Chicago’s film industry needs to snap out of its mediocrity. It was once ranked third behind LA and NYC. Today, Chicago is ranked around sixth, sadly.
NYC had a similar problem years ago. The city helped fund a facility. “A little over a decade ago, New York City struggled to attract the lucrative production industry to film here,” said NYC Mayor Bloomberg. “Now the City is such a popular and prosperous home to hundreds of films and television shows, we have to work hard to keep up with the demand for stages and production facilities.” New York City’s film industry generated a direct spend of $7.1 billion in 2011, an increase of over $2 billion dollars since 2002, and now employs 130,000 people, an increase of 30,000 jobs since 2004.
My idea is to start competing with LA and NYC by building something like this for Chicago’s film industry-
On Northerly Island (the old Meigs Field)
The facility would be built for the film industry-
The stages would look something like this-
And compete with-
The film industry is responsible for 191,146 direct jobs and $17.0 billion in
wages in California. *
The film industry is responsible for 91,608 direct jobs and $8.2 billion in
wages in New York. *
Instead, Chicago has this ‘state of the art’ facility-
The film industry is responsible for 20,946 direct jobs and $969.2 million in
wages in Illinois.*
A converted steel plant-
To stages –
And now competes with-
The film industry is responsible for 14,293 direct jobs and $485.3 million in
wages in Michigan.*
The film industry is responsible for 12,939 direct jobs and $417.2 million in
wages in Ohio.*
The film industry is responsible for 16,395 direct jobs and $732.9 million in
wages in Pennsylvania.*
The film industry is responsible for 8,655 direct jobs and $377.9 million in
wages in Louisiana.*
The film industry is responsible for 39,140 direct jobs and $1.5 billion in wages in Texas; for 27,537 direct jobs and $1.3 billion in wages in Florida; for 22,843 direct jobs and $1.3 billion in wages in Georgia; for 20,946 direct jobs and $969.2 million in wages in Illinois. Remember–The film industry is responsible for 191,146 direct jobs and $17.0 billion in wages in California and for 91,608 direct jobs and $8.2 billion in wages in New York.*
Chicago was once number three behind LA and NYC. John Hughes and Harold Ramis gave Chicago a try in the ’80’s and 90’s. Remember Haskel Wexler? Steve Poster? Andy Davis? NO!? They’re in LA but from Chicago. Oprah had a good run but left. Jerry Springer even left Chicago! My guess is the Illinois Tourism spots were produced by an out of town (LA?) production company.
My whole point is that Chicago needs to make the film industry realize that Chicago can be a top contender in the film industry. Times are changing. The film industry is now the digital/film industry. Build for the future. Stages will always be needed for their controllability for the filmmaker but their needs are and will be changing; the Film Campus will offer more than just sound stages. The digital/film era is here and filmmakers need other services, technical services not just sound stages. The Film Campus will offer these.
This is not a chance; it’s an opportunity by giving filmmakers a reason to come to Chicago and to stay in Chicago. Figure out the next Spielberg, give him a reason to stay here and there is a future for Chicago!
The film incentives seem to be the key issue for states to landing film work, besides LA and NYC. California is making an attempt to be competitive with the film incentives because they consider themselves to be the best and they want it all. New York’s film incentive is good but not great … it doesn’t scare away production but they get the prime time TV series and the high end films. Why is this?
Because LA and NYC offer the best to the film industry—facilities, services, vendors, actors– you name it, they offer the best. Chicago offers an old converted steel fabrication plant. You get the idea! Chicago needs the Film Campus, a new facility built for the industry in the heart of Chicago, to compete with LA and NYC.
*Used the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) statistics on economic impact of the film industry state by state for a comparison standard.
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