Entertainment Lawyer Chicago

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Looking Beyond Hollywood: A Focus on Entertainment in Chicago

While most people think of Hollywood as the center of the entertainment universe, there are also many other cities and countries around the world where the entertainment industry drives significant revenue and legal transactions.

One of these cities is Chicago, which is home to a number of major film, television, and production studios. Below is a spotlight about the ways an entertainment lawyer Chicago relies on can help individuals and entities that are looking to create television series, feature films, documentaries, and commercials in that city.

Entertainment Attorney Chicago

About the Chicago Film Office

If you are interested in filming a television show, movie, documentary, or commercial in Chicago, your first stop should be the Chicago Film Office, which is a division of the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. This is the agency that is responsible for issuing permits, arranging city services, and coordinating logistical support for any filming that takes place within the city limits.

Since the 1980s, television and film production in Chicago have contributed about $2 billion in revenue and resulted in more than 1,000 television programs and feature-length movies. Some of the most famous movies and television shows produced in Chicago include:

  • Chicago Fire
  • Empire
  • Proven Innocent
  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  • The Dark Knight
  • Contagion

To ensure that you follow the correct procedures with regard to securing proper permits for filming in Chicago, an entertainment attorney Chicago trusts can guide you through the process and advise you at every step.

How to Apply for a Chicago Film Office Permit

The Chicago Film Office can issue permits for any filming you wish to do on public property within the city, including sidewalks, alleys, and streets. Permits are generally required for any filming that will either block vehicular and pedestrian traffic or occupy public space with equipment and vehicles. Permits are not required for filming news segments, B-roll, documentaries, or other low-impact projects that do not interfere with the flow of traffic. Standard permits cost $250 per day and per location.

There are four steps to applying for a permit from the Chicago Film Office:

Step 1

Create an account within the Chicago Film Office’s online system and complete the online permit application, including specific details about the streets on which you wish to film and whether interruption to vehicular traffic will be required. This is also the stage at which you pay the permit fees.

Step 2

If you will need to post “no parking” signs, have tow trucks or local law enforcement personnel on the scene, or plan to use gunfire or special effects, you have to complete a City Services Request form.

Step 3

You will be required to produce a certificate of insurance that reflects city-specified minimum requirements, including general liability of $1 million per occurrence and $500,000 per person, workers’ compensation when hiring city police or fire personnel, and the City of Chicago listed as an “additional named insured” on the policy.

Step 4

For every film shoot, the producer is responsible for properly leafleting any residents or businesses that may be affected by the production, with as much notice as possible. After the community notification leaflet is created, the producer should send the leaflet, the City Services Request form, and the certificate of insurance to the Chicago Film Office by email. The Chicago Film Office will then forward the leaflet to the Department of Transportation for approval.

The minimum amount of permissible notice is 48 hours before the shoot begins, and the Department of Transportation must approve the leaflet before you may distribute it. These leaflets are required to be on company letterhead and must include the following information:

  • Header stating “Filming Notice”
  • Production company contact name, business address, cell phone number, and email address
  • Project title
  • Dates and times
  • Locations where people may not park
  • Street closures
  • Notification of weapons on set or special effects, if any

Applying for Other Permits for Filming in Chicago

Other city agencies, such as the Chicago Transit Authority, the Navy Pier, and the Chicago Park District, issue independent film permits for operating on those properties. Additionally, any filming to occur in homes, offices, businesses, or other private property must have approval from the property management or owner. An entertainment lawyer Chicago relies on can help you determine the correct agency from which to seek a permit for filming based on where you expect to shoot. Additionally, if you wish to enlist local talent for a soundtrack or score, the music lawyer Chicago trusts can help with the necessary contracts.

Chicago Transit Authority

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has more than 140 train stations and over 11,000 bus stops under its purview. If you wish to film on CTA property or utilize its vehicles or props within your production, you will have to contact their film coordinator with at least two weeks’ notice. Next, you would send a letter of intent, along with your script, explaining how you would use CTA’s services. Finally, you would attend a pre-production meeting with CTA representatives to discuss how your filming plans would fit within CTA’s safety requirements and regulations. Like the Chicago Film Office, you need to provide proof of insurance according to strict terms. The permit fees begin at $2,000 per day and per location.

Navy Pier

To negotiate permits for shooting at Navy Pier, you will have to provide the following information to Navy Pier Public Relations at least three weeks in advance of proposed filming date:

  • Description of project
  • Dates and times
  • Size of cast and crew
  • Equipment in use
  • Types of vehicles involved
  • Copy of the script
  • Production company contact information
  • Certificate of insurance

Applying for Other Permits for Filming in Chicago

Other city agencies, such as the Chicago Transit Authority, the Navy Pier, and the Chicago Park District, issue independent film permits for operating on those properties. Additionally, any filming to occur in homes, offices, businesses, or other private property must have approval from the property management or owner. An entertainment lawyer Chicago relies on can help you determine the correct agency from which to seek a permit for filming based on where you expect to shoot. Additionally, if you wish to enlist local talent for a soundtrack or score, the music lawyer Chicago trusts can help with the necessary contracts.

Chicago Transit Authority

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has more than 140 train stations and over 11,000 bus stops under its purview. If you wish to film on CTA property or utilize its vehicles or props within your production, you will have to contact their film coordinator with at least two weeks’ notice. Next, you would send a letter of intent, along with your script, explaining how you would use CTA’s services. Finally, you would attend a pre-production meeting with CTA representatives to discuss how your filming plans would fit within CTA’s safety requirements and regulations. Like the Chicago Film Office, you need to provide proof of insurance according to strict terms. The permit fees begin at $2,000 per day and per location.

Navy Pier

To negotiate permits for shooting at Navy Pier, you will have to provide the following information to Navy Pier Public Relations at least three weeks in advance of proposed filming date:

  • Description of project
  • Dates and times
  • Size of cast and crew
  • Equipment in use
  • Types of vehicles involved
  • Copy of the script
  • Production company contact information
  • Certificate of insurance

Chicago Park District

If you want to shoot in the Chicago Park District, you will require a permit for noncommercial use, commercial use, documentaries, web-based media, and student projects. While noncommercial use does not require insurance, all other forms of filming do. Pricing depends on the size of the film crew and ranges from $45 per location and per date for student film projects to $2,100 per location and per date for film crews of 21 people or more.

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