The 2021 edition of Industry Days at the 57th Chicago International Film Festival will take place October 14-17.
We’re back! After last year’s online conference, this year’s Industry Days will be a hybrid one, with virtual discussions on Thursday and Friday that you can experience from the comfort of your home/office, a day of in-person panels on Saturday, and an outdoor celebration at CineSpace Studios on Sunday (cross your fingers for nice weather!). As we begin to navigate the new normals of life and work during the age of Covid, let Industry Days be your guide–learn from experts, be inspired, and meet fellow creatives and entertainment professionals from Chicago and beyond to take your projects and your career forward!
Industry Days is the Chicago International Film Festival’s hub for filmmakers and industry professionals to connect, share ideas, and inspire each other. Since its inception in 2015, Industry Days has hosted an impressive lineup of film executives, creatives, and entertainment professionals, including Oscar®-winning director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), Michael Barker (Sony Pictures Classics) and Charles D. King (Macro), Hollywood producers Gigi Pritzker, James D. Stern, and Albert Berger, and award-winning and celebrated independent filmmakers, including Stephen Cone, Sam Pollard, and Joe Swanberg.
This year’s Industry Days will offer a hybrid of virtual and in-person panels, events, and workshops. Please seel below for details. All events are open to registered Industry Days passholders only unless otherwise noted.
This year’s Industry Days will also include Virtual Decision-Maker Roundtable meetings, which will offer exclusive access for a small group (5 people maximum) of Industry Days passholders to industry professionals, agents, producers, and production executives. The atmosphere is casual and registrants are encouraged to ask questions about the creative and business aspects of filmmaking.
Industry Days Decision-Maker Roundtables will take place from Monday, October 11 through Friday, October 15. Each virtual session meeting will feature one industry leader and up to five registered passholders, and last 50 minutes. Sign-ups and a full list of Decision-Makers will be available soon.
Industry Days Schedule
Thursday, October 14 (Virtual)
12:00-1:00pm (CST): Who Buys Independent Films Anymore, Anyway?
You’ve invested hundreds of thousands of dollars of your investors’ money, not to mention your own time, sweat, and tears into making a film, but now what? What companies are buying films these days and what types of deals and paths to recoupment are possible? Join sales agents, producers, and film company executives for a candid discussion about film sales for independent films during the pandemic and beyond.
Panelists: Matt Miller (The Beta Test), Jason Ishikawa (Cinetic), Arianna Bocco (IFC Films), Matt Burke (Submarine Entertainment)
4:00-5:00pm (CST): State of the Industry with Nancy Utley and Chan Phung
Where do we go from here? Join former Searchlight Pictures Chairman Nancy Utley, who oversaw the company’s most successful films, with a total of 165 Oscar nominations, including Nomadland, The Shape of Water, 12 Years a Slave, and Slumdog Millionaire, along with Chan Phung, Searchlight’s current Senior VP of acquisitions and production and former director of original independent film at Netflix, to discuss the current state of independent and art-house film at a time of seismic changes in the movie business, from the impact of global streaming to the precarious state of pandemic-era moviegoing.
Friday, October 15 (Virtual)
1:00-2:00pm: Is Indie Filmmaking the Best Path to a Career in TV?
If “Peak TV” continues to dominate the entertainment industry, with top filmmakers making quality content, how do emerging talents get a foot in the door? Should aspiring creators focus on webisodes, writing pilots, and working on episodic shows from the ground up or is making short films and independent feature films the most effective calling card? Experts weigh in.
Panelists: Jim Hemphill (filmmaker), Tim Mason (Work in Progress), Jess King (F*ck Yes), Carl Seaton (One Week, Snow Fall)
4:00-5:00 CST: Screenwriting Master Class: Virgil Williams
Join Oscar-nominee Virgil Williams for an in-depth discussion of screenwriting craft. A Chicago native, the veteran film/television writer, and producer has extensive credits, including Denzel Washington’s upcoming release A Journal For Jordan, an adaptation of Dana Canedy’s bestselling memoir; Dee Rees’ Mudbound, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award; and the ground-breaking dramas ER and 24 as well as six seasons of Criminal Minds.
Moderated by Clayton Davis (Variety)
Saturday, October 16 (In-Person)
Location: WoodWind, 259 E Erie St 18th floor, Birch Room, Chicago, IL 60611 Map it >
11:00am-12:00pm CST: Documentary Storytelling Workshop
Come prepared with your best documentary story idea, and learn about the ins and outs of what makes a great nonfiction film and how to pitch it. A panel of nonfiction experts offer the skills needed to develop documentary projects and offer feedback and encouragement to participants.
Panelists: Tim Horsburgh (producer, distribution consultant), Jeanelle Augustin (Manager, Film Fellowships and Artist Development at NBC Universal), Anu Rana (Diverse Voices in Docs), Yvonne Welbon (Sisters in Cinema)
1:00-2:00pm CST: I’ve Got a Great Script! Now What?
Do you have a scripted project that you want to share with the world? But is it viable? This special fiction development workshop allows aspiring filmmakers to bring their fiction story ideas to a panel of experts, who will offer feedback and advice in a constructive and friendly environment.
Panelists: Peter Hawley (Illinois Film Office), Eddie Linker (executive producer, Saint Frances), Anna Hozian (Other People’s Children), Rhyan Lamarr (Canal Street)
3:00-4:00pm CST: How to Make Crews and the Industry More Inclusive?
In Chicago and around the country, there continues to be a lack of equity on film sets, both in front of and behind the camera. While Illinois’ film tax credit program requires productions make “good faith efforts” to achieve diverse crews, what can be done and what strategies are currently being deployed to do more–especially in leading below-the-line positions–to help solve the equity crisis across the entertainment industry.
Panelists: Troy Pryor (Creative Cypher), Raphael Nash (producer, Saint Frances), Colette Ghunim (Mezcla Media Collective), Qadree Holmes (Quriosity Productions), Darrien Michele Gipson (SAGIndie)
Events Sponsors and Supporters:
5:00-6:00pm CST: Keynote Conversation: Brenda Gilbert (BRON Studios)
Join Brenda Gilbert, President and co-founder of BRON Media Corp, for this inspiring conversation about making an impact in the entertainment industry. Founded in 2010, BRON has been behind more than 100 productions and is proud to have been part of 27 Academy Award nominations and 6 Academy Award wins for films such as Fences, Joker, Bombshell, Roman J. Israel Esq., and Judas and The Black Messiah. Brenda is currently an Executive Producer on several projects, including the Untitled Nicki Minaj series with HBO Max and has produced, or executive produced more than two-dozen projects, including the animated film The Willoughbys.
Moderated by Brenda Robinson
This event is open to the public. Tickets for the general public are $10. Get public tickets now…
Sunday, October 17 (In-Person)
Location: Cinespace Chicago FIlm Studios 2621 W 15th Pl (near Main Office), Chicago, IL 60608 Map it >
12:00-3:00pm CST: Industry Days Mixer
Join our outdoor celebration at Cinespace Chicago Film Studios for an in-person networking mixer with colleagues in the film and production industry. Festivities will include light bites, sponsored beverages, great conversations, and fun tunes.
Event Sponsors & Partners:
Health and Safety Protocols
Proof of full vaccination or negative Covid-19 PCR test result is required to attend all Chicago International Film Festival and Industry Days events. Full vaccination means you have received a second dose of an authorized two-dose vaccine, or a single-dose vaccine, approved for full or emergency use from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or World Health Organization (WHO), at least 14 days prior to the date of the event. As an alternative to proof of vaccination, you may gain entry by presenting a negative PCR COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of the event. Vaccination policies and testing protocols will also extend to Festival staff, volunteers, and filmmakers. Masks will be required for all staff, volunteers, filmmakers, and audience members in Festival theaters, regardless of vaccination status. Masks must remain on and cover the nose and mouth at all times, except when actively eating or drinking when indoors.