The Independent Film Initiative (IFI)

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Applications for the Filmmaker-In-Residence are now being reviewed. Announcement of the residency will be made in October 2017.

Movie crew filming along Lake Michigan with Chicago skyline in the background (Photo credit: Chuck Hodes)

(click on image to enlarge)


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

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

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.


IFI Filmmaker-in-Residence



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
  • 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
  • Industry+ Badge at the Chicago International Film Festival’s 2017 Industry Days and slot in the Pitch session

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 Producers Apprenticeship (details to come), and provide a final report and budget.


Advisory Group:

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 best suited for the project.


Eligibility Requirements:

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.



All awardees are required to adhere to the following:

  • Required to adhere to a contract during the grant cycle with the City of Chicago, which outlines the terms of their residency.
  • Must include the following credit line in all programs or printed materials describing the funded project: “This project _insert name_is supported by the Independent Filmmaker Initiative, a program of the Chicago Film Office Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events”, and include the DCASE logo in the final credits.
  • Submit a Final Report including financials no later than 30 days after completion of the residency
  • Professionalism of overall application, required proof of residency and indebtedness check
  • Serve as a lead to the Independent Producers Apprenticeship. The IFI Resident will serve on the Apprentice selection committee; lead one four-hour orientation with the selected Apprentices, and commit to open their production to each Apprentice for up to two weeks.
  • Host a public screening of their finished film with DCASE at the completion of the residency.


Apply here through August 31:

Download the IFI Filmmaker-in-Residence Application Questions (PDF)


Click for information on current Filmmaker-In-Residence Daniel Nearing


ChicagoMade Short Series


ChicagoMade Shorts screen as part of the 5th Annual Millennium Park Summer Film Series. A program of the Independent Filmmaker Initiative, ChicagoMade Shorts is a celebration of the local independent film community and a showcase of the work produced by Chicago-based artists.

A call for 2018 submissions will be announced later this year. Submissions need to be original work, maximum 8 minutes in length, and created by Chicago-based filmmakers. All genres and diverse subject matter are encouraged; however submissions must be appropriate for a public outdoor screening.

Selected short films screen once, prior to the feature presentation. The Millennium Park Summer Film Series draws a nightly average audience of 8,000-10,000 every Tuesday night from June 13 – September 5, 2017 beginning at 6:30pm. All screenings are FREE to the public and made possible by the Millennium Park Foundation. The Summer Film Series is co-curated by Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE).

2017 ChicagoMade Shorts Line-Up

June 13 Music In The Air Alex Mechlin
June 20 A Fresh Cut Gavin Wright
June 27 Particles Jessica Simmons
July 11 ARTE(es) VIDA James Choi
July 18 Shmevolution Nolan J. Downs
July 25 No Other Way To Say It Optimus - Tim Mason
August 1 Go Big Jonathan Leach
August 8 Run of Press Mina Fitzpatrick
August 15 Coast Robert Ruiz de Castilla
August 22 Cryin' in the Streets Diana Quiñones Rivera
August 29 Calvin's Story Quinn Wilson
September 5 Marquee Brian Zahm


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