Chicago Industry Exchange Lab

< Back to Industry page

Chicago Industry Exchange: Lab banner

Chicago Industry Exchange Lab (CIX:Lab)


Application opens July 2, 2024
Deadline for Application: August 16, 2024.

About CIX:Lab

The Chicago Industry Exchange: Lab (CIX: Lab) is a year-long feature film development lab for Illinois filmmakers with narrative fiction feature films in active development.

Filmmakers are invited to apply to the CIX: Lab, which consists of quarterly workshops focusing on script development, directing, producing and pre-production, and pitching as well as year-long consultations with a Creative Advisor. The Lab, which selects a majority of projects led by BIPOC, women, and non-binary directors each year, culminates in The Pitch held during the Chicago International Film Festival’s Industry Days (October 2025), where the filmmakers present their projects in front of a live audience and panel of industry judges.

View the CIX:Lab 2023-2024 projects

The Pitch at Industry Days photo

Films that started out as Pitch projects include Signature Move (2017), Knives and Skin (2019), Once Upon a River (2019), and The Year Between (2022).

Past advisors have included:

  • Jennifer Reeder (Knives and Skin)
  • Melika Bass (Shoals)
  • Kyle Henry (Rogers Park)
  • Erica Weiss (The View from Tall)
  • Malik Bader (Street Thief)

Special Lab guests have included:

  • Tracey Scott Wilson (producer/writer, The Americans)
  • Karyn Kusama (director, Girlfight)
  • Mary Jane Skalski (producer, The Station Agent)
  • Virgil Williams (screenwriter, Mudbound)
  • Jessica Bendinger (screenwriter, Bring it On)

Submission for 2023-2024 CIX:Lab

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

Deadline Extended: August 16, 2024 | Fee: $25

Apply Now


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.

Schedule of Events

Sept 2024: Projects are reviewed, filmmaking teams are interviewed for final selection to participate in the Chicago Industry Exchange (CIX) Lab. Creative Advisors are assigned.

Oct 17–20, 2024: ChicagoIFF Industry Days

Nov 2024: Screenwriting Workshop (2 days)

Dec 2024: Advisor Meetings

March 2025: Directing Workshop (2 days)

April 2025: Advisor Meetings

June 2025: PreProduction Workshop (2 days)

August 2025: Advisor Meetings

Sept. 2025: Pitching Workshop (1 day)

Oct. 2025: Pitch Prep #2 (1 day)

Oct. 2025: The Pitch 2025 and Industry Meetings

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.


logo: Illinois Arts CouncilLogo: DCASE Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events 311x100

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.