Today, the movie industry in Ghana is experiencing upsurge in business. Many Ghanaians, especially fanatics of movies would readily recall half a dozen years back when the industry had nothing much to show.
Until recent years, the industry was bedeviled by drain of talents and professionals, outmoded style, stale storylines and little investment. Throughout these challenging years, few adherent of the Ghanaian style have held the forts and weathered the storms that blew against the film making industry.
Though the similar challenges still pertain, pragmatic and innovative ways have been devised to surmount them, albeit, there are challenges. The renewed interest in investing in the film industry in the sub-region and western world has given impetus to the local industry too.
More significantly, the desire to revolutionize the industry by stakeholders has been one of the main driving forces accounting for the state of the industry in recent times. Today, Ghana can boast of artistic movie professionals who are in a healthy competition to make the best out of their talents and contribute their quota to the industry.
The likes of Van Vicker, Nadia Buari, Jackie Agyemang Appiah, Yvonne Nelson, Agya Koo, Majid Michel, John Domelo, Juliet Ibrahim, Nana Ama Mcbrown and Chris Attoh are making tremendous impact in the country, the sub-region and Africa as a whole.
These movie stars are making money for themselves and also accruing profits to movie producers who are investing in these blockbuster movies in the country. Though Ghana does not have many producers, in the strictest sense of the word, many amateurs are making tremendous waves behind the scenes to advance the film making industry.
“Due to the lucrative nature of film making in Ghana today, it is common place to find notices and other forms of publicities and advertisements announcing auditioning for future movie stars,” John Kessie, a film producer in Accra has stated.
The youth have now jumped into the train seeking to exploit their talents to make money for living. It is interesting to note that, those who have been through professional education in acting may not be the best in terms of flair in movies rather those who possess the talent are able to attract the admiration of teeming movie fans.
It’s business, folks!
Film making in Ghana today is a big business! Even though the industry lacks regulatory mechanisms, business structures, as well as state-of-the-art infrastructure, the venture seems to be very lucrative these days as the interest for watching favourite movie idols has heightened.
Apart from featuring in blockbuster movies, movie stars have exploited many other ways of making money through their talents. Some have invested in businesses of diverse nature in different sectors of the economy, which are not directly linked to their talents.
Yet some stars have launched into advertising and brand endorsements. Ghollywood stars are everywhere, from billboards to glossy tabloids filled with pictures of red-carpet events. Although such a move is not new at all in the western world, where movie celebrities get into legal contractual agreements with businesses to endorse brands, the phenomena is comparatively new in Ghana and also low in key.
In recent years, businesses such as Glo Mobile and the likes have pounced on the image and fame of celebrities especially, movie and music megastars to give endorsement to their brands, an advertising technique that works for those organisations.
It is believed that brand endorsement by words, actions or mere appearances on these billboards fetch thousands of Ghana cedis to the celebrities. Sometimes they are converted into other equal valued support.
But it costs!
The production of movie is a very cost intensive project, hence, the limited number of producers in the country. Not only must a producer have the wherewithal, he must be well abreast with the modern global and local trends of the industry and markets.
Though movie production is a very specialized area which needs high level training and experience, many less experienced, self-styled producers have emerged on the scene, producing movies. The cost of equipment, recruiting cast and crew and other post-production works add colossal monetary dimensions to movie projects in Ghana. Remuneration of actors and actresses is touted as one of the most costly aspects of movie production.
Reports say currently Majid Michel stays high on the list of well-remunerated movie stars with an amount ranging between GH¢15,000 and GH¢20,000 per production, while Jackie Appiah comes second with GH¢15,000, John Dumelo prices GH¢10,000 followed by Nadia Buari who takes not less than GH¢8,000. Yvonne Nelson charges not less than GH¢5,000, Juliet Ibrahim GH¢4,000.
When it comes to the local-style movie making, the popular Agya Koo is still leading except that his price has dropped from GH¢10,000 followed by Akrobotu- GH¢3000, Kyeiwaa GH¢2000, Lilwin GH¢2000 and Kwaku manu’s price has also dropped a little bit, from GH¢2000 to GH¢1500.
Piracy – the chief ‘butcher’!
One observation about the trends in the industry sub-regionally, is the seeming competition between Ghanaian movie stakeholders and their Nigerian counterparts, even though, they both star in a collaborative fashion in many multi-million movies.
This subtle rift has also affected the marketing and distribution of movies across both countries. Sometime in the middle of 2012, speculations were rife that the once harmonious relationship between the Nigerian movie industry, Nollywood and its counterpart, Ghana’s Ghollywood, came under threat as the movie marketers under the aegis of Film, Video Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria (FVPMAN) had placed embargo on Ghanaian films, which the latter threatened to do likewise.
Part of this grand issue had to do with the age-old issue of piracy which has been of grave concern to film makers in both economies. Both countries were accusing each other of piracy and intrusion into markets. But when it comes to the issue of piracy, each country has to do its homework well, yet there should a concerted approach to fighting it.
Months ago, the Film Distributors Association of Ghana, in alliance with Film Regulatory Board of Ghana, issued a directive to descend on operators of video rental shops in Ghana. The various movie associations resolved to embark on an anti-piracy war to reduce the rate at which some unscrupulous persons were pirating local movies.
Beckoning for effective mechanisms and structures
Another bane for the movie industry are lack of legal instruments, effective business mechanisms and structures as well as a clear-cut pathway to attracting investment in the industry.
It is reported that a number of stakeholders who have invested so much in the movie industry, are struggling to get their money back because, they have come to realize that without proper structure put in place to streamline the operations of the industry, their investment would not be profitable.
The reductions of investments go a long to affect the quality of input and output of movie products. Because the players lack resources it, is difficult for them to improve the content of their script and invest in production.
“Movies on the market today are finished products but the finishing is very bad due to lack of resources. Because we lack so many things when it comes to movie production, our movies are not seen on the international market,” Theo Akatugba, an expert producer and industry watcher observed.
“The movie industry in Ghana cannot be called movie industry because it lacks creativity, distribution and multiplicity of supply and services. Ghana is not even recognized on the international movie industry because it has no film treaty with any country in the world,” he added.
To meet the challenges ahead, Mr Akatugba said filmmakers or producers must re-school themselves to enable them do away with the increasing rate of illiteracy.
Lessons from Nollywood?
Twenty years after bursting from the grungy street markets of Lagos, the $500 million Nigerian movie business churns out more than 2000 movies a year. The films are hastily shot and then burned onto video CDs, a cheap alternative to DVDs. They are increasingly gaining appearance in the developed world, but all over Africa consumers snap up the latest releases from video peddlers for a dollar or two.
Reports say the Nollywood in Nigeria has been generating close to US$300 million per year for the Nigerian economy and provide about one million direct and indirect jobs to people in the country. And yet this vibrant, profitable industry is virtually unknown outside of Africa.
Government, please come on board.
Government must take a fair share of blame for its failure to put proper structures to streamline the activities in the industry. The passive posture of government now is a manifestation of the way it values the industry and its contribution to nation building. If in Nigeria, more than 2000 movies are churned out in a year, creating a $500 million industry, Ghana can attempt to learn from this sister nation.
By Felix Dela Klutse | Ghana