Chicago is one of America's entertainment capitals. Major films like the Dark Knight, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Ocean’s Eleven were set partially or entirely in the Windy City. Chicago's mixture of soaring sky rises, sprawling suburbs, oceanic lakefront, and culture-rich neighborhoods offers filmmakers a buffet of options.
Many downtown Chicago filming locations may require a permit for media production. Filming in front of banks
and other buildings is sometimes not permissible. City gardens and parks may also require you to purchase a permit. When planning each location, check with the appropriate authorities to ensure your production doesn't come to a screeching halt.
Unique and quirky filming locations in Chicago
For a moody and historic vibe it's hard to beat Green Mill Jazz Club. At over a century old it is an integral part of the Chicago landscape. National legends like Al Capone and Charlie Chaplain have sat within its walls. Capone's favorite seat is still in existence, situated to give him excellent views of the entrances in case a fast exit was required. Green Mill is sumptuously appointed, with dark red wood, a cozy atmosphere, and regular live music. This historic cocktail bar and jazz club is located north of downtown, in the Uptown district.
If you're telling your story in Chicago then the lake is as important as the skyline. Lake Michigan is one of the Great Lakes; America's North Coast. For sunrises you can't beat having placid waters as a cinematic backdrop for a feature film.
Rooftop filming locations and viewing platforms can be rented for video productions. By renting the entire venue you aren't fighting with guests and tourists weaving in and out of your frame. Rooftop views will often include the skyline as well. Willis Tower and the St. Regis Chicago peeking out of the background cements the authentic Chicago narrative in the minds of your audience.
With so much waterfront film shoot locations
in Chicago and including the lake is a snap. Montrose Beach and other public beaches are easily accessible. And if you want to include the urban landscape check out Navy Pier. The platform juts hundreds of feet out into Lake Michigan. Once you turn your camera back to the west you're struck by one of the best ground-level skyline views in the entire city. Chicago is truly a magical place to create a film.