Chicago Creates New Independent Film Initiative to Support Local Filmmakers

June 20, 2016

New Initiative Features Local Filmmaker Residency, Production Apprenticeships and the New “ChicagoMade Shorts” Screenings at the Millennium Park Summer Film Series

Jamey Lundblad, 312.744.2493


The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) announces the new Independent Film Initiative (IFI), a first-of-its-kind program from the Chicago Film Office, designed to attract, retain, promote and provide career-enhancing opportunities for local film industry professionals and media makers. The initiative will launch with a new filmmaker-in-residence program, production apprenticeship opportunities, and screenings of “ChicagoMade Shorts” at the weekly Millennium Park Summer Film Series.

Chicago has become a hot destination for filming studio feature films and network television series, with a unprecedented eight series shooting in the city this summer and fall. The IFI now aims to grow the number of locally-produced independent features, documentaries, short films and web series and to make Chicago a place where films and series are not only made but where they are made by Chicagoans. Chicago is home to a growing independent filmmaking community that is fueled by graduates of its many film schools including Columbia College Chicago, DePaul University’s School of Cinematic Arts, Tribeca Flashpoint and the new Harold Ramis Film School at The Second City among others.

A centerpiece of the initiative is a filmmaker residency program – a year-long commitment with the Chicago Film Office that provides the selected emerging local filmmaker with a $10,000 cash grant plus a package of industry discounts on equipment rentals and permits, meeting space and other incentives to assist in the completion of an original work. The resident will also receive assistance from an advisory team of established industry professionals, including producer Bob Teitel (Barbershop films, Soul Food, Southside With You), screenwriter/director Kris Swanberg (Unexpected, Empire Builder) and producer Peter Gilbert (Hoop Dreams, Drinking Buddies, Happy Christmas), and technical consultation with digital imaging, audio and lighting specialists AbelCine.

In turn, the selected resident filmmaker will help mentor five “production apprentices” through a paid training program that provides hands-on production experience and strategic career development to emerging producers who currently lack industry access and resources. An open call for these apprentice positions will be announced in August.

Local filmmakers are invited to apply for the filmmaker residency when applications are made available Tuesday, June 21. Submissions will be accepted through August 31, 2016. The selected filmmaker will be announced in October 2016, with the residency running through October 2017. For more information including applications and submission guidelines, visit

In addition, the Chicago Film Office will showcase locally-produced short films at “ChicagoMade Shorts” in advance of each weekly feature film at the 2016 Millennium Park Summer Film Series, starting this Tuesday, June 21, and running through Tuesday, August 30, at 6:30pm. ChicagoMade ( is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between DCASE and World Business Chicago, to highlight the city as an innovation center, a global business destination, a cultural hub and most of all a city of diverse and unique culture and technology makers.


ChicagoMade Shorts Schedule

  • June 21 // StageCenter: On thESPiaN by Owen Weber // preceding Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  • June 28 // Of Mind by Neal Fischer & Kevin Kirchman and Just A Place by Amir George // preceding Soul Food
  • July 5 // A Turn on the Hill by Lori Felker // preceding League of Their Own
  • July 12 // Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich by Siskel/Jacobs Productions // preceding Thelma & Louise
  • July 19 // Power(less) by Cristen Leifheit // preceding Moonstruck and The New Zealander by Alex Thompson // preceding Silence of the Lambs
  • July 26 // 63 Boycott by Gordon Quinn // preceding Kartemquin Retrospective – Inquiring Nuns
  • August 2 // Red Line Rage by Jennifer Stachovic // preceding West Side Story
  • August 9 // Pangaea by Olivia Peace // preceding Grease
  • August 16 // Stellar Moves by Tabia Lees // preceding Finding Nemo
  • August 23 // Permute by Lydia Fu // preceding Purple Rain
  • August 30 // Chicagoland by Manual Cinema // preceding Audience Choice film


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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