Chicago Hosts More Than 500 Film Projects and 1,902 Filming Days in 2015

February 3, 2016

2015 Filming Increased by 22 Percent; Continues the Five-year Surge for Local Film & TV Production

Christine Carrino, 312.744.0573

Jamey Lundblad, 312.744.2493

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Film Office at the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) today announced that 2015 continued to be another record setting year for filming television and motion pictures in Chicago. In 2015, 543 projects filmed over a total of 1,902 filming days – an increase in total projects by more than 20 percent over last year. Since 2010, production totals have increased by 65 percent as the City of Chicago continues to grow as a prominent destination for film and television. According to the Illinois Film Office, which awards a 30% tax credit to film, television and advertising productions for qualified expenditures of Illinois crew, goods and services, projects in 2015 generated an estimated $330 million in Illinois spending, an 18 percent increase over the previous year, and employed thousands of Illinois residents.

“The film and television industries have found a welcoming home in Chicago,” said Mayor Emanuel. “The City of Chicago offers a great production value with expert film crews and technicians, state-of-the-art facilities, spectacular locations, affordable services—not to mention our iconic skyline and the rich character and diversity of Chicago’s neighborhoods. Each of these productions contributes significant spending toward local jobs, goods and services, the growth of our neighborhoods and the economic health of our city.”

The strong trend in television series production in Chicago continued throughout 2015 with three television series – “Empire,” “Chicago Fire,” and “Chicago PD” – renewing for new seasons, and with the addition of “Chicago Med” to Dick Wolf’s popular Chicago franchise. 20th Century Fox also launched several series pilots, including “Runner” (ABC), “Love is a Four Letter Word” (NBC) and “The Chicago Project.” “The Chicago Project,” expected to go to series in 2016, is a highly anticipated pilot for Showtime produced by Chicago’s own Common and Lena Waithe.

Feature and independent film project days grew by 18 percent in 2015. Amazon Studio’s positive experience with filming and premiering Spike Lee’s project, their first-ever theatrical feature, has prompted the studio to consider at least two additional feature and television projects in Chicago in 2016. Festival-bound independent productions surged with six locally-produced features likely to earn national theatrical distribution, including Joe Swanberg’s Win It All and Bob Teitel’s Southside With You premiering at Sundance 2016.

“With new and returning television series working year round, filming has spread into all corners of Chicago,” said Richard Moskal, Director of the Chicago Film Office. “Location scouts are moving beyond the customary locations of downtown and exploring the neighborhoods. Monumental city views of the skyline, The Chicago Theatre, Wrigley Field and the ‘L,’ and our neighborhoods have become common place in some of our favorite shows and movies. The headquarters for this recent surge in business is not downtown, but in the city’s expanding sound stage facilities located on the south and west sides.”

Overall commercial production activity was up in Chicago by nearly 20 percent from 2014, a record year in which The Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP) reported that Illinois earned $143 million in 2014 commercial production expenditures, third in the nation behind California and New York. AICP also estimated an additional $100 million in local postproduction expenditures, for a 2014 industry total of $275 million.

For a list of production projects in 2015 compared with 2014 by genre, see below:

 Production Totals  2015 Project Starts  2015 Production Days  2014 Project Starts 2014 Production Days
 Studio Feature  3  35  2  12
 Indie Feature  23  161  24  154
 Television  55  872  60  783
 Commercials  172  288  148  234
 Stills  63  143  117  240
 Other Productions  227  403  93  215
 Total:  543  1902  444 1638


Chicago Film Office

The Chicago Film Office, part of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, leads the City’s efforts to attract and enhance the production of feature films, television series, commercials, documentaries and all forms of local screen entertainment. For filmmakers, it is a one-stop liaison for all City of Chicago production needs, including permits, City services and logistical support.


Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors. For more information, visit

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