Chicago Filmmakers hints at Reeling festival going virtual

Today, Thursday May 14th, The Indie Film Town Hall met to discuss the future of production in Illinois.  The panel included Christine Dudley (IPA) Angie Gaffney (IFA), Peter Hawley (Illinois Film Office), Anthony Kaufman (Chicago International Film Festival Industry) Brenda Webb (Chicago Filmmakers), Colette Ghunim (Mezcla Media Collective). 

The discussion was led by Angie Gaffney, Executive director of the IFA.

Hawley, who has been part of the Illinois Film Office for a year, discussed how production post-COVID is more about how than when.  During COVID, the film office has gone from being an informative resource regarding unemployment and independent contractor monetary relief, to (finally) fielding out-of-state projects asking when Illinois will be up and running again. 

The film office is now collecting information from all over the world to gauge where policies and protocol should sit for productions going forward.  As of now they don’t see any negative changes to the tax incentive, and after the General Assembly resumes this week, they can discuss Film and Television Tax Credits in Illinois.

Webb reassured the town hall that online classes are already in process, and being tweaked regularly.  They are currently seeking submissions for a new, local Chicago showcase.  Also, in keeping with current trends, more film festivals will be hosted online this year, hinting at the 38th annual Reeling International LGBTQ+ Festival in the Fall although no decision was confirmed.

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She verified that their production fund is currently on hiatus, but discussed her new program, “Community Conversations,” where Webb chats with guest speakers about filmmaking and the industry.

Colette Ghunim, co-founder and Director of Mezcla Media Collective (whose mission is to uplift women of color) spoke about their monthly meetups, technical workshops, and resources they offer.  The silver lining of the current situation, Ghunim said, is the connection with resources beyond Chicago and Illinois, and helping to bring film in Chicago to women of color. 

She also mentioned their COVID relief campaign, which provides micro-grants to people in the community who are losing homes, have children, are single mothers, or unemployed.

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Christine Dudley of the Illinois Production Alliance expressed the importance of structure in the legislature for vendors, unions and guilds.  Her role is to support the film office, and make sure film continues to be a part of Illinois law. 

She plans to implement what she called The Three R’s: RELIEF info to the film community, assisting people in unemployment, READINESS with protocols on updated safety standards, and RECOVERY, guiding where the industry is headed.  Christine’s focus is on making the industry stronger through policy and legislation, and providing better marketing opportunities. Each Thursday, she has an open discussion online about these and other topics.  

Dudley encouraged people to join the Arts Alliance of Illinois, and sign up at

Kaufman assured the town hall that the Industry Days filmmaker development workshops, and the CIFF, are moving forward, perhaps completely online.  They will host webinars and masterclasses, have online opportunities to listen into conversations, and join Q&A sessions. 

Angie Gaffney, who recently organized the Independent Film Alliance, stated they are now working on a virtual pivot.  They will coordinate events online, and connect with outside resources to bring into them to the community.  They are also starting a movie club, similar to a book club where people can watch and discuss films.

All told, the Town Hall was informative and well put together. We here at Reel Chicago look forward to the next one. The Indie Film Town Hall series is a collaboration between IFA and Chicago International Film Festival/Industry Days.

Katharin Mraz is a contributing writer for Reel Chicago and Reel 360Email her at