Bringing Chicago Together Through the Power of Film
Introducing: Chicago Made Shorts
Chicago is one of the nation’s most segregated cities. This is not news. We’re in a truly unprecedented (yes, I hate that word too) global pandemic that has shook our community to its core. This is also not news. We’re missing the lively in-person networking culture that brought filmmakers and creators of all kinds together. What can be done in order to mildly remedy the blow to a growing film community?
Introducing: Chicago Made Shorts, a local digital hub hosted on IGTV for the city’s great filmmakers.
Though we are small and new, we have so many goals and can’t wait to build and bring the community together in new exciting ways. Let’s dive in.
As a new film producer in Chicago, I found myself wanting to learn from those around me. I’m a huge visual learner and do the best with things when they are in front of my face. I wanted to take the same approach with learning how to make a great short film in Chicago. Though the short film screenings, filmmaker nights, and other wonderful events were a great way to meet people, I still wasn’t getting access to the huge breadth of independent film that I knew was out there, somewhere. Where was the Chicago “film library” that I could scour and examine? Where was the database of films by local filmmakers? After months of searching, I concluded that it didn’t exist. As a curator/archivist with an entrepreneurial mindset, I said “let’s build it”.
Fast forward to 2020, the year of change we never saw coming. I had spent the earlier part of the year frequenting the in-person film networking events that popped up week to week. Once March hit, this favorite activity of mine was a thing of the past. I had luckily gotten to know people and join organizations in the city before everything closed down. Though I missed meeting new people, seeing friends, and watching new works, I was grateful to still have some sort of community in the digital space. But what about those who had just moved to Chicago and wanted to get involved in the film scene? What about new graduates? And what of Chicago’s film industry presence as a whole? Everything paused. Gatherings paused. Networking paused. Community paused, as we all struggled with the question of “what do we do now?”. The digital library idea I had before seemed even more pressing to execute.
I talked up the idea with some friends and colleagues and people were excited. The need was legitimate, and the next step was strategy and execution. What was the mission of this platform going to be? What was our vision? What were our priorities? How did we want to build community? The most successful organizations and initiatives I’ve seen are the ones that stay true to their values, through and through. I figured if we laid down a solid foundation and made it our North Star, we would be able to create real strides and growth within the community we were trying to serve. I’d love to share our mission, vision, and values with you:
Mission: Through our digital platform, we bring the Chicago film community together. We strive to provide an accessible space for local filmmakers to have their work seen by a large audience and increase the connections between artists. Through our curation, partnerships, and initiatives, we encourage short-form filmmakers to:
Take risks and make bold leaps in exploring the craft of filmmaking, while keeping meaningful storytelling and cinematic quality front of mind
Post their work for all to see and appreciate
Create significant, meaningful, direct engagement between artists, crew, and members of the film community
Vision: We envision an open and accessible film community in Chicago that lifts each other up, shares resources, and connects frequently. We can only achieve our vision with participation from a multitude of different individual perspectives and communities.
Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Justice: We are passionate for a more just and equitable city, which requires that we are inclusive, transparent and fair in all that we do. We must act in solidarity and with appreciation for the work of all Chicago filmmakers, in all parts of our historically segregated city.
Cinematic Quality: We are committed to bringing Chicago’s best content to the forefront. We challenge each other to strive for excellence and to continually learn. We focus on artistry and quality over quantity.
Local Connection: We are a digital hub for Chicago and value all opportunities for local partnerships with outside organizations
Innovation: We embrace continuous improvement, bold creativity and change in the Chicago film community; we love new ideas and visions for the digital landscape
Artists and Films First: At the end of the day, we are an accessible tool for local artists and creators.
We’re not trying to re-invent the wheel. We’re trying to round it out even more, support, and innovate it. Through this, we believe we can bring Chicagoans together in ways that haven’t been done before. We believe we can empower the film community here and bring it to new heights. We believe we can keep the artistic spark of emerging filmmakers alive with an accessible platform for their work.
We already have some local content for you to watch! If you’re still reading and interested in this digital passion project, we’d love for you to keep following and supporting us. No pressure, but we have plenty of opportunities to get involved as well :) Check them out here. If you feel so inclined and have the means, you can support our self-funded and volunteer operations with a donation through our tip jar here.
Thank you for reading and learning more about us. We hope you enjoy the awesome content that’s to come.