It’s just as well that, in his 25-year career in film and TV, Kwame Amoaku has held just about every job in front of and behind the camera. In his new role as director of the Chicago Film Office, he’ll be reprising many of them—simultaneously.
It’s no secret that film and television work in Chicago has increased exponentially over the last few years. What’s much less known is exactly how a movie or show gets permission to film on a street, shut down a bridge or shoot in a particular neighborhood. The answer?
The Chicago Film Office, which handles the permitting and coordination of all city agencies and neighborhoods for every production in Chicago. As the office’s new head, Amoaku brings impressive credentials, a South Shore pedigree and something else: “a genuine love for the film industry,” he says. “It’s like a family to me; I have a ton of love for the city.”
Amoaku has a vision of developing additional production facilities and stages throughout the city to draw even more jobs and industry here. “I think everyone’s boat can rise while this industry grows,” he says. “The possibilities are endless if we can build that infrastructure. We owe it to the neighborhoods to put as much development there as possible. Inside a film, there are so many different crafts and disciplines—and that means a ton of opportunities for people to enter the field.”
And in the spirit of making no small plans, he adds: “I want a creative industry that grows from the city itself, so that we’re generating the projects and not just waiting for Los Angeles or New York to come to us.” chicago.gov