Chicago Film Office — Frequently Asked Questions
When do I need a permit for filming?
The City of Chicago issues permits for the purposes of filming on the public way (city streets, sidewalks and other city owned property). If you intend to occupy the public way with equipment and/or vehicles, or if you need to block pedestrian or vehicular traffic, then a permit is required.
Small portable productions that do not impede the public (news crews, documentaries, b-roll, etc) often do not require permits. Any filming on private property (homes, office buildings, businesses, etc) must be approved by the property owner or management.
How can I have my home/business used as a film location?
The Illinois Film Office keeps a registry of available locations for filming. To be listed, check out their website at www.illinoisfilm.biz
Film producers will hire location scouts to find potential sites for their productions. Scouts then research and photograph available locations as the first step in the decision making process. When a decision is made by the production’s creative team, a location manager will then provide a contract and negotiate a fee with the property owner.
Have a clear understanding of the size of the crew and the amount of time filming will require. Be prepared to ask questions. Communication and preparedness are essential to a successful experience.
What can I expect when filming is to take place in my neighborhood?
Film productions vary in size, but they all come with crew, equipment and vehicles that will need to be staged in close proximity to their filming location. Production equipment will be staged on streets and sidewalks with the proper City of Chicago permit. Some scenes may require traffic control.
Prior to filming, productions will provide neighboring residents and businesses with a leaflet that details their schedule of activities and contact information. The City of Chicago will also post the affected streets as temporary “no parking zones.”
If you have any questions about the production, please call us at 312.744.6415.
How can I break into the film business?
Like any competitive industry, getting your foot in the door often requires networking. Check out our resources page for a listing of local film organizations that host events and workshops.
How can I be an “extra” in an upcoming production?
The people you see on screen but in the background are called “extras.” An extra casting agency will cast these performers as appropriate for the setting (office workers, diners in a restaurant, commuters on a busy street, etc).
We will post casting call information on our casting calls page when it’s made available. There are also several local extra casting agencies that will register new applicants prior to filming.
Acting experience may not be required, but these positions often demand short notice availability and long hours.
More questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org