Video and Digital Producer’s Guide to Shooting in Chicago, IL

Video and Digital Producer’s Guide to Shooting in Chicago, IL

Chicago Go To Team

Everything you ever wanted to know about shooting video in Chicago.

Matt Rossetti – Cameraman – Chicago, Illinois – Go To Team

Prior to arriving in a new city, every producer needs the lay of the land. This guide explores everything about Chicago, IL that producers need to know.

Population: 7,307,400

Nicknames: Chi-Town and The Windy City

Founded: 1833

Industries: Financial Services, Engineering, Publishing and Food Processing

Known best for its unique community, world’s best architecture and museums, thriving music and dining scene, Chicago is one of those places with a multicultural feel that stays true to its roots as well as moving along with all the new trends. In the 19th century, it started out as a shipping industry with a tremendous working class. Today, it’s known for its vibrant music scene and “windy city” persona. The “deep dish” started here calling home to the name “Chicago style” pizza along with the Chicago style hotdog. Any architecture buzzers touring Chicago will find some of the best buildings and sculptures in the U.S and the world. Since the Great Chicago Fire happened in 1871, Chicago is made up of many neighborhoods and buildings under 115 years old. There’s a perfect mixture of historic and cultural vibrancy among its most popular buildings as well as a modern and millennial touch.  

Chicago is one of the largest cities in the U.S. as well as one of the most popular destinations for festivals and events. The Underground Film Festival in March serves as a popular attraction along with their annual St. Patty’s Day Parade. Dyeing the Chicago River with an eco-friendly green dye brings the community and tourists out during the spring months. Taste of Chicago and Lollapalooza occur during the summer months allowing people of all ages to experience what Chicago has to offer through music and dining while bringing over 130 bands to downtown Chicago for a three-day festival. Chicago wouldn’t be true to itself without the influence of jazz so the Chicago Jazz Festival attracts many people every year to experience the love of jazz with old and new artists. There is an abundance of things to tour while in Chicago that is free and open to the public. Its main attractions are going to be the architecture especially the Willis Tower (also known as the Sears Tower) and Cloud Gate (also known as The Bean). Millennium Park is great for restaurants and popular attractions.

Chicago plays host to many sports teams including the 2017 champions of the baseball World Series the Chicago Cubs, their pro-basketball team the Chicago Bulls, their pro-football team the Chicago Bears, and the Chicago Blackhawks for hockey. Because Chicago is so historic, the Wrigley Field serves as a great atmosphere for a sporting event as well as a taste of Chicago’s history.

Chicago offers plenty of options for higher education, some include the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Chicago, DePaul University, Chicago State University, and City Colleges of Chicago.

Once you’ve decided to shoot in Chicago there’s plenty you should know:

Where to Stay?

Hotels will not be an issue to find while staying in Chicago, it all depends on your preferences. Some downtown hotels include the AC Hotel Chicago and Loews Chicago Hotel. Their architecture plays a major role in each person’s stay but can come to be pricey. For more reasonable options, try staying at the Sheraton Grand Chicago and SpringHill Suites by Marriott Chicago can offer a great stay for a great price. Because the airport isn’t located close to downtown, the Sheraton Chicago O’Hare Airport Hotel is within a great distance and price of the O’Hare International Airport.

Location & Drive Times/Transportation

From downtown Chicago to the airport takes about 30 minutes by car and about 40 minutes by bus/train ride. Most attractions within Chicago’s neighborhoods will take about 15-20 minutes by car or train. Keep in mind that traffic can be quite heavy so public transportation stands ideal. The “L” (train system) and buses can be expensive but rental cars, parking, and gas tends to be expensive as well so stick to the public transportation options in order for prompt shoot destinations.


January stands as their coldest month with an average temperature of 31 degrees, and July as their hottest month with average temperature of 84 degrees. Be prepared to pack clothing according to the time you are visiting. Jackets, scarves, and hats are necessary during the colder months since wind and blizzards can be common. The best time to visit Chicago would be during the spring, summer, and fall months since outside activities and shoots won’t have severe weather distractions. Click HERE for a current 10-day forecast of Chicago, Illinois.

Production of Guidelines

Crews across the country have a set of guidelines by which they conduct business. And as different as each city is from another, so are those guidelines. Every producer should have a basic understanding of each city’s standards. Shoots in Chicago are based on a ten hour day and the crew is on the clock at the specified crew call. Overtime at a rate of time and a half begins after ten hours. If your shoot takes the crew to a distant location, travel time can be expected. A distant location is any location outside a circle with a 30-mile radius drawn around the city. But all of these are just guidelines; certainly, verify with your crew their specific policies.

Chamber of Commerce

If you have additional questions about Chicago you can always contact the city’s Chamber of Commerce.

Southeast Chicago Chamber of Commerce

8334 S Stony Island Ave

Chicago, IL 60617

Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce

1925 N Clybourn Ave #301

Chicago, IL 60614

Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce

410 N Michigan Ave #900

Chicago, IL 60611

Booking the Right Crew

But even with the perfect location, the best-laid plans, and great weather, so much depends on the right crew. Booking the right crew means finding a crew that not only gets the job done, but does whatever it takes to ensure you have the best shoot. Are you conducting a series of interviews that require dramatic lighting? Are you going to be “run and gun” around the city? Is your shoot going to require any specific equipment? Finding a crew that can handle every one of your needs is just as important as lining up all of the interviews and creating your shot list.

For more information on booking your camera crew, see: “Everything you ever wanted to know about booking a video crew.”

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