As March nears we are in the process of making plans to travel literally coast to coast to screen our most recent film "Mattress World" at film festivals. Our first stop will be Vegas for the Vegas Media Expo followed shortly by the LA Women's Film Festival, followed shortly by the Lichtfield Hills Film Festival in Connecticut. We didn't really expect to become such accomplished travelers in the course of our careers as filmmakers but we aren't complaining too much: we love to travel and to visit new places. In the end, though, we are happy to call Chicago home.
Lets face it, we're from Chicago and we're pretty proud of that fact. We're proud of our pizza, proud of our hot dogs, proud of our sports teams (whether or not they win) and heck, we're even proud to be called "The Second City". Our city teems with theatre and film, with summertime concerts and events, with food, with politics, and business but apparently it's a lousy place to visit.
This last was brought to our attention by a gentleman we met during our visit to LA last March for a previous film festival. We got to chatting about where we were from and the conversation went something like this:
Him: Hey, where're you in town from?
Us: Chicago- we're just here for the film festival.
Him: Chicago! I went to Chicago once and it was the worst experience I ever had.
He went on to explain that he and some friends had flown into O'Hare and had a several hour layover in Chicago and figured they'd see some of the sights while they waited. They hopped a cab but didn't know where to tell the driver to take them. The driver was surly and unhelpful and offered no suggestions. They eventually made it downtown but still didn't know where anything was, where to go to get something good to eat or what was worth seeing and had no one to call for pointers. They finally made their way back to the airport frustrated and disappointed and feeling like Chicago didn't have much to offer.
This was not the kind of response we were used to getting when we told people we were from Chicago. Occasionally we encounter someone who doesn't take Chicago seriously because it occupies that vast uncharted wilderness between New York and LA. Worse, it's part of the Midwest home of the corn fed. But even these naysayers describe Chicago as "friendly" and admit there are a few things worth doing around town and few regional specialties worth eating if you happen to find yourself in the area.
Was all this just lip service? We hope not! We are travelers ourselves and know that it's hard to find your way around any city. And we know that if the Guy-From-LA had any buddies in Chicago that they would've been delighted to show him around town. Maybe that's the key to a good Chicago visit: a buddy to show you around. So we were kicking around the idea of making a short film: How To Visit Chicago While On Layover. It would include how to get downtown from the airport, what stop to get off at, a few highlight sights to see, a few good places to eat, and how to get back again in time for your flight. The only problem we are having? Figuring out what sights to include and what places to eat.
So help us out: if your buddies only had a few hours in town and were downtown in the Loop- where would you tell them to go? What would you want them to see and do so that they would never, ever, EVER be inclined to say that Chicago was the worse place they ever visited.