Credibility Issue for Chicago’s Film Industry

There was a great article in last Thursday’s Tribune A&E section (10/25/2012) about the Wachowskis titled ‘The Nerve Center’, the lead story.  The article is about the Wachowskis, their company and production house in Andersonville called Kinowerks.  They do remarkable projects.  The Matrix Trilogy (1999-2003) and Cloud Atlas (just released) are among them.  They are the front runners and innovators of the digital technology formerly known as the film industry.  They represent what the digital/film industry is all about.   Some figures to ponder as you read on—the Matrix Trilogy numbers—

• Matrix (1999) production budget  $65M, advertising budget  N/A, box office take  $460M
• Matrix Reloaded (2003) prod. budget  $127M, advert. budget  $50M, box office take  $739M
• Matrix Revolution (2003) prod. budget  $110M, advert. budget  $50M, box office take  $424M

The Wachowskis prefer the anonymity of Chicago over LA or NYC.  They do their pre-production and post-production at their studio in Andersonville according to the article.

In the article, the director of the Chicago Film Office refers to the Wachowskis as “a rare breed of filmmakers who are successful but choose to stay in Chicago and elevate the entire scene.  To not only be headquartered here but to do it with pride, that gives the entire community credibility, I think.”

We have a little problem here—although the Wachowskis’ studio is here for their pre-production and post-production, Lana Wachowski remarks in the article, “… Chicago is influential to us.  We think of ourselves as Chicago artists. We are Chicago artists.  Most of our films are set here.”

But not shot here.  TheWachowskis were responsible for the Matrix trilogy-- Matrix (production budget $65M), Matrix Reloaded (production budget $127M), Matrix Revolution (budget $110M).

“There are no sound stages (in Chicago)”, replies Lana, “not big enough ones, anyway.  Write that down.”  (WOW! … so much for the city and state funded factory re-make on the west side!)

Good article, it’s worth reading about some of the more innovative and creative of the leaders in the industry and, please, think about the comment in the article from the director of the Chicago Film Office.

The director of the film office is saying that the Wachowskis, who live here for the anonymity that Chicago offers for them, gives credibility to the Chicago film industry.  Unless I’m seeing this wrong, it seems the Wachowskis like Chicago’s subculture where they can live a comfortable life and draw their ideas from the Chicago, the city.

They don’t seem to use any Chicago people except occasionally (a Matrix poster was developed by a local cartoonist).  They don’t use any Chicago facilities except their own … “There are no sound stages (here) … Not big enough ones, anyway.  Write that down.”-- from Lana Wachowski in the article.  How do the Wachowskis give creditability to Chicago’s film industry?

It seems the Wachowskis are saying they like Chicago because they draw their inspiration from Chicago, the city and its diversity and because there isn’t any notable film industry here to bother them in their work.

If Chicago is ever going to have a creditable/reputable film industry, it has to wake up, and this article is a wake-up call.  Make plans and build for the future if Chicago’s film industry is going to survive.  Remember it has changed to the digital/film industry—it’s not the film industry, anymore.  Remember that, Chicago, and build for the future with that thought in mind.  I still think part of Northerly Island is the ideal building site for this.  But, the digital/film industry, or as Chicago says--the film industry, has to hurry or there will be a casino there!


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