Commercial Filming and Photography Policy


The health and safety of our passengers, staff members, and airport community remain our highest priority. Per federal mandate, all film crews, including casts, are required to wear face masks when within airport buildings. Productions also must follow the Restore Illinois Film Production Guidelines and the City of Chicago's Be Safe Film and Television Production Guidelines. All applications will be reviewed for their potential impacts to operations and to safety/security.

Please refer to the Chicago Department of Public Heath’s website, chicago.gov/coronavirus, for the latest local updates on the response to COVID-19.

​ ​​

The Chicago Department of Aviation, or CDA, manages Chicago O’Hare and Midway International Airports. Chicago’s airports offer service to over 260 nonstop destinations worldwide, including 47 foreign countries, combined. Together, Chicago’s airports serve more than 105 million passengers each year and generate approximately $60 billion in annual economic activity for the region.

Filming at O’Hare and Midway can distinctly set the scene for Chicago-based films and photography due to their iconic architecture and art. Alternatively, the airports also offer less recognizable options to represent other airport locations.

All commercial filming within and on the property of Chicago’s airports requires expressed, written permission from the CDA. This applies to projects such as, but not limited to:

Feature Films

Television Series

Commercials

Documentaries

Corporate and Student Films

Web-Based Media

Professional Photography

 

All commercial production must follow the process listed below. Ticketed passengers are not exempt from this policy.

News media filming is governed by the CDA Media Policy.

Filming Locations:

CDA’s primary responsibility and highest priority is safe, secure and orderly airport operations. The following filming locations may be available during off-peak hours (typically overnight). The use of any location is subject to operational and security approval, as well as approval by any impacted airlines or other airport tenants.

The Department of Aviation encourages all filming requests to be submitted with as much advance notice as possible. Please be advised that access beyond the security checkpoints is subject to additional security approval, including background check and TSA screening.  

Airline and Concessions Areas: the areas that are leased to the airlines and other tenants, such as ticket counters, gate areas, jet bridges, baggage claims, private offices, stores and restaurants, are under the control of those parties, and filming access to those areas also must be approved by the appropriate airline or business, in addition to the CDA. This includes cargo facilities, as well as the art in high traffic areas such as Terminal 3 H/K Hall of Flags and the Terminal 1 Tunnel light sculpture The Sky’s the Limit.

Terminal 5, excluding TSA Checkpoints and CBP:

The majority of curbside, ticketing lobby and counters, and gate areas located in Terminal 5 are common use and are available for commercial filming projects with the approval of the CDA. Please note that at this time, Terminal 5 is undergoing major construction and availability may be limited.

Other Post-Security Areas

Concourses, public art, and other post-security areas are available for commercial filming projects with the approval of the CDA.

Other Pre-Security Areas

Curbside, parking lots, garages, roadways, the Multi Modal Facility, and any other areas not under airline or tenant leasehold may be filmed with the approval of the CDA.

Airfield and Ramp Areas

The CDA does not allow filming on the airfield with the exception of b-roll. Filming in ramp areas is subject to approval by airline tenant and CDA. Filming on T5 ramp areas is strictly prohibited.

Air Traffic Control Tower, Customs and Border Protection, TSA Checkpoints, and Other Federally-Controlled Areas: Air traffic control towers are controlled and operated by the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”). Terminal 5 Arrivals areas (excluding landside domestic arrivals areas) are controlled and operated by US Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”). TSA security checkpoints are controlled and operated by the Transportation Security Administration (“TSA”). For filming access in any of these areas, you must contact and obtain approval from the responsible federal agency, along with the CDA. The filming of federal personnel, equipment or procedures without this approval is strictly prohibited.

How to Inquire/Apply:

  1. Contact CDA Project Coordinator Emily Thompson at emily.thompson@cityofchicago.org at least two (2) weeks before the requested film date. Requests made less than two weeks in advance cannot be guaranteed. For larger or more complicated projects, additional advance notice will be required.
  2. Submit a Letter of Request for review by CDA and relevant Airport tenants. Letters of Request must include all details regarding your film request, including, but not limited to:
  • Title and description of the series
  • Name of Requesting Production Company or Organization
  • Description of scenes you are requesting to film/photograph at the airport, including storyboards, if available
  • Production dates and times (specify prep, filming, and strike)
  • A list of desired locations of any scenes to be filmed at the Airport
  • Number of cast and crew/personnel, including background extras --  All cast and crew must wear face masks at all times in line with current federal mandates
  • Arrival and departure hours
  • Flight information (if applicable)
  • Number and type of production vehicles
  • Lighting requests
  • Identification and use of props, e.g., picture vehicles, etc.
  • Items of equipment to be used, e.g., cameras, boom mics, cranes, lifts, etc.
  • Alteration requests, e.g., sign removal, sound system, etc.
  • Special effects requests
  • Identification and use of animals
  • Stunt requests
  1. Conduct a location and technical scout at least one week prior to requested film date to firm location request and to ensure compliance with TSA and other security regulations.
  2. Review the CDA’s CDA Commercial Film Policy and submit a signed copy of the Policy
  3. Submit your Certificate of Insurance. Please see CDA Commercial Film Policy for organizations that must be named on this Certificate.
  4. Hire Chicago Police Department escorts to comply with CDA Commercial Film Policy . Please see Commercial Filming Policy for specific requirements.

For additional information regarding filming at Chicago’s Airports, please see the CDA Commercial Film Policy

​​​​​​​​​