A pioneer of the
Chicago film industry,
the former gaffer
built an impressive
legacy of achievement
but always made time
for his family
Chicago Studio City founder John Crededio, Sr. passed away earlier this week.
A pioneer of the city’s film industry, Crededio spearheaded an era of activity that put Chicago on the national production map in the 1980s and continued to build a legacy of achievement that is rarely found in the business.
“John was loved and admired,” says IATSE President Brad Matthys, who notes that Crededio was the “first boss” he had in the industry. “It’s a tragedy for the family and our thoughts go out to them.”
“This is a sad loss for our community,” adds Reel Chicago owner / publisher Barbara Roche, who first met Crededio while working at Fred Niles Studio. “John was instrumental in bringing so many film projects to Chicago. I have many fond memories of filming on the Chicago Studio City lot.”
The son of Daniel Crededio, one of Local 476’s original members, John Crededio began his career as a gaffer and remained with the Studio Mechanics Union for five decades. According to Matthys, he showed a resourceful entrepreneurial drive during his early years on the job.
“He started buying equipment and eventually built the first complex that started to attract some big time productions here,” Matthys continues. “It was the beginning of the film industry infrastructure in Chicago.”
In the late 70s, Crededio launched his own business with a customized equipment truck named “The Stagecoach” that he purchased from The Keylight Company in Los Angeles.
At the time, it was one of the most impressive and expensive pieces of equipment that he had procured, recalls his brother, Gino.
“It was an amazing truck — two generators, cable reels, sliding doors,” he says. “We scratched and clawed everything we had to buy it.”
Crededio and his brother loaned out the truck — along with the equipment it contained and their expertise using it — to an Oldsmobile commercial shooting near the Ambassador East in the Gold Coast. The job helped launch a rental business that would soon require permanent space.
In the late 70s, Crededio bought a building near the intersection of Grand and Western and opened Chicago Studio Rentals. The 10,000 sq. ft. space became a popular set for television commercials and photo shoots. Many of the products featured in the Sears catalogue during that time were shot there.
Crededio continued growing the business while pitching L.A. studio executives for film and TV jobs, often bringing his sons John and Joe along for the ride.
“My dad dealt with the heads of production and developed relationships with Paramount, MGM, and other studios,” recalls John Jr., who says that his father was always approachable and one of the nicest guys in the world. “They would say, ‘we got a story about Chicago,’ and he’d say, ‘don’t do it in L.A. Do it in Chicago.’”
In 1979, Crededio purchased the former Fred Niles Studio on W. Washington Ave. and moved Chicago Studio Rentals into the space.
A short while later, MGM agreed to shoot 18 episodes of Chicago Story, a 90-minute episodic television show, at the location. It was the beginning of a TV boom that would grow to include other episodic shows as well as movies-of-the-week and, eventually, many of the most notable feature films to come out of Chicago. It also led to another need for more space.
In the mid-80s, Crededio sold the building on W. Washington to Oprah Winfrey — who converted it into Harpo Studios — and moved his company to a location just off of 290 West, near the borders of Cicero and Oak Park.
The 95,000 sq. ft. structure sat on the ten-acre site of the former factory where General Electric Hotpoint appliances were manufactured. It required a complete overhaul, from floors to doors and everything in between.
Today, Chicago Studio City is home to one of the largest commercial and film production studios in the area. It has been the shooting location or vendor to a list of projects that includes The Untouchables, Flatliners, When Harry Met Sally, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, About Last Night, The Breakfast Club, and The Color of Money.
Throughout it all, Crededio rarely chose to take a vacation, but always made time for his extensive and tight-knit family, who remain active throughout the Chicago film industry.
“He was a worker,” says John Jr. “He was cutting the lawn on his farm last week. I am happy that, when my dad passed, we were in a good place.”
JOHN CREDEDIO, 1946 – 2018
John D. Crededio, age 72; Beloved husband of Delores, nee Iozzo; Devoted father of John and Joseph Crededio; Loving son of the late Daniel and Lucille, nee Dambra; Dear brother of Barbara Doherty, Kathy (Tony) Fatigato, Daniel Jr., Gino (Lorinda) and Ronald Crededio and the late Thomas Crededio; Dear grandfather of Stephanie (Fiancee Reno) Michael, Grace, and Nicholas Crededio.
Visitation Date: Friday, June 29, 2018
Visitation Time: 3:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.
Funeral Home: Salerno’s Rosedale Chapels (450 W. Lake St., Roselle)
Place of Funeral: Ascension of Our Lord Catholic Church
Funeral Notes: Prayers and final viewing to begin at 8:00 a.m. at the funeral home on Saturday morning.
Interment: Queen of Heaven Cemetery
Funeral Saturday 8:00 a.m. from Salerno’s Rosedale Chapels to Ascencion of Our Lord Catholic Church, Oak Brook Terrace. Funeral mass celebrated at 9:30 a.m. Interment Queen of Heaven Cemetery.