Who We Are & What We Do
About the Fest
Chicago Comedy Film Festival's mission is to support comedy filmmaking as a vital and influential art form. We are a 501c3 nonprofit and exist to educate and support a diverse network of comedy filmmakers from across the globe. The festival showcases films that range from low budget to studio quality. We champion strong voices in comedic storytelling.
In researching film festivals our artistic director found that there are limited options for comedy filmmakers. The festival circuit can be highly exclusive and favors experimental and dramatic films. In 2010 Hardy founded the festival with the goal in mind to bring comedy filmmakers to the great city of Chicago and to give comedy filmmakers a meeting place to exchange ideas, showcase their work, and celebrate comedy film.
CCFF is continuously looking to build new relationships and find ways for filmmakers to expand on marketing their work. Combined, our staff has 15 years experience in television, film, education, and comedy production. We spend a great deal of our time making sure CCFF is a well organized event. Many of our films have gone on to distribution on Netflix and other platforms. We are constantly seeking award opportunities for filmmakers and every year we award the Top Female Filmmaker to encourage women to continue creating their own opportunities to write and act in roles that inspire them.
We aim to make your festival experience as a filmmaker fun and memorable. Our volunteers and staff have years of experience in the Chicago arts and aim to honor your talents with a festival that promises to be for YOU. From goodie bags to after parties, CCFF is a festival that knows how to be VIP without being stuffy!
Who We Are
Jessica Hardy is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Chicago Comedy Film Festival. She works with Brent Kado under their film company Flowfeel Films to develop short and feature films. They have produced three feature comedies. In 2010, when she was researching comedy film festivals she discovered that there are few. That was when she decided to launch CCFF. The festival has been recognized by MovieMaker magazine for being one of the top film festivals worth the entry fee. Hardy strives to support comedy filmmaking as a vital and influential art form. She is a proud member of SAG-AFTRA. She has appeared in commercials, television, and independent films. When she is not creating or managing the fest she enjoys teaching improv with Sarah Hall Theatre Company. She has worked with youth for over 10 years mentoring and teaching filmmaking, acting, and improv workshops. In 2017 she will return to Southern California's Models of Pride LGBTQ conference as a workshop leader. She is a graduate of The Second City Chicago conservatory and studied with Acting Studio Chicago and Lesly Kahn Studios in Los Angeles. In 2015 she was the showcase showdown winner on the Price is Right!
Brent Kado is the Executive Director of the Chicago Comedy Film Festival. He is a filmmaker and screenwriter recognized for his work in the Chicago Sun Times, TimeOut Chicago, Indiewire, and MovieMaker Magazine. He is an executive producer on Festival: A Documentary which recently had its world premiere at the Rhode Island International Film Festival August 2016 . His recent feature film A Short History of Drugs in the Valley just released on Amazon Prime. Kado is an adjunct professor at Columbia College Chicago. He attended DePaul University for his MA in Cultural Studies and attended Purdue University for his PhD in American Film Studies. He left his PhD program so that he could pursue more filmmaking endeavors and late night burrito binges.
Operations Manager, Jill Olson is the Operations Manager of the Chicago Comedy Film Festival. She is also the founder and producer of Storytown (www.storytownimprov.com), a fully improvised, interactive story for children 3-10 years old and their families. She just recently joined Funny Bones Improv(www.funnybonesimprov.com) as their Chicago Director. Jill graduated Cum Laude from Towson University with BA in Theater Arts. She is a graduate of the iO and Second City Conservatory improv programs and has performed around Chicago with iO, Second City’s Skybox Theater, Moving Dock Theater Company, Redtwist Theatre, and WNEP with Seven Deadly Plays and 365 Sketches. She also studied playwriting at The Chicago Dramatists. Writing credits include Left Unnamed as part of the 5th Annual Women’sPerformance Art Festival with Stockyards Theatre Project, Eleanor in American Machine and Other Works. She wrote and produced Mayfly: A Collection of Short Plays. Jill Olson has served as Program Coordinator for This Is ME and Child Whisperer for The Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival. In addition to teaching with Dream Big Performing Arts Workshop, she is an improv Professor or Merriment with The Laughing Academy (www.thelaughingacademy.com).
Tim Olson is the Technical Director of the Chicago Comedy Film Festival. Tim is also the script supervisor at Steve Harvey on NBC with plenty of experience in entertainment. He’s worked for years in commercials, feature films and television throughout Chicago. Tim’s equally nerdy with comedy and tech, which is why he handles all the technical needs for CCFF. While he loves dogs and cats, he is oh so dedicated to his job and the festival, that he only has time to pet sit.
Cameron Hines is a professional writer, performer, and filmmaker. Cameron began his work in film exhibition as an usher at his hometown movie theater and years later was the manager of his alma mater's movie theater. Outside CCFF, Cameron directs music videos for Chicago musicians including Louis the XVII and DrylllBones, writes feature films scripts no one has asked for, and contributes to comedy-news website The Laugh Button.
Hailey McNamara Hailey McNamara graduated from Columbia College Chicago in 2016, receiving her BA in Cinema Art & Science with a concentration in screenwriting. While at Columbia, Hailey also took classes at The Second City Training Center. Previously an intern for Chicago Comedy Film Festival, Hailey has placed in several screenwriting competitions, including the Written Image Screenwriting Award at Columbia College for The Birthmark, a short horror script, and The Modcon Film Festival in London for Cookie Jar, a feature dark comedy. Hailey recently wrote and produced The Bearded Lady, a low budget dark comedy/thriller, which is currently in post production.
Will Torrence moved to Chicago to pursue a degree in film at Columbia College Chicago, from where he recently graduated. Fond of all different types of films, he has a particular soft spot for comedies. When he's not watching films, he uses the remaining few hours of the day to write his own. In addition to films, he enjoys music, traveling, and being around large bodies of water. Whenever the opportunity arises, he likes to travel to the waterfront of Lake Erie in Pennsylvania.
Maya Armstrong is a research intern for the Chicago Comedy Film Festival. She is originally from northern Virginia, she used to say she was from DC until someone called her out on it last year. She is a rising Junior at Northwestern University majoring in Radio/Television/Film. Since beginning school Maya has participated in various performance groups focused around sketch comedy, improv, and children's theatre. Someday she hopes to become a television writer and find the perfect combination of leave-in conditioner and coconut oil.