$250K budget asked for County film commission

COUNTY BOARD PRESIDENT Todd Stroger’s 2010 $3 billion budget proposes no new taxes, it does include his controversial 2008 sales tax hike the highest overall sales tax in the country.

Thanks to that extra money, among other payouts, Stroger can fund $250,000 for the proposed Cook County Film Commission that many consider a redundancy. Or to put it less elegantly — a boondoggle.

It would use taxpayers’ money to pay commissioners who have well-paying jobs to start with, not mention salary for the film commissioner, who, chances are, might be a distant stranger to the film industry.

A county film commission will not have the wherewithal nor the experience to attract studio business, which we have not for almost 17 months. If the County is sincere about helping production, however, it could set up an easy, low-cost apparatus for film permits and the lower the present high fees to shoot in the forest preserves.

And that should cost a fraction of what a film commission would cost.

DP ANDY SPARACO’S THRILLER, “The Somnambulist,” currently in postproduction, was picked up by Seven Arts Pictures for domestic and foreign distribution. It was shot in New Orleans where the Chicagoan has been working as non-stop for the past four years.

Sparaco wrote the screenplay, and also was co-producer and DP; Rachel Grissom directed and was co-writer. It stars Heather McComb (“Prison Break”), Edward Furlong (“American History X”) and Gbenga Akinnabe (“The Wire”).

DRAFTFCB’S MARK MODESTO, most recently president of the Chicago agency, was promoted to the newly created role of president of Draftfcb North America, effective Nov. 1.

Based in Chicago, Modesto and will work with the agency’s local management teams in New York, San Francisco, Orange County, Seattle, Toronto and Montreal.

THE 2009 AICP SHOW has a new venue for the first time in 16 years, ever since the first Art and Technique of the American Commercial, a.k.a. the MoMa show reel, unspooled to ad markets outside of Manhattan.

Replacing the Chicago Historical Society as the venue is the Chicago Cultural Center, where, on Nov. 19, some 1,200 advertising and ad-related guests will see commercials honored in 26 categories, as judged by industry peer panels. That over and applauded, they will eat, drink and socialize until midnight. See Screening & Events for more details.

THE NAME GAME: SAG/AFTRA executive director Eileen Willenborg will leave her executive director position Dec. 31 after 14 years, but will continue to work as a consultant. Her successor is due to be named shortly ?

Former Northwest Sider Paola Cascio (a.k.a. PC), who has worked in L.A. for 20 years, won a recent International Cinematographers Guild Emerging Cinematographer Award. He started his film career here, working like so many on a John Hughes movie, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.”

THE NOV. 13 ISSUE of Daily Variety National introduces its first “Scout and About” section and will tout the advantages of filming in Chicago, which ranked #4 in the publication’s survey of the best U.S. film locations.

This special issue is a terrific place to specifically to direct a message to the heart of Hollywood to reinforce their interest in Chicago as a location. The section will remain at the Variety.com site for a year, and will be available on Digital Variety, which all paid subscribers receive at no cost. Moreover, it can be reprinted and distributed as a marketing tool for the industry.

The IPA and the IFO are two initial advertisers, and if you want to join in making the section look strong to perfect prospects, contact Henry Deas at