The Crusader Newspaper Group

Program to grow minorities in film industry

Pritzker Administration launches new training program to prevent future staffing shortages and increase minority presence in an  industry with higher than average salaries

The Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO) plans to invest $500,000 through the Illinois Film Office Workforce Training Program to enable more women and minorities to access job opportunities within the film industry. As the industry grows, more minority groups are moving toward film production as a career, making up 49 percent of the accredited productions in the state. To keep this momentum going, DCEO’s new job training program will train and graduate regular cohorts of new film and TV production workers annually through a program to be adopted by qualified institutions, colleges, and universities through a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). The state-wide training program will position qualified and trained minorities to land entry-level positions on productions across the state and would add 2,500 new minority crew positions over a 10-year period.

Peter Hawley, director of the Illinois Office of Film at DCEO, said: “Although 2019 is a record-breaking year for film production in the state, with fan favorite TV shows such as Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, Chicago PD, Empire, The CHI, and Fargo filming in Illinois, we still need producers and industry representatives from HBO, Disney, Paramount, and Fox to bring more productions to Illinois. Governor Pritzker recently signed legislation that renews the film tax incentive for productions to shoot in Illinois. To prevent staffing shortages in the years ahead, Illinois needs more trained crew members to fully staff those productions. Our goal is to boost our economy and ensure that our workforce more accurately represents Illinois’ diversity.”

The specific goals of this program are as follows:

  • Increase the number of productions and associated jobs in Illinois
  • Change the perception that Illinois is “booked up” with a lack of trained crew members
  • Improve communication and coordination between producers and workforce training programs to increase the number of people graduating from those programs
  • Work with groups that provide workforce training to match the needs of production
  • Help grow and support new training programs all across the state
  • Help low-income and minority Illinoisans train as production assistants for career growth opportunities in the film and television industry

The Illinois Film Workforce Training Initiative’s mission is to fight poverty and empower low-income and minority Illinois residents by creating living-wage employment opportunities and connecting graduates to careers with long-term potential for growth and educational advancement. A recent study shows that across motion picture video production, distribution, and tele/post-production services in Illinois, the average annual pay was $73,686 in 2018, which is higher than the average annual pay of $59,941 across all industries.

The NOFO for the Workforce Training Program is available here. The application submission deadline is 5:00 p.m. CST on 1/9/2020.

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