Kwame Amoaku Resigns from Chicago Film Office; Betsey Grais to Serve As Interim Director

One of the cornerstones of the Chicago film community is changing course. Friday marks the final day for Kwame Amoaku as Director of the Chicago Film Office. Deputy Director Betsey Grais will be leading the department while the CFO conducts its search for a new leader.

Let’s hand the microphone over to Kwame himself and share his letter posted to his facebook earlier this week…

To the Chicago Film Community

I am writing this letter to inform everyone that my last day as Director of the Chicago Film Office will be June 3rd, 2022. Deputy Director Betsey Grais will be leading the department until a replacement can be appointed.

I have been a proud member of the Chicago Film Community for almost 30 years. This community is like a family to me. I grew up here and I have worked with many of you for most of my career. I love this city, all of it 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 that moment on I was all in. That started a journey that took me all over the world and finally back here to step into the huge shoes of Rich Moskal.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Commisioner Mark Kelly welcomed me into the DCASE family in July of 2019 where I met an amazing group of public servants whose sole purpose was to bring joy and culture to the people of Chicago. Over the last three years I am proud of the progress growth I have witnessed. I am proud to have been a part of the awesome success we have had here.

• Increasing film production by 125%

• Worked with State and City Health Departments to get COVID guidelines that allowed film to be declared essential manufacturing in Chicago allowing us to return to work quickly during the pandemic.

• Improving the deconfliction process and working with neighborhoods to allow for the increase in production

• Creating a workforce development program to expand employment opportunities to underserved areas of the city.

• Creating a marketing program with to promote the importance of film production to the local economy

• Worked with developers to get two new purpose built infrastructure online by 2023 and working with existing providers to expand capacity.

• Building the creative content infrastructure in Chicago’s Independent film community by supporting filmmakers with funding and professional development.

I am confident that with Commissioner Erin Harkey will continue grow the film industry here in Chicago. The Chicago Film Office Team, Deputy Betsey Grais, Independent film coordinator Thavary Krouch, and Project Managers, John Hundriser and Tim Olson will continue to be the small but mighty team that provides the very best service to this incredible community that I have been blessed to call home for almost three decades.

Those of you you that know me know I have been through many personal challenges over the last few years. I want you all to know that the support that I have received from this community has been a truly a blessing that I am beyond thankful for. I took this job because I wanted to give back to a community that has given me so much love. I hope that I was able to do that in the short time that I was here.

Thank you, Kwame, for your tireless service to the Chicago television and filmmaking production community.

Photo Credit: Patrick L.Pyszka

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