Incentives reason for 10% uptick in 2013 spot work

STORY’S Illinois Lottery spot with Andy Richter

It was a record year for spot production, reports Local 476 president Brad Matthys, saying the amount of revenues from commercials filmed in Chicago grew by an estimated 10% in 2013 over last year.

An estimated 80% of spot business is largely attributed to bicoastal companies shooting big-budget campaigns here for such major advertisers as Walmart, Exxon, KFC and BMW, whose agencies are headquartered in other cities.  

Wayne Kubacki, VP/partner at Essanay Studio & Lighting, the main supplier of location gear for commercial shoots, agrees that there was noticeably more spot business this year. “It started to really pick up early this summer and has been steady and increasing since,” he says.

Essanay last week rented gear to two LA-based companies that filmed here. Identity had a 5 day shoot for Scrubbing Bubbles and Community spent 4 days on a Cheerios shoot. Backyard’s filming for KFC just wrapped.

One of the busiest local companies is STORY, whose directors have been mostly filming non-stop in Chicago, says EP Mark Androw.  “Business is definitely up this year for us” and a steady flow of bids for December production indicate it’s continuing for them.

Almost all of STORY’S work has been shot on Chicago-area locations this year, such as the big JC Penney Christmas campaign it shot for Doner/Detroit.  Director Andy Richter is in town now on an Illinois Lottery spot and David Orr just helmed for Value City Furniture.

Androw cites the incentive for helping boost business. “It’s kept work that we would’ve shot elsewhere,” he says.

And in an effort to keep spot work rolling at an upward slant, the 30% tax credit is set to be enhanced by a 30% talent credit that is expected to be put to a legislative vote between now — latest at the end of January.

Spot production is estimated at around 20% of the annual gross revenues from total state film production. These final numbers will be officially released in January. In previous years, revenue from spot production was between $40 and $50 million.