REVIEW: ‘Trial of Chicago 7’ is compelling entertainment

The Trial of the Chicago 7 is a compelling courtroom drama that is filled with crisp dialogue that debuted on Netflix a month before the election. While Trump’s Justice Department labeled the film as political propaganda, writer/director Aaron Sorkin’s latest shows how much has not changed when it comes to our judicial system. Up to … Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Trial of Chicago 7’ is compelling entertainment”

The Chicago Film Society begins their 28th Season

The Chicago Film Society begins their 28th Season with screenings at NEIU and the Music Box Theater throughout the summer from May 11 thru August 31. See the full schedule and ticket information below. AN INTRODUCTION TO THE SEASON FROM THE CHICAGO FILM SOCIETY Sometimes it feels like the state of cinema is one last … Continue reading “The Chicago Film Society begins their 28th Season”

Bally’s in River West wins the jackpot as Chicago’s first casino

Bally’s Casino is coming to Chicago. The city has chosen Bally’s Corporation to be the recipient of its sole casino license and the developer to create a world-class casino-resort and entertainment experience in Chicago on the site of the Tribune Publishing Center.   “I am proud to announce that Bally’s Corporation will create a world-class entertainment … Continue reading “Bally’s in River West wins the jackpot as Chicago’s first casino”

First ‘smoke less’ cigarette launches national pilot in Chicagoland

The first and only combustible tobacco cigarette containing minimal to non-addictive levels of nicotine and authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help adult smokers smoke less is now available through a national pilot exclusively in select Chicagoland Circle K stores. 22nd Century Group, Inc., a leading agricultural biotechnology company focused on … Continue reading “First ‘smoke less’ cigarette launches national pilot in Chicagoland”

More Severide stunts this week on Chicago Fire in The Missing Place

Chicago Fire pics and promo for a new episode titled The Missing Place. The episode will air this Wednesday at 8 PM CST on NBC 5. Here’s the official information that NBC has made available for Wednesday’s episode: Following an injury in the aftermath of an industrial fire, Severide and Seager work together to investigate an anonymous tip. Kidd … Continue reading “More Severide stunts this week on Chicago Fire in The Missing Place”

Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs and #CIROCStands feature trailblazing Black Chicagoans

In celebration of Black Excellence Month, CÎROC and Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs unveil the newest iteration of their ongoing community-centric platform #CIROCStands. #CIROCStands is an initiative that supports Black and Brown voices through original video spotlights, visuals and billboards, sharing inspirational true stories of progress, achievement and success. The next leg of the campaign takes the #CIROCStands … Continue reading “Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs and #CIROCStands feature trailblazing Black Chicagoans”

Guilty! UPDATE and trial timeline: Jussie Smollett is back in Chicago for trial

UPDATE and trial timeline at end of story. I swore I would never do another Jussie Smollett story. But he’s baaaack. If it is true that there’s no such thing as bad publicity then Jussie is getting a nice long run on his alleged prank that lead police on an expensive wild goose chase nearly … Continue reading “Guilty! UPDATE and trial timeline: Jussie Smollett is back in Chicago for trial”

Full Spectrum official presenter of Chicago Underground Film Fest

Full Spectrum Features will be the official presenter at the 28th Annual Chicago Underground Film Festival this year in order to program more diversity, equity, and inclusion to represent a wider range of artists and voices, including women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ filmmakers. Chicago Underground Film Festival (CUFF), the the world’s longest-running underground film festival, will … Continue reading “Full Spectrum official presenter of Chicago Underground Film Fest”

Winners of the 57th Chicago International Film Festival

The Chicago International Film Festival announces the winners of its 2021 competitions. Celebrating its 57th edition October 13 – 24, 2021, the Chicago International Film Festival is North America’s longest-running competitive international film festival. In a virtual ceremony live-streamed via the Chicago International Film Festival YouTube channel, the Festival awarded prizes in the following categories: … Continue reading “Winners of the 57th Chicago International Film Festival”

Chicago’s love/hate relationship with major film productions

Chicago’s disenchantment with filmmaking, and how Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, the largest film studio in the U.S. partners with their neighbors. The film industry has steadily been growing into a booming business for the City of Chicago and while the business has provided a substantial increase in revenue and jobs for Chicagoans, not everyone is … Continue reading “Chicago’s love/hate relationship with major film productions”

Chicago Med: How Season 7 deals with major cast changes

Chicago Med returns for its Season 7 on September 22, but when the One Chicago medical drama returns there are going to be two beloved characters Dr. Natalie Manning, and Nurse April Sexton notably missing from the halls of Gaffney Medical Center as well as the introduction of two new cast regulars. After six seasons … Continue reading “Chicago Med: How Season 7 deals with major cast changes”

Sneak peek at Chicago Med ‘You Can’t Always Trust What You See’

We have the first sneak peeks of the upcoming Chicago Med season premiere titled You Can’t Always Trust What You See. Season 7, Episode 1 airing Wednesday, September 22 at 7 PM CST on NBC 5. The season 7 premiere should resolve the cliff hanger from the Season 6 finale. Although Natalie Manning (Torrey DeVitto) has … Continue reading “Sneak peek at Chicago Med ‘You Can’t Always Trust What You See’”

Who’s in and who’s out on Chicago Med for season 7

Chicago Med will return for season 7 with five of its incredibly talented original cast members. According to Deadline S. Epatha Merkerson, Oliver Platt, Nick Gehlfuss, and Brian Tee have all signed new contracts for season 7 & 8. Remaining original cast member Marlyne Barrett has one more year on her existing contract and also … Continue reading “Who’s in and who’s out on Chicago Med for season 7”

Chicago Med finale set pics ‘I Will Come To Save You’

Chicago Med season finale is this week, titled  ‘I Will Come To Save You‘ airing this Wednesday at 7 PM CST on NBC 5.  This is the season finale of Chicago Med and the finale for two original cast members. Natalie Manning (Torrey DeVitto) and April Sexton (Yaya DaCosta) have not renewed their contracts and are moving on … Continue reading “Chicago Med finale set pics ‘I Will Come To Save You’”

Chicago Auto Show returns to McCormick Place in July

The Chicago Auto Show, a marquee event that draws tourists from around the world, returns to McCormick Place marking the first large convention to take place since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The Chicago Auto Show will be held at McCormick Place from July 15 to 19 and will incorporate several innovative safety features – including … Continue reading “Chicago Auto Show returns to McCormick Place in July”

J.K. Simmons replaces Ed O’Neill in Chicago series

O’Neill was announced in March 2021, but had to leave Amazon’s upcoming sci-fi drama series Lightyears due to “family reasons” as reported by Deadline. Academy Award winner J.K. Simmons will co-star alongside fellow Academy Award winner, Sissy Spacek. Lightyears is one of the four new series to be filmed at Cinespace Chicago Film Studios this … Continue reading “J.K. Simmons replaces Ed O’Neill in Chicago series”

Chicago’s Paul Raci wins Spirit Award for Metal

Chicago was once again represented at an awards show and no, the film didn’t begin with Trial or Ma. After being shut out of Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations and winning a BAFTA, Chicago-born Paul Raci won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male for his critically-acclaimed performance in Sound of … Continue reading “Chicago’s Paul Raci wins Spirit Award for Metal”

37th Chicago Latino Film Audience Choice Award wins

The 37th Chicago Latino Film Festival announces the winners and runners-up for the Audience Choice Awards. The Audience Choice Award for Best Feature went to The Heist of the Century, Argentinian director Ariel Winograd’s heist comedy about the most famous and audacious bank robbery in Argentina’s history starring Guillermo Francella (The Secret in Their Eyes) … Continue reading “37th Chicago Latino Film Audience Choice Award wins”

Handmaid Tale’s Moss to shoot new series in Chicago

Cameras are set to roll next month on the new Apple series The Shining Girls starring Emmy Award winner Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men, The Invisble Man), for its streaming service. Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way is set to produce. Described by Los Angeles-based MRC Entertainment as “a metaphysical thriller,” and not to be confused with the … Continue reading “Handmaid Tale’s Moss to shoot new series in Chicago”

Dick Wolf’s One Chicago franchise is building out its cast

Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, and Chicago PD are about a month away from a wrap, but we know when they return next season there will be a few changes to the cast. The Dick Wolf One Chicago franchise is building out its cast. Chicago MedMargaret Colin is joining Chicago Med in a recurring role opposite Torrey DeVitto as Dr. … Continue reading “Dick Wolf’s One Chicago franchise is building out its cast”

Chicago-based films fare well in Oscar noms

Actor-producer Priyanka Chopra Jonas and singer, songwriter and actor Nick Jonas announced the 93rd Oscars nominations today (March 15), live from London, via a global live stream on,, the Academy’s digital platforms, an international satellite feed and broadcast media. Films that are either based in Chicago, or featured Chicago talent, fared very well when the nominations settled. In this very … Continue reading “Chicago-based films fare well in Oscar noms”

Chicago Med releases pics ahead of tonight’s episode

NBC has released new photos from this week’s upcoming Chicago Med season 6 episode 6. Titled, Don’t Want to Face This Now, Dr. Choi helps a patient with chronic pain find a solution. Dr. Halstead considers a new path. Dr. Charles and Anna bond over a scary situation. Chicago Med viewers will know that Halstead (Nick … Continue reading “Chicago Med releases pics ahead of tonight’s episode”

‘Ma Rainey’ ‘Chicago 7’ top AFI’s Top 10 List

The American Film Institute (AFI) announced today the recipients of AFI AWARDS 2020. AFI’s global Movie Club program will showcase the official selections beginning in February, with new and exclusive content released daily, including special guests from the honored works introducing the titles and AFI’s “Behind the Scene” conversations with filmmakers and actors. AFI MOVIES … Continue reading “‘Ma Rainey’ ‘Chicago 7’ top AFI’s Top 10 List”

Upcoming schedule and storylines for Chicago Med

Since returning to production in October, Chicago Med has had more than its share of delays from the Covid-19 virus. The onset of the coronavirus in March, halted production before they were able to complete filming Season 5. After just one week into production on Season 6, the first of Dick Wolf’s One Chicago series was forced to hit the pause button again when … Continue reading “Upcoming schedule and storylines for Chicago Med”

‘Chicago Fire, P.D. and Med’ Who’s in? Who’s out?

Last month, we reported that NBC‘s top-rated (even in reruns) Wednesday night, dubbed “One Chicago,” would return on November 11. With production reportedly set to resume on Chicago P.D., Chicago Med and Chicago Fire  on October 6, the Reel Chicago team thought it was time to look at cast additions and subtractions. Chicago Med Coming: Chicago … Continue reading “‘Chicago Fire, P.D. and Med’ Who’s in? Who’s out?”

Chicagoan Jay Paul Deratany has hit with Foster Boy

UPDATE: There will be a special one-night-only Chicago Premiere of FOSTER BOY, followed by an exclusive Q&A after the film with actors Shane Paul McGhie and Louis Gossett Jr., as well as Chicago writer/producer Jay Paul Deratany! Date And TimeWed, September 16, 20207:30 PM – 10:00 PM CDT LocationChiTown Movies2343 South Throop StreetChicago, IL 60608 Join leading actors … Continue reading “Chicagoan Jay Paul Deratany has hit with Foster Boy”

Chicago Film Society unveils 2020 season schedule

This week, the Chicago Film Society unveiled its multi-venue 2020 film schedule in a press release of superior charm, detail, and creativity. The lineup contains enough screenings to satisfy the appetite of any cinemaficionado. Listed in the second part of the text below, it follows an introduction that is a joy to read. So without … Continue reading “Chicago Film Society unveils 2020 season schedule”

2019 Chicago Underground Film Festival

CUFF opens June 5 with ‘Empty Metal’ and closes June 9 with “Dollhouse: the eradication of female subjectivity from American popular culture’ The Chicago Underground Film Festival has built a reputation for innovative, exciting, and provocative cinema since it was founded in 1993. Known as “the world’s longest-running” celebration of its kind, CUFF will expand … Continue reading “2019 Chicago Underground Film Festival”

The 2018 Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards

The 60th annual celebration of the standard bearers for excellence in the television broadcasting industry   The 2018 Chicago/Midwest Emmy Ceremony will be held on Saturday, November 10, 2018 at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile, Chicago Ballroom, 540 N. Michigan.       The Nominees Outstanding Achievement for News Programming – Evening Newscast: Larger … Continue reading “The 2018 Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards”

WTTW explores Chicago art and design history

New four-part series expores the 1893 Columbian Exposition, Black Metropolis of Art, adverting and outdoor murals (Chicago — 18 September 2018) WTTW, as a part of the yearlong Art Design Chicago initiative, is developing a new four-part documentary series and website in partnership with the Terra Foundation for American Art. ART & DESIGN IN CHICAGO … Continue reading “WTTW explores Chicago art and design history”

Digital Media Fund awards $100k to Chicago artists

Voqal Fund and Chicago Filmmakers’ Chicago Digital Media Production Fund presents a Showcase of Groundbreaking Projects from 2018 (Chicago — 8 August 2018) Voqal Fund and Chicago Filmmakers are pleased to announce the nine new grantees receiving funding from the 2018 Chicago Digital Media Production Fund. In 2018, the Production Fund awarded a total of … Continue reading “Digital Media Fund awards $100k to Chicago artists”

“Destroy Your Art” returns to Chicago

Following 2017’s sold-out event, hybrid film and performance art showcase returns with five local filmmakers and never-before-seen work   (Chicago, IL) For a unique night celebrating film and performance art, Destroy Your Art ​returns Friday, August 10th. Following the sold-out success of last year’s inaugural event, five Chicago-based filmmakers will again screen and immediately destroy … Continue reading ““Destroy Your Art” returns to Chicago”

Chicago Underground Film Festival 2018 lineup

CUFF adds second screening of “Industrial Accident,” the opening night film about Wax Trax! Records that sold out hours after going on sale After selling out the initioal opening night screening in less than an hour, the 25th annual Chicago Underground Film Festival has added a special encore presentation of INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENT: The Story of … Continue reading “Chicago Underground Film Festival 2018 lineup”

Chicago Underground Film Fest offers a taste of 2018

Opening night Julia Nash’s Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records Chicago premiere   Closing night Lori Felker’s Future Language: The Dimensions of VON LMO Chicago premiere   [Editor Note: The “Industrial Accident” screening sold out shortly after this story was published, but CUFF organizers are working to schedule another. Stay tuned to Reel … Continue reading “Chicago Underground Film Fest offers a taste of 2018”

2:00 a.m. — Liz Morris, “Chicago Fire”

Kids, it’s 2:00 a.m., do you know where your parent is? If your parent happens to be local photographer Elizabeth Morris, then you know she is probably capturing action on the set of “Chicago Fire.” And doing it really, really well. I first met Liz on the set of a 2012 DC Comics fan film … Continue reading “2:00 a.m. — Liz Morris, “Chicago Fire””

Chicago Digital Media Fund grantees’ work to screen

Seven completed projects funded by the 2015 Chicago Digital Media Production Fund of $100,000 in grants from the Vogal Fund, administered by Chicago Filmmakers, will screen at the Chicago Cultural Center, co-presented by DCASE Tuesday, Aug. 2 starting at 6 p.m.

These web projects highlight a range of relevant social issues, from under-representation to ableism to trans bathroom bills. The films screening are:

NBC’s ‘Chicago Fire’ starts filming here in mid-July

Good news for Chicago entertainment production! NBC Universal not unexpectedly ordered a full season of Dick Wolf’s “Chicago Fire.”  The series will start shooting in mid-July and “will go at least through to the end of year and possibly into the spring of 2013,” says Chicago Film Office director Rich Moskal.

The series is set to air on NBC this fall.  

Ministry movie opener for CIMMfest, April 14-17

Movies and music will be brought together when 70 films from more than 20 countries will screen April 14-17 at CIMMfest – the Chicago International Movies & Music Festival — at more than a dozen venues mostly located in the Bucktown-Wicker Park area.

“We chose to centralize the festival activities to make it easier for people to attend all of the events,” said Josh Chicoine, who co-directs CIMMFest with Ilko Davidson.

Chicago filmmaker’s doc opens Slamdance

Chicago’s only major representation at the Slamdance Film Festival will open the 15th annual alternative to Sundance Jan. 22 in Park City, Utah, with a Jan. 27 encore screening.

The film is Yony Leyser’s documentary “William S. Burroughs: A Man Within,” the first posthumous feature-length film about the writer of “Naked Lunch,” “Junky” and “Queer.”

“Slamdance is, as John Waters told me, ?much more “Burroughs” than Sundance,” says 25-year old Chicago director Leyser.

Felicia Middlebrooks’ award-winning Rwanda doc “Somebody’s Child” has first Chicago screening

WBBM news anchor and radio journalist Felicia Middlebrooks will screen her powerful, prize-winning 52-minute documentary, “Somebody’s Child: The Redemption of Rwanda” March 31, at Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema.

Producing the documentary “was a divine assignment,” Middlebrooks said while recalling the unexpected events that led her to record 44 hours on DVcam during two weeks in Rwanda in 2004.

“Somebody’s Child” chronicles why and how the genocide happened and the fate of survivors.

Seminar on how to light video/HD ala film style be held June 6-7 at Hammond equipment house

DP Tom Musto brings his two-day lighting seminar to the Chicago area in June with a guarantee that his formula for film style lighting for any kind of video and HD works every time.

The seminar takes place June 6-7 at David Iem’s Sound Idea Productions (SIP) cavernous but under-the-radar equipment house just over the Skyway in Hammond.

Musto, who’s headquartered outside of Philadelphia and gives the seminar all over the country, said he teaches how to establish lighting for any scene, no matter what lighting or capture format is used.

5-25-77: How “Star Wars” Changed My Life

Patrick Read Johnson’s teenage visits to the visual effects stages of “Stars Wars” and “Close Encounters” launched him on a 20-year career as Hollywood effects technician and studio writer/director.

His credits include “Spaced Invaders” (writer/director, 1990), “Baby’s Day Out” (director, 1994), “Angus” (director, 1995), “Dragonheart” (writer, 1996), and “When Ghouls Go Bad” (writer/director, 2001).

Then he moved back into the house where he grew up in tiny Wadsworth, Ill.

Audiences love Chicago theatre?Actors Equity figures show actors bookings set all-time high

Figures released last month by Actors Equity Association (Equity) confirm that Chicago once again fueled Equity’s 13-state Central Region to a record-setting year, as measured by total work weeks booked under various Equity contracts.

For the 2003-2004 season (July 1-June 30), the Central Region booked 45,026 work weeks, up nearly 6% over 2002-2003. The Central Region supplied 15.6% of all Equity work weeks nationally, even though only 8.6% of all Equity members live in the region.

Green’s indie feature starts
self-distribution route in Chicago

John Mahoney and Ian Gomez star in Terry Green’s “Almost Salinas.”

Reel Women: Casting Director, Jennifer Rudnicke Paskal Rudnicke Casting

Editor’s Note: They are leaders. They are inspirational. They are mentors. They are visionaries. They are, quite frankly, badasses. They are our 2022 REEL WOMEN. During Women’s History Month, you will be able to meet these incredible personalities in Advertising, Entertainment, Media and Production. Women like Jennifer Rudnicke are making “Herstory.” Jennifer Rudnicke started her casting career as the assistant to … Continue reading “Reel Women: Casting Director, Jennifer Rudnicke Paskal Rudnicke Casting”

Auction to offer Film, TV, Theater, Politics and Sports memorabilia

On November 19, Hindman Auction will present Seeing Stars: Property from the Collection of Bill Zwecker, the former longtime entertainment and celebrity journalist. The award-winning Chicago journalist’s collection of 172 lots captures historical moments, and includes memorabilia from a wide range of genres, including film, television, theater, politics, sports and other pop culture categories. Iconic names … Continue reading “Auction to offer Film, TV, Theater, Politics and Sports memorabilia”

Phillipa Soo joins Elisabeth Moss in cast of The Shining Girls

Grammy Award winner and Emmy nominee Phillipa Soo has joined the cast of Apple TV Plus’ Shining Girls, a metaphysical thriller based on the 2013 novel by Lauren Beukes.  Soo will be starring as the intelligent and sure-footed Jin-Sook, who does research at the Adler planetarium, Soo joins previously announced cast members Elisabeth Moss, Wagner … Continue reading “Phillipa Soo joins Elisabeth Moss in cast of The Shining Girls”

Steven Spielberg sets multiple feature deal with Netflix

Steven Spielberg, a filmmaker synonymous with big-screen enchantment, has set a new deal with Netflix in which his production company, Amblin Partners, will make multiple feature films per year for the streaming giant.  The partnership, one long courted by Ted Sarandos, Netflix chief content officer, is a major get for the company that, amid increasing … Continue reading “Steven Spielberg sets multiple feature deal with Netflix”

Music Box Theatre showing trio of 2021 Oscar Nominees

The Music Box Theatre is giving you a chance to see a trio of 2021 Oscar Nominees on the big screen! From April 16th – April 22nd only, you can catch screenings of the beautiful and poetic Best Animated Film nominee WOLFWALKERS, the powerful Best International Film nominee QUO VADIS, AIDA?, and special 35MM presentations of Aaron Sorkin’s timely THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO … Continue reading “Music Box Theatre showing trio of 2021 Oscar Nominees”

It’s that time again: Optimus Block Party on Aug. 2

OPTIMUS 18TH ANNUAL BLOCK PARTY is right around the corner on Friday, Aug. 2 (always the first Friday in August) bringing together clients, colleagues and friends for its annual summer afternoon-into-night of fun.  “Yes, we’ll have a special guest as always,” someone well known and unexpected promises Gretchen Praeger, VP/managing director of Optimus post, and one of the party planners. 

Flashpoint’s Howard Tullman receives honor from NU; an award to Film Wisconsin founders

HOWARD TULLMAN, FLASHPOINT ACADEMY’S CEO, received Northwestern Law School’s Distinguished Entprepreneur Award, at the Law School’s Small Business Opportunity Conference March 1 at Thorne Hall.

Tullman, who has a law degree, is also chairman/CEO of Experiencia and president emeritus of Kendall College among many other management and entrepreneurial achievements.

HOWARD TULLMAN, FLASHPOINT ACADEMY’S CEO, received Northwestern Law Schools Distinguished Entprepreneur Award at the Law School’s Small Business Opportunity Conference March 1 at Thorne Hall.

The Extraordinary Partnership of Barack Obama and Angela Merkel

As the devastation unfolds in Ukraine, political activist and author Claudia Clark delivers a potent reminder of the importance of alliances between countries and world leaders in her extensively researched, compelling new book, Dear Barack: The Extraordinary Partnership of Barack Obama and Angela Merkel.  Informative, entertaining and timely—with a chapter devoted specifically to Russia and Vladimir … Continue reading “The Extraordinary Partnership of Barack Obama and Angela Merkel”

One Earth Film Festival calls on audiences to Turn the Tide on climate crisis

One Earth Film Festival returns March 4-13, 2022 for its 11th festival season with 17 thoughtfully curated film events that will be streamed online, with a number of in-person screenings at Chicago-based venues. The 2022 Festival kicks off with its annual opening night launch party on Friday, March 4 that will offer both live and … Continue reading “One Earth Film Festival calls on audiences to Turn the Tide on climate crisis”

Illinois launches On the Fence campaign to encourage vaccinations

The State of Illinois launched a new vaccine awareness campaign to explain the power of the life-saving vaccine. The ‘On the Fence’ campaign, produced by Tessa Films, features 18 meaningful stories from Illinoisans who were initially hesitant but are now fully vaccinated. As health experts continue to advise unvaccinated individuals to get their life-saving shot, … Continue reading “Illinois launches On the Fence campaign to encourage vaccinations”

Shonda Nelson Joins Fusion92 as SVP, People Strategy

Fusion92, a Chicago-based marketing innovation company, announced that Shonda Nelson has been named SVP, People Strategy and will lead the firm’s expanded Human Resources Department. She will report to Fusion92 President Doug Dome.  Nelson has more than two decades of HR leadership experience across multiple industries, including marketing & advertising, technology, and public relations. She has driven a wide array of HR initiatives and facilitated organizational change, gaining … Continue reading “Shonda Nelson Joins Fusion92 as SVP, People Strategy”

Gene Siskel Center and Midwest Film Festival partner on MFF 2021 season

The Gene Siskel Film Center will partner with the Midwest Film Festival (MFF) as the host venue for the MFF 2021 film lineup. The partnership, which was set to roll out in early 2020 but delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, will kick off Saturday, October 2, at 6pm, with a celebratory event and screening ofthe … Continue reading “Gene Siskel Center and Midwest Film Festival partner on MFF 2021 season”

Stunt insurance for an 8000 pound RV on a frozen lake

Jeremy Pinckert of Explore is an Emmy Award winning director of commercials and branded content. Time and time again, Jeremy has proven that he has the eye-catching vision for monumental shots and performances.  We asked Jeremy to take us behind the scenes on one of his more interesting shoots on a frozen lake. Jeremy Pinckert’s Behind … Continue reading “Stunt insurance for an 8000 pound RV on a frozen lake”

Cinespace is up and rolling with 4 new series and more

Cinespace Chicago Film Studios welcomes several new productions to its growing campus.  As the Dick Wolf, One Chicago series prepares to wrap soon for the season, Cinespace announced four new series filming at its facilities. The Midwest’s production hot spot and second-largest film studio outside of Los Angeles in North America, recently added another 105,000 … Continue reading “Cinespace is up and rolling with 4 new series and more”

Coda Collection acquires Dave Grohl’s What Drives Us

Dave Grohl has been one of the most beloved and respected figures on the international music scene since his recorded debut with Nirvana on 1991’s generation-defining Nevermind. Grohl took center stage with Foo Fighters’ 1995 self-titled debut, the first album in a massive 12-Grammy-winning catalogue, including the band’s most recent release Medicine at Midnight (2021). … Continue reading “Coda Collection acquires Dave Grohl’s What Drives Us”

Think you know everything about Groundhog Day?

Every February 2 on Groundhog Day, North Americans wait with bated breath to discover if there will be six more weeks of winter or if there will be an early spring as foretold by Punxsutawney Phil when he emerges from his “den.” Since 1887 the large terrestrial rodent (as well as his predecessors) has been … Continue reading “Think you know everything about Groundhog Day?”

2020 in Review: Anthony Gigante of PRG

Editor’s Note: In 2020, the world changed right before our very eyes. Ad agencies, production companies and post houses were forced to adapt and begin a “new normal” working, living, exercising and entertaining out of home. Now that we have just entered 2021, we asked around our industry friends to reflect back on the year and … Continue reading “2020 in Review: Anthony Gigante of PRG”

REVIEW: Boseman, Davis make ‘Ma Rainey’s’ a must-see

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is the long-awaited adaptation of the hit stage play, written by August Wilson by the same name. Aside from a few scenes in the beginning of the film, it is blocked and feels very much like a play, which provides an intimacy between the characters and the audience that most films … Continue reading “REVIEW: Boseman, Davis make ‘Ma Rainey’s’ a must-see”

CDPH plans to distribute COVID-19 vaccine by Dec 14

Mayor Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced distribution plans for the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available with a commitment to allocate initial doses to all 34 hospitals in the city and to ensure the individuals and communities most impacted by the pandemic are prioritized in the weeks and months to … Continue reading “CDPH plans to distribute COVID-19 vaccine by Dec 14”

Independent Filmmaker Day on Zoom November 18-19

Rubenstein Business Law and Ornstein Schuler State Film Tax Credits present Independent Filmmaker Day, held Live via Zoom on November 18th & 19th, 2020. IFD helps independent creators from around the world develop new projects, connect within the industry, and champion collaborative and impactful storytelling at all stages.  At each event, you will hear from acclaimed industry experts … Continue reading “Independent Filmmaker Day on Zoom November 18-19”

WLS news legend Joel Daly passes away at 86

2020 has taken so many legends from us. Reel Chicago is sad to report that iconic newsman Joel Daly, who spent nearly 40 years at ABC affiliate WLS, died today at around 5:30 a.m. at his home in LaGrange. He was 86. “He died peacefully,” his daughter Kelly told the Chicago Tribune referring to her father who … Continue reading “WLS news legend Joel Daly passes away at 86”

Midwest Film Festival resumes with a night at the drive-in

Come and enjoy an amazing line-up for Female Filmmaker Night. The ChiTown Drive-in opens at 7:00pm and the screening begins at 8:15pm, followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers. In partnership with Chi Town Movies and The Gene Siskel Film Center, the Midwest Film Festival announces that they are resuming their 2020 season programming with … Continue reading “Midwest Film Festival resumes with a night at the drive-in”

Jeremy Pinckert talks commercial shoots in COVID Era

Director Jeremy Pinckert of Explore goes behind the scenes for the making of commercials in the Covid Era. Explore is a full-service commercial production company located in Chicago at 311 W Superior St, Suite 218. When we embark on a new project we always feel a sense of excitement. A little necessary anxiety for the … Continue reading “Jeremy Pinckert talks commercial shoots in COVID Era”

Explore delivers retro hazy 1985 Beer in a 1985 DeLorean

Can anyone come up with a better way to deliver the retro hazy IPA, 1985 Beer, than a 1985 DeLorean. Explore pulls this off in true “Back to the Future” style. This is one to truly enjoy! Explore, a commercial and content production company with offices in Chicago and Indiana, recently produced a shoot depicting … Continue reading “Explore delivers retro hazy 1985 Beer in a 1985 DeLorean”

Leo Burnett copywriter, Trans Lifeline co-lead, Len Sheth

Leo Burnett junior copywriter Len Sheth opens up about their highly successful work with Trans Lifeline, brands authentically extending their reach, and even a competitive tap-dancing past. Two years ago, Len Sheth began their journey as a Burnetter—and since then, the junior copywriter has created exceptional work for a diversified client portfolio including American Heart … Continue reading “Leo Burnett copywriter, Trans Lifeline co-lead, Len Sheth”

Omnicom’s plan to reopen DDB and Energy BBDO

As states begin to think about slowly reopening and relaxing social distancing guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the advertising industry, which has been hit hard, is starting to think about their own plan. Omnicom CEO John Wren sent a memo to employees yesterday outlining how Omnicom of which DDB, Agency 720, Energy BBDO, Critical Mass, FleishmanHillard, … Continue reading “Omnicom’s plan to reopen DDB and Energy BBDO”

WGN names first female anchor team for Midday

WGN, the Nexstar flagship in Chicago, has announced that Julie Unruh will join Dina Bair as co-anchor, making them the first female duo to lead the WGN Midday News. She replaces Steve Sanders, who retired after a 37-year career at the station. In addition to her anchor duties, Unruh will continue to provide in-depth reporting for WGN … Continue reading “WGN names first female anchor team for Midday”

Sundance picks 12 Filmmakers for Screenwriters Intensive

Twelve screenwriters have been selected to participate in Sundance Institute’s eighth annual Screenwriters Intensive in Los Angeles, to take place March 4-5, 2020. One of the students selected is Chicagoan, Jason Park. The Intensive, a two-day workshop for select emerging writers and writer/directors from underrepresented communities, focuses on the development of first fiction features. Fellows … Continue reading “Sundance picks 12 Filmmakers for Screenwriters Intensive”

Yes, Anderson Cooper swore at Blagojevich on live CNN

When many Americans find themselves at a loss navigating a  constant stream of “fake news,” we should be grateful when a reporter like CNN’s Anderson Cooper has well armed himself with the facts, and doesn’t hesitate to cite them. In his recent interview of Rod Blagojevich, Cooper diligently refutes the Governor of Chicago’s defense of … Continue reading “Yes, Anderson Cooper swore at Blagojevich on live CNN”

Lizette Williams, Sr. Director, McDonald’s U.S. Marketing

Lizette Williams, Senior Director, Brand & Content Strategy, U.S. Marketing, is the third honoree to be featured in the 2020 edition of Reel Chicago Black List, an annual celebration of African-American creativity published during Black History Month. She joins an esteemed group of artists, entrepreneurs and innovators that includes ‘The Chi’ cast member LaDonna Tittle, … Continue reading “Lizette Williams, Sr. Director, McDonald’s U.S. Marketing”

Havas helps REALTORS launch ‘Look for the R’

Havas Chicago is helping the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) build on the successful launch of last year’s That’s Who We R with a new national branding campaign titled, Look for the R. Look for the R kicks off with a series of three new spots that showcase the iconic “R” trademark as a beacon … Continue reading “Havas helps REALTORS launch ‘Look for the R’”

At Sundance w/Kartemquin’s Steve James & Zak Piper

Reel Chicago correspondent, reporter, and film critic Pamela Powell interviews Kartemquin Films’ Oscar-nominated director Steve James and Emmy Award-winning producer Zak Piper at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Chicago-based documentarian Steve James presented his newest endeavor, a four-episode mini series City So Real, to the Sundance Film Festival patrons just days ago in the quaint … Continue reading “At Sundance w/Kartemquin’s Steve James & Zak Piper”

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”

Brita, mcgarrybowen help the earth with ugly sweaters

Finessing a time-honored custom with environmental flair, Brita and mcgarrybowen Chicago are offering consumers a chance to celebrate National Ugly Sweater Day with a bright and cheesy new line that calls attention to the urgencies of climate change. Five of the agency’s in-house designers created sweater designs that blend traditional holiday kitsch with imagery of … Continue reading “Brita, mcgarrybowen help the earth with ugly sweaters”

‘Last Man Fishing’ to launch Chi Film’s ‘Justice January’

This January, Chicago Filmmakers is pleased to present the Chicago premieres of three documentaries that explore current social and political issues around environmental justice, immigration justice, and reproductive justice in a program called Justice January. The films selected for the series — Last Man Fishing, Undeterred, and Our Bodies Our Doctors — reveal personal stories … Continue reading “‘Last Man Fishing’ to launch Chi Film’s ‘Justice January’”

Behind the scenes with Zack Schor

Former Chicagoan talks about his upcoming role on Amazon’s ‘Hunters,’ starring Al Pacino Actor Zack Schor lost 35 pounds, learned to speak Polish, and worked in a “sobering” recreation of historical brutality while performing his role as a young Meyer Offerman in the 2020 Amazon Prime series, Hunters. Impressive, indeed, but that’s only half the … Continue reading “Behind the scenes with Zack Schor”

Redleg’s ‘Now & Not Yet’ makes strong festival run

Facilitating conversations on gun control in America, the Chicago-made short examines a timely theme After screening at the Chicago Social Change Film Festival and winning Best Cinematography and Best Film at the Chicago Feedback Festival, Now & Not Yet is on a roll. Produced by Redleg Films and filmed in March 2019, Now & Not … Continue reading “Redleg’s ‘Now & Not Yet’ makes strong festival run”

Hawley and Amoaku help film industry move forward

Newly installed office-holders explain their plans for keeping Chicago and Illinois on the path of success The thriving regional film industry is only going to get better, according to two of its recently appointed top leaders. Illinois Film Office Executive Director Peter Hawley and Director of the Chicago Film Office Kwame Amoaku described their visions … Continue reading “Hawley and Amoaku help film industry move forward”

Chance the Rapper’s lawyer among Billboard’s best

Swanson, Martin & Bell partner Jeffrey S. Becker earns spot on 2019’s Top Music Lawyers List Billboard Magazine has named Jeffrey S. Becker to its 2019 Top Music Lawyers list. Becker is partner and chair of Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP’s Entertainment and Media Law Practice Group This prestigious list honors prominent music attorneys from … Continue reading “Chance the Rapper’s lawyer among Billboard’s best”

Camera Ambassador, 2112 launch partnership

Adding an arsenal of rentable gear to a film, music, and tech industry nexus will help Chicago’s production community dial it up to eleven Camera Ambassador and 2112 are going all in to help filmmakers get it done. Through a partnership announced last week, the equipment rental shop and the film incubator are combining their … Continue reading “Camera Ambassador, 2112 launch partnership”

CIMM reboots to deliver year-round movies + music

Legendary Chicago fest kicks off year-round agenda with the May 29 premiere of Manu Delago’s “Parasol Peak” followed by a live gig at Martyr’s After spending a decade as an annual film and music festival, Chicago International Movies + Music (CIMM) is transitioning to operate year round throughout the city. The upgrade begins with the … Continue reading “CIMM reboots to deliver year-round movies + music”

One Tree Forest unveils rentable production space

Partners Chad and Abby Cooper open 2,000 sf West Town production rental space One Tree Forest opened a multi-functional new studio space at 2219 W. Grand Ave in the heart of West Town. In addition to housing One Tree Forest’s home base, the facility also boasts a rentable 2,000 square foot, first floor studio space. … Continue reading “One Tree Forest unveils rentable production space”

Reel Women: Emily Walton, advertising pro

OKRP’s creative phenom talks about family, work, evolving attitudes towards women, and tropical drinks Emily Walton is an Associate Creative Director (Art Director) at O’Keefe Reinhard & Paul where she helps lead the Chili’s business. Having visited over 40 countries, Emily looks to her experiences abroad to inspire her work, which has also made its … Continue reading “Reel Women: Emily Walton, advertising pro”

Zach Braff joins RSA Films

It all started when the award-winning actor / writer / director bumped into executive producer Chris Karabas on the street Globally acclaimed production company RSA Films is pleased to announce renowned comedy director and actor Zach Braff has signed on for commercial representation. Braff’s first work with RSA is a Hidden Valley Ranch campaign via … Continue reading “Zach Braff joins RSA Films”

Doc10 screens the year’s best at the Davis Theater

Fourth annual fest of the best opens with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doc, “Knock Down The House” The 4th annual Doc10 Film Festival’s 2019 lineup is an entertaining variety of undeniable relevance taking place April 11-14 at The Davis Theater (4614 N. Lincoln Ave.) The program opens with Rachel Lears’ critically acclaimed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez documentary, Knock Down … Continue reading “Doc10 screens the year’s best at the Davis Theater”

Jussie Smollett: Timeline of a “hoax?”

The alleged “homophobic” and “racist” attack on Jussie Smollett, which reportedly took place in the early hours of January 29, has taken more twists and turns than an hour of the locally-filmed hit Fox series Empire. One could almost be led to believe a group of writers in a writer’s room was responsible for a … Continue reading “Jussie Smollett: Timeline of a “hoax?””

Facets’ 2nd Annual Religion in the Frame Film Festival

Screenings of “First Reformed” and “The Passion of Joan of Arc” are among the week-long program’s scheduled events Facets will explore the meaning of faith through the medium of film at the 2nd Annual Religion in the Frame Film Festival, February 22 – 28. With more than half-a-dozen screenings, the series will explore religious ideas, … Continue reading “Facets’ 2nd Annual Religion in the Frame Film Festival”

‘American Soul’ energizes the spirit of Don Cornelius

Ensemble drama celebrates how “the coolest brother on TV” united a community through music, dance, and fashion Fans endured a cold rain while waiting for a sneak peek at the first episode of American Soul in Chicago last Tuesday night. Judging from the mood after the show, it was worth the discomfort. After all, Don … Continue reading “‘American Soul’ energizes the spirit of Don Cornelius”

AbelsonTaylor Launches Icons.Health channel

New venture features content that explores the intersection of healthcare and technology with innovators and entrepreneurs   What do Microsoft, Aetna, Twitter, IBM, Ogilvy Consulting, Biogen, and dozens of healthcare startups have in common? All appear in discussions about issues at the nexus of healthcare and technology in Icons.Health, a new video series produced by … Continue reading “AbelsonTaylor Launches Icons.Health channel”

Kartemquin remembers Director Bill Siegel

“He took on important stories that no one else was telling.” Kartemquin co-founder Gordon Quinn (Chicago — 11 December 2018) In a website and social media post that begins “with great sadnesss and shock,” Chicago documentary production house Kartemquin Films announced today that award-winning filmmaker Bill Siegel has passed away. Siegel began working with Kartemquin … Continue reading “Kartemquin remembers Director Bill Siegel”

From beer to sci-fi: the many voices of Marshall Ross

“Structure matters and character point of view is a religion. You need to be really faithful.” Marshall Ross Long-time Cramer-Krasselt Chief Creative Officer Marshall Ross has been a storyteller for more than twenty years. Along the way, he has helped to create an enduring legacy of iconic branding, including Corona Extra’s now ubiquitous Find Your … Continue reading “From beer to sci-fi: the many voices of Marshall Ross”

Kartemquin to award $150k grants at 11/1 event

Luncheon to honor emerging documentary producers and acclaimed 2018 releases “America to Me” and “Minding the Gap” (Chicago, 24 September 2018) Kartemquin Films, the award-winning Chicago-based documentary not-for-profit organization, will for the first time announce recipients of $150,000 in grants for up to 15 films at the 2018 Kartemquin Films Empowering Truth Benefit Luncheon, taking … Continue reading “Kartemquin to award $150k grants at 11/1 event”

Click 3X grows new content division Food@Click

Chicago filmmaker Stephen Hamilton joins Vittorio Sacco and Stef Viaene on the directorial roster while Charlotte Omnès becomes Culinary CD of Food@Click   (New York — 23 July 23) Click 3X — a renowned production and digital studio — has launched Food@Click, a collective of food stylists, food writers, and other creative and strategic resources. … Continue reading “Click 3X grows new content division Food@Click”

Programming films from the underground

The power of Bryan Wendorf’s taste has grown to a metropolitan scale since he co-founded the Chicago Underground Film Festival 25 years ago.   Following up on an idea that he hatched in 1994 with Jay Bliznick, a coworker in a video rental shop, Chicago Underground Film Fest (CUFF) co-founder and programmer Bryan Wendorf picks … Continue reading “Programming films from the underground”

Reel Women: Sarah Clark, Casting Director

Sarah Clark has worked professionally in the film industry for eight years. Casting has always been her bread and butter, but she’s also an Emmy Nominated producer and professional screenwriter. Sarah been lucky to work on films like August Osage County, to The Wonder, Rudderless, and many many more. Sarah has seen thousands of actors … Continue reading “Reel Women: Sarah Clark, Casting Director”

Bill Cosby removed from AAF Advertising Hall of Fame

Fall out from last week’s guilty verdict for Bill Cosby continues. After being removed from the Television Hall of Fame, Adweek is reporting that the American Advertising Federation has decided to remove the actor/comedian from its Hall of Fame. Cosby was inducted into the AAF Hall of Fame in 2011 and at the time also … Continue reading “Bill Cosby removed from AAF Advertising Hall of Fame”

Goodman, Lawson confront taboos in “The Nest”

Jennifer A. Goodman (also known as Jennifer Karum) wrote and co-directed with Jessica Hebda Lawson a short film called The Nest. This 20-minute short is intended to be a concept film that Goodman and Lawson both hope to turn into a feature. The film is Goodman’s next big project following the pilot of Conrad.   … Continue reading “Goodman, Lawson confront taboos in “The Nest””

DDB helps Skittles show where Sweet Heat comes from

DDB Chicago helped Skittles retain its top place on the eclectic advertising mantel with a new 15-second commercial starring a pair of unkempt basement dwellers. Skittles’ Rile the Rainbow commercial offers no context for the characters who “love these Sweet Heat Skittles,” but that doesn’t matter. The spot by DDB Chicago earns an enthusiastic double … Continue reading “DDB helps Skittles show where Sweet Heat comes from”

Pitching with IL Film Office Director Christine Dudley

Christine Dudley rarely goes to the movies. That may seem odd for the Director of the Illinois Film Office, but she’s dedicated to a job that begins before most of the scenes are even shot and ends, like, never. So what does she do?     When Dudley’s not pitching Hollywood studios, she’s reading the … Continue reading “Pitching with IL Film Office Director Christine Dudley”

Kartemquin’s Oscar-nom’d docs headline MIFF

The Midwest Independent Film Festival announced that April’s First Tuesday will be a celebration of sorts for Chicago’s own Kartemquin Films with a special double feature showcasing both of their 2018 Academy Award Nominated films on April 3! Screening will be Abacus: Small Enough to Jail and Edith and Eddie. Helmed by acclaimed director Steve … Continue reading “Kartemquin’s Oscar-nom’d docs headline MIFF”

Kartemquin goes to the Oscars

Kartemquin Films is headed to the Oscars! Two films by the internationally renowned documentary collaborative have been nominated for the coveted gold statues by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. One is the story of a family’s struggle to overcome seemingly insurmountable and unfair obstacles. The other, a short film about an elderly … Continue reading “Kartemquin goes to the Oscars”

Leo Burnett redefines the workplace

Leo Burnett recently transformed the 21st floor of its Wacker Dr. building into one of coolest spaces in Chicago. Following a thoughtful restoration that features two cafes, lush greenery, and partner rooms for Facebook, Google, and Adobe, the former reception area is now a cozy multifunctional setting that accommodates collaboration as well as privacy. The … Continue reading “Leo Burnett redefines the workplace”

Regarding the financial backing of Jennifer Samaan

During the AFM (American Film Market), which was held November 1 – 8 in Santa Monica, one is exposed to all kinds of films at various levels of quality. You can see very good at the market and you can see very, very, very bad. Looking at you China Salesman! Then there are the interesting … Continue reading “Regarding the financial backing of Jennifer Samaan”

OKRP serves up first new work for Chili’s

Last July, we reported that Chicago agency O’Keefe Reinhard & Paul had won an assignment from Dallas-based Chili’s. Well, the agency, and the baby back ribs, are back with a twist. OKRP has updated the classic Chili’s jingle — “I want my baby back, baby back, baby back…” — to include menu items that made … Continue reading “OKRP serves up first new work for Chili’s”

DDB, State Farm kick off spot with Aaron Rodgers

Yeah, yeah, I know it’s not fall. Yet. But when football kicks off how can you not start thinking about either heading out to your favorite bar or sitting on your couch, cracking open a cold one and watching The Bears? Then again, if the Bears play like last season you might want to consider … Continue reading “DDB, State Farm kick off spot with Aaron Rodgers”

Teaching advertising class in Cook County Jail — part 2

This is the second installment of a three-part series. To view part one, click here.

Although “many moons” had passed since Leo Burnett executive producer Ron Nelken taught communication theory and broadcast production at the University of Illinois, his knack for mentorship was still strong when he volunteered to instruct an advertising class for detainees in the Cook County Jail last year.

Ad pros help Cook County Jail detainees get creative

First of a three-part series

In April, photographer Christopher Jacobs, producer Ron Nelken and editor Bob Ackerman helped to complete three commercials for the musical instrument manufacturer Latin Percussion. Although the ads are unlikely to appear on any network or website, they were celebrated by pretty much everyone who saw them.

That’s because they were created by men in the Cook County Jail.

An exclusive with the shop that built FCB’s “Teddy Gun”

Hero Solutions’ Ira Amyx and Jay Neander knew just what to do when advertising agency FCB Chicago asked them to fuse a stuffed animal with a firearm.

“We made a metallic-silver looking teddy bear with a pistol coming out of his face,” says Neander. “The bear was 3d printed and then re-coated and finished.”

“The gun was a .357,” adds Amyx. “We cast a real one and made a fake one.”

Memorial scheduled for Butch Stewart June 23-25

(Editor’s note: Chicago music giant Butch Stewart passed away in May. There will be a memorial held for him June 23, 24 and 25 at 1900 Greenwood Street in Evanston, Illinois. Emma Young wrote this moving tribute about Stewart and his company in 2014.)

Good Stewart Productions sits on an industrial street in Evanston. From the outside it looks quiet, but inside — there’ a whole lot going on!

Staff adds, changes at Cap Gun, Periscope, DDB

NAMES IN THE NEWS. Industry veteran Tom Fletcher, the former Fletcher Camera & Lenses executive, was named director of sales at Fujifilm’s optical devices division. In his new post, Fletcher, who has been consulting for the company for almost a year, will oversee sales and promotion of Fujifilm’s broadcast and cinema lenses in North America, reporting to division VP Gordon Tubbs and working out of a Lake Forest office.

Steve Conrad among TV pros at TV Awards, April 18-20

Writer/director Steve Conrad, actor Gary Cole, TV show creators and “Empire’s” key crew members will be among the TV pros holding forth on the trials and triumphs of TV show production at the Chicago International Television Awards (CITA) April 18-20 at the AMC River East 21 theatres.

This marks the first time, CITA (formerly the Hugo Awards) is expanding its single TV awards evening into a three-day event.

Jodwalis’ Almost Gold studio unites three film pros

Linas Jodwalis’ new design-driven studio, Almost Gold, is striking gold with its collaboration with two well-established visual media experts, and will open its doors (literally) by Dec. 1.

Almost Gold’s 2,200-sq. ft. office at 1821 W. Hubbard, in the expanding Fulton Industrial Corridor, is in the final stages of a build-out and remodeling that Jodwalis is mostly handling himself.

Camp Kuleshov winners did their AICE employers proud

Optimus assistant editor Aaron Porzel won the Grand Prize for Editing at the 4th annual 2014 AICE Camp Kuleshov Chicago trailer editing contest. The presentation last Wednesday at The Attic @ American Junkie was attended by 150 guests.

The contest, exclusively for AICE members’ assistant editors, assistant audio engineers and assistant or junior designer employees, received 58 entries.  

First film fulfilling Freese’s passion to premiere

While Jordan Freese, a production engineer at Resolution Production Group, had spent a decade in corporate IT jobs before landing in the production industry and three years satisfying his passion for filmmaking, it only took Barbara Sharres 24 hours to book his film at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

His 82-minute debut film, the documentary “An Honest Living,” screens Saturday, Jan. 25 at 7:30 p.m. and Thursday, Jan. 30 at 8:15 p.m.

Actor Stolte signs with Orlandino’s “Anita” feature

VERSATILE ACTOR CHRISTIAN STOLTE will play the role of American seaman John Griggs, in Joe Orlandino and Lucia Mauro’s historical indie feature about Brazilian freedom fighter Anita Garibaldi (Leticia Sabatella). Screenwriter Mauro says she has admired Stolte’s work in Chicago theatre since her days as a theatre critic and is delighted to be working with him. 

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. 

Season of TV series and movie filming gets underway

ENTERTAINMENT FILMING has begun in earnest with action on features and TV series from now through October.  Although teen sci-fi “Divergent” wraps July 17 after a large second unit shoot, The Wachowskis’ sci-fi epic “Jupiter Ascending” officially starts rolling July 13. It will film at Cinespace and on many locations around the city.

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.

60 docmakers lead 20 panels, screenings in 3-day event

Last February, Columbia College associate professor Dan Rybicky brought together a core group of like-minded documentarians from at the school and industry professionals with the goal of “inspiring a deeper exploration into and the appreciation for the ways we collectively craft truth in stories,” he says. 

“We all were enthusiastic about wanting to start conversations, examine the myriad of ways documentaries were being created, the approaches taken to issues, and how they were taught on campus,” he says. 

Lawsuit charges Rostons with misuse of Roscor assets

The alleged misuse of acts perpetrated by brothers Paul and Mitch Roston, who for 35 years ran Roscor, the Mt Prospect AV equipment company, were spelled out in detail in a lawsuit filed Feb. 21 in Cook County Circuit Court.

The suit alleges that the brothers breached their fiduciary duties to the company, committed corporate waste and took advantage of Roscor for personal gain, from 1977 to 2012.

Curtain falls on 2 long-running itinerant companies

TWO SMALL CHICAGO COMPANIES announced last week that they are calling it quits – and the reasons will seem familiar to anyone who has toiled in the trenches of the itinerant and chronically underfunded storefront scene.

When the lights go down August 25 on BackStage Theatre Company’s current production of A Scent of Flowers by James Saunders, it will be the end of the company as well.

Brits blew great marketing coup with Olympics opener

Great Britain should be ashamed. The 2012 Summer Olympics host country and London, the host city, were given the marketing opportunity of this or any other lifetime. 

They had $40-million to spend on the Olympic opening ceremonies, as well as an eager television audience said to be in excess of 1 billion. 

And what did they do?  They blew it.

Daufenbach Camera puts $500K into space, services

Daufenbach Camera is continuing its efforts to build up Midwest work with a $500,000 investment in expanded space and inventory.  “We want to let Hollywood producers know we’ve got all the gear here so there is no need for them to fly equipment in,” says owner/cameraman Lawrence Daufenbach.   

CNN’s sinking ratings reflect terrible programming

The news was hardly shocking.  To us anyway.  Late yesterday, it was revealed — once again — that top executives at cable news channel CNN are wringing their hands in desperation because ratings continue to plummet. 

Based on the April national Nieslen ratings report, CNN has sunk to third place among national news channels — behind perennial frontrunner Fox News and second-place finisher, MSNBC.

In fact, April brought CNN’s worst ratings in a decade.

Cameras roll this week on ‘Boss’ series, two pilots

ROLL THOSE CAMERAS!  Television production started last Thursday on Starz’ second season of “Boss” and the pilot of NBC’s  “Chicago Fire,” from Dick Wolf Productions, both of them shooting at Cinespace.  And executive producer/director Michael Dinner this week commences production on Sony TV’s “Dirty Medicine.” 

MTI’s long-awaited series “Underemployed” got pushed back from April to a start date of May 7, according to the Chicago Film Office’s always helpful Rich Moskal.

Amazon’s Kindle Fire pad to revolutionize indie film access

The Reel is honored that award-winning indie filmmaker and Columbia College professor Julian Grant will be sharing his valuable insights as well as news about Chicago’s thriving indie scene.

CINEMA 2.0 IS ON ITS WAY, in the form of the new Kindle Fire from Amazon that was just announced and ships next month.  The much-in-demand tablet styled E-reader boasts a low sticker price of $199 and a gateway to all of your purchased Amazon content.

Filmmaker Harris takes a risk with Englewood Film Fest

Filmmaker Mark Harris of 1555 Filmworks is doing something bold and brave, without any sponsorship support to speak of, for the love and hope of his neighborhood, which happens to be the most stricken in the city.

Harris is hosting the Englewood Film Festival, the first held inside Chicago’s African American community on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 28-29 at Kennedy King College at 63rd and Halsted, in the heart of the beleaguered South Side Englewood neighborhood.

Richard Cohen’s short debuts with 2 others Oct. 16

A TRIO OF SHORTS by local filmmakers will screen Sunday, Oct. 16, centered around the premiere of “Song for Pluto,” an 8-minute short by filmmaker/screenwriter Richard Cohen of Three Color Productions, at an intimate new venue in Bucktown. 

The other two comedy shorts are Boris Wexler and Paul Peditto’s “The Group” and Brad DeMarea’s “An Evening with Emery Long.”

Wachowskis’ Kinowerks the best of green technology

New York’s billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently gave a $6 million grant to Mayor Rahm Emanuel to use for various city programs. One of them is finding ways to create greater energy savings, a top item on Emanuel’s agenda for a greener Chicago.  

But when it comes to green buildings, however, few can compare with Lana and Andy Wachowski’s environmentally efficient Ravenswood Kinowerks postproduction and effects studio.

New web series on success entrepreneurship

This winter, Malachi Leopold of Left Brain/Right Brain Productions is rolling out the 24-episode entrepreneurship web series, “Trep Life,” which he says offers a “unique, 360-degree view of what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur.”

The series been funded, and the first 12 episodes will be shot through the end of February. Episodes will play on and various streaming services and social networking sites.

Leopold is producing with Scotty Cadenhead of Cadenworks LLC.

Big extras casting call for “Contagion”

AN OPEN EXTRAS CASTING CALLS for Steven Soderbergh’s big budget, big cast “Contagion” will be held by Rich King Casting of L.A. Sept. 25 at the Lincoln Park Cultural Center, 2045 Lincoln Park West, 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and Sept. 26 at the Annoyance Theatre, 4830 N. Broadway, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

King says he’s looking for adult men and women, 18 and older, all sizes, shapes, types and ethnicities. It’s a paid gig and meals are included.

“Contagion,” will spend two months shooting in and around Chicago, starting Oct. 19, arriving here from filming in Hong Kong.

Gary to be transformed into the Ukraine

GARY, INDIANA WILL DOUBLE for the Urkaine in “Transformers 3,” which is a welcome twist as all too many times European cities are passed off as U.S. locales, in pre-shoots April 12-13 at the Majestic Star Casino at Buffington Harbor. In this scene, robotic vehicles will approach industrial property near the Casino.

Steve James’ basketball doc debuts at SXSW

OSCAR NOMINEE STEVE JAMES, an Oscar nominee for the seminal “Hoop Dreams,” has told another compelling basketball documentary: “No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson” for ESPN’s “30 for 30” series.

The documentary is about a 1993 incident in James’ hometown of Hampton, Va., that racially divided the community and came to define the 17-year old basketball star’s image, however unfairly.

Outfit drama a chance Mike Starr to play the boss

Mike Starr has done his share of mob movies. The veteran character actor and onetime Chicagoan starred in the local “Osso Bucco” and has done supporting turns in “Goodfellas” and dozens of features and TV shows.

When the young filmmakers of Beverly Ridge Pictures approached him in 2007 to co-star in their take on the genre, “Chicago Overcoat,” everything clicked.

“I liked the chance to play a South Side guy who talked like people I knew, to put another regionalism on film,” Starr says.

New futuristic Wachowskis movie rumored

THE SUPER SECRETIVE WACHOWSKIS may be ramping up their next movie, with Huffington Post publisher and politico Ariana Huffington, of all people, involved in it. Photos she posted on Twitter suggest she has a role in their story about the war in Iraq from the POV of a futuristic society.

Since their “The Matrix” triology in 2003, Andy and Lana Wachowski have directed only one movie, last year’s “Speed Racer.” If a new movie is in the works, count on all the special effects coming from their fortress-like high-tech studio at 5645 N. Ravenswood.

Ullberg & team go green in reality TV pilot

TV show veteran Lars Ullberg produced and directed pilot for a reality TV series about energy conservation, shooting in an 84-year-old log lodge on a lake in nearby Michigan, that was in need of efficient energy improvements.

Titled “The King of Green,” the series follows a team of home energy experts as they find ways to make buildings more energy efficient on a budget.

Ullberg and his crew of five shot in the 27-room East Bay Lodge vacation resort at Houghton Lake, in Prudenville, Mich., about five hours east of Chicago.

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.


SIX NEW HD SPOTS returns the LaSalle St. law of Cochran & Montgomery to TV advertising for the first time since the death in 2004 of Johnny Cochran of O.J. Simpson trial fame.

SPI-TV shot six spots in the firm’s office, three with attorneys in their office and three in a conference room with other attorneys.

“Instead of a hard message like many law firm spots, each of these spots has a certain message,” says SPI-TV partner Jim Demas, the writer/producer/director. SPI-TV’s Roger Gazga was DP; Product Productions handled lighting.

Home from L.A. and CG work on blockbusters, Ryan heads collective of top visual artists

Senior Flame artist Chris Ryan?whose eye-popping list of Hollywood blockbusters includes “300” and “Titanic”?has set up Chaos Studios, a viral collective of some of the best 2D and 3D artists in the business.

“We work with the same hardware and software you’ll find at any large post house,” said Ryan of his associates.

But the big difference is, “We’re home-based for now. I have a fully-equipped studio in my basement and my partners?who I’ve freelanced with for the past 15 years?work the same way,” he said.

Trio Video’s truck fleet grows to six with a
$10 million investment for two new HD trucks

Trio Video is expanding its fleet for the second time in less than two years with the infusion of a $10 million investment from two venture capital companies.

Management of the company is unchanged. Trio is owned by partners Jack Walsh and Gary Meagher, who will celebrate the 25th anniversary of their company next year.

Through the investment from Marquette Capital Partners of Chicago, BIA Digital Partners of Chantilly, Va., Trio is building its third HD/multi-format truck and a Beta support vehicle for delivery next March.

Lakeview restaurateur turned L.A. script doctor Harris wraps post on debut feature “Dimension”

It’s fitting, the way Matthew Scott Harris came to make his first film about choice and destiny.

“The Weather Man” was shooting near Harris’ Lakeview restaurant Matilda’s, and Harris approached a representative of Nicolas Cage’s production company Saturn Films.

“I got in with those people and I passed them some of my scripts,” Harris said. “They asked me to come out to L.A.

RDS wins top award for Nearwest Side addition

Lee Facklis, CEO of Show Department, Inc., accepts 2005 ICNC Company of the Year Award for its “exceptional growth to the area and produced a positive impact on the Kinzie Corridor” from Joyce Shanahan, ICNC executive director.

The award from the Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago recognized Show Department’s new Resolution Digital Studios addition at 2226 W. Walnut.

The new 32,000-sq. ft., $7.5 million dollar sound stage complex is adjacent to Show Department’s existing 50,000-sq. ft. building.

Festivals, Screenings, Events, Etc.

CHICAGO FILMMAKERS’ Onion City Experimental Film and Video Festival June 16-18 opens with a program featuring a who’s who of avant-garde heavyweights:

Michelangelo Antonioni’s “Michelangelo Eye to Eye,” Michael Snow’s “Sshtoorrty,” Jonas Mekas’ “Williamsburg, Brooklyn,” Kenneth Anger’s “Mouse Heaven,” Ernie Gehr’s “Precarious Garden,” Peter Kubelka’s “Poerty and Truth,” and Ken Jacobs’ “Mountaineer Spinning.”

At 8 p.m. June 16 at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State.

Festivals, Screenings, Events, etc.

HURT McDERMOTT’S 2004 Slamdance best screenplay winner, “Nightingale in a Music Box,” has its New York premiere Tuesday, June 7 at 8 p.m. at the Brooklyn International Film Festival.

Kelly Hazen, Catherine O’Connor and Andrzej Krukowski star in the dystopian thriller about a woman on the run for a crime she can’t remember.

“Nightingale” also played the Athens and Mill Valley film festivals. Todd Slotten and Leigh Jones produced. Music by Robert Fripp of King Crimson and Brian Eno of Roxy Music. Sales agent is Seth Kittay of All Channel Films in Los Angeles.

Legendary DP Haskell Wexler is the subject of son Mark’s film ?Tell Them Who You Are’ at Doc Fest

Mark Wexler exposes his often-stormy relationship with his father, legendary cinematographer Haskell Wexler, in “Tell Them Who You Are,” the film that closes the Chicago International Documentary Festival April 10.

An accomplished photojournalist, Mark Wexler was hesitant to take on his father as a subject.

“My dad casts a big shadow,” Wexler said.

Towers Productions is city’s biggest production company and leader in programming for cable

Towers Productions, the 16-year old producer of cable content, is Chicago’s largest production company, with estimated billings of $10 million.

ReelChicago’s Catherine Rategan talked to founder/president Jonathan Towers and VP/production Mike Schmiedeler to learn about thriving company.

RC: As Chicago’s biggest production company, give us an idea of Towers’ size and scope.

Back to the future: 26 years of delivering exclusive news to an ever-changing industry

It’s d?j? vu all over again.

In January 1979 I was living and working out of a cozy apartment at 900 N. Michigan Ave. (now Bloomingdale’s and million dollar condos).

It was not an auspicious time. It was snowing, snowing and snowing. Snow fell on top of a 7-10-inch base left over from a New Year’s Eve blizzard, setting a record of 20.3-inches of new snow on the ground.

The Chicago film industry was as dark and bleak as the weather outside. Not a lot was happening that anyone really knew about, except that talent was fleeing to sunny California.

Meeting company ProActive finds new ways of serving corporate communications needs

Let’s take a step back in time in order to bring perspective to Catherine Rategan’s interview with Tony Lorenz, founder/president of 12-year old ProActive, Inc., a business communications company with a staff of 30.

Decades before the digital revolution, Chicago flourished “as the 16mm capital of the world” by virtue of producing more industrial films, or “trips through the factory,” than any other film market in the country, as tracked by Eastman Kodak.

REELSCREEN: News & Notes

FAVORITE SON Steve Poster did double duty when he was in town last week. The American Society of Cinematographers president received the Professional Achievement Award from IIT/Institute of Design, and to lens the pilot for director Betty Thomas, another former Chicagoan. Look for Poster’s next film early next year: “Mrs. Harris,” starring Annette Bening and Sir Ben Kingsley,

JOHN RAUSCH is Draft’s new VP/CD, coming from DDB as VP/CD working on Anheuser Busch, Discover Card and FTD. He started his copywriter career at Keroff & Rosenberg.

REELSCREEN: News & Notes – 08/13/04

WHEW, OPRAH STAYS PUT. The tension’s over as to whether she would or wouldn’t opt out of TV and Chicago at the end of her current contract. But we can relax. Oprah is not going to hang it up after all. Her newly-signed contract will keep her on TV through 2011 ? and assure continuing jobs for the nearly 300 people who work on the show.

By 2011, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” will have been on a full 25 seasons. And they say there’s no indication that the 25th season will be the last.

REELSCREEN: News and Notes

THE FOUNDATION OPENS. When his 10-year Red Car contract ended, editor James Lipinsky decided the time had come to go into business for himself. On March 1, he opened the doors to the Foundation, located in spacious quarters at 200 E. Ohio St., and in West Hollywood, with three employees and a steady stream of major agency clients.

The current staff consists of editor Steve Morrison, who joined after four years at Superior Street, Producer Laurie Abels, an Element 79 associate producer, and assistant Rob Chambers, a Columbia College grad.

Looking for a movie tonight? Catch one of these non-traditional film series

Chicago boasts one of the biggest and most vibrant independent film scenes in America, in terms of both production and outlets. To prove the point, Chicago is experiencing a boom in non-traditional screening series.

In addition to a growing roster of annual film festivals, established and fledgling organizations host screenings scattered around the city at theatres, nightclubs and other venues.

From ‘Bounce’ to Albee to ‘Samurai’

By Jonathan Abarbanel

Comedian Richard Kind joked about his Jeff Awards.

Olken’s human trafficking expos? in
debut feature “Slave” at Facets

Erinn Strain stars in Noel Olken’s “Slave,” Nov. 12 at Facets

Tax credit act made easy

Bob Labate

Kristen Fligel

Chill-O-Vision reshoots scenes on
Chevy Chase comedy “Bad Meat”

Chevy Chase and Lance Barber star in “Bad Meat”.