Wayne Kubacki retires from Essanay Studios

Last month, Essanay Studio and Lighting Company co-owner Wayne Kubacki retired from the nationally recognized company that he co-founded decades ago. Widely admired for his extensive knowledge, punctilious care, and conversational efficiency, he leaves a vacancy that will reverberate far beyond the company’s Goose Island facility. “I’m going to miss him,” says Jules Tomko, Essanay’s … Continue reading “Wayne Kubacki retires from Essanay Studios”

Masquerade Ball benefits Essanay Studios’ restoration

Big things are in store for what originally had been the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company when it opened in 1907. It was one of the first silent movie studios and now it’s the last one standing in the country.  A movement is underway to maintain its legacy by raising the $3 million needed to renovate and restore one of Essanay’s original stages for use as performing and visual arts resource center, open to all. 

Essanay first in Midwest with Arrixmax 18,000w HMI lights, delivering 50% greater intensity

The only two new Arrimax 18,000 watt HMI lights in the Midwest arrived Wednesday at Essanay Studio & Lighting.

“These are literally the first lights out of the box,” said Essanay’s Wayne Kubacki. “The container from Germany was unloaded in New York and our lights were in the first container shipped across the country.

“Rental rates aren’t established yet, they’re that new.”

Arrimax, manufactured by Arriflex, is a brand new name “as the lights are a unique type of HMI light, neither a PAR nor a fresnel,” said Kubacki.

Oh what a night! The AICP/Midwest Meet. Drink. Talk. was a huge success

The AICP/Midwest Meet. Drink. Talk. was a huge success last night. Friends, colleagues and co-workers gathered for a much needed social evening at the Tunnel on Kinzie in an event created exclusively for Midwest agency, commercial production, and editorial professionals. You could feel the energy in the room from a group who collectively hit the pause … Continue reading “Oh what a night! The AICP/Midwest Meet. Drink. Talk. was a huge success”

Mayor Lightfoot and DCASE announce new Chicago Made’ TV & Film Initiative

Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Chicago Film Office at the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) announced a new initiative to strengthen Chicago’s TV and film industry. The new “Chicago Made” workforce development program and public awareness campaign are based on recommendations from the City of Chicago’s COVID-19 Recovery Task Force outlined … Continue reading “Mayor Lightfoot and DCASE announce new Chicago Made’ TV & Film Initiative”

Filmmaking in Chicago is ‘significantly up’ with record breaking production

At the September 30th Committee on Budget and Government Operations meeting Retiring Cultural Affairs and Special Events Commissioner Mark Kelly said filmmaking is “significantly up” in Chicago. A record 15 television productions are currently in the city including 61st Street, The Chi, Chicago PD, Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, Work in Progress, Paper Girls, Light Years, … Continue reading “Filmmaking in Chicago is ‘significantly up’ with record breaking production”

Explore produces direct-to-brand creative for ‘We Can Help’

Creative production company Explore recently produced a commercial campaign for 1st Source Bank which aired during the 2021 Olympic Games, broadcast on the NBC network from Tokyo, Japan.  The spots were unique because they were contracted directly between the production company and the brand, but still exhibited an agency-level feel from both messaging, creativity, and … Continue reading “Explore produces direct-to-brand creative for ‘We Can Help’”

Zoë Iltsopoulos Borys named VP/GM Panavision Chicago

Panavision has named Zoë Iltsopoulos Borys to lead the company’s Chicago office as Vice President and General Manager. Borys will ensure Panavision’s customers continue to receive the highest level of service and support throughout the commercial, television, and feature sectors, and will be supported by Chicago Operations Manager Stan Glapa. Sharon Walker Retires Borys’ appointment … Continue reading “Zoë Iltsopoulos Borys named VP/GM Panavision Chicago”

Shameless in town filming this week

Showtime’s longest-running series, Shameless was seen filming in town today for some pickup shots. A small crew filmed exterior drone shots of the infamous Gallagher house for VFX plates. The award-winning series was scheduled to air this summer, but like many other productions, shut down in March due to COVID-19. The cast headed back to … Continue reading “Shameless in town filming this week”

AICP townhall: Crew Safety and Filming (video)

Yesterday, members of the AICP Midwest held their second townhall, discussing the best practices for the safety of crew and everyone on set while filming. With the Chicago Film Office scheduled to begin issuing permits for filming on June 15, this was an important meeting as the Chicago film and TV industry prepares to get … Continue reading “AICP townhall: Crew Safety and Filming (video)”

AICP Midwest holding town hall on crew safety & filming

AICP Midwest presents: A Look Forward Crew Safety and Filming Thursday, June 4, 2020 10:30 am CST Via Zoom  A town hall Q & A for crew on navigating the road ahead when production resumes.  AICP Midwest Board Members/Moderators:Qadree Holmes – Founder / Executive Producer Quriosity ProductionsMarsie Wallach – Freelance Line Producer Panel: Tim Harris … Continue reading “AICP Midwest holding town hall on crew safety & filming”

At Cinespace and beyond. Who’s working today.

Over the past week it’s safe to say that the Illinois film community is doing their best to ensure that their employees are safe during this unfortunate time. In light of worldwide health concerns about the impact from the COVID-19 virus, many have postponed production until further notice. Starting Monday, Cinespace will close the secondary … Continue reading “At Cinespace and beyond. Who’s working today.”

AICP Midwest lists all who are open for business

Reel Chicago supports all efforts of those who are working, boots on the ground, to service their clients during these most difficult times. Below is a list of AICP Midwest members who are open for business, supplied by Lisa Massuer, AICP Midwest President. FROM AICP MIDWEST  Collectively, the National AICP community has been working to … Continue reading “AICP Midwest lists all who are open for business”

Showtime to air final season of ‘Shameless’ this summer

Capping off an 11-season run, Showtime’s dramedy series Shameless will air its final episodes this summer. According to Deadline, President of Entertainment at Showtime Networks Gary Levine made the renewal announcement at the Winter TCA Press Tour. “Airing this summer, it will be one last hurrah for the Gallaghers and their unique blend of love … Continue reading “Showtime to air final season of ‘Shameless’ this summer”

The biggest stories of 2019

The City of Chicago reigned supreme in 2019. Advertising agencies blended social justice with clever branding. Content creators reinforced Chicago’s reputation for inclusivity. Film studios entertained the nation while helping the local neighborhoods. And a handful of friends said goodbye. Below is a list of Reel Chicago’s top articles for 2019, separated by category and … Continue reading “The biggest stories of 2019”

rEvolution on the rise

How a Chicago-based agency transforms sports into an exponentially evolving world of possibilities rEvolution Integrated Sports Marketing scores on ideas from all over the place. Combining national brands with famous players and professional teams, the agency keeps its clients in the game with a head-explodingly grand assortment of concepts involving recreational vehicles, fishing holes, and … Continue reading “rEvolution on the rise”

Filmscape Chicago open for registration

The gear and education expo brings equipment expertise, and community together at Cinespace on September 7-8 A portion of the curriculum for this year’s Filmscape Chicago was announced today, and if registration goes anything like the event’s predecessor, classes are going to fill up quickly. Although technically an inaugural run, Filmscape is actually an updated … Continue reading “Filmscape Chicago open for registration”

AICP Midwest Chapter sets active agenda for spring

A busy slate of events will culminate in the AICP Post Awards next month AICP’s Midwest Chapter is about to kick off a series of events for the local ad and production community that will provide opportunities for professional development, learning and networking. The slate is the product of planning and strategizing by the chapter’s … Continue reading “AICP Midwest Chapter sets active agenda for spring”

Local 476 elections reflect unprecedented growth

The Studio Mechanics’ record-setting year is is complemented by growing diversity in leadership and membership The Chicago Studio Mechanics Union Local 476, a chapter of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), designated more than a dozen officers, board members, and trustees after tallying the votes of its December 10 election. Returning to positions … Continue reading “Local 476 elections reflect unprecedented growth”

Reel Women: Jeanne Caliendo, “Chi Med” co-producer

Jeanne Caliendo is a born and bred Chicagoan who graduated from Columbia College with a degree in film. By her own admission, she has had “one fulltime job my entire life.” “I worked at Studio Lighting, which was absorbed by Essanay,” she explains. “I did a little bit of everything, until I found my niche … Continue reading “Reel Women: Jeanne Caliendo, “Chi Med” co-producer”

Tessa Films’ cozy and familiar “Holiday Wish”

Chicago-based production company Tessa Films offers something for everyone in a season greeting that premiered yesterday on YouTube. Titled, A Holiday Wish, the cozy and humorous minute-long film shows how social media can disrupt even the warmest of family gatherings. Flawless visuals and smart camera work establish a mood that is not only believable but … Continue reading “Tessa Films’ cozy and familiar “Holiday Wish””

10:58 a.m. — Jeanne Caliendo, “Chicago Med”

Shortly before lunch, Chicago Med Unit Production Manager Jeanne Caliendo is preparing for the show’s regular “medical meeting,” which she describes as, “the biggest, most important meeting of every episode.” “We run through what the actor/doctors will perform, so that we have the correct props, prosthetics, makeup and special effects,” she says. “We’ve got blood … Continue reading “10:58 a.m. — Jeanne Caliendo, “Chicago Med””

rEvolution unites Winnebago and Maddon to get RAW

And here I thought Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon lived in the dugout.

Apparently not!

Turns out Maddon and his wife, Jaye, live in a $500,000 Winnebago Grand Tour. During the off-season, the two pal around the country in their spectacular home away from home.

Joe Maddon’s love of RVs became popularized three years ago, when he first introduced the world to his mobile home named, “Cousin Eddie.” It’s derived from the slob Randy Quaid played in the Vacation movies.

Lakeside cabin setting for Smith’s 2nd indie dramedy

The concept of Chicago writer / director Michael Glover Smith’s second indie drama, “Mercury in Retrograde,” grew out of a scene from his firstfeature comedy / drama, “Cool Apocalypse, ” in 2015.

This gave him, he says, “a chance to go deeper and darker with the conflict between couples: how do they talk to each other, how do they not talk to each other, and how do they talk around problems.”

Jane Lynch to accept a Comedy Film Fest award

A LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD will be presented to actress/comedian Jane Lynch, a Chicago area native, by the Chicago Comedy Film Festival (CCFF) and the Second City’s Harold Ramis Film School, Thursday, Nov, 10 before a sold-out audience at The Second City Training Center.

Lynch will receive the award from Jessica Hardy, CIFF founder / artistic director and Second City president Andrew Alexander. The 7 p.m. presentation will be followed at 8:30 p.m. by the Chicago Filmmakers Shorts Program of a dozen locally-made comedy films.

Vince Vaughn finally sells his Mag Mile penthouse

VINCE VAUGHN IS GONE from Chicago, that is, he finally sold the three-story penthouse atop the Palmolive Building at 919 N. Michigan for a total $12.1 million, a little more than he originally paid for it and after splitting it into three different units.

Lake Forest native Vaughn bought the penthouse in 2006 for $12 million while he and Jennifer Aniston were in Chicago filming (and also dating) the rom-com feature “The Break Up.”

Androw reelected president of AICP/Midwest a third time

The Chicago-headquartered AICP / Midwest has elected new officers and board beginning Oct 1 for a two-year term, with Mark Androw of STORY reelected for a third term as president.

AICP / Midwest is one of seven regional chapters. Its membership consists of 22 General Member and 24 Associate Member companies.

The newly elected officers, in addition to Androw, are freelance producer Marsie Wallach as vice president, who is new to the board, and Essanay Studios’ Wayne Kubacki, returning for his second term as treasurer.

SCC’s PSA campaign reminds about disaster preparation

SEPTEMBER IS NATIONAL PREPAREDNESS MONTH and it kicked off with Schafer Condon Carter (SCC), The Ad Council and FEMA’s Ready Campaign of PSAs and online videos that help families to be prepared before emergencies like earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes occur.

This is the second year SCC has been involved with the Ready Campaign, advancing its 2015-produced 30-second “Don’t Wait Communicate” spot from traditional media to social media outlets.

AICP trains 30 PA recruits for “the real world on set”

Thirty potential production assistants learned what working on a film set and location was all about at AICP Chicago’s annual PA Training Session, held last Saturday at Essanay Studio & Lighting.

The diverse recruits were brought into “the real world on set” by 17 film professionals – called “the best in the business” by AICP chapter president Mark Androw of STORY – organized by freelance commercial producer Marsie Wallach and Dictionary Films’ EP Meghan Maples.

Three new shows set up at Cinespace ready to roll

“Transformers” director Michael Bay will return to Chicago later this year to produce the fifth installment of his franchise, he told WGN’s Dean Richards.  But that’s only the tip of the iceberg!

Here’s what ReelChicago learned is ahead for our production market in the foreseeable future, all headquartering and filming at Cinespace.

Governor removes tax credit from endangered list

After four months of concern over how future film business would be affected by the suspension of the Illinois Filmmakers Tax Credits — a consequence of the state’s on-going budget impasse  — the Governor’s Office last night officially announced that film tax incentives remain viable and applications are welcome.  

Film folks: Fear City haunted house night is for you

Producer Mo Wagdy is ready to rev his party bus to take a fearless group of production people and their families to fright-packed haunted house “Fear City,” on Friday, Oct. 17 “for one hell of a Halloween thrill ride,” he tells me. 

Wagdy, of miniGorillaproductions and MoFest, is a friend of master set designer/builder Chuck Grendy, who with his partner, art director Jim Lichon, a veteran of Harpo Studios working on the Oprah show, created Fear City in 2010, in the unlikely quiet suburb of Morton Grove.

DePaul/Cinespace rolls out 3-ton custom grip truck

No film school in the country has got what DePaul/Cinespace’s Cinema and Interactive Media program will be rolling out this summer: a custom-built, 3-ton grip and electric truck for student production use.

The $100,000 truck was designed and built by John Corba, Assistant Director of DePaul/Cinespace and DePaul MFA alum, and Joe Lyons, DePaul/Cinespace equipment manager, both with decades of feature crew experience.

Manarchy to take his giant still camera on the road

In the true Chicago spirit of “make no little plans,” acclaimed director/photographer Dennis Manarchy has built what is unarguably the world’s largest still camera to capture people in “cultures in transition.”

The American Portrait, as he calls the camera, is a 12-ft. high by 8.5-ft. wide by 35-ft. long brass-and-mahogany replica of an old-fashioned bellows camera.

Lawyer Linda Mensch coproduces Loukas’ indie drama

SHOOTING IS UNDERWAY on first-time filmmaker/actress Allie Loukas’ low-budget feature, Like Father, Like Daughter, filming which shot in Lake Forest and Waukegan and moves to Chicago locations through May 27.

Written and directed by Loukas, the story is about a chance encounter that brings young North Shore woman Kathryn (Loukas) into the life of the Chicago father (Christopher M. Walsh) she has never met. Also starring Kim DeJesus, Angela Beckefeld and Darren Marlar.

IPA reelects Teamsters’ Crabtree as board president

In a recent election the Illinois Production Alliance board of directors was reelected, with the exception of one member stepping down after serving on the board since the IPA’s founding in 2004.

Reelected board officers are president, Jeff Crabtree, Teamsters Joint Council 25; Mark Hogan, VP, Local 476; Justin Conway, 2nd VP, Cinematographers Guild 600; secretary, Eric Chaudron, SAG AFTRA and legislative chair, Dan Moore, DGA.

Staging pro John Kavanagh joins Lakeshore Audiovisual

THIRTY-YEAR STAGING VETERAN John Kavanagh has left the Show Department after 27 years to join national, full service production company, Lakeshore Audiovisual, Inc. (LSAV), as VP/business development.

LSAV, founded and operated by Michael Giglio in 1995, specializes in staging, special events and conventions.

Headquartered on Chicago’s Northwest Side, it has offices and warehouse facilities in the major convention centers of Las Vegas, Washington, D.C. and Orlando.

New AICP Midwest board includes four women members

Four members of AICP Midwest were newly elected to the 13-member board of directors in the annual election held Tuesday, Sept. 23.  They are Megan Maples, executive producer of Dictionary Films (Cutters), Melissa Thornley, managing director, Beast/Method/Company Three, Chicago and freelance line producers Marsie Wallach and Gayle McCormick. 

STORY’S Ford spot shows city’s location versatility

While many unlikely cities throughout the world have been used as substitutes for Chicago locations for movies and commercials (and not always convincingly) STORY’S recent reverse location for a major advertiser tops them all. 

“We shot a Ford Explorer driving down Chicago streets that look like modern, urban downtown Moscow, for the Russian market,” says STORY executive producer Mark Androw. 

Gov. Quinn’s L.A. visit a ‘we’ll see’ situation

GOVERNOR’S L.A. UPDATE. Gov. Pat Quinn’s appointment schedule for next week has not been completely finalized, says a spokesperson for the governor, which kinda suggests that he just might be able to make the important Aug. 1 TV Production Executives Dinner in L.A. after all. 

15 Chicago area arts orgs win $25,000 Chase grants

CHICAGO AREA good works companies won the biggest number of grants – a total of $500,000 — in the just-concluded 2011 Chase Community Giving program that asked the public to vote on Facebook for the organization they deemed most worthy of Chase’s generous grant-giving.

Grants of $25,000 each were awarded to 20 local organizations, of which 15 were performing arts, including the Midwest Independent Film Festival.

ICG cites Chicago as one of 5 “great union locations”

Chicago’s ranking as a film city is a sometimes thing.  There have been times when Moviemaker Magazine, for example, has put Chicago on top of a list of the 25 best cities to live and work in one year, and then ignores it the next year in a similar compilation.

To compensate for past sins of omission, the current issue of the International Cinematographers Guild ICG Magazine cites Chicago as one of its five “Great [Union] Locations, where film commissions, vendors and residents love union crews.” 

Walmart leads pack of explosive Q4 spot production

THE COMMERCIALS DAM has burst and this last quarter of 2011 should be busy and profitable for the commercial production/post scene. Directors’ reps are swamped fielding agency bids for major advertisers and out-of-town production companies in abundance have been and currently are shooting here.

Says Valerie Gobos, one of the estimated 40 directors/production company reps: “After a comparatively slow third quarter, the anticipated fourth quarter storyboard flow started out slowly, as agencies went through the creative approval process and exploded this week.”

Roscor holds free Tech Expo May 19-20 at RDS

MORE THAN 60 EXHIBITORS will display their latest and greatest at Roscor’s 3rd annual Communications Technology Expo May 19-20 in the big first floor stage at Resolution Digital Studios.   

Representatives from 18 of these companies will lead seminars on various practical subjects, such as designing videowalls with microtiles, conference systems for the boardroom, digital technologies, corporate and campus-wide mass notification solutions and using production asset management and media asset management. 

We won! Senate vote gives film credits a 10 year sunset

Go ahead and lift a glass and drink to elimination of the onerous five year sunset clause that would’ve killed Illinois’ hard-earned film incentives film.

Senate Bill 398, that gives the Illinois film tax credit a 10 year sunset, renewable every five years, passed the full Senate late Wednesday afternoon and will go to the House for a final vote next week.

House votes to add film incentives sunset clause

In a surprising move, orchestrated by the House majority leadership and pushed through in Wisconsin-like speed without forewarning or debate, the Illinois House voted to kill the no-sunset clause of the Illinois tax credit in five years.

Late Thursday afternoon, 43-page bill SB4 that ended various business credits, passed with a vote of 90 to 20.

The film incentives’ clause was at the tail end of the bill, and looked like it had been tacked on at the last minute.

“Last Rites of Joe May” in Tribeca’s exalted circle

STEPPENWOLF’S FEATURE, “The Last Rites of Joe May, was selected among a record 5,624 films for screening at the 10th annual Tribeca Film Festival in New York. It will compete with 11 other features for The Founders Award.

Joe Maggio wrote and directed what’s called “the classic urban drama,” and the ensemble cast includes Dennis Farina, Jamie Allman, Ian Barford, Meridith Droeger, Chelcie Ross and Gary Cole. It was shot entirely in Chicago last winter and finished in New York.  

Premiere for 2010 Production Fund winner

“Salvaging,” the short film that won IFP’s 2010 Production Fund Competition, was written and directed by Joe Lyons, who works as a Local 476 union electrician and grip.

“I’ve always wanted to be a writer/director and finally had the chance to go for it, as the IFP Fund allowed me to finally produce one of my scripts,” Lyons says.

“Salvaging” was the recipient last year of a grant worth $100,000 in in-kind services donated by local vendors that allows a filmmaker to complete his project.

Business exceeded expectations for 2010

After a dismal and unpredictable 2009, the local visual media industry didn’t know what business twists and turns to expect when 2010 dawned.

“Business had taken such a hit in 2009, we had no place to go but up in 2010,” recalls Larry Whitlow of Show Department/Resolution Digital Studios. And to everyone’s surprise and relief, up it went and hasn’t stopped since!

Depending on the type of business, the uptick was first noted with surprise for some in the first quarter of 2010.

New R. Kelly Chicago-produced music video

R. KELLY’S LATEST MUSIC VIDEO that recently went out into the world is as close to an all-Chicago production as one could ask for from a globally popular artist like Kelly.

Kelly’s new song, “When A Woman Loves,” was produced by Chicagoan John Yaworsky for L.A.-based Collaboration Factory and shot by Colin Watkinson, using Fletcher Cameras’ RED MX, during one long day-into-night session at Essanay Studios.

Red Car’s Tim Lo Dolce edited the footage into a 4:43 minute video at Red Car and did mobile laptop editing in HD at Kelly’s studio in his South Suburban home.

STORY completes project of month’s duration

A MULTIMEDIA WHIRLPOOL PROJECT for Leo Burnett turned out to be STORY’S biggest job in terms of duration ?- 17 days of shooting stills and motion for the appliance manufacturer that began July 19 and concluded Aug. 10.

STORY’S Laurie Rubin, a prominent still photographer, shot the stills and directed video from which four spots will be edited.

Rubin worked at Essanay Studio & Lighting and at her own photo studio. For Leo Burnett, Patrick Smith produced, Daniel Holmes the art director and Denis Giroux, executive producer. STORY’s line producer was Michelle Breger.

WIFC’s Focus Award honors Merri Dee

WOMEN IN FILM has made a righteous choice to honor broadcast trailblazer, talk show host, news anchor and community activist Merri Dee as its 2010 Focus Award honoree.

Dee has parlayed her celebrity into many children’s and educational charitable works. She spearheaded Illinois’ victims rights’ legislation after she and one of her talk show guests had been kidnapped, driven to a wooded area, shot twice in the head and left for dead, in 1971.

After retiring from WGN-TV in 2008 after 30 years, Dee formed full-service MD Communications.

Comma Music honored at AICP MoMa Show

COMMA MUSIC was the only Chicago honoree among the hundreds of bi-coastal commercial companies that swept the 19th annual AICP Show June 8 held annually at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. The winning reel will screen in Chicago Nov. 18 at the annual AICP Show.

Comma was honored in the Musical Arrangement category for its 2-minute music video for Nike/Wieden & Kennedy, featuring basketball stars LaBron James and Kobe Bryant, and rapper Lupe Fiasco.

Three star-studded gala fundraisers this month

MOVIE AND TELEVISION STARS will abound this month as they headline gala fund-raisers to support the city’s culturally important visual arts organizations.

The Museum of Broadcast Communications’ June 11 “Salute to Chicago Television” will honor three generations of broadcasters, directors, producers and executives — 50 in all confirmed so far — at its fund-raiser at the Hilton Hotel & Towers.

Founder/director Bruce DuMont declares this is the first-ever reunion of these broadcasting.

Pilots under consideration for fall debuts

PILOT UPDATES. Networks this week began screening and evaluating 68 pilots that were shot during the first quarter for possible prime-time fall series slots. Here’s the reaction to four of the six that were filmed in Chicago, according to Deadline/Hollywood:

“Ride-Along:” Shawn Ryan’s cop drama is a contender.

“Pleading Guilty:” Not getting a lot of buzz on this legal drama starring Jason Isaacs, but some say it’s heating up.

State-sponsored PSAs encourage HIV testing

“ARE YOU THE ONE?” is the question the State of Illinois is asking in a cross-platform campaign to alert men to get tested to combat the spread of HIV.

The campaign, consisting of broadcast, print, outdoor and online, is designed to bring people to the state’s website, gettestedillinois.com, to learn where state-run HIV testing sites are located.

All elements of the campaign were created by SPI-tv’s Rogelio Gazga.

AICE seeks funds for ad, PR campaign

LOCAL MEMBERS OF AICE are being asked for $1,000 each to be used to fund an advertising and PR campaign to combat competition from agency in-house editorial departments.

The campaign started last month with a full page ad in Brandweek, as an open letter to advertisers laying out the dangers of the increasing growth of these in-house departments and the value of independent editors.

Sweet Home Illinois a sweet night in L.A.

SWEET HOME CHICAGO was a spectacular success Monday at the Le Grande Orange restaurant in Santa Monica, when 350 Chicagoans in the industry turned out for a night of meetups, fun and some down home Chicago food favorites.

Sweet Home was picked up by former IFO director Brenda Sexton after a four-year hiatus, Lettuce Entertain You’s Rich Melman and entertainer Tom Dreesen, who emceed the first party 20 years ago and most of the 15 since then.

Hollywood makeup artist shares his secrets

HOLLYWOOD MAKEUP ARTIST MAURICE STEIN is helming a Local 476 makeup techniques seminar today through Monday at Essanay Studios, organized by member/makeup artist Helen Marchfield. Stein is best known for doing the makeup for the entire “The Golden Girls” TV series.

The seminar is another in the local’s series of continuing educational classes for members.

WOW! The A-list for Monday’s Sweet Home Illinois party in L.A., produced by Brenda Sexton’s Link Production for Chicagoans in the industry, has grown to stellar proportions.

Tyler Jay joins Dictionary Films

TYLER JAY, recently with the 2016 Committee, joined Dictionary Films as an executive producer of content.

While he was with the 2016 Committee, Jay oversaw the 22 bid films that were produced here over two weeks in July. He continues to contribute the Chicago Olympic efforts and maintains his seat on the Committee.

Before that, he was a senior producer with Draftfcb and a producer with Leo Burnett. Earlier, he worked in L.A. as a freelance producer/director for major advertisers.

Board election changes IPA’s focus

With the election last week of a union executive to lead the Illinois Production Alliance, the six-year old trade organization has signaled its intention to focus on the Illinois filmmaker’s tax incentive.

In its annual election, 13 IPA board members unanimously elected Jeff Crabtree, a political director and lobbyist for Teamsters Joint Council 25, as president.

Crabtree joined the IPA in 2008 when he assumed the Teamsters seat on the board, shortly after he had joined the Teamsters organization from the Illinois Senate, where he worked as a budget analyst.

Schumacher offers production office rental

Non Fiction Films of L.A. was the first customer to use the 3,000 sq. ft. first floor space to prep for a two day location shoot for Ford, followed by @Radical Media, also L.A., in town for a one-day GatorAde shoot next week.

The new rental offices include three enclosed offices with desks, chairs and shelves, 24 hour access, phone, fax, copier and high speed wireless internet access, full kitchen, first floor loading dock and a roof deck.

The rental cost is $150 a day with a camera rental package.

Lifetime Achievement Award for Harold Ramis

DIRECTOR HAROLD RAMIS receives the “Just for Laughs” Lifetime Achievement Award at the red carpet screening of Columbia Pictures’ “Year One” at the Music Box, June 16.

The special screening is the kickoff for the TBS Presents A Very Funny Festival: Just for Laughs Chicago and is being showcased locally before its June 19 national release.

IFO fielding calls about locations and incentives

IFO DIRECTOR BETSY STEINBERG is optimistic that Chicago will enjoy “a very busy summer” of Hollywood entertainment projects, based on the calls the offices has been fielding about locations and tax incentives.

That’s good to hear, since May marks the tenth month that Chicago has not not hosted any Hollywood movies or TV shows, excepting a nine-day reality pilot shoot. The sole local film was the indie “Polish Bar.”

Two TV series whose first seasons shot in Chicago have vaporized away.

Illinois is the “State of Romance” for NBC pilot

LOVE IS IN THE AIR for the first Hollywood project to be shot in Chicago so far this year, breaking the nine-month dry spell and portending more business ahead. The NBC half-hour pilot, “State of Romance,” gets underway March 30.

The half hour romantic comedy, described as a modern day “Pride and Prejudice,” will shoot for eight days entirely on location ? no sets called for at all.

Essanay is supplying the lighting and grip equipment. UPM is Rich Lederer (“The Beast”). Universal Media Studios is producing the single-camera project.

Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC to light up Chicago

It isn’t everyday that a legendary cinematographer visits Chicago, so it was no surprise that the workshop Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC will conduct in Chicago on Feb. 8 was instantly sold out.

Zsigmond and fellow cinematographer James Chressanthis, ASC will headline the three-part Celebration of Cinematography Feb. 7 at the Gene Siskel Film Center and Feb. 8 at Essanay Studio & Lighting.

Relax, the tax incentives will go into effect

IRONICALLY, GOV. BLAGOJEVICH was going to sign the Illinois 30% tax credit bill into law next Monday at Essanay Studios! The unconfirmed signing ceremony was being set up because the governor had the time to do so.

We can safely assume that the gov’s photo op signing will be put indefinitely on hold.

That doesn’t mean the bill will languish as it did earlier this year — delayed first by the senate action and then by Blago’s demand for a photo op surrounded by celebs, taking it into May.

Blagojevich will remain governor, however, for the forseeable future.

Four Avenue veterans start editing boutique

COLONIE, A NEW EDITING BOUTIQUE, has been formed by four former Avenue Edit veterans: Producer Mary Rieger and editors Brian Stepanic, Bob Ackerman and Joe Clear, all highly favorites for big national spots.

It’s located in what had been Outsider’s original space at 610 N. Fairbanks.

Other former long-time Avenue staffers opened their own companies this year.

Brutal, devastating, paralyzed

“The perfect storm, the convergence of negative factors,” as Essanay’s Wayne Kubacki puts it, has created the worst year of commercial business since the SAG strike and dot com bust of 2000.

The storm elements of the presidential campaign season when business is put on hold and a depressing economy has “paralyzed the commercials industry,” says Schumacher Camera’s James Pope.

There at the beginning of the Chicago Film Office, Debbie Beck retires after an impressive 28 years

AFTER A REMARKABLE 28 YEARS, DEBBIE BECK retired Friday from the Chicago Film Office without fanfare.

She had joined in June, 1980 a scant three months after the office was officially created by Mayor Jane Byrne as an adjunct of the police department and was headed by a police sergeant, Sam Babich.

Beck shared an office with police officers Babich, Jim Cunningham and Tom Flanagan in cramped space on the eighth floor of City Hall.

“Peep Show” for Spike TV appears to be the
only new TV pilot set to shoot in Chicago soon

THE ONLY NEW TV SHOW on the Chicago horizon seems to be “Peep Show” for Spike TV. The pilot of the Americanized version of the British hit series is scheduled to shoot here in September or October.

Tenner Paskal Rudnicke is casting eight or nine actors for lead roles, “but no one is officially cast yet,” says TPR partner Jennifer Rudnickne.

On the commercial front, TPR’s recent casting was for 59 Films’ two-day shoot for Coors/DraftFCB, calling in the four “regular guys” for the latest entry in the ongoing campaign.

“Citizen Kate” gets off the campaign trail to tell her story Tuesday on Ch. 11’s “Chicago Tonight”

“Kate,” one of 78 “reporters” vying for five finalist positions, is the highest rated candidate in the competition, and the only “reporter” who actually has been reporting on presidential candidates ever since Sen. Obama announced his candidacy way back when in January.

Unlike “Kate,” creator Lundin is no novice to the political scene. She has been produced political commercials for many winning candidates for 15 years.

Charging battery explosion causes Fletcher Chicago to swap hazardous Li-Ons for safer type

Contrary to the old adage, there was plenty of smoke but no fire at Essanay Studio & Lighting when a battery charging overnight exploded early Wednesday morning.

The only damage occurred when the a flame swooshed out and singed a couple of wooden chairs 10-feet away on the stage, where the shoot was to take place, creating billows of smoke.

An assistant cameraman the night before had routinely connected the battery to a standard wall outlet, to be used the next morning by spot director Dennis Manarchy on a Sargento cheese shoot.

Director Joe Pytka in Chicago for Hallmark; commercials, pilot, movie dot the scenery

MIGHTY JOE PYTKA, the brilliant, irascible, multi-honored spot director returns to Chicago this week after a long absence to direct Hallmark spots for Leo Burnett.

ALSO SPOTTED?Dennis Manarchy directing Panasonic TV set spots, one of them 103-inches, or a monstrous 8×5-feet and costs $70,000? Digital Kitchen shoots for Target.Both at Essanay.

FOR A MERE $15 aspiring screenwriters can learn about the craft, art and business of screenwriting Nov. 10 from Paul Peditto, one of Chicago’s best teachers.

Illinois Production Alliance board unanimously elects TV-film producer Sandy Gordon president

Running on a pledge to reinvigorate the Illinois Production Alliance and expand its activities to a larger constituency, film and television producer Sandy Gordon was unanimously elected president of the six-year old organization.

Gordon, who ran unopposed and will serve a one-year term, succeeds Eileen Willenborg, who had been IPA president since 2004.

As Local 476 head, third generation cardholder Mark Hogan will strive for permanent tax credit

WHO HE IS: Newly elected secretary treasurer/business manager heading IATSE Local 476, Motion Pictures Studio Mechanics?a third generation 476 member.

HOW HE VIEWS HIS JOB: “Having worked in the business for 33 years, I’ve seen problems first hand. Now I am in a position where I can affect positive change.”

After only two weeks in his new position, Hogan faced a job action when members who had been asked to work without union representation were replaced with non-union workers.

Compete to be “America’s Next Producer”

IF YOU’RE A PRODUCER with what you feel is a dynamite reality show idea, “America’s Next Producer,” wants to meet you Feb. 24, from noon till 4 p.m. at the Ambassador East Hotel.

Magical Elves, executive producers of “Project Runway” and “Top Chef,” is seeking contestants to showcase their talent on the new series for the TV Guide Channel.

Verne Troyer, a.k.a. Mini Me, follows Bernie Mac as star of Radar spots for new Lottery games

Austin Powers’ sidekick Mini Me touts the “Set for Life” game, with the biggest cash prizes in any promotion in Illinois Lottery history.

The fast-paced “movie trailers” were directed by Radar’s Don Hoeg with the added panache of photography by a famous Hollywood DP.

Radar produced the Troyer “Set for Life” spot as the payoff to the preceding “Set Up” spot for Lottery agency, R. J. Dale.

Hollywood actor Verne Troyer followed comedian and Chicago native Bernie Mac who was features in two earlier “Pick and Play” commercials.

Special guests, $10,000 in prizes highlight IPA Victory Party June 13

Local celebs and political leaders are among the guests expected at the IPA Victory Party June 13 at Rockit Bar and Grill.

The party celebrates IPA’s influential role in the Illinois’ new 20% tax credit on wages and supplies that should appreciably boost the economic impact of film expenditures in Illinois.

It’s also an excellent opportunity for new members to join the powerful three-year organization and keep the momentum going.

Trainees complete Local 476 technical course

A month-long technical training class ends this week for 14 Local 476 trainees, who spent the last four weeks, eight hours a day at Essanay where they learned the skills and equipment that go into making a film ? in this case, a mock TV commercial.

Gino Crededio taught electric and Dennis de la Mata was the grip instructor.

The 14 trainees had worked on Local 476 permits last year but needed improvement for skills. “They will be invited to join the union once business picks up,” said 476 president Mark Hogan.

How to reverse the slide of feature/TV business the main topic of IPA’s Feb. 3 Town Hall Meeting

While Illinois positively glowed with an estimated $90 million from Hollywood features and TV shows last year, 2006 could be a lackluster year, dimmed by new state competitors for film’s economic benefits.

Case in point: Illinois recently lost out on a significant Disney production that decided to shoot in Boston where a new aggressive package of incentives just passed.

Illinois has been one of 12 states (ranking 12th) that offered production tax incentives since 2004 and found the bill certainly boosted business.

New media alternatives, new technologies hold keys to prosperity of 2006 spot business

What’s your take on how spot business will shape up in the New Year? Boom or bust? Breakthrough or same old, same old? Glass half full or half empty?

Being a “glass half full kind of person,” talent agent Lynn Hamilton of Shirley Hamilton, Inc., feels Chicago commercial production has “nowhere to go but up,” based on seeing an influx of new clients since the year began.

Indeed, Spank Music composer Mat Morse is even more upbeat. Spank set a record of landing nine new projects within one week.

Music licensing specialist Joy Tillis foresees a good year, too.

TeamWorks Media adds sports, music projects, expands marketing services, develops TV series

Musical heavy hitters R. Kelly and Talib Kweli joined Team Works Media’s usual roster of major sports entities, like Big Ten Basketball and the 1985 Chicago Bears, on recent projects.

For regular client Big Ten Men’s Basketball, TeamWorks created a TV campaign featuring rapper Talib Kweli performing the original song,”Welcome to the Big Stage.”

Freelance director Bill O’Neil shot Kweli on Essanay’s green screen stage against an animated background with game footage customized for each team and created the backgrounds in After Effects.

PERA board president Archie Fletcher plans a forward-moving agenda for rental organization

Archie Fletcher has taken over the reins of PERA, shifting leadership from the West Coast to the Midwest for the first time in the organization’s history.

Fletcher’s new position follows the resignation of executive director Ed Clare, who had been with the organization and was one of its founders in 1993.

Fletcher was elected president of the 12-person board of the international Production Equipment Rental Association last October. Clare had also been PERA president.

Volk’s music video makes waves for local band

EIGHTBALL FILMS’ Caton Volk’s music video with local electrorock band Assassins will start making the rounds of the prestigious Indie Music Festival in three Canadian cities, Seattle and New York.

Titled “Always” (Wanting What You Ain’t Got), the two-minute video was collaboration among the band, Daily Planet graphics and director/cameraman Volk, who self-financed the video. As a spec piece, “Always” fulfilled its mission.

Volk is gaining new clients and several major labels are vying to sign the band. DP was Kurt Branstetter shooting in HD.

THE REEL THING: News & Notes

VINCE VAUGHN, whose every meal, drink and partying fills inches of column space, will give columnists serious delirium long after his film, “The Break Up,” wraps and the players return to Hollywood.

Vaughn plans on becoming a permanent Chicago resident, by virtue of the condo he’s in the process of buying and his shiny new Illinois drivers’ license.

All production genres stand to benefit from improvements to extension of wage tax incentive

At a North Side location for “The Break Up” and in sweltering weather, Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed the extension of the wage tax credit bill through 2006.

Illinois Production Alliance members, who worked diligently with the governor and legislative leaders to revitalize the state’s film industry, welcomed the passage of stronger, expanded incentive legislation to advance statewide production of movies, TV shows and commercials.


McDonald’s/Leo Burnett promotes an expanded Happy Meal Menu in a combination animation and live action spot produced by Radar.

Radar’s Don Hoeg directed the live action at Essanay. DP was Russ Harper. Brian Willard was editor/effects supervisor and Joey Depakakibo, designer and lead animator. Lisa Masseur was executive producer.

Bridget McHugh produced for the agency; commercial created by VP/CDs Keith Hughes and John Hansa.

THE REEL THING: News & Notes

A NEW AD AGENCY called Houlihan Madison Most has been formed by Kevin Houlihan and Brad Most, for many years with the Chicago Creative Partnership. While HMM is clientless at the moment, it will compete for the former CCP Blue Cross account. Houlihan had been CCP president and chief creative officer; Most was head of client services. The Madison in their name is a nod to New York’s ad street.

THE REEL THING: News & Notes

AMY LIKUS, former Optimus editor joined Outsider editorial? SMS Productions moved to 1229 N. North Branch after a dozen years entrenched at 676 N. LaSalle. Phone, 312/440-8963, Email, smsrss1327@aol.com? Caption and Subtitle Services is the new name of Terry Thomas’ former Christian Captions.

NBC’S RENEWAL OF “ER” for two more seasons means continued work for local crews. Roger Anderson’s Sterling Films is essentially the show’s local producer.

Bob Hudgins exits IFO, weary of DCEO’s petty harassments and unkept promises

Barely two months after he resigned as IFO deputy director, Bob Hudgins walked out of the office at 2 p.m. March 10 in what was a final end to his eight-year tenure at the film office, the last two as the preeminent go-to- guy. ?

Although Hudgins was not available for comment, he had confided to close friends that “nothing had changed” since he was urged to return to his job in January, 2005 after resigning as of Dec. 31, 2004.?

“His power and his ability to do things had been limited,” said a friend who works on feature crews.? ?

REELSCREEN: News & Notes

NEW LOBBYING FIRM FOR IPA. The Illinois Production Alliance has hired The Illinois Governmental Consulting Group to convince the Illinois legislature to extend the wage tax credit bill to a full five years from the one-year extension it got last December.

IGCG representatives are chief lobbyist Brian Hynes, who knows the film business through his Teamsters clients, and Elgie Sims, Jr. Meanwhile: IPA legislative committee, chaired by DGA’s Dan Moore, is finalizing the legislative agenda to present to the spring session.

REELSCREEN: News & Notes

MOVERS & SHAKERS. Editor Adam Soboscienski moves over from a nine-year stint at Red Car, bringing the editing team to seven. His credits include Coors Light, test market spots for new low carb Coors Edge, Cub Cadet tractors, United Airlines, Vidal Sassoon…

Evie Silvers’ new company, Silvers Reps, signed award-winning DP/producer and HD specialist Rick Thompson of Indianapolis-based Richmarc Productions for Chicago representation. Call 312/498-0636 or Email esilvers@aol.com

Radar has ?a blast’ with Ronald McDonald on spot that departs from standard fare

Leo Burnett’s new national “Action Ronald” commercial is a departure for the brand in several ways. For one, the spot promotes an active, healthy life ? no stores, no food, no promotions. For another, this is the first time a national Ronald spot has been completely produced in Chicago.

The point of the spot is to convey that “life is an adventure, not a video game,” said Don Hoeg of Radar, which created and produced the “experimental mixed media” spot now airing.

REELSCREEN: News & Notes – 07/26/04

IN PRODUCTION. “Batman: The Intimidation Game” rolls into town July 26 for three weeks ? “The Amityville Horror,” directed by Andrew Douglas starts shooting Aug. 2 at locations around Lake Geneva, Kenosha and Silver Lake, Wisconsin. It stars Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George as the ill-fated homeowners George and Kathy Lutz.

State Street Productions’ “Roll Bounce,” directed by Malcolm D. Lee continues filming here until Aug. 20. It was originally set in San Diego but the location changed so it could be filmed here.

SAG/AFTRA’S Willenborg new IPA president

The Illinois Production Alliance elected its second slate of officers since officially organizing in 2003, headed by president Eileen Willenborg, SAG/AFTRA executive director, for one-year terms.

The officers are: first VP, Mark Egmon, AICP president and previously IPA president; second VP, Sharon King, casting director; secretary, Wayne Kubacki, Essanay; treasurer, Bob Hudgins, IFP/Chicago president.

Facilities owners are generally positive about anticipated benefits from new stage complex

Local 476’s late Frank Hobbs had a saying: “When the stages are busy, we all prosper.” After a too-long Gobi Desert-like dry spell, the hope is that the proposed Central City Studios will boost local film prosperity.

There’s general agreement with IPA’s Mark Egmon that “the complex will be a phenomenal shot in the arm for the community,” in far-reaching transcendent terms.

As CFO director Rich Moskal put it, “A complex like this is a way for us to get Hollywood’s attention.

Waukegan holds July 4 filmmaking race

Waukegan holds its first 24h/7min Film Event over July 4th, in which 10 filmmaking teams race to complete a 7-minute film in 24 consecutive hours, starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, July 3. Audiences will judge the results at a July 4 screening.

The event’s mission, says local filmmaker and organizer Theophilus Jamal, “is to generate awareness of Waukegan’s cinematic history and spark interest in Waukegan as a viable movie location.” As for its history: Waukegan native Edward Amet in the late 1890s invented the Magniscope, the world’s first practical movie projector.

A production assistants’ guide to the camera rental house

At the recent AICP-sponsored Production Assistants seminar at Essanay, Schumacher Camera general manager James Pope offered expert advice regarding responsibilities when picking up and returning equipment.

  • Know the hours of operation for the vendor you are visiting.
  • Always ask the Prep Tech or AC if the camera magazines are loaded. If so, they need to be stored upright. Do not be afraid to ask if you are unsure which side is up.

A Survey of Chicago Soundstages

Looking for a stage? How big? Where do you want to shoot? To help you make that determination, ReelChicago scouted around to identify a surprisingly large list of 38 stages for rent.

You’ll find 24 within city limits, while Oak Park leads the suburbs with three stages. We also give you stage size and rental costs.

Six local stages offer at least 5,000 sq. ft.: Ch. 11’s Chicago Production Center, rental houses Essanay and RAH, and Blackhawk Studios, AGLS and the Studio on Ogden. 18 more stages were confirmed to have at least 1,000 square feet.

Feature doc of local filmmaker’s quest to be a bullfighter screens April 20

Alex LeMay was well into production on his feature doc “The Bulls of Suburbia” when he got the call from Universal Pictures.

“They asked if we had any bullfighting footage they could use, and I told them I was on my way back to Mexico, so we upgraded to Super 35 and they bought 30 seconds to use in ‘Seabiscuit,'” LeMay recalled. “As far as I know it’s the only existing Super 35mm bullfighting footage.

REELSCREEN: News & Notes – 04/09/04

TRADEMARK CONFLICT NOT FUNNY. Second City Television (SCTV) took umbrage over the SCTV acronym of the new Stand-Up Comedy Television cable channel and told the upstart channel to cease and desist. Second City’s Andrew Alexander claimed the trademark unequivocally belonged to Second City and the use of “SCTV” the TV show. Since Second City’s SCTV trademark lapsed in 1989, Stand-Up Comedy TV properly registered SCTV March 11, 2004 with the Patent & Trademark Office and as such, counterclaimed Joseph Fox the trademark belongs to them.

REELSCREEN: News & Notes – 02/24/04

HUGOS HONOR MARIN. The 40th annual Hugo Awards national television competition will honor Carol Marin, broadcast (“60 Minutes,” “48 Hours”) and print journalist (Chicago Tribune), with a career achievement award at its March 11 Park West awards ceremonies. Festivities start at 5:30 p.m.; Bill Zwecker hosts the commercials show at 7. Reservations via calling 312/425-9400, x 100, or Email to info@chicagofilmfestival.com. Tickts range $50 to $125.


County won’t enact lease, sale taxes

Good news for the film industry, baaad news for smokers.

The good news: The Cook County Board of Commissioners Feb. 3 voted not to enact any type of lease tax, or to increase the sales tax by 14%. Faced with staunch opposition, Board president John Stroger withdrew his proposal for both taxes.

The 4% proposed lease tax, combined with the city’s lease or user’s tax, would have inflated the cost of leasing and purchasing film equipment to an unconscionable 10%.

The bad news: Smokers will be hit with a $1 tax (up from an 18-cent tax) on cigarettes.

REELSCREEN: News & Notes – 1/16/04

HIGH POWERED COO TO DK. New COO at Digital Kitchen is Bruce Hanson, formerly in sales and business development at PriceWaterhouseCoopers and considered a very visible high-tech expert. Hanson will be responsible for the business side of this very creative company, in charge of financial, accounting, legal, marketing and strategic alliances.

Writer raises idea of converting County Hospital into film production center

Lerner newspaper columnist Ed Schwartz is promoting the idea that the old Cook County Hospital, that County Board president John Stroger is just itching to demolish, could have another practical use.

It could be converted into “the Chicago Production Center with facilities for movies, TV, film, music, and live productions,” he says.

Schwartz’ lofty plan is not unlike the many proposed for reactivating Chicago Studio City.

REELSCREEN: News & Notes – 12/04/03

COMMA’S CHRISTMAS PACKAGES. Comma’s Larry Pecorella and Bryan Rheude scored Hallmark’s Christmas spots based on Tschaikovski’s Dance of the Reed Flutes for Burnett creatives Tim Pontarelli and David Harner and producer Bob Harley. And for the second year in a row scored JC Penney’s holiday image spot. Asides: Composer Dave Hutten moved to Comma’s Santa Monica office full-time. Their studio, incidentally, was featured in November’s Interior Design Magazine.

ALL FOR A GOOD CAUSE. Luminair’s George Elder was in L.A.

Collective industry voice is urged to defeat new added tax on rentals

Essanay’s Wayne Kubacki stresses the urgency for the industry to raise its collective voice to help defeat a disastrous tax increase if the County Board passes it at a Dec. 9 vote.

Kubacki, an IPA board member and representative of the city’s many rental equipment suppliers, is leading the opposition to the country’s proposed new taxes by asking that we attend a Nov. 19 public hearing and fax letters ASAP to the county commissioners.

Spots keep rollin’ along

Not every commercial heads for Toronto or L.A. (whose numbers have dropped). A sizeable number are being produced here at home and by out-of-towners who like our style and look.

Here’s a brief round-up of what’s been going on, with the help of reports from the Chicago Film Office’s Yolanda Arias. Airwave Productions of Las Vegas was here for a day shooting man-in-the-street interviews on Michigan Avenue … Cass Productions, a local group, hired 100 extras and positioned them on the Lake St. bridge in a staged “protest” for client American Crew Hair …

Out-of-towners shooting spots here

While the Illinois Film Office wonders what’s next ? it looks like “Barber Shop 2” will be the only major studio film to shoot here this year ? the Chicago Film Office is going gangbusters working with out-of-town spotmakers. Some of the activity around town:

Joe Pytka is the biggest news on the spot front, and we welcome the A-plus director to add some luster to our film city image. While the project is super hush-hush, ReelScene has learned that the Great One, famous for sports celebrities, will film our sluggin’ Cubs and Sox stars for client Pepsi.

Commercial flies for 2-3 years

A split screen shows the miles accumulating at the bottom of the screen, as both persons dine at restaurants, travel on planes, shop for groceries, and check into hotels.

Spring blooms with spot business

You can take this to the bank: Film business historically slows down before Easter and spikes thereafter. In fact, the second quarter of the year has begun with a bang for spotmakers.

Crossroads, for one, is enjoying the curve. It’s in the midst of two weeks of shooting for the ongoing Joan Cusack U.S. Cellular campaign for Doner USA, Detroit, resulting in five spots. Director is Jesse Peretz and DP is Tom Richmond of New York.

REELSCENE: News & Notes

CROSSROADS IS PRODUCING the latest batch of Illinois Lottery commercials ? a package of three ? for DDB/executive producer Joel Goldsmith. Crossroads’ Chuck Bennett directs, Bob Yeoman lenses and Mike LaBellarte’s Outsider will edit. Casting by O’Connor Casting. Crossroads executive producer is Joanne Bittmann.