Chicago: A group representing film industry-related businesses and workers in Illinois has hired the MWW Group to run a public affairs campaign to convince the state to pass new incentives for filmmaking.
Illinois has seen an exodus of filmmaking in recent years as Hollywood productions increasingly head to cheaper venues in Canada.
Spending on film work in Illinois plummeted from $124 million in 1999 to $26 million last year, said Tom Busch, a board member of the Illinois Production Alliance and a line producer in the film Barbershop, which was made in Chicago.
Two of last year's hottest films, Chicago and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, had stories set in Chicago, but were filmed elsewhere - a black eye for the Illinois film business.
The alliance is a coalition of Illinois labor groups, production companies, commercial producers, post-production houses, and filmmakers.
The group hired MWW to help it convince the state legislature to pass a measure that would provide wage-based rebates for films made in Illinois.
"It's a very strategy-driven public affairs and lobbying campaign," said John Digles, GM for MWW in Chicago, and himself a filmmaker. Digles produced a movie that was shown last year at the Sundance Film Festival.
Digles' film experience made hiring MWW a good fit, said Busch. "We were looking for a PR firm that had an understanding and passion for our industry," he said. "As a film community, we wanted to create an image of who we are."
MWW will garner media support across the state, and also hope to meet with key political figures. "Our job is to help the alliance get on the map of Illinois' key public officials,"