Chicago, nicknamed the ‘Windy City’, is the third-largest city in the United States. Its scenic lake-side location, world-class cultural offerings and unique architecture makes it one of the most sought-after locations for filmmaking.
Film shoots and TV productions in the city are boosting Chicago’s economy and creating significant opportunities for local businesses, as also furthering its cultural relevance.
The primary reason for Chicago’s popularity among filmmakers is that it boasts a variety of settings, both contemporary and historic. The local talent also comes in handy as filmmakers can hire quality artists and save money.
Chicago’s Field Museum is considered one of the finest natural history museums in the US. It gained further acclaim when Steven Spielberg made it the home base for the esteemed archaeologist in his Indiana Jones movies.
Millennium Park is located in the Loop community area in Illinois. The public park is a part of the larger Grant Park, known as the ‘Front Lawn’ of downtown Chicago and provides four major artistic highlights namely, The Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Cloud Gate, the Crown Fountain and the Lurie Garden. The Jay Pritzker Pavilion has 4,000 fixed seats plus additional lawn seating for 7,000 people apt for film shoots with mass audience presence.
‘The Loop’ or ‘The Chicago Loop’ are terms used to designate the historic commercial centre of downtown Chicago. The community area includes Grant Park and one of the largest art museums in the US – The Art Institute of Chicago.
Home to the Great Lakes, Chicago’s lake-front offers a beautiful water line and beaches. Grant Park hosts picturesque landmarks like Buckingham Fountain, the Petrillo Bandshell and the Grant Park Symphony and is synonyms for Chicago’s annual two-week food festival – the Taste of Chicago, which receives a staggering 3 million footfalls.
Located in Grant Park, The Buckingham Fountain is one of the largest fountains in the world and is Chicago’s most popular attractions. The fountain contains 820 lights and has a water capacity of 1.5 million gallons. Depending on wind conditions, major displays use approximately 14,100 gallons of re-circulated water per minute conveyed through 134 jets.
Another contemporary location is the Water Tower Place, a large urban area comprising a 758,000 sq ft shopping mall and 74 storey skyscraper in Illinois. Named after the nearby Chicago Water Tower, this complex is located at 835 North Michigan Avenue, along the Magnificent Mile.
Garden of the Gods is a public park located in Colorado Springs. It provides as a great background for film shoots owing to its unusual and steep rock formations. The outstanding geologic features of the park are the ancient sedimentary beds of red, blue, purple, and white sandstones, conglomerates and limestone that were deposited horizontally. Beautiful rock formations like Cathedral Spires, Cathedral Valley, Steamboat Rock, Balanced rock and The Three Graces call for film locations.
Originally known as the Balaban and Katz Chicago Theatre, The Chicago Theatre is a landmark theater located on North State Street in the Loop area of Illinois.
Tax Incentives For Filming
The Illinois Film Production Tax Credit was signed on December 15, 2008, and is effective immediately. The tax credit has no sunset and consists of:
• 30 per cent of the Illinois production spending for the taxable year
• 30 per cent credit on Illinois salaries up to $100,000 per worker
Tax Credit Eligibility
• $50,000 in Illinois production spend for a project 29 minutes or under
• $100,000 in Illinois production spend for a project over 30 minutes qualifies
• Illinois production spending means tangible personal property and services purchased from Illinois vendors and compensation paid to Illinois resident employees (up to a maximum of $100,000 for a single employee).
• The tax credit has to directly contribute to the production filming in Illinois.
Production companies must also be willing to promote diversity by making a “good – faith” effort to hire a percentage of minorities. They must also submit a diversity plan setting forth proactive steps they will take in achieving a crew that represents the diversity of the State. Services qualify as local production spend if they are purchased from an Illinois vendor who has an Illinois address.
An Illinois resident is someone who has a valid state ID or driver’s license that was issued prior to the commencement of the production.
A copy of an employee’s Illinois driver’s license or state identification issued by the State of Illinois showing an address in the impoverished area will be sufficient to document the 15 per cent additional credit.
Application – Commercial applications filed with the Illinois Film Office 24 hours before principal photography begins.
Film/Television applications filed with the Illinois Film Office 5 business days before principal photography beings, along with:
• Documentation of competitive need
• Diversity Plan – Specific steps on the hiring of minorities and women
• Copy of Contract or Copyright
Documentation – After finishing your project, you must work with a Certified Public Accountant to validate and calculate your local production spend. The CPA will provide an unqualified opinion of your tax credit earned and will send all of your documentation to the Illinois Film Office.
Certification – Once we receive your processed credit from a Certified Public Accountant, we confirm your Diversity efforts and then issue your Tax Credit Certificate.
Transfer – The tax credit may be transferred only once. You will have to request in writing a transfer of the tax. You request must include:
• Original taxpayer’s name
• Date of the original tax credit issued
• The tax credit amount earned
• Amount of the tax credit to be transferred
• Federal employer ID number
Who is excluded from tax credit?
• News, current events, or public programming or a programme that includes weather or market reports
• Talk show, game, questionnaire or contest
• Sports event or activity
• Awards show, galas or telethons
• A production produced primarily for industrial, corporate or institutional purposes
The tax credit can now be carried forward five years from when it was originally issued by DCEO.