"Chicago Fire" cast

“Chicago Fire” cast members Christian Stolte (Randy “Mouch” McHolland), left, and Joe Minoso (Joe Cruz) act on location in Chicago in a scene filmed during 2014. The NBC television program helped spending and wages from the Illinois film industry to rise by 12 percent last year.

Capitol News Illinois

CHICAGO — Spending and wages from the Illinois film industry were up 12 percent in 2018 from 2017, according to a release Thursday from Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Film Office at the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

The combined total of 332 TV, film, digital and commercial advertising projects generated more than $473 million in estimated Illinois spending, resulting in 13,848 jobs and about 4,000 individual businesses providing goods and services to the industry.

Those numbers were possible because Illinois scored a record number of nine original TV programs with Comedy Central, Showtime, Netflix, Amazon Studios and, for the first time, HBO.

Erin Guthrie, acting director of the IDCEO, said increased demand for content has tripled the investment in Illinois since 2012

“In less than a decade, Illinois’ skilled workers, expanding infrastructure, creative and diverse culture, world-class performance artists, along with emerging vocational training and strong film programs at DePaul, Northwestern, Columbia and Flashpoint Chicago, a campus of Columbia College Hollywood have fortified Illinois as one of the most productive and influential production centers in the country,” Guthrie said.

The Illinois FILM Office promotes Illinois as a production center and administers the state’s film tax credit — a 30 percent credit awarded to productions for money spent on Illinois goods and services, including wages paid to Illinois residents.

The goal of the credit is to grow, sustain and provide economic and job opportunities for local vendors, crew and filmmakers.

“Innovation, entrepreneurship and a skilled workforce are the hallmark of our film industry,” Pritzker said in the release. “Not only has Illinois become a destination for a wide range of film production, it also has seen the establishment of new businesses that are helping to build a comprehensive film ecosystem in Illinois.”

The programs filmed in Illinois in 2018 include independent projects, as well as critically-acclaimed and widely-watched network shows. Those include FOX’s “Empire,” and NBC’s trio of “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago PD” and “Chicago Med.” Showtime’s “Shameless” and “The Chi” joined Netfilx’s “Easy” in returning to Chicago to film their new seasons as well.

New productions to Illinois in 2018 include FOX’s “Proven Innocent,” CBS’s “Red Line,” Comedy Central’s “Southside” and the pilot for HBO’s “Love Craft Country.”

More than 259 commercial advertising projects were filmed in Illinois in 2018 as well.

Two independent films shot in Illinois debuted at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. They are “Hala” and “Native Son,” which were directed by Chicago natives Minhal Baig and Rashid Johnson, respectively, and subsequently purchased by Apple and HBO Films.

“Knives and Skin,” directed by Chicago’s own Jennifer Reeder, will premiere at the 2019 Berlinale, and a pair of Illinois-shot film will debut at the 2019 SXSW film festival. Orland Park-based MPI Media produced its first film in Illinois in 2018, “Girl on the Third Floor,” starring Chicago-based WWE superstar CM Punk.

Other shows include “Beats,” produced by Chicago native Bob Teitel and set for a Netflix release in 2019, and “Canal Street,” directed by Chicago native Rhyan LaMarr and previously screened at the American Black Film Festival.

New projects confirmed for 2019 include Amazon’s “Utopia,” written by Illinois’ own Gillian Flynn, and “Mixtape,” a 20th Century Fox produced limited series for Netflix.

A version of this story appeared in the Friday digital edition of the Daily Journal.

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