SIDE BY SIDE … Chicago just doesn’t measure up.

I went to see Side by Side at the Gene Siskel Film Center.  It explores the development of cinema and the impact of digital filmmaking via in-depth interviews with Hollywood masters, such as James Cameron, David Fincher, David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderberg, and many more.

These are the elite filmmakers who are and have defined the industry for years.  They made the industry what it is today.  As one of the speakers put it, film development has reached its peak while digital technology is still in its infancy and can only get better.

Side by Side is a must see for anyone thinks Chicago’s film industry is doing well.

This is leading up to my point –Chicago is still in the film era – they have reached their peaks both Chicago’s film industry and film as a medium.  Chicago has to move into the digital era where things will and are changing.  With the change from film to digital technology, a whole new digital film industry is evolving.  If Chicago will see this, and will build for the future of the digital film industry, it will come out as a leader in the industry.  And, with that the much needed money for the city and state will be in the BILLIONS, not the millions their film industry produces today.

Chicago needed more stage space years ago but that gap is filled, now.  Let’s move on.  It’s time to look to the future.  Plan for the future and build for the future.

Illinois should invest in this change instead of the film incentives now in place to lure one production at a time.  Through state and city business incentives, Illinois can lure digital technology to Chicago.  Build or plan a district for this digital technology, offer to house their businesses to start-up.  Instead of handing money back to a production company through the current film incentives, invest in the future by helping the creatives, the future, build their businesses in the emerging digital film industry in Chicago.  Investing in the future has to have a better return than handing money back to a production company through the film incentives.

I sent this suggestion to the Governor’s Office where it was directed to the film office, unfortunately.  Here is the reply from the film office –
“Thank you for writing to share your ideas about how Illinois can best keep up with the changing technology of the film industry.  It is my hope that we can continue to court all projects including digital ones to Illinois. Please know the state is working to adapt to an ever-shifting media landscape.”

Does that sound like it will go anywhere but the circular file?  Does Governor Quinn still think that $161 million from the film industry in 2010 is a banner year?  Good job by the film offices … protecting their jobs! ... so much for helping the film industry!

Chicago could compete in a higher film market, the $BILLION market, if it would only build toward the future; instead of living in the past, being content being ranked ninth these days and believing things are just fine in the Chicago’s film industry.

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  • Terribly salient points. Hope everyone is as convinced as me.

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    ThomE

    I've worked my whole adult life in the film industry. While in Chicago, I worked with (and learned from) some of the best people in the industry and worked for some of the best , if not the best, production houses in Chicago. What I came back to though ... was sad.

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