61098896_5162fb0da4I hit Chicago last weekend for a whirlwind 48 hour trip to the IFP Chicago’s Midwest Filmmakers Summit, and I came away mightily impressed by the city and it’s people.

Chicago is a town with an embarrassment of architectural riches, an excellent public transit system, and a wide selection of beers on tap.

In other words, I loved it.

After wandering around the Loop until late Friday evening, I spent Saturday morning at the Field Museum’s excellent Pompeii exhibit, then walked through a light sprinkle of rain to Columbia College, where the IFP Chicago was holding the Summit.

Elizabeth Donius and Molly Hansen of the IFP were kind enough to invite me to speak on one of the weekend’s panels, which was as much a learning experience for me as it was for the filmmakers in attendance (maybe more so). I was somewhat unfamiliar with the level of independent production in the Chicago area, and was pleased to find a thriving, ambitious film-making community, eager to leverage Chicago’s vast pool of acting talent and plenitude of photogenic locations into a higher indie profile for the Windy City.

Later that night, SAGIndie sponsored a BBQ and Southern Rock blowout at a loft in the magnificent Fine Arts Building. As the band played and the Stella flowed, a thunderstorm blew in. Undulating sheets of soaking rain washed over the streets as lighting flashed over Lake Michigan. Some brave souls opened the windows and crawled out onto the ledge, ten stories above Michigan Avenue, to watch the torrent.

I stood a safe distance away, sipping a beer, as the sweet sound of a pedal steel guitar washed over me, and the flickering light of candles played over the pressed-tin ceiling.

Before I got too much of a load on (I hate to fly with a hangover) I made a dash down rain-slick Wabash to my hotel, crawled into bed, and feel asleep to to the sound of the El rattling it’s way through the night.


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