This is your
Chicago Classroom

Real filmmaking education. Real film industry connections.

An Immersive
Film Education

From directing to producing to editing and screenwriting, our mentor-based programs avoid the unnecessary costs and unrelated requirements of typical schools. Work directly with accomplished industry veteran filmmakers at one of our fully-equipped film production companies across the country.

Programs

You will study inside a real film production company in your city as you develop your movie idea with a legendary to filmmaker. Then you will fly to Los Angeles or New York to pitch your idea to an executive that could buy or get your movie idea made.

Director / Producer / Screenwriter Details

The screenwriter is the person who creates, takes, or adapts an idea and formulates a screenplay. Without the writer, there would be no movie. Period. He or she is the starting gate. He or she is the person that starts the ball rolling down the hill.

Screenwriting Details

In many ways the film editor is the most misunderstood of all film professionals. Often considered just a film technician, a good editor is, without doubt, much more than that. He or she is also a qualified storyteller of the highest order.

Film Editing Details

The cinematographer is literally the set ‘magician.’ DPs are responsible for the technological wizardry to help create the needed light, while at the same time also having the keen sensibility to shape the light for the greatest artistic effect.

Cinematography Details

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Chicago

Film Connection Film Institute
Schedule a Tour

Visit a Film Production Company
In Chicago

Get started with a tour of one of our Illinois apprenticeship locations. Or call us for more information at (312) 878-4470


About Our Chicago Film School

Our fully-immersive curriculum
covers all of the following:

Building Relationships

Learning filmmaking in the real world with the Film Connection mentoring approach makes building relationships in the film industry is a daily occurrence.

On-Set Etiquette

Knowing how to handle yourself on the set is a prerequisite to a successful career in filmmaking—your mentor will guide you through proper etiquette during real film shoots.

Hardware and Equipment

Film Connection mentors exist in the real world where the competition is fierce. Having the latest gear is essential to their success which gives you access to the latest hardware.

Making Movies

Isn’t the whole point of going to film school to learn how to make movies—especially YOUR movie? The Film Connection curriculum is designed around this concept from start to finish.

What is the Next Step?

We get it. This isn’t your normal four-year college or trade school. We’re different, even innovative and you need to understand more before you apply. Here’s how you can get more info:


Request Information Choose Your Location Call Admissions

Meet our Faculty

Why learn from teachers when you can learn from the professionals?

David McClain Chicago Mentor

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David McClain Chicago Mentor

Background

Credits: Coca Cola, Google, Dateline, Travel Channel, NBC

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Demetria Kalodimos Chicago Mentor

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Demetria Kalodimos Chicago Mentor

Background

In 2000, Demetria established Genuine Human Productions, writing, directing, shooting and editing true stories about real people…genuine humans. Demetria Kalodimos has anchored and reported television news for more than 30 years. She’s won some of journalism’s most prestigious awards including 15 regional Emmys, 2 National Headliners and 2 Investigative Reporters and Editors Awards.

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Rocco Michaluk Chicago Mentor

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Rocco Michaluk Chicago Mentor

Background

Michaluk has been creating award winning Film & TV productions for over 15 years. His Film Clients include Columbia Pictures, Indian PaintBrush, PBS, NBC, American Empirical Pictures and Fountainbrush Films. His Television clients include NBC, Television Academy / Emmy’s, MTV, Viacom, E! Entertainment, CBS, ABC, Travel Channel, Leftfield Pictures, PETA, and others.

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Alejandra Huerta Chicago Mentor

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Alejandra Huerta Chicago Mentor

Background

Alejandra Huerta specializes in On-Screen Promotions, Executive Presentation Tapes and Sizzle Reels. She started her career with Andromeda in Miami offering Production Services to MTV Latin America as an editor for on-air promotions. She then relocated to New York where she became a successful producer and editor for Viacom and NBC Universal. After her professional experience in NY she relocated to Florida where she continues to manage, produce and edit projects at Andromeda Productions.

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Joaquin Palma Chicago Mentor

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Joaquin Palma Chicago Mentor

Background

“The thing I admire most about the program is that it pairs you with people doing the job that you are aspiring to do. In doing that, I feel it gets rid of the “glamour” that people associate with this business, and helps them realize that it is, in fact, A JOB. It takes hard work, a lot of practice and a sincere courtesy towards one’s colleagues to get ahead and stay relevant; not that tired stereotype of the suffering artist that won’t settle for anything less than his vision of perfection! I don’t think they teach you that at traditional film schools.” — Joaquin Franco Palma

Joaquin Franco Palma was born and raised in Los Angeles and is a first-generation American. Having started his career as a production assistant, Joaquin has gone on to become an award winning writer and director of both independent features and TV; most notably, as a staff writer on the Emmy nominated HULU series, EAST LOS HIGH. Aside from writing for the screen, Joaquin is also a published author of fiction and is a youth writing volunteer for the NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND and NOSOTROS ORGANIZATION programs.

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Drew Mason Chicago Mentor

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Drew Mason Chicago Mentor

Background

I started getting serious about making videos during summer backpacking trips with my friends between college semesters at Central Michigan University. Shortly after graduating, I was asked to produce a local TV show. I jumped at the opportunity and never looked back. Since then, I’ve produced videos for documentaries, national ad campaigns, and commercials for multinational companies. Recently I was part of a team that produced videos for Lansing’s Silver Bells in the City, and we received an Emmy Award for special event coverage.

My introduction to the business wasn’t with videography; I was a wedding DJ for nearly 8 years. Through this experience, I discovered that weddings are not only among my favorite things to be a part of, but also to film. I love capturing the excitement, love, and energy surrounding them.

When I’m not editing videos – haha, funny joke – I like to make music. In fact, I serenaded my wife Amanda with my ukulele for our first kiss. True story! I also try to get out to the backcountry wilderness with just a backpack from time to time, especially in beautiful northern Michigan.

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John Lafia Chicago Mentor

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John Lafia Chicago Mentor

Background

John Lafia is a director and writer, known for Child’s Play (1988), Child’s Play 2 (1990), Man’s Best Friend(1993) and 10.5 (2004)

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Brian Dryden Chicago Mentor

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Brian Dryden Chicago Mentor

Background

Clients: The North Face, Cherokee Sports, LSU

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Grant Salisbury Chicago Mentor

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Grant Salisbury Chicago Mentor

Background

Over fifteen years post production experience in Orlando—Grant has provided video editorial, 2D & 3D animations, and motion graphics for a multitude of media clients through his post production company, GFX Creative.

Short & Long Format Video Editorial, Event & Theme Park Animations, Infomercials, Broadcast Commercials, Corporate Communications and Interactive Media for The Walt Disney Company, Universal Studios, Sea World, Lockheed-Martin, AAA Insurance, 3M, Siemens, Honda, A&D Medical, Toyota, FedEx and others.

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Jae Macallan Chicago Mentor

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Jae Macallan Chicago Mentor

Background

Jae Macallan is the owner, producer, and lead editor for Yoyostring Creative in Seattle, WA., with satalite offices in Portland, OR and San Diego, CA.  Yoyostring produces traditional video as well as animation, 360 VR, live video switching and video mapping. 

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Ron Osborn Chicago Mentor

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Ron Osborn Chicago Mentor

Background

“Simply put, there is no better or more effective way to teach anything than one-on-one, mentor to student.  This is what the Film Connection does.” — Ron Osborn

A writer/producer in television for 35 years, Ron has been nominated for 7 Emmys, 3 Cable Ace Awards, and 2 Writers Guild Awards on shows like MOONLIGHTING, THE WEST WING, and the adult animated DUCKMAN.  He has written pilots for every primetime network, numerous cable networks, as well as movies like MEET JOE BLACK; and has developed feature projects with Steven Speilberg, Ron Howard, and George Lucas, among others. .

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Chicago News

How to Have a Successful Table Read

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What You Should Know About Neil Gaiman

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EDM Jobs That Actually Exist!

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How to Get Out of a Creative Funk

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Everything We Know About Ant-Man and The Wasp

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What Sucks About The Big Bang Theory

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What (Most) Actors Want from (Most) Directors

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Game of Thrones has got Everyone Guessing

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The Film Scene in Chicago

The Chicago, Illinois Film Connection Film School Advantage

The Chicago, Illinois Film Connection Film School Advantage

1) Located Where You Are.

Our on-the-job training approach means we’re not limited to any central campus location. The Film Connection has locations all over the United States, including right here in Chicago. This means your pathway to Hollywood begins right here in the Windy City.
Learn near where you live. Advantage: Film Connection.

2) Graduate With Little or No Debt with Low Tuition.

Let’s face it: student debt can be a dream-killer. The last thing you need is to be buried in debt right when you’re trying to start your film career—and yet that’s just what the other film schools will ask you to do! We don’t do it that way. We keep our tuition rate low so you can actually afford to attend our film school, and graduate with little or no debt.
Other schools not only cost more, they have lots of add-on charges. Advantage: Film Connection.

3) Learn On-the-Job.

Filmmaking is a learn-by-doing profession—so why do those other schools insist on trying to make you learn it in their classrooms? Our film school program is apprenticeship (externship)-based, which means you’re placed as a working apprentice (extern) inside a Chicago production company, where all your classes take place on-the-job and on the set. It just makes more sense.
Real-world experience, not useless theoretical classroom instruction. Advantage: Film Connection.

4) One-on-One Training With a Mentor.

At the Film Connection, we don’t call our instructors “teachers,” because they’re much more than that. Your instructor will be a seasoned film professional with real credits, years of experience and tons of connections—and this person will become your personal mentor, training you one-on-one.
One teacher to one student. Advantage: Film Connection.

5) Endorsed by Hundreds of Film Professionals.

Who endorses the Film Connection? The film industry knows who we are, because we have a proven track record of getting our students plugged to successful film careers.
More professional endorsements than any other film school. Advantage: Film Connection.

6) Real Job Placement Assistance.

Once you graduate, you won’t be left on your own. For up to a full year after graduation, our Stay Connected Program actively works with you to help you find gainful employment in the film industry. (But guess what? You might not even need our help. Many of our apprentices get hired through their mentors.)
“Job placement” at other schools means handing you a cold-call lead list when you graduate. Advantage: Film Connection.

7) Become an “Insider” While You Learn.

Most film students have to go pounding on doors after they graduate. Things don’t work that way around here. With the Atlanta Film Connection, you’re in the door from day one of your training, because we put you inside a real film production company from day one. This covers one of the greatest hurdles most filmmakers face—getting someone on the “inside” to pay attention to them! As you apprentice (extern) on-the-job, you become an industry insider; it’s that simple. You’re the one actually being considered for the job while those other film school folks are outside pounding on the doors.
The other guys are on the outside, looking in. Advantage: Film Connection.

8) Free Tutoring.

If you get stumped with an assignment and need help, and your mentor isn’t around, “who you gonna call?” Call us! We provide unlimited free tutoring to all our students.
Unlimited free tutoring. Advantage: Film Connection.

9) Genuine Industry Connections.

The dirty little secret of the film industry (well, it’s not really a secret) is that connections are everything in this business. No matter how skilled you are at what you do, you won’t get anywhere in the film industry without connections. This is one of the greatest advantages of the Film Connection. We put you in the heart of the action, where the film professionals spend their time—and that’s where you’ll be going to school for the next six months. This means you’ll be in regular contact with hundreds of industry pros—the people who can one day hire you.
Real world film industry connections. Big Advantage: Film Connection.

10) The Path to Hollywood Starts Here.

Here’s something you’ll never hear another film school offer you: a real chance to break into Hollywood with your own film! The curriculum at the Chicago Film Connection is designed to guide you through the development of your own film idea. At the end of your apprenticeship (externship), when you’re ready to make your move, we’ll arrange a meeting in Los Angeles with actual industry executives, where you’ll have the chance to pitch your film! (They don’t call us the Film Connection for nothing—we’ve got connections in L.A., too!)
A real chance to break into Hollywood. Big Advantage: Film Connection. NO OTHER FILM SCHOOL DOES THIS.

Your CHICAGO, ILLINOIS FILM SCHOOL ALTERNATIVE

While there are several Chicago Film Schools from which to choose, only the FILM CONNECTION gets you working inside an actual Chicago film production company as a film student apprentice (extern), where you will learn directing, producing, editing, camera, screenwriting or general production by working alongside the pros. Hands down, the smartest way to break into the film business in Chicago is to start inside a Chicago film production company as a film apprentice (extern). We’re the school that puts you there.

Why spend 50 thousand dollars or more to go to film school at a traditional film trade school? Our film school alternative costs far less, and gets you educated right in a real production company–the smartest, most cost effective way to get a film education. Be smart, learn from the pros, and get connected as you get educated. The FILM CONNECTION of Chicago can help you realize your dreams without breaking the bank.

To APPLY for our Chicago Film School, click here.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS is the country’s 3rd largest DMA, behind only New York and Los Angeles. The city is rich in sports history, playing host to the Chicago Cubs and White Sox in baseball, the Bulls in basketball, the Bears in the NFL and the Blackhawks in the NHL. From a media perspective, all four networks (ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX) own and operate major Chicago TV stations, and of course, the Oprah Winfrey Network is headquartered here. Notable figures in the film and TV industries who were born in Chicago include Walt Disney, Harrison Ford, John Cusack, John Mahoney, Quincy Jones, Pat Sajak, Robin Williams and Benny Goodman.

The “Windy City” also boasts a rich history in film; a little known fact is that Chicago was America’s largest filmmaking hub before Hollywood assumed the title. Film icon Charlie Chaplin launched his career in Chicago, working for pioneering film company Essenay Studios alongside Gloria Swanson before moving to Los Angeles. In the 1980s, Chicago saw a rebirth of filmmaking under the leadership of Mayor Jane Byne, and since that time, thousands of films and TV shows have been filmed in and around Chicago. Here’s just a sampling of them:

  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  • The Dark Knight
  • Wanted
  • Flatliners
  • A League of Their Own
  • Cheaper By the Dozen
  • The Fugitive
  • Prison Break (TV Series)
  • Divergent
  • Chicago Fire (TV Series)
  • Chicago P.D. (TV Series)
  • Public Enemies
  • The Blues Brothers
  • Save the Last Dance
  • Road to Perdition

The rapid pace and high volume of TV and film production in the city allows the FILM CONNECTION to offer its Chicago film students exceptional opportunities to learn one-on-one from a working professional mentor in a real film production company in Chicago. The other film schools will stick you in a classroom; we train you on-the-job, where you can actually connect to the film industry.

With strong professional connections and relationships forged over the years, the FILM CONNECTION is in a unique position to help fulfill our students’ dreams of a career in the film and television industries—and that’s just the start. With our structured curriculum and your mentor’s help, you can even develop your own film idea, and then the FILM CONNECTION will arrange for you to pitch your film to real LA film industry executives! Between our comprehensive on-the-job training and unprecedented opportunities to make connections both in Chicago and Hollywood, it’s little wonder that the FILM CONNECTION’s mentor-apprentice (extern) approach is endorsed by some of the biggest names in the film industry! Enroll today, and let us get you on the path to your dreams.

To APPLY click here.

Connections Matter

Learn From Industry Pros

The Film Connection film school is endorsed by filmmakers who are making the movies you love.

Professionals in the film business—including many of the famous producers, screenwriters and directors who’ve worked on the films that inspire you—endorse Film Connection’s programs for one simple reason: they know our immersive hands-on method works.

Mark Kohn

Marc is an accomplished executive with a consistent record of managing costs, measuring progress with metrics and creating operational efficiencies. He’s a thoughtful and enthusiastic professional possessing the ability to create a vision, gain executive alignment and effectively lead dynamic high performance teams for success.

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Jason Hewitt

Jason Hewitt, a native of Louisiana, left the technology industry to join the film and television industry. Hewitt was an early mover in the Internet economy, founding the website creation and marketing management company Planet Symphony in 1994.

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David Fuhrer

David’s stage and studio clients include: Bravo, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”, Sex & The City, American Cancer Society, Clairol, Law & Order – Criminal Intent, Amazon, Verizon, VH1, The History Channel, MTV, Director’s Guild of America and many many more.

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ICM Partners

and RRF have donated to the Hide & Seek Foundation’s SOAR (Support of Accelerated Research).

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Carl Millender

Carl Millender born in Shreveport, Louisiana on March 5, 1970 is a pioneer in the film and television industry. In 1990 Carl Millender became a cultural consultant for NBC’s new programs, including “The Fresh Prince of Bel-air”, “Seinfeld”…

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Brian Glazen

Equal parts MacGyver, Steven Spielberg and Gandhi, Brian has ideas. Ideas about marketing, ideas about communication and ideas about fixing just about anything that might be broken. When he’s not sharing his ideas with clients you can usually find him fixing things at his own home or eagerly searching for things that may need fixing…

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Sam Borowski

“Film Connection truly is the ‘Film School of Hard Knocks.’ It helps new students to gain experience and network and teaches one thing I always preach to young filmmakers: practicality. It gives new students and would-be filmmakers, writers and editors, a chance to connect personally with their mentors.”

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Alex Keledjian

Producer of Project Greenlight

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Richard Berg

Richard Berg is an Art Director’s Guild and Emmy nominated Production Designer. He is responsible for the Production Design of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami, Eleventh Hour, Miami Medical, Chase and Modern Family. Berg is also an architect.

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Jeff Kushon

Great program. I’m proud to be a part of it.” Jeff has worked on over 200 film sets and has been a Set Decorator on hit movies, “Dude Where’s My Car”, “Nurse Betty”, “Blade 2”, “Beautiful”, “She’s All That” as well as TV shows “Modern Family”, “Trust Me” and “Miami Medical”.

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Luis Estrada

“Our first apprentice (extern) in this program was put right in the middle of the action and it was amazing how he was able to learn by doing. This Film Connection is great for people with a sincere interest in this field. Our apprentice (extern) turned out to be a reliable resource and we hope […]

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Matt Pellowski

“Being paired with working professionals and established companies allows up-and-coming artists to learn on the job, introduces them to the realities of film production, and helps them acquire the tools needed to become successful. Two of our current staff are graduates of the Film Connection.”

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Contact the Chicago Film Connection


155 North Wacker Drive--4250
Chicago, IL 60606
(312) 878-4470

Email: [email protected]
Hours: M - F 11:00AM to 8:00PM