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:


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Meet our Faculty

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

Greg Freeman Chicago Mentor

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Greg Freeman Chicago Mentor

Background

Greg Freeman is an award-winning Director of Photography with nearly two decades in news, sports, entertainment, special programming, documentaries, and commercials. Greg has directed projects for nearly every major television network including ABC, Discovery, ESPN, HBO, HGTV, NBC, PBS, and more.

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Matt Jeppsen Chicago Mentor

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Matt Jeppsen Chicago Mentor

Background

The Flying Dutchman, The Launch, Less Cowbell, One in a Million

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Steve Riach Chicago Mentor

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Steve Riach Chicago Mentor

Background

Steve is an award winning producer, director and writer of over 250 films, documentaries, television shows and home video properties, including specials from the Olympics, Super Bowls, World Series, NBA and NCAA Championships, and college football bowl games.

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Avery Williams Chicago Mentor

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Avery Williams Chicago Mentor

Background

Avery O. Williams works steadily in both the film and theater worlds. He is the co-writer of the feature film Directing Eddie starring Valerie Perrine and Jade Barrymore, directed by Lawrence Kaldor which premiered at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival and was voted Best Comedy at the 2001 New York International Independent Film & Video Festival. He wrote and directed the industrial film for the City of Atalanta entitled Surviving Domestic Violence and he wrote and co-produced the film short The Willie Witch Projects, which was showcased at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival and is distributed by Trimark Pictures in their compilation entitled The Bogus Witch Project. Other short subject screenplays that have been made into films include Notes In A Minor Key, The Willie Witch Projects and The Chocolate Factory, Part 1.

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Harry Findysz Chicago Mentor

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Harry Findysz Chicago Mentor

Background

“The Film Connection Program uses real world people to mentor real world jobs.”

-Harry Findysz, Tucson, Arizona, Southern Arizona Video Productions

Producer of Live Television, Music Videos, Documentaries, Winner of Ashbury Best Music Documentary 2016 Linda Chorney The Cantina

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Logan Hale Chicago Mentor

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Logan Hale Chicago Mentor

Background

Logan is a lifelong filmmaker. With 8 years of experience in Event and Experiential Marketing, Logan has a passion for communicating the brand message and essence with artistic quality and creativity.

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Tom Malloy Chicago Mentor

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Tom Malloy Chicago Mentor

Background

The Alphabet Killer, Love N’ Dancing, The Attic, Hero of the Underworld, Law & Order: SVU

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Jason Jackson Chicago Mentor

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Jason Jackson Chicago Mentor

Background

Past productions include LMN’s Monstresses; Investigation Discovery’s Cuff Me If You Can; America’s Most Haunted and UFO’s Crashed my Vacation; America’s Most Secret and I Faked My Own Death for Discovery; National Geographic’s 42 Ways to Kill Hitler and Don’t Try This At Home; Vampire Secrets and Ancient Ink for The History Channel; Las Vegas Bikers for truTV; Weather Channel’s Full Force Nature; True Confessions for WE-TV as well as Beyond Death and Investigative Reports for A&E.

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Matthew Temple Chicago Mentor

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Matthew Temple Chicago Mentor

Background

“All aspects of filmmaking are primarily experiential, so a program like this one gives the students what they need most- the opportunity to DO.” — Matthew Temple, Producer of “The Advocate” and Universal’s “Dragon Nest: Warriors’ Dawn”

Matthew Temple has long stood at the crossroads of art and social action–his work and passion split between telling stories and participating in the creation of new paradigms wherein new stories for the future can be created. As a storyteller, he works as a screenwriter, director, producer and actor.  As a social entrepreneur, he is the founder and president of the non-profit WeStrive, where he is the executive director of the Wandering Reel Traveling Film Festival. Temple is currently VP of Production and Development for Mili Pictures Worldwide.

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Nick Kielhold Chicago Mentor

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Nick Kielhold Chicago Mentor

Background

Nick is your basic military brat. Except for the fact that neither of his parents were actually in the military. But, like many military families, his family moved several times during his youth, living in Omaha, Chicago, and Minneapolis among other places. And although he wasn’t living on military bases, he developed a deep interest in History, and all things military. Ask him about the Battle of Tarawa in 1943, and you may just get an entire lesson on the Pacific Theater of World War II. When he’s not painting tanks for his war game simulations, Nick works here. He shoots video. He edits video. He talks about World War II. A lot. Anyone who comes into contact with Nick will become much better versed in the history of mankind and all the wars it has produced over the years. Nick provided 50% of the formula that founded Full Effect Productions over 18 years ago, and has played a vital role in its success. Nick is a 1987 graduate of the University of South Dakota, and his previous experience includes working at a local TV station as Commercial Videographer/Producer. Not taking a cue from his parents, Nick has decided to keep his family in one city, and has called Sioux City, Iowa home since 1988. He has a wife of 29 years and an adult son and daughter. In his free time, Nick can be found studiously painting small military ships, tanks and airplanes. He has amassed large numbers of these items that comprise entire military units used for battles at the MAGECON gaming convention. He’s a film buff who’s recently installed home theater has him positively giddy, and hardly ever seeing daylight.

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Ryan Kindahl Chicago Mentor

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Ryan Kindahl Chicago Mentor

Background

Documentaries, Music Videos, Commercials

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Chicago News

What Makes a Good Love Scene?

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Low Budget Filmmaking Heroes

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What Science Says About Writer’s Block

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Lorne Michaels Potential Retirement from SNL and The Future of TV Sketch Comedy

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Achieving Flow: Entering the Vortex

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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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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