include “Seabiscuit,” “One Hour Photo” and “Crash,” winner of the 2006 Oscar for Best Picture.
All six students who worked on “Slipstream” have since graduated. Four are working in the film industry in Los Angeles, including Jeff Negus, whose credits as a production assistant include “Scrubs.”
“It was a seminal experience for all of the students,” Vazquez said. “In addition to learning technical skills while working on the set, the experience gave them exposure, helped them develop contacts in the film industry and also helped them to decide where they wanted to go with their careers.”
Michael Gentile and Becca Berry —who each worked on Hopkins’ film—will be among the audience members for the Chicago screening.
It will be the second viewing for Gentile, who saw the film at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. Hopkins and Katz—along with Christian Slater and Camryn Manheim, who also star in the film—were among the audience members.
“The whole thing was surreal,” Gentile said. “The storyline of ‘Slipstream’ is about a movie within a movie and a dream within a dream. Sitting there watching the movie was like a dream. It brought back my memories from the set.”
Several of the NIU students who worked behind the scenes on the set also were used as extras on the film. Gentile was thrilled to see he wasn’t left on the cutting-room floor. He gives the movie an enthusiastic thumbs-up. “I absolutely loved it,” Gentile said.
Vazquez, a video documentary filmmaker, said her experience with “Slipstream” ultimately benefits all of her NIU students. About a dozen of her current students are attending the Chicago screening.
“I’ve integrated every aspect of our work on the set into my lectures and courses,” Vazquez said. “I use photographs that I took while on the set to discuss lighting, setups, sound, production design and the movements of actors in a scene. Now that past and present students will be able to see the finished film, I feel like this completes the full loop.”
Vazquez hopes to provide similar on-set opportunities for students in the future. “Robert (Katz) and I have talked about doing it again,” she said.