Independent Producers Apprenticeship (IPA)

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The Independent Producers Apprenticeship (IPA) is a professional development and mentorship program for emerging Chicago-area independent filmmakers and media entrepreneurs. Created in partnership with the Chicago Film Office and Cinema/Chicago, this apprenticeship program is an opportunity to cultivate the next generation of independent film and media makers through hands-on experience working on an independent production in Chicago and through mentorship and participation in Industry Days at the 54th Chicago International Film Festival. The apprenticeship is accessible to all professional levels and open to broad industry interests. Applicants interested in pursuing independent production of any kind and/or starting independent production companies are encouraged to apply.

Four Independent Producers Apprentices will be selected from an online application process. The IPA cohort will meet from February through November at organized site visits across various Chicago film and media offices and organizations. Bi-monthly meetings are approximately a four-hour time commitment. In addition, the producer apprentices will complete an orientation with the Chicago International Film Festival/Industry Days staff and Filmmaker-in-Residence and will be placed working on the Filmmaker-in-Residence production for up to two weeks. Job assignments are paid $500 per week for two weeks (or the equivalent of two weeks) and are determined based on mutual goals and interests.

In addition, the program will arrange for each Apprentice to attend a skills-building workshop or class at an independent film organization in Chicago, including but not limited to IFP Chicago, Women in Film Chicago, Chicago Filmmakers, Community Film Workshop Chicago, or the Association of Independent Commercial Producers. Exact placement and reimbursement of cost will be determined with Industry Days staff based on an Apprentice’s application. This class must be completed within the Apprenticeship year (between February-October). An exit interview with Industry Days staff will be held at the completion of the Producers Apprenticeship.



  • Applicants must have some previous experience in media/production. For example: completion of a class or workshop in filmmaking/camera/editing/PA/etc. at a school or organization such as Chicago Filmmakers, Free Spirit Media, Community Film Workshop of Chicago, etc; PA training through AICP; previous PA or set experience; have independent projects on Vimeo or YouTube; participation in a filmmaking summer camp such as CHA; previous internship experience at a production company or on set; etc.
  • Applications from underrepresented groups are encouraged.
  • Applicants can be interested in pursuing independent projects of any kind – shorts, features, series, narratives, documentary, experimental, web-based, etc.
  • Applicants must be based in Chicago.
  • Applicants must be available to participate in all scheduled programs, including the two-week on-set production and Industry Days.

Those interested in applying for the apprenticeship can find application information from Cinema/Chicago at



Dec. 2017 - Application opens.

Jan. 15, 2018 - Deadline for Application.

Jan. 29, 2018 - Final Selection of Apprentices.

Feb-Mar. 2018 - 1st Cohort Meeting with Filmmaker-in-Residence team. Production of Chicago Filmmaker-in-Residence Production Begins.

March 2018 - 2nd Cohort Meeting + Experiential Field Trip (i.e., Chicago International TV Festival)

May 2018 - 3rd Cohort Meeting + Experiential Field Trip (i.e., Stage 18/Cinespace)

July 2018 - 4th Cohort meeting + Experiential Field Trip (i.e., Distribution company)

Sept. 2018 - 5th Cohort meeting + Experiential Field Trip (i.e., Film Services Organization)

Oct. 2018 - Cohort attends Industry Days at Chicago International Film Festival.

Nov. 2018 - Cohort wrap-up meeting and exit interviews

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