“Slayers will always slay! Yvonne Nelson is totally wrong and she misunderstood the Era we are now! The Era of showbiz glamour sparkling across the Oscar’s, Grammy, Golden Globes, BAFTA, Cannes Film Festival, Venice Film festival, Berlin Film festival, AMVCA, etc.
The sum total of everything that’s wrong with the Ghana film industry presently can be found in this quote above.
I’d like to start by asking, which Ghanaian film or films by Ghanaians have made it to Globes, Oscars, Cannes and the Venice film festivals? Unfortunately, the answer is none. Sinking Sands played at Marche Du Film at Cannes, but Marche due Film is a market where you screen for potential buyers. It’s not official. We wore jeans and T-shirts.
The Oscars and Cannes have earned the right to honor glamour. Ghana film industry has not. Cannes and Venice film festivals have become avenues for companies; automobile companies, event companies, fashion houses and brands to advertise their products. That is why Gucci will dress an actor on the red carpet. That is why Audi will chauffeur Sophia Coppola at Cannes. The glamour and fashion at these high-profile events are all enshrined in advertising, product placement.
If my memory serves me right, the Ghanaian filmmakers and filmmakers of Ghanaian descent, who have been blessed to officially walk red carpets at industry recognized film festivals did so in clothes sewn by their seamstresses in Ghana. It did not diminish them in any way.
This is how I presented Like Cotton Twines at the Bentonville Film Festival.
The Ghana film industry does not need financial injection; neither does it need slayers, neither is it dead.
Ghana filmmakers have money. I say that because I see their lifestyles. Affluent lifestyles. If you are able to purchase and drive a range rover, you should also be able to finance a film because Ghana is cash and carry and that’s a 70,000-dollar car. I think.
The problem is not money, the problem is distribution.
Ghana has a mere 6 -10 screens at the cinema level. You are competing with foreign films for those few screens. You are also dealing with biased cinema bookers. Producers are negotiating the screens themselves, not through a distributor. The share is 70/30 in favor of the cinema after 2 weeks.
Nigeria currently has 60 plus screens if I am not wrong, and they use distributors to aggregate their films to the cinemas. It’s not a walk in the park. It has its pros and cons. The dividends are shared from the top and the producer is at the bottom. But, it saves the filmmaker some hustle.
Nigeria has the population to back it up. You’ll fit Ghana into Nigeria 6 times and there’ll be overflow. But filmmakers from both countries make films on comparable budgets and Ghana has less distribution. It’s not easy when they take their films to Nigeria either because publicity becomes another cost they have to incur.
Nigerians are very good at investing and supporting each other. Ghana is not the same. If Bank A sponsors a Nigerian filmmaker, he tells his friends and they all go to bank A for sponsorship. If Bank A sponsors a Ghanaian filmmaker, he hides that information from all his colleagues. He doesn’t want anyone to know bank A sponsored otherwise bank A will sponsor others and maybe leave him out. Trust and insecurity. That’s the crabs in a bucket mentality. The mentality you have when you have very little and you’re afraid to share.
Ghana needs distribution structures. Opera square works for opera square. Opera Square cannot accommodate or does not want to accommodate evolving markets and forms. They are used to a certain way that guarantees them profit and some under the table gains from government, levies and bully taxes. They are not going to change. Opera Square is bread. Asking them to conform is taking away that bread.
Distributors do not pay well. Ghana and Nigerian filmmakers will have an advantage if they start looking into sales agencies. It doesn’t matter what part of the world they’re in. Do not worry about sharing your sale. It’s the nature of the business. Film festivals are not for recognition. Sales agents are there. Seek them out. Whether your film is selected or not, you should go and look for buyers and reps.
Yvonne Nelson has a point.
An actor is called to play someone who grew up in small town Volta Region. The actor wants to wear designer shoes, change them often, speak with an American accent, and behave as someone exposed to the elite of the world. The character calls for the exact opposite of what this person wants to do. What then happens to the film? It fails to have a soul.
It’s all about the red carpet. It’s all about the delusions of grandeur. The fear of playing something that is not grand. The fear of connecting to one’s core because that is not the ‘slayer” image. The fear of connecting to a real human being because that is not the Instagram persona created.
I once had an actress tell me the makeup used on her was too dark, that people knew her to be light skinned. I said, “You’re not playing yourself though”. She was not happy!
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THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED ON Ameyaw Debra