‘Argo’ Entertains, Inspires…and Enlightens

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Written by: Sandra Neri

Director/Producer/Actor-Ben Affleck released his new film ‘Argo’ this month. Based on the book The Master of Disguise by Antonio J. Mendez(ex CIA Specialist), and the real events that lead to the rescue of six Americans from Iran. This event would come to be known around the world as the ‘Iran Hostage Crisis’. The film takes place in 1979, while Mendez (Played by Ben Affleck) was still working with the CIA, during which a group of Iranians took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran (Capitol of Iran), and held the staff there hostage. Six American diplomats managed to escape the embassy before it was taken over, and were aided by the Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor (played by Victor Garber) who hid them in his nearby residence.  Agent Mendez was brought in to consult on the rescue procedures, and while he did not approve of any purposed rescue plans, he did not have an immediate plan of his own. While watching an episode of ‘Planet of the Apes’ on television, Mendez came upon the idea to go into Iran and sneak the six Americans out as a Canadian film crew who are there in Iran to scout locations for an upcoming science-fiction movie titled  ‘Argo’. Although the CIA was not sure this plan would work, it was better than any they already had.

Agent Mendez enlisted the help of John Chambers (Make-up Artist) played by John Goodman, and a producer named Lester Siegel played by Alan Arkin. Chambers and Siegel pull together to make Mendez’s’ fake movie production idea seem as real as possible. Based on some files Mendez had on the six Americans, he created phony names and character profiles for the them to memorize. Six phony passports, and one long plane ride later, Mendez arrived in Tehran to teach them their new identities.  By this time, the Iranians who took over the embassy were piecing together all of the data they had seized, and were coming close to figuring out some of the office staff is missing. So time was yet another key factor. To make matters worse, the CIA were having second thoughts and had considered aborting the plan, and wanted to just go in by force. If you think that my revealing these important aspects of the film will ruin any suspense, you are wrong. You will still be on the edge of your seat.

‘Argo’ will not only enlighten those who have no recollection of these events, due to the fact that it took place some 33 years ago, it will also entertain them. ‘Argo’ moves along at a good pace which keeps you interested, and completely inside the story at all times. Beautiful cinematography, jarring images from news footage of that era, and quick editing style contribute to the delivery of a compelling story that very much needed to be told…again. Nothing but stellar performances in ‘Argo’, and Affleck is executing some serious directing skills. I am predicting a few Oscar nominations (at least!). With the soon to be released ‘Lincoln’ (directed by Steven Spielberg and starring every brilliant actor on the planet), and ‘Flight’ (directed by Robert Zemeckis, and starring Denzel Washington) it will not be an easy choice for the Academy as these two films are also inspired by true events. May the best film win…


A Cool Fun Fest Leaves us warm Inside

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By Sandra Neri

The morning of Saturday October 6th was very crisp, as the set up for Triton College Family Fun Fall Fest was underway in the Botanical Gardens. As a volunteer worker for the fest, I worried that the cool Fall air might keep people away, but that would soon be put to ease. They came…they crafted… they ate. In the afternoon, the sun made a special appearance, and did manage to warm us up a little. The kids for the most part did not seem to mind the pleasant chill. Between making jewelry, face painting, crafting masks, painting pumpkins, decorating cupcakes and cookies, walking through corn mazes, milking Maggie the cow, and eating food cooked by our own hospitality students, the families in attendance did not seem to mind the weather. Hospitality also provided  plenty of warm cider, and hot cocoa to help warm up guests.

The tables that provided arts, crafts, legos, and games were staffed by different departments here at Triton. The Visual Communications photography students and faculty were happy to provide free picture taking for guests and their families. The photography students set up a background of haystacks, cornstalks, and pumpkins to serve as the perfect setting for Fun Fest pictures. Guests just had to fill out a short form, and will be sent a digital file with one pose chosen by the photographer.

The Arts department set up a table with drawing robots, which children controlled with a hand controller. The robots are shaped like lady bugs, and hold a marker to paper, then by hand controller, they draw. The Hospitality students had cupcake decorating for our guests. Horticulture provided the corn maze, pumpkin sale, Maggie the Cow, and putt for a plant. The Engineering department had Lego activities for the kids. The Math department had pumpkin decorating, and several other activities were available for families. The Fall Family Fun Fest was  a success, thanks in large part to Alicia Jakymiw (Coordinator of Special Initiatives), and the numerous departments who came together to show the Triton College spirit, and give the community a day filled with fun. I cannot wait until next fall.

Future High School Graduates Visit Triton

Story by: Jeramie Bizzle

Photos by: Sandie Neri

Saturday, October 13th, Triton College, 2000 Fifth Avenue B building, welcomed high school juniors and seniors to their Fall College Visit Day. Dr Amanda Turner, Dean of Enrollment Services and host Sujith Zachariah, Associate Dean of Student Services welcomed the estimated 75 attendees to the college to provide more insight of what it is like in the life of higher academia. The event began with a panel discussion with members of faculty, counselors and financial aid staff explaining the importance of attending college and the steps needed towards getting started. The future high school graduates had the chance to pick the brains of the panel by asking them how they were able to cope with their experiences in college, including Outreach Coordinator Javier Martinez who recalls his busy life as he juggled school and work. “Every student is different, I was going to school full time and working. For me it was learning to know how to balance your studies, there is a bunch of things available for you here for free” says Javier. The panel also mentioned that time management is a key factor in achieving academic success.

After the panel discussion, students were free to browse information about what the college had to offer including scholarship information, clubs and organizations, and financial aid. Visitors attended three concurrent sessions which include more information on paying for college, steps towards admission and achieving academic success including helpful programs such as TRiO and tutoring centers. Unfortunately, students could not receive the full tour of the school due to weather, but were thrilled about what they saw in the B building. Recent Shurz high school graduate and Triton College hopeful Carlos Zapata expresses how he liked the school and why he chose to attend college instead of jumping head first into the work force.

“I want to go to college to have a brighter future, better, and maybe one day have my own business someday. But for now to get a good job” says Carlos.

The event ended with words of wisdom by NBC channel 5 reporter Natalie Martinez who shared her experiences in college and how it led to her career in journalism. “My mother used to tell me honey, education is money in the bank”, says Natalie. “I began wanting to be a dentist, but I realized that I can’t put my fingers in people mouths. I received scholarships to help pay for college, and it was worth it. I am in an ever changing business and I love it.” Natalie also tells the visitors to set goals and to follow their dreams, because if they don’t follow them they won’t come true.

According to former President Bill Clinton, there are many jobs that are available, but there are a lot of people who do not qualify for the positions because they lack training and a college degree. College is different from high school as far as assignment layout, and it is advised that students who are graduating or attending high school to start looking for colleges that they can see themselves applying and taking college credit courses to get their feet wet in college life.

“You wouldn’t buy shoes without trying them on, you should take that same approach when it comes to choosing schools” Tiana Baymon, Financial Aid Specialist.

Follow Jeramie on Twitter @jeramiebizzle87

Harlem Irving Plaza Future Expansion

By Jeramie L Bizzle

Shoppers start pulling out your wallets and purses, The Harlem Irving Plaza (HIP) Mall, 4104 N Harlem Avenue, will become even bigger with their new expansion plan coming fall of 2013. The mall will expand by 100,000 square feet of additional space, bringing more outlets to the mall. Popular shops and eateries including Red Robin, Xsport Fitness, Sports Authority and Panera Bread are a few of the new venues that will be arriving with the expansion. The idea to increase the space came after Owner Harlem Irving Cos bought the LaSalle Bank and its parking lot, formally located at 4242 N Harlem, for a reported 12.5 million dollars. After years of meetings with the village and multiple concerns being asked by the township, the green light was given to begin the process.

With the expansion of the mall and new shops, additional jobs will also be offered to the community and create more business. According to chicagobusiness.com, Edan Gelt, Marketing Director for Harlem Irving Cos, says that “there are more than a million people who live within five miles of the H.I.P”, and with that in mind, the expansion will fit the need of the customers, especially with the new fitness center.

The mall opened in 1956 after the land was originally used to farm livestock. Once began as a 337,000 square foot strip mall, since then became home to various department stores. The mall in 2003 added a two story Target shopping center, adding an additional 175,000 square feet to the mall and Carson Pirie Scott which replaced then popular store Wieboldt’s in 1988. The expansion hopes to extend its shoppers base with the new additions and bring additional business to other boutiques in the mall.

More information about the new stores and design of the additional space are available on the stores website.

Follow Jeramie on Twitter @jeramiebizzle87


The Illinois Film Office Committed to bringing film productions here to Illinois

By Sandra Neri

During one of the hottest Chicago summers on record, I was busy three days a week doing an internship with the Illinois Film Office. The office is located in the James R. Thompson Center in downtown Chicago. The very first thing I learned… you cannot bring scissors into the Thompson center. Yes, there are security checks. For those of you wondering, the film office is here to assist filmmakers (from the low-budget to the large scale studio production) in finding their perfect filming location in Illinois. The film office can also assist with helping filmmakers find crew members, actors, and industry vendors as well. Currently, the film office is offering a 30% film tax credit on qualified Illinois production spending. For more information on this, and application deadlines, go to: http://www.illinoisfilm.biz/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=11&Itemid=2
The film office is staffed with professionals who are all stars in my book! The team I had the pleasure of working with are:
Julie Morgan- I met Julie during the interview for the internship; she is the special projects coordinator and has been with the film office for 13 years. Julie maintains the production guide, runs the Shortcuts competition, interviews chosen prospective interns, researches, and handles day to day tasks that are needed to keep the office functional. Julies mentions her most memorable celebrity encounter was when she met Mel Gibson.

Lisa Banks- I reported to Lisa on a daily basis for assignments and instructions. She is the Production Coordinator (8 years in January).Lisa manages the Reel-Scout online locations database & location library, sends out location packages, facilitates film requests & maintains the IFO website. When asked about her most memorable encounter, Lisa mentions a premiere party for “Public Enemies” with Johnny Depp and Christian Bale as being very “cool”, but a location scout with Dennis Farina is her favorite celebrity encounter. It was during a scouting for the filming of Farina’s movie “The Last Rites of Joe May”, and Lisa remembers him as a “funny down to earth guy” who remembered her when they met again sometime later.
Raul Esparza- Assistant Deputy Directorat the film office since June 7, 2012. I assisted Raul with small office tasks, such as assembling production packets. Raul is a former location manager for several productions, still photographer for several productions, and visual effects location manager for the film “The Dark Knight”. Raul still works as a photographer, and mentions his time with the production for “The Dark Knight” as his favorite on-the-job experience …so far. Other productions Raul has worked on include: The Vow, Transformers 3, Public Enemies, The Lake House, and Batman Begins, to name a few.

Michele McGee – A Tax Credit Specialist with the film office for the last 4 years, Michele is responsible for the effectiveness and efficiency of the IL Film Tax Credit program. Michele receives and processes applications for IL film tax credit, prepares all tax credits, transfer certificates, and reviews all financials submitted for the IL film tax credit. As if that were not enough, Michele also works with all stakeholders in the IL film tax credit to include, applicants, production companies, unions, IL legislators, film students, advertising agencies and so on. One of Michele’s favorite things about the job at the film office is attending screenings.

Cesar Lopez – Film Tax Credit Manager and Diversity Officer at the IFO for seven months, Cesar is quick to point out that Illinois offers eligible productions a 30% transferrable tax credit on all qualified expenditures, including resident salaries (up to $100,000 per worker). There is no cap on the amount of credit issued. The tax credit can be sold or transferred to up to 10 different entities and can be carried forward for five years. Cesar’s favorite celebrity encounter has been “watching Kelsey Grammer work his magic as Tom Kane on the set of ‘Boss’.”
Todd Lizak- The film office’s MVP award has got to go to Todd, unfortunately I did not get to spend a lot of time with him as he was preparing for his retirement. In Todd’s own words- “My title for the past 6 years was Assistant Managing Director and I have worked in the Film office since 1998, so about 13 years. I actually retired in December of 2011 but stayed on to find my replacement. Before that I worked in the Governor’s office for 22 years so when I came to the IFO I was the Government Liaison. Over the years I had many memorable experiences but the two that stand out the most were the scouts we did to lure Transformer 3 to Chicago and the day I spent scouting with Actress Faye Dunaway.”

To lure Transformers 3 to Chicago, Todd and Joe Amari (senior location scout at that time) spent weeks going everywhere from the deep tunnels and sewer systems to the top of the Willis(Sears) Tower. “We saw every creepy tunnel in the Chicago land area and will never forget standing outside on the edge of the Willis tower.”
On a different location scout, Todd mentions “The day I spent with Faye Dunaway was so intense ….What started out as a normal scout turned into a nightmare. Her producer slammed her hand while closing the car door and I had to spend several hours with her at the emergency room. Once Dunaway was released she wanted to continue the scout and it was a race to show her everything.” Todd has been involved with many film Organizations over the years and currently sits on the board of Governors for NATAS (National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences), The Emmy Folks for the past 10 years. He has also been elected as Vice President and later Treasurer for SGMP (Society of Government and Meeting Planners) and has been a member of the IFP, Women in Film, MIFF and many other film organizations over the years. Todd has also mentioned he has enjoyed his 34 years of working for the state, and plans to keep in touch with people he has known over the years. I just want to thank Todd for his time, and the rest of the Illinois Film Office staff for all of their help, kindness, and professionalism. I really enjoyed the time I spent with all of you this summer !!
What do the movies”Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, “Home Alone”, and “Transformers 3” all have in common? They have all been filmed in Illinois, and these three films do not even scratch the surface of the very long list of movies filmed right here in our beautiful state. To view this list you can go to http://www.illinoisfilm.biz , go to the tab named ‘Filming In Illinois’, go down to ‘Made in Illinois’.
Your Property could be in films!! Did you know you could submit your property to be considered for a film being shot here in Illinois? You can! Just go to http://www.illinoisfilm.biz , go to the tab for ‘Locations’, then go down to ‘Submit a Location’. You will be prompted to fill out an online form. After you submit this form you will be contacted by the film office, and then asked to submit electronic photos of your property. There is no cost to you, and pictures of your property are put in the film office’s online library, for directors and studios to view for a possible film location.

If you need information about the film office, or you have questions on when deadline applications for internships are, email the film office at:film@illinois.gov