3. Chicago, Illinois
In the past few months alone, Chicago has welcomed crews for Sinister 2, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, TV’s Empire, Shameless, Chicago PD and Chicago Fire, and dozens of independent films, commercials and industrial projects. With competitive tax incentives, a wide array of production facilities, and numerous iconic locations such as Wrigley Field, Union Station and the “L” transit system, Chicago stays in our top three Big Cities (after coming out on top last year). Throw in dozens of film festivals, independent theaters, accredited film programs, theater and museums, and it’s obvious: Siskel and Ebert’s onetime stomping grounds are made for sophisticated cultural consumers—of the movies, and otherwise.
“I’ve lived in all three major cities, NYC for 11 years, Los Angeles for nine years,” said Amro Salama, a TV actor who’s appeared in everything from Modern Family to Children’s Hospital. “I don’t know where I’ll end up work-wise, but I can 100 percent tell you that Chicago will always be my center of operations. It combines the best of New York and Los Angeles in one city—minus the awesome L.A. weather.”
Salama cites Chicago’s boom in television production over the years as the key to its rise. This recent return of major productions can be directly attributed to efforts made by the City of Chicago to accommodate moviemakers. Chicago PD executive producer Mark Tinker said, “The City of Chicago has bent over backwards to help us accomplish our varied and often complicated filming requests. They’ve streamlined their bureaucracy, thus allowing us access with speed and ease to places ranging from the commonplace to the unusual. It’s a remarkably photogenic city.
“Now, if only they could do something about the number of subzero temperature days between November and March,” he added with a laugh.