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What's Next?

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on May 30, 2006 3:50PM

The orgy of attention that the local media has paid to the Vince Vaughn/Jennifer Aniston film The Break-Up comes to a screaming climax this week with yesterday’s premiere at the Music Box and this weekend’s release of the film nationwide. 2006_05_chicagofilm.jpgAs Governor Hairdo used the premiere to trumpet the new 20 percent tax credit on film and television productions in Illinois, we wondered what’s next for Chicago’s film industry now that our famous friends are leaving town.

Nine studio pictures filmed in Chicago in 2005 and brought in $90 million in revenue, up from $77 million in 2004. This increase is thanks, in part, to bills passed by the Illinois legislature that grant tax credits to filmmakers who bring business to Illinois. You wouldn’t see Vaughn, Aniston, Nic Cage or Batman here without them.

While tax breaks help lure the pretty people, the Chicago and Illinois film offices need to further develop the local infrastructure of independent film and television production to get us through the lean years when star-studded films are lensing elsewhere. Though Chicago continues to play host to various television projects like "In The Loop" and the upcoming "Design on a Dime" and "Design To Sell," a five percent tax credit that would have benefited a West Side soundstage was stripped from the current incentive bill. If the city has enough money to spend on Ferragamo shoes then perhaps it has a few dollars to spare for local production houses.

No big studio pictures are set to film in the city this year, but the IFO lists audition information for a few smaller pictures on its site. In addition, schools like Colombia College and the University of Chicago are breeding grounds for filmmakers who use the city as a backdrop for its films. While the IFO and CFO are well known for being filmmaker-friendly, we’d like to see them develop partnerships with resources like IFV Chicago, IFP Chicago and uPressPlay as well as local production companies like Fire Escape Films and Rusted Rhino Productions to encourage Chicago’s already burgeoning independent film community. Doing so make Chicago a haven for talent as well as tax breaks.

Don’t get us wrong: this isn’t some “Fuck Hollywood” screed. Chicago needs famous friends. But everybody knows that before invite your friends over for a party, you need to tidy up your house first and make sure you have enough chips and beer.