Illinois shatters pre-pandemic film production expenditure records by more than $130 million
Governor JB Pritzker, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), leaders in Illinois’ film industry, and state leaders today announced Illinois’ soaring film production expenditures with a record-breaking $691 million for 2022 – a $131 million increase from the pre-pandemic record in 2019.
This record-breaking achievement comes on the heels of the expansion of the Film Production Tax Credit in 2022, extending the credit through 2033, and launching the Film & TV Workforce Training Program. As filmmakers continue to bring their crews and talent to the state, Illinois’ economy reaps the benefits of production companies supporting local catering companies and restaurants, hotels, drivers, a diverse union workforce, and more.
“Our success in the film and TV production industry is more than just a set of revenue numbers — it means thousands of good-paying jobs,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “I was proud to extend the Illinois Film Production Tax Credit through 2033 — guaranteeing a prosperous decade ahead for producers, writers, directors, designers, editors, actors, camera operators, and production assistants alike. Our film and TV production industry is a boon for our entire economy, bringing stability to Illinois’ booming film industry and the workforce that fuels it.”
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One of the improvements adopted by the General Assembly is the creation of the Film Workforce Development Fund, which funds the Film & TV Workforce Training Program. The program is designed to increase diversity in the state’s film industry and build out a qualified talent pipeline. The pilot program served approximately 175 students at seven locations across the state in its inaugural class in 2022, and more than 70 percent students of color and 80 percent of the program’s participants obtained paid positions on productions after graduation. Illinois’ FY24 proposed budget allocates $1 million to expand the program, as outlined in statute.
The State of Illinois is also ensuring it’s a strong competitor for new productions by administering the Illinois Film Production Tax Credit, a 30 percent tax credit on qualified expenditures, including production spending, salaries, and an additional 15 percent on salaries for people who live in economically disadvantaged areas. Unlike other states, Illinois does not have a cap on film and television tax credits – a program that has recently been extended through 2033 by Governor Pritzker.
“Record-breaking film production spending in the State of Illinois would not be possible without the expanded incentives provided by the Illinois Film Production Tax Credit,” said State Rep. Kelly Burke (D-Evergreen Park). “The expanded credit is a common-sense move that is drawing in new productions, but Illinois’ iconic film locations and world-renowned studios are keeping filmmakers in the state for the long haul.”
“The General Assembly worked tirelessly to provide support to filmmakers through the expanded tax credit and new workforce development opportunities for individuals who are underrepresented in this industry,” said State Rep. Will Davis (D-Homewood). “Equity was top of mind when we put pen to paper to create the Film & TV Workforce Training Program, which has already and will continue to increase diversity in Illinois’ film industry.”
“When filmmakers choose Illinois, it not only brings revenue to the state, it also boosts local economies,” said State Rep. Marcus C. Evans, Jr. (D-Chicago). “Whether a production is filling their ranks with Illinois cast and crew or supporting local businesses, a booming film industry helps our state’s economy thrive.”
“Illinois has generated significant buzz in the film industry, so it comes as no surprise that the state has surpassed pre-pandemic production levels,” said State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago). “The success in film productions speaks to the fact that Illinois is a great place to live, work, and create.”
“As a proud sponsor of legislation that expanded the Illinois Film Production Tax Credit, I’m pleased to see the profound impact the legislation has had on the film community, creating jobs in every corner of the state,” said Senator Elgie Sims (D-Chicago). “Bringing in nearly $700 million in film production activity is no easy feat, and the economic advantages of doing business in Illinois will help our film industry continue to grow.”
“The best part about the legislative improvements to the Film Production Tax Credit is the way it benefits our workforce,” said Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin). “By providing training in the growing film production industry, we are building the qualified workforce while ensuring diverse communities have access to good-paying production jobs.”
“Economic development comes in many different forms, and it’s great to see Illinois solidify its reputation as a production powerhouse,” said Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago). “Illinois’ film business creates jobs and supports diverse communities. I was a proud supporter of the state’s first film tax credit, and I look forward to seeing the industry grow even more.”
“There’s no better place than Illinois to film a movie, TV show or commercial,” said DCEO Director Kristin A. Richards. “Film production means investment in communities and small businesses, from catering to hotel stays and everything in between. Productions are booming thanks to Illinois Film Office’s efforts to promote our expanded incentives and programs – further solidifying Illinois’ reputation as an iconic filming location.”
The Illinois Film Office works closely with partners throughout the state in order to attract productions and raise awareness about benefits of the Film Production Tax Credit, with the Chicago Film Office serving as a key partner.
The Chicago Film Office, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), leads the city’s effort to attract and support the production of feature films, television series, commercials, documentaries, and all forms of screen entertainment produced in Chicago and is responsible for issuing permits. In 2022, the Chicago Film Office issued 1,561 film permits and earned more than $575,000 in permit revenue.
These annual figures are now comparable with pre-pandemic levels and represent an increase of more than 55% from 2020, when the production year was severely impacted by Covid. 2021 was a banner year for the City’s film production as the pent-up demand from projects delayed by the pandemic shutdowns of 2020 brought the total permits issued to 1,771.
The 2022 numbers align with the success of pre-pandemic numbers and build towards more future growth as the City’s industry continues to expand with over 1.8 million square feet of studio space on over 60 stages across the city, the “Chicago Made” workforce development program, new hit shows such as FX’s hit show “The Bear,” as well as the return of longstanding series such as NBC’s “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago Med,” and “Chicago PD.”
“With the success of our inaugural training program, we are energized by our mission to increase workforce diversity in the film industry,” said Chicago Filmmakers Executive Director, Brenda Webb. “Our trainees have secured Production Assistant jobs on major TV productions with NBCUniversal, Sony TV, Apple TV+, and Disney Global Entertainment, and have worked on independent films and commercials with local production companies including Optimus, Picture North, Quriosity Productions, and Tessa Films. We look forward to the continued partnership with the Illinois Film Office to provide comprehensive training to propel another cohort of trainees to further succeed in Illinois’ rapidly growing industry.”
“Illinois’ state-of-the-art facilities and scenic locations paired with unbeatable economic incentives make Illinois a top location for the film industry,” said Illinois Film Office Deputy Director Peter Hawley. “The Illinois Film Office will continue to work with lawmakers and filmmakers to promote the Film Production Tax Credit and promote Illinois as the best location to make movies, TV shows and commercials.”
“The Illinois Production Alliance looks forward to building upon our successes and supporting the industry. With the passage of an extension and expansion of the Film Production Tax Credit we are grateful to Governor Pritzker and the Illinois General Assembly for recognizing the importance of the film industry to the state’s economy,” said Eric Chaudron, President Illinois Production Alliance, Executive Director SAG-AFTRA/Chicago. “The proven economic benefit of this public private partnership solidifies Illinois’ place as a world class sustainable production center.”
“The City’s recent numbers demonstrate the immense overall economic impact of the film and television industry in the state. The majority of the productions that resulted in our state’s 2022 record-breaking year were those that filmed in the City of Chicago, which remains the leading driver behind Illinois’ film and TV boom,” shared Jonah Zeiger, Deputy Commissioner for the Chicago Film Office at DCASE. “The city and state have an excellent partnership in this area and each play a key role in facilitating this unprecedented economic and creative activity that benefits both Chicago and Illinois.”
“The Illinois film industry labor unions continue to build our workforce. In the last decade we have experienced a 100% growth. The membership is strong and we’re ready for more. We are delighted to continue our partnership with the state by providing training in our industry for the next generation,” said Anthony Barracca, Business Manager, Secretary Treasurer, Studio Mechanics, Local #476.
Illinois is a world class destination for award-winning productions – in addition to TV’s #1 rated night of dramas on NBC, Chicago will also be featured in the hotly anticipated sci-fi series “Dark Matter” on Apple TV+. Additionally, the critically acclaimed “Somebody Somewhere” was filmed in Lockport and will soon be returning for its second season on HBO Max.
Additionally, independent films continue to thrive in Illinois – both “Rounding” from director Alex Thompson and “The Year Between” from director Alex Heller premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, and Jennifer Reeder’s latest film for Shudder, “Perpetrator,” made its debut at the Berlin Film Festival. Major high-profile TV productions and movies were also filmed in Chicago, the suburbs and rural areas, including Marvel’s “Ironheart” directed by Sam Bailey who began her career in Chicago’s independent film world.
The Chicago Film Office’s innovative “Chicago Made” workforce development program aims to transform the region’s TV and film workforce by offering job training and placement to Chicago residents ages 24 to 50, primarily from underserved areas of our city, to help meet the industry’s increasing demand for skilled workers. For more information, visit chicagomade.us.
The city and state’s film and television industry was recently profiled in the leading Hollywood publication, Variety, which showcased the explosive growth of the industry here and bodes well for more production and opportunities to come for Chicago and Illinois.