Hit television shows such as “Empire,” “Chicago PD” and “Chicago Fire” are being filmed in Chicago and everyone is benefiting. This has created a community that is ripe for opportunities and content.
Cinespace Studio, the home of the aforementioned shows, is operating as a central location for this activity and recently held an event at their location celebrating the fall/winter opening of Stage 18. Stage 18 provides services, space, programs and events to educate, unite and develop the local filmmaking and media community.
The event included a panel discussion moderated by Steve Sullivan, an independent producer. The panelists included Shawn Edwards of BlackTreeTV; Angie Gaffney, the executive director of Stage 18; Steve Simoncic, chief creative officer at Jacobson Roast; and Ted Reilly, executive director of Chicago Media Angels. Each panelist provided their unique view of the film industry and the importance of the type of film community that Stage 18 is nurturing.
Shawn Edwards of BlackTreeTV spoke volumes to the importance of content and why it is important to be strategic with it. “Content creation and new platforms levels the playing field, before people got locked out, because of access to technology and lack of awareness, now technology makes it more accessible. More people can share more stories and makes for a better world and allows the entertainment experience to be more diverse. You have to be strategic, to find out who your audience [is]. You have to hit the right demographic and expand it from there,” he said.
We asked Angie Gaffney, the executive director of Stage 18, why Stage 18 was important to the film industry, and more specifically, Chicago. “Stage 18 strives to be a safe place for all Chicago organizations and filmmakers to unite, create, and inspire one another. If there was ever a time in Chicago to jump-start this, that time is now. We have a real opportunity to utilize the rejuvenation of the Chicago film scene over the past five years, and unite the community,” she said.
Loucas George, executive producer of the hit show “Empire,” was the keynote speaker. He explained to the audience that Chicago is currently the focal point, not just because of talent, but because of the incentives that the film companies and the city receive by opening up the city to filming. He mentioned the success of these incentives with regard to cities like Atlanta, which are doing so well that in some cases they do not have enough crew to cover all the work.
Chicago is shaping up to be a major player in the film industry if the incentives are maintained. The film community is ripe and ready to create and set the stage for greatness.
To learn more about Cinespace and Stage 18, hit the link http://www.chicagofilmstudios.com/#.
Eddy Lamarre aka Precise is a hip-hop artist-writer-actor from Chicago. The Chicago Reader recognized “Ladies Love Mixtapes” his latest release as one of the best projects of 2014. Listen/Buy Ladies Love Mixtapes at: https://precise.bandcamp.com/album/ladies-love-mixtapes-the-ep