Alex Diamond learns from Chicago PD’s work for the future of cinema

Assistant director Alex Diamond jokes that his professional abbreviation, “AD,” really should stand for “Anxious Director.”

“We always have to think about what could go wrong and what could be a problem,” said Diamond, a Columbia College graduate and veteran of several local independent productions. A resident of Chicago’s West Side, he is currently working as an assistant director on the long-running NBC drama Chicago PD

“Let’s say we’re filming outside a neighborhood house,” he added. “I have to make sure that all the houses are clear and that no one comes out [their door]. I have to think about everything that’s going on in there. I like to think that my vivid imagination helps me think of all the possibilities that can arise.

Diamond describes herself as a “people person”. “It’s one of my favorite things and it’s a big part of the movie. You come across so many different personality types and you have to find a way to work together as one great team.

Diamond hails from the suburb of Northbrook and jumped at the chance to work on a studio production.

“I thought I’d really like to see what studio life is all about,” Diamond recalled. “I had really only worked on low-budget indie stuff, and a Lifetime movie and a BET movie. I wanted to see how a big TV show was going.

His first day as a production assistant on Chicago PD was a “stunt day,” he added. “So I couldn’t say no.”

After working on the program for two seasons, he was asked to come on board full time. Diamond said it helped that he was well acclimated to the rhythm of a major production before he even left Columbia.

“I had a pretty good understanding and a pretty good idea of ​​how a set would go,” he explained. “Then, after about three years [working on Chicago P.D.], my vision just sharpened and my focus became clearer. Now I really understand what 15 minutes on a film set means.

Diamond is confident that his experience will help him when he one day directs his own productions.

“I see that flow throughout the day, and I think that’s what’s going to help me be a creative director, the one behind the monitors who directs the actors,” he explained.

When not working on Chicago PDDiamond has developed a short “proof of concept” film called Dopamine dreams it hopes it can be expanded into a feature film or TV series.

The film tells the story of a “naïve drug dealer who meets a dark stranger at a party. We later discover that this stranger is a drug kingpin for the underground music scene.

Diamond worked on Dopamine dreams “since before college. It’s ready to be lit green and [begin] pre-production. This project…is actually what I’ve been pursuing my entire career and what ultimately made me change my life path and go to film school.

He encouraged anyone looking to break into local film and TV production to network and talk to people. “There are plenty of social media and community pages that will allow you to volunteer on a film set. I [once] volunteered as a second AD on a short film, and a screenwriter suggested me to another company. For this, I earned $800 in one day. At 24, it was unbelievable at the time. It shows there’s no bridge you should ever burn [and you must] make sure you work as hard as possible.

Launched in late 2021 — with a second round of applications open this summer — the Chicago Made Workforce Development Program provides job training and job placement for Chicago residents between the ages of 24 and 50, primarily in underserved areas. served, to help meet the industry’s growing demand for skilled workers. The program is an initiative of the Chicago Film Office of the Department of Current Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and consulting firm XD-TECH.

NBC Universal, Netflix, The Walt Disney Company and Warner Media are offering on-set training for the program. A number of local businesses and organizations, as well as the IATSE Local 476 and Local 600 unions, also lent their support.

A record 15 productions shot in Chicago in the summer of 2021, bringing with them nearly $700 million in economic impact. The Chicago Made program connects projects such as those with workers across the city.

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This series, from the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), asks Chicagoans in the film industry to share their experiences. Learn more at ChicagoMade.us and join the conversation on social media using #ChicagoMade.