Written by on Mar 27, 2014. Posted in On Location

Sci-fi feature Divergent builds dystopian Chicago on location in Illinois

New sci-fi feature Divergent sought dystopian visuals while filming on location in Chicago, as the production team recreated the setting of Veronica Roth’s source novel. The story is set in the aftermath of a future conflict that has left the city in a state of disrepair.

Divergent was based at Cinespace Chicago Film Studios but also filmed on location at various industrial spaces throughout Chicago.

“Compared to a lot of North American cities where these industrial spaces have fallen into disrepair, there were just a lot of empty, but still maintained, still heated, and consequently in- not-too -bad shape factories in 1920s or 30s architectural spaces, which gave us a great look for Divergent,” Production Designer Andy Nicholson told The Wire.

“There’s sort of a North American industrial architecture that you do see in other towns. It was just amazing [that] there were a bunch of buildings in Chicago that were still there, well maintained and safe to shoot in. That was a great starting point for that.”

Illinois offers a 30% filming incentive, but Divergent director Neil Burger had to fight to convince producers to film in Chicago. Indeed, the filmmaker will not be returning for Insurgent - the next in a planned trilogy of movies - which will be filmed on location in Atlanta instead.

Over the past year Chicago has been particularly strong for TV production, having attracted Dick Wolf dramas Chicago Fire and Chicago PD. Illinois faces stiff competition from nearby Detroit, which will be one of the main filming locations for the upcoming Superman Vs Batman.


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