Mayor Lightfoot and DCASE announce new Chicago Made’ TV & Film Initiative

Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Chicago Film Office at the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) announced a new initiative to strengthen Chicago’s TV and film industry.

The new “Chicago Made” workforce development program and public awareness campaign are based on recommendations from the City of Chicago’s COVID-19 Recovery Task Force outlined in the Forward Together advisory report.

“This initiative will play an important role in the resurgence of our city’s TV and film industry, which remains one of the largest and most diverse in the country,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “Chicago’s growing film industry not only ranks our city first in the Midwest for production, it also highlights the diverse culture and immense talent found throughout our 77 neighborhoods.”

The Chicago Film Office at DCASE has partnered with management consulting firm XD-TECH to deliver an innovative workforce development program that aims to transform the region’s TV and film workforce — by offering job training and placement to Chicago residents ages 24 to 50, primarily from underserved areas of our city, to help meet the industry’s increasing demand for skilled workers. Many of the positions are entry-level and do not require a college degree including carpenter, costumer, grip, lighting tech, production assistant and set decorator. Twenty-five participants will be selected for the first cohort, across 12 career pathways. More than 20 industry partners are providing training or other supports for the program.

Chicagoans interested in this opportunity should register for a virtual info session on Friday, December 10 at 6pm CST and can learn more (including eligibility criteria and pre-requisite requirements) at XDTechIndustry.com/ChicagoMade. Applications to participate in this free program are due by December 15.*

*Participants with previous training and/or specific pre-requisite skillsets will be prioritized in order to maximize the effectiveness of the condensed training period.

“Chicago film production is on track to hit an all-time high this year,” said Kwame Amoaku, Director of the Chicago Film Office. “The new ‘Chicago Made’ initiatives will increase our capacity to serve and accelerate the growth of the local industry — building our workforce while supporting residents in every neighborhood.”

The Chicago Film Office led the City’s efforts to bring a record 15 productions to Chicago this summer, at an estimated economic value of well over $700 million this year alone. In 2019, the Illinois film industry employed 20,000 people and 51% of local crew hires were women or minorities.

NBCUniversal, Netflix, The Walt Disney Company and WarnerMedia will provide on- set training for the workforce development program. The following partners consulted on the curriculum and will provide direct training support: Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP) Midwest; Brittanni Perkins, production accountant; Chicago Filmmakers; Essanay Studio & Lighting Co.; IATSE Local 476; IATSE Local 600; IATSE TWU Local 769; Keslow Camera; Last Looks Chicago; The Mill; ONE at Optimus; Panavision Chicago; and Periscope Post & Audio. Additionally, BTECH Studios and Creative Cypher are working with XD-TECH on program outreach and implementation. Bloomberg Associates, Columbia College Chicago and Kennedy-King College provided consultation support.

Additionally, DCASE is launching an ongoing public awareness campaign using the “Chicago Made” brand to highlight the vital role Chicago’s TV and film industry plays in the city — benefiting Chicago residents in all 50 wards (both residents affected by filming in their neighborhood and Chicagoans interested in film production jobs) as well as industry stakeholders. The campaign will showcase the industry’s enormous economic impact, introduce local film workers as neighbors and friends and highlight the diversity of “reel” jobs available across our city. The campaign’s creative will emphasize the grit and authenticity of Chicago’s film industry and its unique style of filmmaking — via digital billboards, advertising on CTA trains and busses, advertising at O’Hare, social media, community news and more. Learn more at ChicagoMade.us (launching soon; Music and other creative industries to be added in 2022) and join the conversation on social media using #ChicagoMade.

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