THE REEL THING: News & Notes

STARS HERE IN APRIL. Director Marc Forster’s comedy, “Stranger than Fiction,” starts shooting April 25 at Chicago locations. It stars Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, Queen Latifa, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Will Ferrell.

The story’s about an IRS auditor who suddenly finds himself the subject of narration only he can hear: narration that begins to affect his entire life, from his work, to his love-interest, to his death.

Local crew includes production manager Karen McCarthy, a former Chicagoan now living in L.A.; location manager Steve Andzejewski and assistant production coordinator Margaret Orlando.

NEW RENTAL HOUSE. Gambino Camera Rental specializes in a full line of Sony HD cameras, lenses and decks. “We translate film language into HD language,” says Charles Gambino who moved his business here from Nashville. Gambino is temporarily officing at 401 W. Ontario and will move in May to 3,000-sf. Ft. at 100 S. Sangamon. “In the beginning it’s just me,” he says. “I want to get acquainted with DPs, ACs, directors and producers. Later he’ll hire a rental manager and prep person, and set up a separate technical division. Phone is 312/731-3711,

STILL IN DEVELOPMENT but looking good is a feature to be produced by John Crededio and partners Paul Pompian and Ron DeRosa. The drama, “A Hole in the Earth,” could star Annette Benning and William H. Macy, both of whom having indicated interest. Director will be Paul Kaufman, who owns the movie rights. Crededio says it’s budgeted for 35 days of local production. Interiors, of course, will be filmed at his Chicago Studio City stages.

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ILLINOIS, the state treasurer’s program to aid filmmakers through low-interest bank financing, will be a factor in John Crededio’s latest feature. Lights, Camera administrator Chuck Hagopian says three indie film projects may be availing themselves of the 2.5% interest loans. “Some of the banks are starting to work with the film community,” he says, noting that in addition to anchor bank LaSalle, Bridgeview Bank and Bank Popular are coming into the program.

CUT-UPS. Optimus hired editor Grant MacDowell and junior editor Justin Amore. MacDowell had been with Brass Knuckles Editorial and Amore freelanced mainly at Superior Assembly and Spot Welders. In Chicago, assistant editor Katherine Pryor was upped to editor… At Ki Editorial, Alaric Martin edited a seven-spot package of Verizon spots for Burrell, directed by Melody McDaniel, Directors’ Bureau of L.A.

Radar has given its editors larger suites by taking over 1,000-sq. ft. of adjacent office space… Filament Post’s Matt Egan cut a music video for four-member band Trouser. Two agency members are lead singer Michael Hush, Draft CD, and Mark Joyal, CD/Storandt Pann Margolis. And Filament owner added editor Dragos Popa… Avenue added producer Sunny Byers and promoted Graham Metzger to editor.

CHANGING SEASONS is good for Chicagoans, but not so good for Tom Busch, who scouted coal mining sites in Illinois and Pennsylvania for “Walker,” an indie film budgeted at $6 million. Unfortunately, the producers, who start shooting in late April, didn’t want to see seasons change. Final choices were South Carolina and Louisiana?not exactly known for coal mining.

A NEW ONLINE DIRECTORY of film personnel is in the works. Publisher, so to speak, is Split Pillow. Founder Jason Stephens says the site will be consistently updated to assure currency. The focus on individuals, their previous experience and the projects they worked on, should be of great value to the production community. You’re invited to sign up via Launch date is June, so get your listing in early. Phone, 773/793-2402.

ROCK ‘N’ ROLL BOWL, Chicago Ad Federation’s 8th annual event, starts June 23 at Diversey River Bowl. You’re invited to bring a team of five for some friendly competition and do some networking from 6-9 p.m. Sign up by June 7 to reserve. CAF member teams pay $300, others $350; individuals, $60 members, $70 others; and spectators to eat, drink and cheer your team, $35 members, $45 others. Email to sign up.