Documentaries, advertisements, music videos — whatever genre you’re working in, the Windy City provides a spectacular setting for every project. Looking for a film venue that’s not Millennium Park or Navy Pier? Read on to discover five of the most unique film shoot locations in Chicago to distinguish your production from all the rest. We’ve also covered permit information and helpful resources for filmmakers.
What you need to know before filming in Chicago
Credit: Photo by REX WAY on Unsplash
There are a few things you’ll need to take care of before the camera starts rolling. If you’re filming in a public place, like on a sidewalk, you’ll need to obtain a permit from the City of Chicago. Filmmakers must abide by the following regulations:
- Restore Illinois Film Production Guidelines
- City of Chicago’s Be Safe Film and TV Production Guidelines
Separate permits apply for filming at Navy Pier, Millennium Park, Chicago Park District, and locations under the jurisdiction of the Chicago Transit Authority.
Permit processing times vary depending on the scope of the project and filming equipment used. Expect to wait at least three business days to receive your permit. Higher-impact projects that involve drones or stunts are subject to a minimum review period of 10 business days.
If you’re working on a small project that doesn’t affect traffic, a permit may not be necessary. Got questions about the regulations? Contact the Chicago Film Office or the City of Chicago.
Before you book your venue, be sure to read the terms and conditions. Some venues require a minimum shooting time. Others charge extra to film in certain rooms or areas.
These are just a few things to consider when planning your production in the Windy City. Fortunately, Chicago offers no shortage of resources to support filmmakers.
Resources for filmmakers in Chicago
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Whether you’re just visiting for your shoot or you’re planning to set up shop permanently, these resources will undoubtedly come in handy for your project.
For up-to-the-minute coverage of ongoing film projects in The Windy City, check out @filming_chicago on Twitter. Local filmmakers and enthusiasts regularly interact with the account, sharing photos, news, and musings on current productions in the city.
Chicago Creative Services
Covering all types and genres of media, this directory is the ultimate resource for filmmakers in Chicago. You’ll find information on everything from production companies and equipment rentals to casting and choreography.
Chicago Filmmakers is a one-stop shop for producers, equipment operators, and movie buffs alike. Level up your filmmaking skills with a class or seminar. Attend a local film festival or panel to meet other industry professionals. If you’re feeling confident, you can even submit your film to feature in an upcoming screening or event.
Women in Film Chicago
Ladies, this one’s for you! Female filmmakers looking to connect with like-minded creatives will benefit from a variety of networking opportunities at this nonprofit. Check out the organization’s website for more information on membership and upcoming events.
Cine-File showcases indie film screenings and events in the Chicago metro area. Maintained by volunteer filmmaking fanatics, Cine-File welcomes submissions from contributors. Subscribe to the blog and newsletter to stay in the know on Chicago’s underground film scene.
5 unique film venues in Chicago to make your project stand out
Forget Daley Plaza and O’Hare International Airport. To set your production apart, consider one of these venues.
#1. Fulton Street Collective
With its low-key decor of exposed brick and hardwood floor, this gallery and event space is ideal for projects requiring a rustic backdrop. Whether you’re shooting a music video or a rom-com scene, the gallery exhibitions add a dash of culture. Filmmakers also have access to all the amenities they need for a successful shoot.
#2. Aloha, Wicker Park
This Wicker Park condo embodies all things summertime. Bubblegum pink and baby blue accents coupled with sleek, modern decor makes Aloha a great setting for a chick flick. Seashell sinks and neon palm trees add a nice tropical touch. The venue also features a backyard complete with beach umbrella and lounge chair.
#3. Design Showroom and Boutique at 3641 S. Morgan Street
Just minutes from the Guaranteed Rate Field, this cozy studio is suitable for a wide range of projects. An abundance of natural light, open space, and pops of color make it a versatile venue for every production. You might recognize this Chicago film shoot location from a local commercial.
#4. Industrial Arts
This former factory home and Chicago film location has a little bit of everything. Shooting a cooking show? You’ll have a full, modern kitchen at your disposal. A grand piano is a classy touch for a music video or recital recording. Filmmakers can choose from a variety of indoor and outdoor locations, including bedrooms, bathrooms, living areas, and even a landscaped garden.
#5. Resolution Studios
Looking to pull out all the stops? Resolution Studios is the place to do it. From green screens to apartment sets, Resolution has a space fit for every setting. A team of expert producers and video editors can make your production plans and dreams a reality.
The ultimate guide for filmmakers visiting Chicago: wrapping up
This post is an excellent starting point for filmmakers scoping out a location for their next production. Chicago boasts hundreds of world-class filming locations. Narrowing it down to just five was the easy part. The hard part will be choosing just one!