Fresh Films of QC gets $3.8M state grant

Rock Island-based production company Fresh Films has been awarded a $3.8 million grant from the Illinois Film Office. CREDIT FRESH FILMS

Rock Island-based production company Fresh Films has been awarded a $3.8 million state grant to help build production facilities in Rock Island County.

Fresh Films, a production studio and training ground for young filmmakers, was one of three recipients of the Illinois Film Office Soundstage Grant. The grant was announced today, Feb. 28, at a news conference at The Fields Studios in Chicago by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

“This is an industry we care deeply about. … Since I took office in 2019, growth of the film industry (in Illinois) has skyrocketed,” the governor said.

He added that the film industry in Illinois continues to benefit businesses and taxpayers. For every $1 in tax credits invested in the film industry, the state sees $7 in return, Mr. Pritzker said. “We are attracting extraordinary projects.” 

In addition to Fresh Films, grants were awarded to The Fields Studios in Chicago and Flyover Film Studios in Champaign.

The $3.8 million grant for Fresh Films will support construction of sound stages and related production support including production offices, mill spaces and other facilities that attract and serve large-scale film and television productions. The grant requires additional matching funds invested in the project.

Soundstages attract large-scale TV shows and films and build economic opportunity through year-over-year job creation, job training and spur the growth of related businesses and services, adding to the overall financial health of the community, the release said. 

The Rock Island County studio will consist of at least two 20,000-square-foot soundstages with an additional production mill, offices and support spaces. 

“This opportunity will benefit the region and its Illinois residents,” according to Kelli Feigley, founder, managing director and executive producer of Fresh Films.

“Fresh Films is beyond thankful to be receiving this grant to build a studio in Rock Island County. We worked in collaboration with other local partners to showcase how combining our region’s unique locations and history with soundstage studio infrastructure will attract large-scale TV and film productions to this part of the state,” added Ms. Feigley.

“The studio will serve as a catalyst to diversify the local economy, not just in job creation for local talent but also in how it can attract professionals from the entertainment industry, spurring the growth of related businesses and services which adds to the overall financial health of the community.”

State Sen. Mike Halpin added that he is pleased Fresh Films will be helped by the grant money.

“Western Illinois’ film industry has so much potential,” said Mr. Halpin (D-Rock Island). “Strategic state investment in our film infrastructure, including Fresh Films and the amazing work done at the Quad Cities Regional Film Office, will boost our local economy and give producers an affordable alternative to complete their projects.”

According to Fresh Films’ website, students get hands-on experiences working many jobs involved in video production. Teen participants do not simply get a camera and get turned loose. They apprentice under the close mentorship of professionals and college interns while working on a set of Emmy-nominated productions: films, television shows and documentaries. Teens also learn through school or after-school via Fresh Films’ year-long curriculum that meets state and national standards.

“As a production studio and training ground, we provide amazing industry connections, mentorship opportunities, corporate internships, and pathways to college and careers in the ever-growing creative economy that is experiencing an 11% job growth; including (but) not limited to the film and entertainment industries,” Fresh Films website said.

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