CHICAGO (CBS) — State officials said Friday the television and film industry spent a record amount of money in Illinois last year, creating more than 2,200 jobs.
WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, at Cinespace Chicago Film Studios on the West Side, crews were working on the film Divergent, starring Shailene Woodley, Kate Winslet, Aaaron Eckhart and Ray Stevenson.
“It’s the largest feature film to ever shoot in Illinois. They actually use full stages and locations. In the past, what the issue was in Chicago, they would come and shoot a lot of locations, and then leave,” Cinespace President Alex Pissios said.
With Divergent using both stages and locations in Chicago, all of the film’s production dollars are spent in Illinois.
The film is based on a book written by Northwestern University graduate Veronica Roth, and Gillian Bohrer is among those overseeing the production for Lionsgate. She said Chicago’s buildings, trains and famous Navy Pier Ferris wheel form the backdrop of the world in Roth’s novel.
“When we first sat down [we] couldn’t imagine being lucky enough to actually shoot this movie in the city in which the story is set, because that almost never happens,” she said.
Pissios said Cinespace Studios boasts nearly 80 acres and 1.5 million square feet of space. It exists because of a $5 million state grant.
“You need political support, you need community support, you need labor support,” Pissios said.
The Illinois Film Office said the support for companies like Cinespace is worth it, as film and TV productions brought in $184 million for Illinois last year, a record.
“When I am in Los Angeles, the refrain I hear over and over again, ‘We love coming to your state,’” said Illinois Film Office managing director Betsy Steinberg said.
Pissios said Cinespace Studios has been a busy place, as it also has been involved in the production of two TV pilots – Betrayal and Influence – and the NBC show Chicago Fire is currently filming in the city.