Kwame Amoaku leaves the Film Office | Chicago Reel

Kwame Amoaku

This morning, director of the Chicago Film Office, Kwame Amoakuannounced that he would step down from his post on Friday, June 3. He made the announcement on his Facebook page.

“To the Chicago film community, I am writing this letter to let everyone know that my last day as Director of the Chicago Film Office will be June 3, 2022. Assistant Director Betsey Grais will lead the department until a replacement can be named. I have been a proud member of the Chicago Film Community for almost 30 years. This community is like family to me. I grew up here and have worked with many of you for most of my career. I love this city, from Howard to 127th Street. I remember the first job I ever worked. It was PA on a music video with Maria Roxas producing and Rakim Jihad directing. From then on, I was all in.

Amoaku went on to detail the progress made under his leadership.

“Over the past three years, I’m proud of the growth in progress I’ve witnessed. I’m proud to have been part of the tremendous success we’ve had here.

  • Increase film production by 125%
  • Worked with state and city health departments to obtain COVID guidelines that allowed the film to be declared essential manufacturing in Chicago, allowing us to get back to work quickly during the pandemic.
  • Improve the deconfliction process and work with neighborhoods to enable increased production
  • Create a workforce development program to expand employment opportunities in underserved areas of the city.
  • Create a marketing program to promote the importance of film production in the local economy
  • Worked with developers to bring two new purpose-built infrastructures online by 2023 and worked with existing vendors to expand capacity.
  • To build the creative content infrastructure in Chicago’s independent film community by supporting filmmakers with funding and professional development. I am confident Commissioner Erin Harkey will continue to grow the film industry here in Chicago.

See Kawame’s Facebook post here.


In his message, Amoaku alludes to the current commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) Erin Harkey, will assume his role. She will be assisted by the Chicago Film Office team, assistant Betsey GraisIndependent Films Coordinator Thavary Krouchand project managers, John Centerer and Tim Olson.

Amoaku was named director of the Chicago Film Office in 2019. He considers Chicago’s film community to be “more family to me than anything”, saying strengthening Windy City’s unique cinematic voice is among his main priorities.

Previously, Amoaku worked as a stage manager for Dick Wolf’s chicago fire from 2014 to 2018 and appeared on numerous call sheet lines, earning dozens of acting, directing and producing credits throughout his career.

Earlier this year, Chicago Reel revealed that Amoaku was brutally attacked outside his home.

Kwame’s greatest asset to the production has been his intuitiveness, respect and knowledge of the craft combined with his incredible ability to be efficient in various facets of production.

Chicago Reel send much peace to Kwame. We will miss you very much. We wish you the best in your new ventures.


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Colin Costello is the West Coast Editor of Reel 360. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @colinthewriter1