March 3, 2021
2020 Film Production Data for State of Illinois
The State of Illinois and the City of Chicago are looking ahead to the film activity of 2021 following a year of declined production in 2020. Pre-pandemic, the Illinois Film Office and Chicago Film Office were building upon ten years of consecutive year over year growth.
In the first quarter of 2021, filming in Chicago and Illinois has returned to pre-COVID production levels, with over 1,775 local jobs added in the first quarter of the year. Productions returning this year include the Showtime original series “Work in Progress” – which has taken up filming in Kennedy-King College's Sound Stage to become the first TV series that is written, produced, edited and based in the City of Chicago.
Other anticipated new and returning projects in 2021 include:
• “The Big Leap”
• “The Chi”
• “Chicago Fire”
• “Chicago Med”
• "Chicago P.D."
• “Paper Girls”
• “Power” spinoff
• “61st Street”
• “South Side"
• “Work in Progress”
Data for TV, film and media production in 2020 reveals the expected decline in expenditures by the film industry. However, even accounting for the 6 months when production was paused due to COVID-19, Illinois maintained over 200 film projects, yielding over $360 million in estimated expenditures and 7,780 non-extra jobs hires generated by the film industry. By the end of 2020, film production had resumed for many shows – including the return of award-winning FX series, “Fargo;” NBC’s “Chicago” series; and major studio feature “The Batman.”
The bounce back of filming in Illinois is a testament to effective health guidelines, the expansion of and availability of testing and vaccines, and local leadership committed to addressing the needs of the film industry, which is important to the local economy. In the film industry, Illinois was a local adopter of public health guidelines allowing industries to return after necessary public health closures. Filming returned last year with guidelines provided through the State of Illinois’ Restore Illinois framework – which allowed permitting and many preproduction
operations to resume.
A full view of 2020 film projects approved by the State of Illinois, and how that compares with the prior year can be found below.
An overview of 2020 film permits provided by the City of Chicago can be found below.
In addition to developing industry informed guidelines to help film studios return workers to set safely last year, the State of Illinois and City of Chicago have teamed up in a variety of ways to help address the impact of the pandemic on the film and arts industry. The State of Illinois made over 500 grants totaling $21 million to arts businesses through the Illinois Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program – the largest of its kind business recovery program in the nation. The City of Chicago has also featured the film industry in its Recovery Task Advisory Report – the first such recovery plan put out by a major US city. The report identifies film production as a local industry poised for growth in the immediate recovery period.
The Illinois Film Office awards a 30 percent tax credit for qualified production spending and labor expenditures, up to $100,000 per worker, within the state of Illinois. Governor Pritzker extended the credit in 2019 to Dec. 31, 2026. Applicants can receive an additional 15% tax credit on salaries paid to individuals (earning at least $1,000 in total wages) who live in economically disadvantaged areas whose unemployment rate is at least 150% of the State's annual average.