Stimulating jobs part of new indie film initiative

Plans for laying the first tangible foundation for a thriving, home-grown independent film industry will be announced at a private “Chicago-Hollywood industry reception” by new E.N.D. Productions and Cinespace executives, Nov. 18 at Cinespace.

E.N.D. partners are veteran filmmaker Nate Grant, Producer Delvin Molden, who ran a $45 million East Coast film-to-video distribution company and Ed Smith, the retired longtime West Side alderman-turned-movie producer and industry promoter.

At the reception, to which important politicians have been invited, E.N.D. principals, Cinespace owner Nick Mirkopoulos and president Alex Pissios will announce plans to expand locally-originated production and stimulate job creation, in tandem with E.N.D.’s mission to create job opportunities for minorities through film production.

The financing pool they’re hoping to build will enable a continuous flow of filmmakers to produce low-to-medium budget indie films in Chicago.

To assure the financial feasibility of producing here, Cinespace has made a generous donation to the initiative.  It will provide $2.5 million in studio space and equipment services towards these films.

Cinespace also has given E.N.D. executives offices in its main building to operate what is essentially a film studio that will produce a slate of films over time.

First up on E.N.D.’s production schedule will be Nate Grant’s faith-based $5 million feature, “Job,” based on the biblical story of a man whose faith is tested by God.

Chicago native Bob Teitel of State Street Films/LA has signed to produce E.N.D.’s second film, “The Friend’s Zone.” Molden wrote the comedy screenplay based on a book by Ed Smith, and budgeted at $5 million.

Job incubator and apprenticeships a goal

Cinespace and E.N.D. Productions share the goal for the studio to be a job incubator, starting with an apprenticeship program for minority workers.

“By teaching people skills such as painting and carpentry via an apprenticeship program, we can help create an ongoing workforce,” notes Grant. “We want to start by hiring 12 apprentices per show.”

Cinespace earlier had partnered with Smith to implement outreach programs and scholarships for children in the neighborhood. Smith is called “the Ambassador to Cinespace.” He began working with the studio when he was alderman of the 28th Ward, which encompasses the studio location on Ogden Ave. and 16th St.

Currently filming at Cinespace are five NBC TV shows: ongoing “Chicago Fire” “Mind Games,” “Crisis” and “Chicago PD,” to bow in January.  Denis Leary’s “Sirens” for USA Network wrapped last Wednesday and will debut in early 2014.

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