Strong increases in Illinois film industry spending continued in 2018
Strong increases in film industry spending, wages and job hires continued during 2018 in Illinois, with total estimated spending and wages up 12 percent since 2017.
The Illinois Film Office in the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity reported that Illinois scored a record number of nine original content episodic television programs.
Streaming services and cable expanded their production in the state, with Comedy Central, Showtime, Netflix, Amazon Studios, and, for the first time, HBO, all choosing Illinois.
The combined total of 332 television, film, digital and commercial advertising projects generated $473, 936,273 in estimated Illinois spending, resulting in 13,848 job hires and nearly 4,000 individual businesses providing goods and services to the industry.
“Innovation, entrepreneurship and a skilled workforce are the hallmark of our film industry,” Gov. JB Pritzker said in a news release.
“Not only has Illinois become a destination for a wide range of film production, it also has seen the establishment of new businesses that are helping to build a comprehensive film ecosystem in Illinois.
“As my administration focuses on strengthening workforce training, the expansion of film production in our state offers a wide array of opportunities for the training, employment and retention of a new generation of workers for this growing industry.”
“In less than a decade, Illinois’ skilled workers, expanding infrastructure, creative and diverse culture, world-class performance artists, along with emerging vocational training and strong film programs at DePaul, Northwestern, Columbia and Flashpoint Chicago Digital Media Arts College have fortified Illinois as one of the most productive and influential production centers in the country. Increased demand for content has tripled the investment in Illinois since 2012,” said Erin Guthrie, acting director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
“In addition, our diverse independent film community has been heralded as one of the most creative. Projects filmed in Illinois in 2018 not only have received critical acclaim, they’ve also recently been purchased by some of the biggest names in the entertainment business.”
Among the independent projects recently filmed in Illinois were “Hala” and “Native Son,” directed by Chicago natives Minhal Baig and Rashid Johnson, respectively.
Both films had their world premieres at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in U.S. dramatic competition and were subsequently purchased by Apple and HBO Films, respectively.
“Knives and Skin,” directed by Chicago’ Jennifer Reeder, is scheduled to have its world premiere at the 2019 Berlinale.
“Come As You Are,” produced by Chicago Media Angels, and “Saint Frances,” directed by Chicago-based filmmaker Alex Thompson, will have its world premiere at the 2019 SXSW film festival.
Orland Park-based MPI Media produced its first film in Illinois in 2018, “Girl on the Third Floor,” produced by Chicago native Bob Teitel, found distribution by Netflix for a 2019 release.
The critically acclaimed “Canal Street,” directed by Chicago native Rhyan LaMarr, which previously screened at the American Black Film Festival, was distributed and subsequently expanded its theatrical window in early 2019.
New projects already confirmed for 2019 include Amazon’s new series, “Utopia,” written by Illinois’ Gillian Flynn, and 20th Century Fox will produce a limited series, “Mixtape,” for Netflix.”
Network television primetime shows “Empire” (FOX), “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago PD,” and “Chicago Med” (NBC) were back for filming in Illinois, joined by “Shameless” (Showtime), “Easy” (Netflix) and “The Chi” (Showtime), which returned to film their new seasons.
New productions that made their home in Illinois in 2018 included “Proven Innocent” (FOX), “Red Line” (CBS), “Southside” (Comedy Central) and the pilot for “Love Craft Country” (HBO).
Commercial advertising continued to be a mainstay, with over 259 projects filmed in Illinois in 2018.
The Illinois Film Office promotes Illinois as a production center for film, television and commercial advertising.
The office also administers the state’s film tax credit, which has been integral in growing a competitive film industry in Illinois.
The 30 percent tax credit is awarded to productions for money spent on Illinois goods and services, including wages paid to Illinois residents.
The goal of the Film Production Tax Credit Act is to grow, sustain and provide economic and job opportunities for local vendors, crew and filmmakers.