Industry could enjoy biggest growth boom yet in 2015

If Chicago’s visual media industry is ending 2014 with a big smile of satisfaction from a profitable outpouring of work, then 2015 will have everyone positively beaming like the sun.

Seven more organizations are starting the New Year with new looks, staff and ideas.

NOISE FLOOR will be in its biggest expansion mode ever, ramping up in the second quarter of 2015 to accommodate their multiple clients’ growing business, states audio engineer/partner Corey Coken.  

Among their physical plans: To double their current 5,000-sq. ft. space in its existing River North quarters or in multiple locations, hence buying new equipment and planning to add two engineers to their present staff of eight.

In addition, Noise Floor is entering into “new ventures that are not advertising or video game related, but are new concepts that are out there on the Coast,” says Coken. “We’re going to step into that space and give them some competition.” 

CINESPACE STUDIOS had a record 2014 and president Alex Pissios expects more activity in the 12 months ahead, with more TV show pilots heading our way in the first quarter.  “We’re going to keep adding onto our stage capacity,” he says, with the ultimate goal of 28.

Anticipated is more engagement by educational institutions with film programs. “We’ve offered all the colleges in the area to utilize our space, without cost to them,” in an effort to show students the opportunities they have working in film in Chicago.”

ODD MACHINE on Jan. 5 will launch two new ventures.  One is the official opening of its separate post facility at 900 N. Franklin, in 5,00-sq. ft. of space formerly occupied by Protein, housing a staff of 12. The facility will include, for the first time, a full-service, completely equipped audio department, a collaboration between Odd Machine and Brando Triantafilliou’s Soundcake.

A creative incubator is its second venture. It invited young, up-and-coming filmmakers — two producers, four directors and four animators — “who will receive the mentoring and resources support they need to move up to the next level of their careers,” says EP Alex Pinkston.

AICP/MIDWEST will do some educational expanding, starting with a resumption of its production assistant training program, led by producers Marsie Wallach and Megan Maples. “It’s designed to promote diversity in the industry,” notes AICP/Midwest chapter president Mark Androw.

Then in April, Mark Egmon, Team Services’ VP/Marketing Communications & Brand Strategies, will host a series of broadcast business affairs breakfast meetings, led by Kiki Powell, McGarryBowen senior production business manager.

LEVIATHAN, celebrating its fifth anniversary next June, will be involved with “more interesting collaborations with non-traditional partners in 2015, such as museums, musicians and working with Disney Imagineers,” says executive producer Chad Hutson.

One of its bigger projects already in the works is “an interactive live music experience with a major label recording artists, following him throughout his tour.” 

CIMMFEST #7 is moving forward full steam into one of their biggest years ever, notes executive director David Moore. The music and film festival will partner with DCASE, the city’s special events arm, to present Lake FX, an industry conference and showcase April 16-19.   “We aim to create attention from the entire region to show Chicago as the creative hub of the Midwest.”

With former Sundance programmer Adam Montgomery on board, CIMMfest is expanding into year-round programming, opening with two movie and music events in January.

PRODUCT PRODUCTIONS in mid-to-late January will unveil its big, newly renovated Studio 3, a 7,500-sq. ft. stage with 30-ft. ceilings. Not only will it serve as a turn-key shooting facility, but also as “a premier destination for live and private events,” says EP Bennett Grossman.

Studio 3 has new flooring, a new lighting grid, green room, dressing rooms and kitchen.  An outdoor courtyard should be a major attraction for live events.