NYC Names Kwame Amoaku Deputy Film Commissioner; Industry Veteran Was Head Of Chicago Film Office

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Kwame Amoaku, former director of the Chicago Film Office, is the new deputy commissioner for film at the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, where he’ll be principal advisor on production. A push by Mayor Eric Adams to accelerate the industry’s recovery, and surpass pre-pandemic levels, also includes creating a council of local industry insiders, and assigning a film liaison at every city agency.

Amoaku, a well-liked former location manager, director, producer and actor, held the Chicago post from 2019.

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The Film And Television Production Industry Council advisory group gathers executives from NBC Universal, Netflix, Paramount and HBO, heads of production hubs Steiner Studios, Kauffman Astoria and Broadway Stages and representatives of guilds, unions and trade organizations. It’s led by DGA Eastern Executive Director Neil Dudich, and April Taylor, executive producer and New York Covid Protection Response Alliance co-chair.

Mayor Adams also signed Executive Order 26, which places a film office liaison at every city agency and is meant to facilitate on-location production across the five boroughs.

“A strong foundation of production workers calls New York City home, but sadly many saw their jobs and their livelihoods suffer during Covid-19. This administration is taking action to change that,” Adams said. “We vowed to help the film and television industry fully recover.”

“New York City has some amazing stories to tell, and we’re going to make it easy as possible for the film and television industry to tell each one of those stories,” he said.

NYC’s film and television industry supported over 185,000 local jobs and accounted for more than $82 billion in total economic output before the pandemic. Streaming has pushed production to a new all-time high, with 80 series shooting in the city — 35 at any given time. It’s been impossible to build or convert studio space fast enough to keep up with demand. That’s another focus of the administration, which said close to one million square feet of production and related space is currently being newly  built or renovated around the five boroughs.

“New York City’s film and television industry led the recovery of our creative economy; demonstrating its importance to our city’s cultural identity and vitality; and drawing talent,
businesses, and tourists from around the world,” said MOME Commissioner Anne del Castillo. “With the authority of Executive Order 21, the leadership of Deputy Film
Commissioner Kwame Amoaku, and the support of the Industry Council, we can advance a holistic and coordinated approach to strengthen and diversify the industry in New York City.”

An economic recovery blueprint Adams unveiled in March called Rebuild, Renew Reinvent had plans for a cultural district on Governors Island; a Culture at Risk response team to protect creative businesses and neighborhood institutions; and a goal of establishing NYC as a digital game development hub, in part through a new curriculum at The City University of New York.

Production was one of the first industries to come back during Covid. But Adams’ blueprint addresses a city that was hit hard by the pandemic with tax revenue dipping, offices emptied and small businesses shuttered. It’s picking up. But crime has become a pressing issue for the mayor, a longtime NYPD officer. On Tuesday, a crew member of Law & Order: Organized Crime was shot and killed on the Brooklyn set of the NBC drama series

Production Council members, alphabetically:   

Venus Anderson – Program Director, ‘Made in NY’ Production Assistant Training Program at Brooklyn Workforce Innovations

Gina Argento – President and CEO, Broadway Stages

Kathy Banuelos – Senior Vice President, State Government Affairs, Motion Picture Association (MPA)

Rebecca Damon – Executive Director, New York Local, Labor Policy and International Affairs, Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA)

Ryan Ferguson – Location Manager and DGA member • John Ford – President and Business Manager, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 52

-John Ford – President and Business Manager, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 52 

-Carolyn Gershenson – Set Medic, IATSE Local 52 Officer

Malaika JohnsonLocation Scout, Teamsters Local 817 member

Ezra Knight – New York President, SAG-AFTRA

Dede Lea – Executive Vice President, Global Public Policy and Government Relations, Paramount

Amy Lemisch – Director, Studio Affairs, Netflix

Matt Miller – President and CEO, Association of Independent Commercial Producers

Flo Mitchell Brown – Chairperson, New York Production Alliance

Tommy O’Donnell – President, Teamsters Local 817

Santiago Quinones – Producer, DGA member

Jay Roewe – Senior Vice President, Production, HBO

Hal Rosenbluth – President, Kaufman Astoria Studios

Doug Steiner – Chairman, Steiner Studios

Vans Stevenson – Senior Advisor, Global Government Affairs, MPA

Veronica Sullivan – Senior Vice President and Head of Global Production, External Affairs and State and Local Government, NBCUniversal

Canella Williams-Larrabee – Unit Production Manager, DGA member

Taylor called it a group “whose boots are on the ground and who are professionally and personally invested in the long term success of the industry and this city.”

“It is an honor to be asked to help lead a group of distinguished film, television and commercial industry veterans to advise Mayor Eric Adams on policy recommendations which will reinforce New York City’s place as a top production destination in the world,” said DGA’s Dudich.

Production was one of the first industries to come back during Covid. But Adams’ blueprint comes addresses a city hit hard by Covid, seeing tax revenue dip, offices empty and small businesses shutter. It’s picking up, but crime has become a pressing issues for Adams, a longtime NYPD officer. On Tuesday, a crew member of Law & Order: Organized Crime was shot and killed on the Brooklyn set of the NBC drama series.

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