Considering Chicago for Work, Preferably in Production and Post-Production (Berwyn: rent, health insurance)
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Considering Chicago for Work, Preferably in Production and Post-Production
My family is considering a move to Chicago out of Richmond, VA.
In Richmond, I have worked a couple years in corporate/event production and post-production, and also did production work for a small PBS affiliate studio. Though ideally I would work in film and television, when I move I will be ready to take what I can get even if I'm working in an entirely different field out of necessity.
Though I know most people would say you should be in New York or Los Angeles for this, from what I know Chicago does have some industry presence... and as a young person with somewhat limited experience and funds, Chicago seems like a more affordable place to go. If I were single, I'd couch surf in New York while I try to make it work... but Chicago seems more friendly to the young family.
Does anybody on here have any first hand experience with the industry in Chicago? How hard is it to break in, and while trying to do that how are the opportunities outside of film and television for somebody with a Mass Communications degree in the city?
We have also looked at Austin, TX... which is surprisingly just about the same cost with what I see (possibly incorrectly) as less realistic opportunity for careers, though the unemployment numbers are great. I've considered Atlanta, but my SO refuses to go southeast. She wants to go to Oakland, CA... but I can't imagine going to California in this economy, and it seems too expensive from what I can tell. Many of the other film hotspots right now seem to be in areas that are not especially good for employment otherwise (New Mexico, Michigan)...
Chet: You think competing against 1,000's would be easier than dozens? I know there are far less jobs here than LA, but the talent pool in LA is at a whole new plane...Chicago is a much better bet, especially with a family to support.
Drew: What exactly are you looking to do? As a current film student, I've been keeping a running list of places I'd like to work - mostly commercial post, but some production. There's a surprising amount here, but it's all hidden...
I'd recommend looking around Ruth L Ratny presents REEL CHICAGO | Welcome, reading some articles to get somewhat of a foothold of whats happening around here, and maybe check out the websites/ads to check out work and get contact info. Also, check out IL Film Office's Production Guide (like this list of IL-based production companies), industry related classifieds, and even Craigslist. There are regular postings for full time editors, such as this one posted 2 hours ago (http://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/tfr/1991306801.html - broken link) which advertises "$45-$50K plus bonus's, 2 weeks vacation, holidays and health insurance". Not bad to start off...
There's a lot more independent film going on than I previously thought, but there's also a fair amount of big budget activity (Transformers 3 extended its shoot over the summer to ~10 weeks I believe, plus Soderbergh is shooting 'Contagion' as we speak for 6(?) weeks, FOX is shooting 13 episodes of its midseason drama Ride-Along right now, and, of course, there will be Batman 3 next year. Also smaller budget/2nd unit/B-roll stuff happening (Ron Howard/Vince Vaughn wrapped on a Chicago-production 2 months ago, and Showtime and CBS have 3 shows that take place in Chicago that they shoot seasonals for)
As far as TV, I've seen promos for a new nationally syndicated show for designer Nate Berkus who is shooting in NBC Tower, and there are always a few reality shows bopping around the city...
Most notably, though, is the soon-to-be-opened Cinespace Chicago - the largest studio in the US outside of LA. There's an ad with a contact number on reelchicago.com, and perhaps you could get some sort of production job there? With IL Tax Incentives at the rate they are, hopefully this production rate keeps up...
Depending on your experience and ability to make contacts quickly, this is a pretty good time for our types here....(now only if we got the Olympics - everyone in Media would be employed! )
Good luck - and don't forget about me if you end up having some hiring power in the near future!
Chet: You think competing against 1,000's would be easier than dozens? ...
Most notably, though, is the soon-to-be-opened Cinespace Chicago - the largest studio in the US outside of LA. There's an ad with a contact number on reelchicago.com, and perhaps you could get some sort of production job there?...
First of all, yeah there is way more competition in L.A., but there is also way more jobs in L.A. If I was going to gamble my family's future in this field I would go with L.A. no question.
Secondly,I do not know that Cinespace is opening anytime soon. You should really look into that better. Just because it is being advertised-that does not mean it is anywhere close to completion or opening. I have not read anything about this in almost a year nor can I find any news on it since it was announced.
Last edited by Avengerfire; 10-06-2010 at 12:12 AM..
To me, it sounds like with the experience he has, he would have a very good chance of landing some sort of job (ie the Craiglist post I tried to link to) here, and the lower cost of living compared to LA will mean that even if he. True, I've never been to LA, I've spoken with scores of people who moved out because they couldn't cut it/couldn't make contacts/ran out of money, etc. With a smaller film community here, I think it'd be much easier to get a paying job based on skills and not necessarily connections. (That is assuming he's good! ) Least he can do is follow up on the links I provided to put in a few phone calls to get a realistic look at his prospects here.
Aye, not sure what the current status of Cinespace is, but I spoke with a gentlemen recently who is very close to Alex Pissios, and he sounded optimistic about it. Of course, he is likely just a booster, but if Drew can get through the phone number I linked him, he can at least get some sort of answer about the possibility of employment - that was my main reason for mentioning it. (Also, I was under the impression that T3 rented out production offices from them? Could easily be mistaken though!)
Just curious Avengerfire - are you involved in film/tv/media at all? As a longtime lurker, I've seen many of your previous posts, but never thought anyone on these boards were heavily involved in my potential line of work...
Thanks for the advice, although of course I'm getting conflicting opinions... so it's not doing much to alleviate my own conflicted feelings.
One important thing is that I'm not choosing to gamble my families future on work in this industry. There are two of us, both college educated, looking for careers in any industry we can get our feet planted in. Film and Entertainment is the preferred industry, but it is incredibly important that there also be opportunity in other industries for my SO and for myself.
I have a family friend who can put me in touch with industry people in just about any city. Which would make NY and LA seem like viable options, if anything was guaranteed... but it's not. I'm essentially an entry-level person with some limited experience, and I'm going into everything knowing that I'll probably be doing something else for a long time before I really break in. While I'm doing that something else, I need to be able to support my family... and she doesn't even want to work in film/entertainment.
What makes Chicago seem like a viable option is that there is SOME work, but also other industries, cheap-ish rent in areas with schools that I would be willing to send my son to. Our best bet would really be Atlanta, because I'm more connected there than anywhere, but pursuing that city would likely lead to breaking up my family... She feels pretty passionately about that city. She has never been there, but whatever.
The B-Plan in any city is just as important as my dream plan.
That said, I am not set on Chicago in any way. If I could live in any place I wanted, it would be either Chicago or NY... but I'm open to other places. I was fully planning on going to Austin very recently... but it seems like there's no way job growth could keep up with the insane population growth there. I am, however, somewhat set on not going to LA. It seems like the worst place ever to me. Never been there, but I guess it is to me as Atlanta is to the lady. I'd consider NY way before LA.
Oak Park, maybe parts of Berwyn, or some northern burbs near the lake... Just what I've gotten from a little research, some burbs pretty close in are alright. He's in preschool now so we have to pay for it no matter what... But a good public grade school in an affordable area isn't entirely unheard of. Can the same be said for la or ny or oakland? I'm honestly wondering.
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