Chi-connected director, editor’s doc in Oscar race

AN OSCAR NOMINATION went to a film with Chicago ties. Documentary short, “CaveDigger,” was produced and directed by Roy Skillicorn’s Seed Media Arts commercial director Jeffrey Karoff of Venice and edited by Optimus’ Erin Nordstrom in Santa Monica. The doc is about the art of Ra Paulette, who digs cathedral-like caves in the sandstone cliffs of northern New Mexico.

Karoff called working with Nordstrom “one of the most satisfying collaborations I’ve had I my career.” Optimus was exceptionally supportive with offices, personnel and technical support, he added, “so we could work on ‘CaveDigger’ between Erin’s commercial projects.”

Skillicorn and Karoff’s association goes go back to Skillcorn’s Backyard days (he was its founder). “Reuniting made a lot of sense to both of us,” he says.

OUR POLITICAL LEADERS, Gov. Pat Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, issued separate but simultaneously released announcements Monday on their justifiable exultation over the nearly 40% growth in film production last year.  

This jump, to $358 million from $184 million in 2012, also elevates Illinois to a higher tier of more competitive markets with consistent gain film revenues of between $300 million $454 million (according to MPAA’s State by State stats).  

Quinn, especially, has a good record of lending industry support going back to the early Blago days. He was right there to help Cinespace put down stakes and signed legislature that stretched our 30% film tax credits to 10 years. 

Their announcements, coinciding with our Production Roundup, annually and meticulously compiled by Ed M. Koziarski, included these facts: “Chicago Fire” has spent nearly $111 million since production began in 2011 and more than 4,200 full time equivalent jobs were created.

THE LONG DORMANT IFP (Independent Feature Project in case you’ve forgotten) has finally come back to life after a lengthy absence. Producer Carrie Holt de Lama leads the new board and managing director is Dawn Dewald, who’s been in marketing communications.

The pledges to revitalize IFP and its plans for a series of events include reviving the popular Producers Series in the fall.

CHICAGO’S OWN JOE SWANBERG will light up the Music Box theatre Thursday, Jan. 30 for the Music Box’ 5th annual Sundance USA. Sundance is dispatching him to personally host the screening and discussion of his new indie, “Happy Christmas.” Tickets are $15.

TEEN SCI-FI “DIVERGENT,” one of the three big-budget features that filmed here last year, hits theaters on March 21. In preproduction is the sequel, “Insurgent,” also starring “Divergent’s” Shailene Woodley and Theo James and directed by Neil Burger, is due out March, 2015).

Now’s an ideal time to be advertising in the Reel.  In celebration of our 10th anniversary, we offer a special 10% advertising discount.  Send an Email to and put “10th anniversary” in the subject line for details.  And while you’re it, send your news, too.