Rock Island awarded $65K grant to develop Quad Cities Film Office 

In a follow-up to Reel Chicago’s story on the plans for the Quad Cities to contend for a spot in the state’s booming film and television industry, the city of Rock Island has been awarded a $65,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to develop a Quad Cities Regional Film Office. 

Illinois has been generating record breaking film production revenues.  As previously reported, Illinois officials said projected film production revenue last year hit a record high of $630 million dollars, shattering pre-pandemic levels in 2019 by $70 million dollars in the state.

Film and media consultant Doug Miller, who heads Two Rivers & Associates, and who has been involved in bringing film productions to the Quad Cities for 30 years, is the city’s chosen partner in the endeavor. He is under a one-year contract to establish the office under the direction of Community Economic Development. 

Community Economic Development Manager Tarah Sipes has been reported sharing that Intersect Illinois originally sent a Request for Information to the economic development department, seeking buildings in the city that could potentially work as a film studio.

Sipes has also shared that bringing film production to the Quad-Cities could positively affect every industry in the area, not just the arts.

“It makes sense from an economic development point of view because when productions come to town, they need food, they need housing, rent hotel rooms and buy all sorts of other things while they’re here,” Sipes said

Since 2008 the state has offered a 30% tax credit on qualifying film production and labor costs through the Illinois Film Production Tax Credit Act. Benefits will soon expand effective July 1, 2022, under the Illinois Film Production Tax Credit program supported by the Illinois Production Alliance. The organization is implementing new provisions like workforce training programs and capped credit for specific spending and additional tax credits.

Sipes noted that Chicago film studios have been booked up, and state agencies are looking at other areas in Illinois to suggest to filmmakers in need of studio space. 

Miller’s strategy will include focusing on Chicago’s plus and minuses, mainly cost related expenditures. He maintains that the cost in filming expenditures in the Quad Cities region versus the cost of a production made in Chicago would be more cost-effective.

A target goal of the Quad Cities Regional Film Office is to have a seven-figure budget film produced every other year in the area.

On the agenda next is in developing a marketing strategy and website for the film office, showcasing the area’s history and amenities. The city is will also finalize its drafted ordinance and make sure its permit processes are correct before sharing them with the other Quad-Cities. Sipes has said they’ll be able to move forward once they receive the funds from the noncompetitive grant.  

“If we’re working within the Quad-Cities region, hopefully we can figure out how to coordinate between all the communities so we all use the standard permitting, which would help to make us a more attractive location for filming,” Sipes said.

ALOS READ: Rock Island plans to open Quad Cities Regional Film Office

A 30 year film production veteran, Miller is prepared for the task and stands behind what the area offers. He’s said that the Quad-Cities has a long and storied filming history stretching back more than 100 years — from filming equipment patents to stars from the area. 

Sugar, a 2008 film about baseball player Miguel Santos, was filmed in part at Modern Woodman Park. The Bix Beiderbecke biographical film, Bix, was shot in Davenport, with several extras from the area. The writers behind Paramount Pictures’ 2018 blockbuster horror film A Quiet Place, Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, also were both raised in Bettendorf.

The Quad Cities film industry may have been under the radar, however, from Urban Exposure in Davenport to Fresh Films in Rock Island, the region knows its worth and has strong backers that support its local filmmakers and their productions.

“I hope that part of what we’re trying to do is not only attract inbound production through the Quad Cities Film Office, but also encourage indigenous filmmakers,” Miller said

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