Founded in 1987, the Independent Feature Project (IFP)/Chicago, originally called IFP/Midwest, was started as a 50-member organization that met in a local pub, having neither offices nor staff, and programs limited to member-made films. In 1992, the first annual IFP/Midwest Independent Filmmaker’s Conference was held with a modest schedule of events and list of speakers.
From 1993 through 2000, the IFP strengthened its annual conference and began hosting filmmaking workshops and screenings of independent films. The backbone of the organization was the ‘working’ board of directors. In 2000, Rebekah Cowing was hired as Executive Director part-time, resulting in increased membership and a cash reserve that afforded the organization enough stability to develop a full time staff.
The IFP/Chicago hired full-time executive director Elizabeth Donius in May 2004. The past four years have brought transformational growth in the form of increased staff, programming, foundation support and board investment. In 2007, IFP/Chicago held its first Independent Film Gala, raising more than $70,000 and further diversifying the income base of the organization to include, for the first time, individuals.
This year, IFP renews its focus on programming with the creation of a new website at ifpchicago.org; the acquisition and presentation of the critically-acclaimed Chicago Underground Film Festival; and the expansion of the award-winning Summer Production Program to include a partnership with the University of Chicago Center for Urban Schools Improvement.