Blog Directory CineVerse: When Hollywood rides the Windy City rails (continued)

When Hollywood rides the Windy City rails (continued)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

by Erik J. Martin

(Note: This is part 2 of a 2-part article that first published last week.)

Here's the timetable of events for an average Hollywood film bound for the CTA: The film's director contacts a Chicago-based location manager, who then gets in touch with the Illinois Film Office and the Chicago Film Office. The director of the latter sets up shots and locations within the city, and helps to get clearance from the CTA.

Movie companies are required to provide the CTA with a script or story line in advance to be reviewed for content and approval. Producers can then meet with CTA officials from Insurance, Service Delivery, Finance and External Affairs Departments to negotiate feasibility, schedules and cost. Script approval and other agreements must be OK'd by the CTA Law Department, and, ultimately, the CTA President.

Former transportation manager of CTA rail service Sidney Edwards warned that all productions, whether Hollywood, student or independent, have to follow the same routing policy, although student requests may be treated somewhat differently depending on intent and use of the film.

"The CTA is in the business of transporting passengers from point A to B, but we do try to accommodate the film industry the best we can," Edwards said. "They do spend a lot of money in Chicago, and it is good public relations for the city and the CTA."

The CTA is the only transit system in the country that's elevated in the downtown area, Edwards noted, adding that that distinction, with its built-in scenery of abundant skyscrapers and citizens, makes Chicago' transit system tops for Tinseltown train shoots.

To maintain a positive image of the CTA on the big or small screen, Edwards said he put the kibosh on graffiti and violence in and around a scene shot on the city's commuter rail system.

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