OLD TOWN — Chicago is home to some of the top stage talent in the world, and a new program at the Second City Training Center hopes to help translate that talent to the screen.
The training center's TV, film and digital program will include classes such as writing with the Onion, intro to writing for TV and film, writing the sitcom pilot and introduction to filmmaking.
"We have people you see on stage and you ask, 'Why isn't this person famous?'" said Jack C. Newell, head of the program and award-winning director. "Part of it is not understanding the film medium."
The talent pool of improvisers is centered in Chicago, but often the stars leave for New York or Los Angeles.
Newell's goal is to give those improv stars a place to hone their on-screen skills in Chicago.
"That's the need that we see and I think that it's long overdo," he said.
The first classes of the new program as set to begin next week.
The classes will give students experience focusing on on-camera acting and improvising as well as working on writing and producing for both TV and the web.
Newell said he believes the creation of the program will change the film industry in the city, which has recently seen a boom with high profile films such as "Divergent," "Jupiter Ascending" and "Transformers."
Newell expects the program will create a new category of improviser, one who is a filmmaker and improviser.
"I find I'm shocked that it hasn't been done yet to be completely honest," he said.
People are out in the city making movies, making films and making shorts, but the program will address the need to help students and independent filmmakers understand how to make these films excel.
The classes are not only geared toward Chicago's already rich improv community, but also amateur filmmakers and writers.
Newell most recently finished up filming his first documentary on the construction of a school in Haiti and is in post-production on a romantic comedy titled "Open Tables," which was filmed in some of Chicago's hottest restaurants.
"Close Quarters," his first movie, was set in a Lakeview coffee shop.
"We have this incredible community at Second City and now we have the opportunity to do something new and something more," Newell said.
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