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What is Film Police?


Film Police:  (philm po-leez')  1. An independent non-government watchdog organization dedicated to creative rights, freedom of the press, and an open society; 2. An internationally-recognized, award-winning production company based in Chicago; 3. A wicked cool, smokin’ hot web site. 4. All of the above.

Academy Award winner Colin Firth
on DVD! Buy it, rent it, view it!

“From the Vault of Art Shay: The Story of Kingfish Levinsky"


 King Levinsky (left) and Ben Schwab, Maxwell Street, 1931. Copyright MMI Phillip Koch, All Rights Reserved.

“You're looking at an historic PR snapshot made on Maxwell Street in 1931. It is an early simulacrum of a high five greeting between two toughs in front of a Jewish shoe and cap store caparisoned with a super-goyish Endicott-Johnson "long wear, low cost" sign. The fedora-down-to-his-nose recipient of the expertly staged greeting slap is none other than tiny Ben Schwab, a minuscule pugilist whose greatest achievement in life was having knocked out one Young Hanna in the first round of a Knights of Pythias Lodge exhibition on June 17, 1907.

The swagger-striding 21-year-old slapper about to make contact with Ben is the lean and mean - ears still ucauliflowered! - Chicago fighter King Levinsky, alias Kingfish Levinsky, next alias Canvasback Levinsky. In a year the Jewish streetfighter would beat Jack Dempsey in Dempsey's four round try at a comeback and in that terrible 1932, would narrowly lose to Max Baer on points in 10 rounds, repeating his feat July 4 in Reno in front of such cheering fans as movie cowboy Tom Mix and gruff actor Wallace Beery, probably researching his role as The Champ with Jackie Cooper in the corner of his sentimental heart.

Enter a real champ, Joe Louis, 21, who in 1935 put the Kingfish's lights out in 2:21 of the first round, having already knocked out 18 of his first 23 opponents.

There are, as Algren used to say, has-beens and never-weres. Levinsky (real name: Harris Krakow; real profession: fish peddling) was a crowd-pleasing never-was, and some attention should be paid to him in this, his 102nd year. Alas, he died in 1991 at age 81. He had 79 wins in 119 fights, and used to boast he had earned $350,000. Also leaving behind a reputation as, of all Chicago trades, a creative (in truth aggressive) seller of ties. In South Beach, near Miami near the 5th Street Gym, and in Chicago when the snows cleared away and Riccardo catered to outdoor lunchers and dinner guests who loved eating al fresco on Rush Street in the shadow of the Wrigley Building.

As waiter Bobby Rossi juggled his Hohner accordion through the tables playing "Peg o' My Heart", "Nola" and "Josefina Stop A-Leanin' on My Bell". My favorite was a number Bobby played with three other singing waiters snaking through the tables marching behind him: "Close the Doors- They're Coming Through the Windows-Close the Windows, They're Coming Through The Doors." The diners chimed in .

The year was 1948 and I was a young Life magazine writer-idea man, new to Chicago. I hadn't yet taken to carrying a camera, unfortunately. I was in the middle of pitching a story to Life on an Italian organ grinder whose sister was coming to see him from Italy.  They hadn't seen each other for 30 years. I also pitched the radio-TV show run by Ralph Edwards. Thus it was that the CBS crew came to document this meeting, and we at Life covered them covering it, and a few weeks later I'd dragged the guy and his monkey up to Rosedale Avenue and hired the pair to lighten up my 3-year-old daughter Jane's third birthday party. To put the time frame in perspective-Jane just retired from her law firm the other day.

The TV guys asked me if there were any other characters hanging around Riccardo's they should film. I immediately thought of another story on my to-do list: King Levinsky. Alas, I had no address or phone number for the guy, and even the great columnist Kup said, "Nobody finds him: he finds you."

Why was he on my story list? I had seen him two or three times working the lunch crowd. He would stop at a table, smile, then whip out a big tailor shears... and cut off the tie of his victim. Then he would produce a handful of ties, wave them under the frightened man's nose, and force a tie on him. "Matches real good," he'd say, holding out his hand. "Two-fifty please- and I don't carry no change."

I had not thought of the Kingfish until the other week when a bright couple of documentary film makers, Phil and Sally Koch - who run an outfit called The Film Police - interviewed me and Florence on camera about our memories of Riccardo's restaurant 63 years ago.
In their documentary the Koches hope to resurrect the atmosphere of wonderful nonsense that pervaded that greatest of all gathering places for the Chicago press, show people and sports people who dined there.

In this quest Koch was able to collect and copyright the high five picture at the top of this story.
Sad to say, pictures can be found of the King with Louis, Baer and Dempsey - and even on his back on the canvas. But, to the shame of my profession- so far- none showing this ill-starred but likable schlub cutting off a Countess Mara and replacing it with a cheapie from the bunch of dreck under his jacket.

If you can't wait until this time every Wednesday to get your Art Shay fix, please check out the photographer's blog, which is updated regularly. Art Shay's book, Nelson Algren's Chicago, is also available at Amazon.

Art Shay

Three camera shoot for National Louis University

Joyce Sloane & Julie Wilson
backstage before a show

Joyce Sloane

In Memoriam 2011

Along with the entire Second City family, we remember and celebrate Joyce Sloane, the heart and soul of The Second City, the legendary improvisation theater in Chicago.


Joyce enriched our lives with her inimitable personality, joie de vivre, and uncanny instincts for spotting young, comedic talent.     Joyce is seen here at the Gold Star Sardine Bar with her great pal, the legendary Julie Wilson, Tony Award-winning singer/actress, just before another show. We salute both these unforgettable, beloved women. 

Film Police chicks!

"The American Flag" PBS documentary
John Schultz photographed by Joe Costello

Joe Mantegna, David Mamet, Jack Wallace 2004
Photography by Steven Elkins Copyright 2004 All Rights Reserved

John Astin, Phil Koch, Judge Reinhold 'Betaville'

Buckingham Fountain, downtown Chicago

Commercial shoot at the LaSalle Street canyon location

Commercial shoot for Korea TV/LG Electronics

Filming PBS "The American Flag" in NYC
Cameraman Phillip Koch & Asst. Kate Koch

View Phillip Koch's LinkedIn profileView Phillip Koch's profile

We'll find the perfect location for your shoot!

Need an all night diner? How about Edward Hopper's?


Film Police provides production management services, crews and equipment for television shows, feature films for such clients as the Discovery Channel, HBO, the BBC, CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, The Travel Channel, The Food Network, The National Network, (TNN), McDonald’s, Kraft Foods, and numerous other Fortune 500 companies.

Recent Clients: TNN, "Pop Across America" cable talk show; BBC/Travel Channel "World’s Spine-Tingling Sites"; Discovery Channel, "The New Detectives" TV series; BBC "Tribute to Michael Caine" with Sean Connery (also director); "And One" TV commercial w/Bobby Knight; Gore Campaign spot w/Jesse Jackson; BBC "The Hunt" documentary series

BBC science TV series "The Weather"



Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

A great view of the downtown skyline!

FAQs for Film Police

How much does a budget cost?

If you're looking for a rough estimate for a commercial, industrial or a feature film shoot, those are FREE and completed quickly. If you need a full feature film budget, those are priced competitively and depend upon the complexity of the script. Average feature budgets range between $500 and $2,500.

Do I have to pay residuals on talent?

If the production hires SAG (Screen Actors Guild) talent there will be residual payments based on usage. These costs can be managed by knowing specifically what the intended usage will be, so you don't commit to more than you need. If the talent is non-SAG, we work to secure a buy-out fee that fits within your budget. Buy-out fees are negotiable.

I only need a couple of things in the U.S. and I have a really small budget. What can you do?

Film Police will assist you in managing your budget and costs. Film Police has experience in working with low to high budgets and we will make sure you maximize your resources. We will structure the production according to your specific needs.

What about visas to come to the United States?

We have a lot of experience with this as many of our clients are from outside the USA. Our legal specialists arrange for work visas if they are needed, but sometimes they are not. We won't waste your time and money on anything unnecessary.

If you’re based in Chicago, why should I hire Film Police for a shoot in Florida, or Texas, or anywhere?

Because we have more experience and we’re better than anyone in Florida! Our philosophy is to service your needs and save you time and money in the process. We shoot all over the country quite a bit. Film Police knows who to use for everything, and we have accounts with the best vendors. Your bottom line price will be met and you’ll have a better time working with us.

I hear it’s expensive to shoot in Chicago?

Not true! Most production resources are about the same as you’re used to paying in other cities in the world. There are many opportunities for saving money in Chicago if you know where to find them; and we do. Film Police has negotiated rates with many hotels and equipment vendors. Police assistance is modest and so are the filming permits. These savings (and many others) are passed on to you. Paying exceedingly close attention to detail also enables us to work with smaller crews, thus stretching your production dollar as far as it can go.  It's important to remember though that you get what you pay for with any product from film shoots to potato chips and Film Police know how to find the best value for the best price.
Can I shoot in Chicago with a non-union crew?

We have shot many projects in Chicago with both union and non-union crews. We have excellent relationships with many outstanding, highly skilled technicians.

I have a project with multiple locations, some are in the middle of nowhere. How would you handle this?

We can move a film crew by train, plane, automobile, or pack mule. Whether your locations are in the mountains, the desert, an island or an urban jungle. Film Police knows what to pack and how to get it there.

"I have always had this great fear -- it’s a nightmare really -- that as I was about to shoot something artistic and daring but completely illogical and cinematically incorrect, two large men in white helmets, jack boots, sunglasses and black leather uniforms would march on the set just as we’re about to shoot and announce to a hundred people, "Stop, this is the FILM POLICE! You can’t do that!" One of them would turn off the electrical power switch, everyone would stop what they’re doing, pack up their equipment and go home. I would be terribly embarrassed and humiliated and the FILM POLICE would arrest me for crimes against art and cinema! The FILM POLICE! They’re out there! I’m not afraid of anyone, not studio heads, egotistic agents, big stars, network execs, or even lawyers but the FILM POLICE! They scare me! I know they’re out there!"— From an interview with a famous director who wishes to remain anonymous.

Why FILM POLICE!? What does FILM POLICE! mean? Is there really a bunch of Film Police running around? No! OF course not and that’s the point. There should never be a bunch of Film Police running around. Film Police is a response to various measures to restrict and limit artistic freedom and creative expression, and misdirected attacks on filmmakers and the filmmaking community. Film Police believes that the artistic community should be self-policing. Filmmakers are by nature self-critical. Film Police believes that filmmakers will voluntarily categorize their work as restricted to certain audiences rather than a government agency arbitrarily limiting the audience to certain "acceptable" artistic works. We named our company FILM POLICE! as a tongue-in-cheek name so no government agency or official could use it for control and censorship purposes! FILM POLICE is a registered trademark of Koch/Marschall Productions, Inc. THE FILM POLICE! We’re out there!

PBS broadcasts "The American Flag"!!
Producer/Director Phillip Koch &TV/Film Producer Norman Lear

Photographed at Second City in Chicago
Harold Ramis interviewed for the PBS program "The American Flag"