The Chicago Film Office is a sponsor of Camera Ambassador's 2022 Community Builders Grant. In order to celebrate their work, we had a wonderful discussion with Thavary Krouch, the Independent Film Coordinator of the Chicago Film Office, on the ways the Chicago Film Office seeks to serve Chicago filmmakers. Enjoy!


Hey Thavary! Would you mind telling us what the Chicago Film Office is all about?

Hey CA! Sure. Since filmmakers are artists, we think about how can we, here at the Chicago Film Office, support our artists? How do we ensure that there are sustainable ecosystems that our artists or filmmakers can thrive in so that they can even make their art while growing creatively and economically?

From a city perspective, there's an industry here. So we're in a unique position where we think about both the creative and the economic elements and what's really going to help our artistic filmmaking community.

So, we're a one-stop-shop. We cover it all.


Amazing! What kind of resources does the Chicago Film Office offer to filmmakers?

First and foremost, we’re known for Film Permits. You don't need a permit to film, but you do need it if you’re filming on city property in a way that is obstructive, which means that you’d be in the way of people walking or in the way of vehicles driving on the street. A film permit is also helpful if you're needing parking for your production vehicles.

We want things to run smoothly for everyone - the film crew, as well as the residents and businesses that live their lives and operate in those neighborhoods. We're mitigating as much conflict as possible. But, usually, with student films and documentaries, they tend to be low impact and don't require a film permit. So, it just depends on the project's needs.

This is where giving us a call can be helpful. We have a great team here. We’re more than happy to answer any questions and suss out your needs. Please don't hesitate to email us at, as well as give us a call at our office number, which is 312 744 6415.


Thanks for breaking that down for us. What does the Chicago Office do outside of permits?

We’re an information hub as well.

While we cannot give you a production job per se, we can point you in the right direction. This is a very relationship-oriented business and if you're someone who doesn't know where to start in this industry, we can give advice just to get your foot in the door. Once you start with one production, things tend to grow from there.

We field all kinds of questions. We tend to be career coaches in that way. We want to build the careers of filmmakers from all levels.


That’s awesome! What other opportunities exist for artists looking to create films?

Most people don’t know that the Chicago Film Office is a part of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE). So, we’ve got grants from DCASE, either for individual artists or film organizations. For more information, check out our grant site.


Would you mind telling us a little bit about the Independent Film initiative?

Yes. The Independent Film Initiative (IFI) is designed to support, promote and provide career-building opportunities for local film and TV industry professionals and media makers.

Take for example, the Chicago Made workforce development program. This is the first year that we have enacted a partnership with a consulting workforce development firm called XD Technology Industry. We're working with them to train film and TV workers and meet the high demand for a skilled labor force.

We're opening the second round of applications this summer. Interested applicants between the ages of 24 and 50 can apply, although we are looking for specific requirements. We wanna make sure that the applicant has some experience that could be applicable in film. So for example, for the hair/makeup training position, maybe you’ve worked at a makeup counter or in a hair salon at a barbershop.

This is for that particular person who's looking for a career change, an accelerated path onto a professional working environment, and/or exposure to a professional network. You're not fresh out of college. You've had some experience under your belt. There are 25 positions. Ten of these spots are PA positions and the rest run the gamut from grip, digital utility, lighting, camera, hair/makeup, production accounting, set construction, and more.

To learn more, check out the Chicago Made: Film & TV Workforce Training Program page.


Oh wow. What else does the Independent Film initiative offer?

Additionally, we're focused on increasing the number of independent producers in Chicago. In 2020, we partnered up with Full Spectrum Features to run the Chicago Independent Producers’ Lab because the belief is that when it comes to independent films, particularly independent features, it's the producers who are taking the lead.

Whether it's in the ideations or in the selection of the story, within the writing and directing partnership, the producer is the creative entrepreneur who is the catalyst in making something monetizable. When a feature film does well, it can bring a lot of positive attention to the filmmaker. So, there are a lot of opportunities to elevate the city from that perspective.

But, there's not a manual to learn about creative producers. Sure, you could go to film school, but you’re still not going to learn everything. There’s something special about being in the producer’s role and having those candid conversations on the ground floor of the production. So, we're going into our third year of the program and we’re about to select our next cohort this Spring. For more information, check out the Chicago Independent Producers Lab.


That program sounds so cool! This was really lovely chatting with you. Thank you.

My absolute pleasure. Let us know if there's any way that we can help. We're here.

Check out our 2022 Community Builders Grant, now in the selection phase for the semi-finalists! 

The Chicago Film Office, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, leads the city’s effort to attract and enhance the production of feature films, television series, commercials, documentaries and all forms of local screen entertainment. For filmmakers, it is a one-stop liaison for all City of Chicago production needs including permits, city services, and logistical support.

Thavary Krouch has an MFA in Writing & Directing for Film from Columbia College Chicago. When she’s not making her own films, she’s supporting other independent filmmakers in her role as Independent Film Coordinator for the Chicago Film Office, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events. She has a background in film distribution, having managed the Facets Label of art house films. Her own films have largely focused on the Cambodian-American and refugee immigrant experience.