Filming Around Chicago

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By Maggie Turkovich, Contributing Reporter

In the early 2000’s, Illinois saw a $97.2 million dollar loss in filming revenue, reported the Northwestern Indiana Times. In order to combat the loss of revenue and jobs, the governor at the time, Rod Blagojevich, proposed Senate Bill 2030. This would offer tax incentives and credits to production companies and provide jobs to Illinois residents.

At the time that this bill was proposed, nearly all films that were set in Chicago were actually filmed in Toronto, Canada, including the Academy Award-winning musical, “Chicago.” Blagojevich believed that “movies about Chicago ought to be made in Chicago,” which added fuel to his resolve to pass the bill.

Business began to really pick up around 2008 with Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight.” It was elevated further in 2011 with the construction of one of the largest soundstages outside of Los Angeles by Cinespace Chicago Film Studios. Director of the Illinois Film Office, Betsy Steinberg, noted that the addition of the soundstage gives directors more of an incentive to stay in Chicago. It was not uncommon for production crews to come to Chicago solely to film outdoor scenes and then return to Los Angeles for indoor shots, resulting in less revenue for the city.

These changes in legislation and addition of filming space lead to “an estimated $358 million spent in the state by film and television production,” with $203 million of that spent on in-state wages, found a publication of the University of Illinois, Springfield.  This was a record high for the state, even higher than 1999, the last big boom in filming revenue which preceded Blagojevich’s Senate Bill 2030.  

One decade has gone by since the bill was passed and now Illinois, Chicago in particular, is once again a booming center for filming. Films of all genres have been filmed in the state recently, ranging from Suicide Squad and Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice to Sinister 2. In terms of television, tons of shows take place and film in Chicago, like Shameless, Chicago Fire and Chicago Med. The popular show Empire also films in Chicago, yet is set in New York.

Filming not only brings in tons of revenue and jobs to the citizens of Illinois, but it also brings a lot of recognition to the areas in which these projects film in as well. Fans of films and television programs often want to see where they are filmed, which brings in more tourism and additional revenue.

A considerable amount of this filming has occurred at Roosevelt University and in the surrounding area as well. Shows like Chicago PD, Chicago Med and Shameless have all filmed in the school or right near it. This brings recognition to the school and is a big draw for some people.

So while extra traffic and road closures may be an inconvenience for getting around on campus, it is extremely beneficial to the businesses in the area, local workers in the industry, and the city as a whole.

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