Chicago talent is absolutely ready for its close-up, Mr. DeMille.
Seven TV series and two features (to date) rolling into production now through the next three months will give local performers their best shot ever at TV and movie roles without having to leave town.
The first season of Dick Wolf’s NBC “Chicago Fire” generated more than 300 days of work for local actors during its first 22 episode-season.
For all the series shooting here, “The hopeful expectation is creating 1,000 days of work for local actors,” says always enthusiastic Eric Chaudron, executive director of SAG AFTRA Chicago, noting that the show introduces new characters every week.
They may be supporting actors or day players, but they’re getting noticed working on high profile projects.
“As L.A. studios and producers realize the depth of talent here, it puts a new light on the fact that we’ve got a tremendous number of amazing performers,” he says.
Chicago union membership amped up to some 7,000 from 4,500 when SAG and AFTRA merged earlier this year. Union offices that closed in Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota were consolidated into the Chicago office.
New TV series casting underway
Chicago’s two biggest casting companies, Claire Simon Casting and Paskal Rudnicke Casting (PRC), are currently deep into prepping for series and features assignments.
“Claire has been doing an amazing job of getting Chicago talent spotlighted nationally,” compliments talent agent Lynne Hamilton of Shirley Hamilton Talent, noting that Simon did a fantastic job of casting a long list of local actors for the earlier two seasons of “Boss.”
Starting this week, Claire Simon Casting reprises its “Chicago Fire” assignments with auditions for an unspecified number of roles for the series’ second season, which starts filming July 24.
Simon is also casting for ABC’s “Betrayal,” and some roles for the Wachowskis’ “Jupiter Ascending” sci-fi epic that began shooting this past weekend.
They also will be working on NBC’s “Crisis” and “Chicago PD,” Dick Wolf’s “Chicago Fire” spinoff, a mid-season NBC entry.
PRC is casting for USA’s “Sirens” and ABC’s “Mind Games,” for which they cast the pilots.
Rudnicke says for “Sirens” they anticipate booking six to seven actors for recurring roles, and 10-11 actors for “Mind Games.” Local actress, Katherine Cunningham, will have a recurring role in the drama.
For “Transformers 4’s” arrival here the end of August, PRC has so far cast a total of 15 supporting and day player roles,
“This critical mass will be the key to Chicago becoming the vibrant production center we’ve been hoping for,” Chaudron states. “Having Cinespace Studios is amazing. Everything is coming together for a terrific takeoff.”