Chicago Industry Exchange Lab

Chicago Industry Exchange Lab (CIX:Lab)

The Chicago Industry Exchange (CIX), hosted by Cinema/Chicago and the Chicago International Film Festival, invites filmmakers with narrative fiction feature films to participate in CIX:Lab. CIX:Lab is a year-long creative development program, focused on script development, directing and visualization, and preproduction and pitching, finally culminating in The Pitch in fall 2022, where the filmmakers will pitch their projects in front of a live audience and a panel of industry judges and have private meetings with producers, financiers, and distributors. The lab will select a minimum of four projects led by BIPOC, female, and non-binary filmmakers.

The winning project at The Pitch 2022 will receive an awards package of in-kind services from Chicago-area production facilities and organizations—to include consultation, production, and post-production services.

Past award-winning projects at The Pitch have been invited to the Tribeca Film Institute All Access Fellowship, IFP New York’s 2016 Project Forum Film Slate No Borders program, and Tribeca Film Institute’s TFI Network. Signature Move (The Pitch 2015 Honorable Mention) had its world premiere at SXSW and closed a distribution deal with Amazon Video Direct’s Film Festival Stars program. Other recent Pitch projects include Knives and Skin (2019 Berlinale premiere) and Once Upon a River (2019 Bentonville Film Festival premiere).

The Pitch at Industry Days photo

CIX: Lab Projects

The selected projects for 2021 – 2022 CIX: Lab are:

All Things Considered

Headshot: James ChoiWriter/Director: James Choi
Producer: Judi Krant

After an overdose sends Paul to the hospital, his spirited Korean-American Mother, So-Ri, is determined to reconnect with her son and help him with his depression through an exotic South Korean ritual that promises to deliver people from their despair.


Headshot: Hannah WelliverWriter/Director: Hannah Welever

Queer best friends Gwen and Gordon moonlight as a straight
couple to survive a family reunion.

The Orchestra

Headshot: Curtis MatzkeWriter/Director: Curtis Matzke
Executive Producer: Nate Gilbert

A young college student finds herself terrorized by a group of undead musicians whose spirits are attached to an old instrument. Based on the short film of the same title.

The Predicament

Headshot: Andre MuirWriter/Director: Andre Muir
Co-Writer: Jake Hutton

When a black man, Jamal, is arrested out of nowhere, he is forced to survive and navigate a surreal draconian prison system where neither the cause of his arrest nor the nature of the subsequent judicial proceedings are ever made clear to him, eventually propelling him down a rabbit hole of escalating paranoia, disillusionment and violence. Hilarity ensues.

A Real One

Headshot: McKenzie ChinnWriter/Director: McKenzie Chinn
Producer: Lisa Masseur

A bright teenager in a working class neighborhood on Chicago’s south side discovers the power and beauty of true friendship when her illicit relationship with a teacher is discovered amid the final weeks of her senior year in high school.


Logo: NEA 293x100


Logo: DCASE/Chicago Film Office (202) - 450x75Logo: IFA Independent Film Alliance 263x100Logo: Full Spectrum Features 263x100

Important Notes & Disclaimers

If your project is selected, you must participate in two mandatory Pitch Preparation Sessions. Industry Days reserves the right to exclude certain submitted materials from the pitch presentation.

Submission does not create a contractual relationship, implied or otherwise with The Chicago International Film Festival, or any of the organization’s sponsors or affiliates. By submitting you are waiving any breach of contract, implied or otherwise and any theft of idea or concept action against The Chicago International Film Festival, or any of these organization’s sponsors or affiliates including copyright actions.

How To Apply

In order to apply, you must complete the online form (link below) and submit applicable payment.

The application will ask you to submit the following supporting materials. Please have these materials prepared before beginning the application.

  • The Completed Script
  • A “Pitch Deck”
    A PDF (no more than 12 pages) that gives an overview of the project’s story, theme, genre and production approach. Items to consider including:

    • Logline and basic story synopsis
    • Biographies and major credits for key members of the creative team
    • Highlight any partners and attached talent
    • Target budget and any financing already in place
    • Target audience
    • Distribution strategy
    • Photographic or illustrated visuals
  • A Two-Minute Elevator Pitch Video
    A two-minute, direct-to-camera video pitch that explains the project, the team behind it, and why it should be included in the Pitch Session.

    • Must include all members of the pitch team. (1-2 members are recommended; no more than 3 pitch team members will be accepted.)
    • Should not be overly produced or edited. The purpose is to show us how well you can tell your story.
    • Videos should be uploaded to Vimeo, You Tube, or another streaming site. Please provide password if applicable.
    • Must be hosted on a third-party site; you will be asked to supply a link to the video.

Submissions & Fees

Submissions are now closed for CIX:Lab, the Chicago Industry Exchange’s fiction feature film development lab, hosted by Cinema/Chicago and the Chicago International Film Festival.

Regular Deadline: September 3, 2021 | Fee: $25


Projects and teams must meet the following criteria:

  • The individual or company submitting material must either own or possess all rights contained within the material. If the pitch team is not the owner of the material, they must provide the necessary licenses.
  • Must be a narrative feature in late-stage development.
  • Must have an attached Director and Producer.
  • Proven track record with professional credits by at least one member of the creative team.
  • You must provide a link to a prior work sample in the online application form. (Please note, your prior work does not need to be related to the proposed project, but some similarity in genre, tone, or format is preferred).
  • Must be available to attend all sessions in Chicago in-person.

The following additional pre-production elements will strengthen an application:

  • Attached talent / letters of interest.
  • Some financing in place.
  • Commitments from other key creatives.
  • Partnerships or support from other companies or organizations.

Process Calendar

September 3, 2021: Regular Submission Deadline

September 2021: Projects are reviewed, filmmaking teams are interviewed for final selection to participate in the Chicago Industry Exchange (CIX) Lab. Mentors are assigned.

Mid-September 2021: CIX:LAB co-hort introductory meet-up.

October 15-18, 2021: ChicagoIFF Industry Days and Session #1 Screenwriting Workshop

November 2021: Zoom Meeting (60 mins)

January 2022: Zoom Meeting (120 mins)

Feb. 19-20, 2022*: Session #2: Directing Workshop

March 2022: Zoom Meeting (60 mins)

April 2022: Zoom Meeting (120 mins)

May 13, 2022*: PreProduction Master Class (Public)

May 14-15, 2022*: Session #3: PreProduction (Production Design, Locations, Casting) Workshop

June 2022: Zoom Meeting (60 mins)

August 2022: Zoom Meeting (120 mins)

Sept. 24-25, 2022: Session #4: Pitching and Positioning

Oct. 8-9 , 2022: Pitch Prep #2

Oct. 13-16, 2022: The Pitch 2022 and Industry Meetings

*Specific days subject to change.