Northern Illinois University

Northern Today

NIU basks in bright lights of Hollywood

University contributions cited when credits roll on new film

October 22, 2007

by Tom Parisi

Attending the Slipstream screening: Communication Professor Laura Vazquez, NIU alumnus Robert Katz, NIU technical support specialist Michael Gentile, Stella Arroyave, Anthony Hopkins and NIU alumna Becca Berry. Photo courtesy of Stuart Handelman.

The NIU students who worked on the Anthony Hopkins independent film project last year have all graduated, but they are still earning extra credit of sorts.

The former students, their professor and Northern Illinois University are listed among the credits for “Slipstream,” a movie directed by and starring Hopkins. Michael Gentile and Becca Berry – two of the NIU alums who worked as interns – also appear in the movie as extras.

In the summer of 2006, Communication Professor Laura Vazquez took six of her top students to Hollywood, where they worked as interns on the movie set. Last week, Vazquez and a group of her current students attended a screening of “Slipstream” during the 43rd Chicago International Film Festival. Gentile and Berry also were among the audience members at the Music Box Theatre.

“I was so amazed by the whole thing,” Vazquez said. “I never saw the finished movie, and for me it was like reliving the five weeks we spent working on the movie sets in California. It was a great experience to see Hopkins arrive in a limousine and walk the red carpet. It was the end of the cycle. We were able to see the fruits of our labors.”

Four of the six students who worked on the film are now working in the film industry in Los Angeles. Gentile is working as a technical support specialist in the NIU Department of Communication.

NIU Department of Communication alumnus Robert Katz, co-producer of “Slipstream,” also was at the Chicago screening. He worked with Vazquez to develop the course for NIU students. A veteran Hollywood producer, Katz’s film credits also include “Seabiscuit,” “One Hour Photo” and “Crash,” winner of the 2006 Oscar for Best Picture.

Katz provided tickets to the screening for 15 of Vazquez’s current students and met with them afterward to discuss the film.

“It was my first red-carpet experience, and it was great to see a real celebrity (Hopkins) just 10 feet away from you,” said senior Joe Giorgi, who is taking a short-video production course taught by Vazquez. “It was awe-inspiring, to say the least.”