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Several Cook commissioners seek to cut proposed county film office

Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Crain's Chicago Business
by Lorene Yue

(Crain’s) — Six Cook County commissioners want to quash the creation of a county film office, saying now is not the time to be adding to an already cash-strapped budget.

Tucked within the 2010 Cook County budget is the allocation of $251,611 to create a three-person film office. The office’s goal would be similar to those of the Chicago Film Office and the Illinois Film Office – pave the way for film and television projects to be shot on location within Cook County.

“The idea is not a bad idea,” Commissioner Gregg Goslin said. “This is not the time to add positions to the budget.”

The proposed budget currently calls for a film office executive director to be paid $100,000 a year and for two administrative assistants to be paid a combined $78,361. The remaining $73,250 would cover transportation, marketing and other office expenses.

Commissioners Forrest Claypool, Bridget Gainer, Tony Peraica, Tim Schneider and Peter Silvestri also oppose the timing. The six commissioners want to amend the budget so that it eliminates the Cook County Film Commission. County board members are scheduled to vote on the budget on Nov. 19.

The county film office is the brainchild of Cook County President Todd Stroger, who created a three-member advisory board last summer to look into the idea. He hoped to open the office on Jan. 1, according to a report on Reel Chicago’s Web site, which covers the city’s film and television industry.

Mr. Stroger was not available for comment.

Richard Moskal, director of the Chicago Film Office, said it would be helpful to have a point person to funnel requests to shoot at county facilities, such as the Forest Preserve or criminal courts building.

“There currently does not appear to be a system in place to accommodate film makers and producers,” Mr. Moskal said. “(Requests) get bounced around different departments depending on where people want to shoot.”

However, he questions the need to duplicate services that already exist through the Chicago Film Office and the Illinois Film Office, particularly as the county faces a budget shortfall.

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