January 25, 2018

Mayor Emanuel Announces Groundbreaking Year for Chicago Film, Television and Media Production in 2017

Eight full-season television series were among the many film and media projects produced in Chicago last year, resulting in an estimated $423 million economic impact

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Film Office at the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) today announced that local film and media production have yet again reached record levels in 2017. Last year, 580 individual film and media projects recorded an all-time high combined total of 2,404 production days, resulting in an estimated $423 million in job creation and expenditures. The Film Office issued a total of 2,127 permits in support of these projects, a 10 percent increase from 2016. Chicago has seen steady year over year increases in media production since 2011.

“With our talented residents, state-of-the-art facilities, and affordable services—not to mention our iconic skyline and the rich character and diversity of Chicago’s neighborhoods, the city continues to serve as the destination for film, television and media production year after year,” said Mayor Emanuel. “It is a testament to the depth and talent associated with Chicago’s local film industry that everything from large studio productions, to small independent films to commercials find a home in Chicago.”

The rise in Chicago filming and commercial production has boosted local spending and job creation, while increasing traffic for a wide range of local businesses, hotel rooms, office and warehouse leasing, vehicle and equipment leasing, construction supplies, and local tax revenues. According to the Illinois Film Office--which awards a 30 percent tax credit to film--television and advertising productions for qualified expenditures of Illinois crew, goods and services, projects in 2017 generated an estimated $423 million in Illinois spending and employed 13,797 non-extra job hires along with $251 million in wages.

Film, television and media production continued with record level activity in 2017 with eight full-season series, plus portions of two others, filming throughout the year. NBC’s Chicago Fire, Chicago PD and Chicago Med, FOX’s Empire, and Netflix’s Easy all renewed for additional seasons.  Showtime launched a new series, The Chi in addition to Shameless returning for several weeks of filming the seventh consecutive season. Amazon launched Electric Dreams and two new comedy shows, Pop TV’s Hot Date and the Comedy Central pilot South Side both filmed here in 2017 and are expected to go to series in 2018.  

Studio features Widows (New Regency) and Captive State (Amblin), and portions of the action blockbuster Rampage (Warner Bros) showed a strong return in major motion picture production, and independent features – most locally produced – including The Pages, Hala, What They Had, Soul Sessions and Book of Leah all filmed here in their entirety and continued a five-year growing trend in the creation of home grown content for national distribution.

The locally produced independent feature The Pages featured Chicago actors in 80% of speaking roles. It was produced by Colleen Griffen and written and directed by Joe Chappelle, both Northwestern University alums currently live in Evanston. "I love Chicago. Even though I have shot all over Chicago the last 6 years, I continue to find fresh, visually stunning locations to film,” said Chappelle. “The crews are world class, none better. When we held our local casting session, we could have cast every role with multiple Chicago actors. The city is rich in talent."

For a list of production projects in 2017 compared with 2016 by genre, see below:

Production Totals 2017 Project Starts 2017 Production Days 2016 Project Starts 2016 Production Days
Studio Feature 3 111 3 18
Indie Feature 30 198 18 120
Television 56 1252 66 1382
Commercials 165 306 141 257
Stills 199 277 94 240
Other Productions 127 260 105 311
TOTAL: 580 2404 428 2339


The Chicago Film Office’s Independent Film Initiative (IFI) – an industry development program designed to retain and grow the local filmmaker community and increase the number of locally produced independent features, documentaries, shorts and web series – awarded the 2018 Filmmaker-in-Residence grant to the producing team of Bea Cordelia and Daniel Kyri. As part of the year-long residency, Cordelia and Kyri will be producing The T, a web-series dramedy that explores LGBTQ relationships. The residency is part of a first-of-its-kind program that provides a $10,000 cash grant and other support and resources toward the completion of a locally produced film or series.

The Film Office also launched the Independent Producers Apprenticeship – a professional development and mentorship program for emerging Chicago area independent film and media entrepreneurs. The apprenticeship program, administered by Cinema/Chicago, cultivates the next generation of independent film and media makers through hands-on experience while working on an independent production in Chicago.

The 2017 Millennium Park Film Series screened 15 movies June-September for a total audience of approximately 103,000 attendees in the Pritzker Pavilion. New this year was a daytime family screening of Snow White and Seven Dwarfs co-presented with the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival. The ChicagoMade Shorts Showcase screened films by local filmmakers prior to each feature presentation.

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 cityofchicago.org/dcase.