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NIU goes ‘Hollywood’

July 26, 2011
Cast and crew of "The $30,000 Bequest: The Movie" work on location in an 1880s-era house in Sycamore earlier this month.
Cast and crew of “The $30,000 Bequest: The Movie” work on location in an 1880s-era house in Sycamore earlier this month.

“Lights  . . . camera . . . action.”

Those three words are ringing through NIU’s DeKalb campus by a production team of students and faculty members who are shooting the independent film “The $30,000 Bequest,” an adaptation of Mark Twain’s short story.

The project not only shows off the talents of local actors, but it gives students on-the-job experience of creating a movie, said Jay Orbik, director of NIU’s Media Services for the Division of University Relations.

“A lot of man-hours went into this film,” Orbik said. “Students and faculty have been involved from start to finish in setting up the production schedule, creating the sets, filming the scenes and editing the film.”

Pre-production planning started in the spring and filming took place in the summer. Some scenes were filmed on campus. In an effort to capture the turn of the 20th century flavor of the story, the director, Alex Gelman, who heads NIU’s School of Theater and Dance, his crew and the Organic Theater actors worked in a house in Sycamore that was built in the 1880s.

“Our production crew worked wonders scouring the area looking for couches, chairs and tables and filled the house with furnishings appropriate for the time period,” Gelman said.

Other departments such as Media Services will help in post-production and editing the film.

“This was a real collaborative effort between different university departments,” Orbik said. “It is an excellent use of our talent and resources. The real payoff will be the exposure NIU receives for this project and additional chances students will have to work on future projects.”

Though film’s release date has yet to be set the movie’s producers have established a website, Facebook page and YouTube channel for individuals who are interested in following the progress of the production.