Chicago Film Office scores a stellar honor from LMGA

In this season of gilt-edged motion picture awards, it is gratifying and rewarding that Chicago is making an appearance among the innumerable categories of endeavor that go into film production. 

The Chicago Film Office has been nominated as Outstanding Film Office by the Second Annual Location Managers Guild of America Awards, which honor the outstanding and creative contributions of location professionals in the entertainment industry and commercials.

Competing with Chicago for the top honor are the City of Long Beach Office of Special Events and Filming; Film in Iceland; Oregon Governor’s Office of Film and Television and the Royal Film Commission of Jordan.

The Chicago Film Office category, with 35 nominees, is one of seven categories in which awards will be given.

The CFO and its staff of three are headed by Rich Moskal, who celebrates his 19th year as CFO director on Feb. 18. He is the fourth Chicago Film Office commissioner since the organization was started by Mayor Jane Byrne 35 years ago.  He is also possibly the commissioner with the longest tenure in a position tied to the acting political administration.          

“The Film Office gives us the opportunity to showcase the city,” says veteran location manager Al Cohn, who describes part of his job as “keeping fires from flaring up.”

The nomination is well-deserved and “truly appreciated,” says Brady Breen, a 20-year location expert who heads the six-person location team on Fox’s top-rated “Empire.” 

“Our Chicago Film Office is fantastic at integrating film crews into every kind of neighborhood you can imagine, while maintaining enormous respect for the residents and the needs of production,”  he adds.

Rich Moskal, Chicago Film Office CFOWhat the CFO does to address so many demands on a daily basis “is awesome,” notes Mono Wilborn, co-location manager with Kwame Amoaku of “Chicago Fire’s” 11-person location team.  “The office assists us in all productions and in every possible way.” 

It’s an extremely challenging job to balance the interests of differing groups, says Cohn. Whether it’s production, community needs or the politics of both, they have to deliver for the best interests of all.”

The CFO’s tightly knit, eight-person staff is a section of DCASE (Dept. of Cultural Affairs and Special Events) and is located in the Chicago Cultural Center.

Since the office was officially established in 1980 by Mayor Jane Byrne, it has accommodated more than 1,100 entertainment and commercial projects.   

The LMGA awards will be presented March 7 at a black-tie gala event at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills.