Read all about the CFO's Filmmaker Residency Program

The Chicago Film Office – Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is excited to launch the pilot year of the Independent Film Initiative (IFI). The IFI is designed to retain, promote and provide career enhancing opportunities for local film industry professionals, media makers and affiliated creatives with the goal to foster a more sustainable and robust independent film industry in Chicago.

The IFI is an industry development initiative designed to advance the filmmaking community and grow the number of locally produced independent features, documentaries, short films, and web series.

Through increased convening, marketing, communication and professional development strategies, IFI will promote Chicago as a hub for independent film and media arts across all sectors, including production, financing, exhibition (screening of new works), education and distribution. The program is intended to foster industry growth, talent retention, and provide local producers with incentives, resources and promotional opportunities created exclusively for Chicago's independent filmmaking community.

The IFI serves to advocate and promote Chicago's burgeoning independent film community, bringing more attention to Chicago film among industry stakeholders on the national landscape. IFI will support and partner with existing Chicago-based independent film organizations with the goal to increase the sustainability and quantity of independent media production and increased workforce participation by emerging film and media makers. The IFI is currently composed of three branches: Filmmaker-in-Residence, Independent Producers Apprenticeship, and the ChicagoMade Shorts Millennium Park Screening Series.

The IFI Filmmaker-in-Residence program is a platform to formally support local, accomplished independent filmmakers with the aim of enhancing the viability of their careers and to bring more visibility and support to the independent filmmaking industry in Chicago. Residents will be connected to an expert community, new collaborators, and a wider network of funders and distributors. In support of the completion of a film or media project, this year-long residency provides Chicago-based film and media makers with:

• $10,000 in funding

• Up to five production apprentices

• Industry discounts on equipment rental and permits

• Industry+ Badge at the Chicago International Film Festival’s 2016 Industry Days and slot in the Pitch session.

• Meeting/convening space at the Chicago Cultural Center, with access to multiple downtown amenities

• An advisory board comprised of experts in the independent film and broadcast field

• Additional promotion, resources, and mentorship

In exchange, IFI Residents are required to make a public presentation of their project at the completion of the residency, participate as a lead in the Independent Producers Apprenticeship, and provide a final report and budget.

IFI Residents will have the opportunity to meet and consult with an advisory of local and national industry professionals with expertise across all phases of the filmmaking process, including directors, produces, screenwriters, casting directors, agents, financiers, and distributors. Confirmed advisors include Kris Swanberg (Unexpected, Empire Builder), Bob Teitel (Barbershop, Soul Food, Southside With You) , and Peter Gilbert (Hoop Dreams, Happy Christmas, Golden Exits).

Filmmakers-in-Residence are individuals who live and work in the city of Chicago, and are selected by committee from an online application. Applicants must be filmmakers who have played a principal role in a completed production (producer, writer, director, editor, etc.). Previous work samples are required and must demonstrate high technical and artistic ability. The majority of the production team must be Chicago-based. This residency is for individuals only, and are not awarded to organizations, non-profits, community centers, universities or schools, or federal, state, or city agencies. Applicants primary residence must be in the city of Chicago to be eligible for the IFI Filmmaker-in-Residence. Applications are open through August 31 at More info on the IFI and Filmmaker-in-Residency program can be found at

Interested in learning more about the IFI Film Residency? Join us for a member meet-up on Tuesday, August 9th at 7:00 PM. 

Get more information here!