No kidding – the Ghanaian film industry is in a comatose stage at this moment, a situation that is causing some industry stakeholders to make proclamations to the effect that; the country has no industry, zilch!
Candidly, the movie industry lost its spark some 5 years ago, and even the once-buoyant Kumawood industry is tethering a bit. While the English-oriented movie sector is in a sorry state of stagnation, that of Kumawood, albeit producing movies, is not as vibrant as it used to be.
Yes, the film industry is not in the best of shapes but, does it mean there’s no industry? Is that really the case?
It is quite upsetting when you hear some film makers and actors, who were once on top of their game and enjoyed the best an industry could offer them, turn around and use the current sloppy situation and pronounce the industry, non-existent.
But wait, before one chides such commentators, it is plausible to analyze their arguments to ascertain if indeed, Ghana has never had a film industry.
‘There’s No Film Industry’ Theory
In 2015, astute filmmaker and broadcaster, Kwaku Sintim Misa (KSM) pointed out the fact that, there’s no film industry in Ghana.
According to the actor, there are certain elements of film making which is required to make it an industry and the fact that few individuals venture into film making does not necessarily make the whole operation one.
“We have a few individuals who are involved in the film business and that does not necessarily translate into a film industry. When you don’t have the elements of film making together, you’re only engaged in film making at some level but you don’t have an industry,” he told Sammy Flex on Pluzz 89.9 FM.
Just last week, another theory was propounded by the Executive Director of the Consumer Protection Agency (CPA), Kofi Katipo, who expressed concern over the lack of a film industry in Ghana.
“The film industry has now turned into a sole business venture as compared to the former years where individuals invest into it without necessarily making money, but to sell out the Ghanaian culture and nurture talents for the industry,” he pointed out to kasapafmonline.
Some actors have also opined in interviews that the country lacks anything that looks like an industry.
What Is a Film Industry?
The film industry or motion picture industry, according to wikipedia, comprises the technological and commercial institutions of filmmaking, i.e., film production companies, film studios, cinematography, film production, screenwriting, pre-production, post production, film festivals, distribution; and actors, film directors and other film crew personnel.
The core elements in film making are the script, producer (s), distribution, cinema, film festival and marketing agents.
Script plays an integral role in the making of a movie. The script can come from anywhere; it could be a book adaptation, the story of someone’s life or a genuine work of creativity.
The producer is the money person who buys the scripts, hires the director, actors and crew and organizes the making and selling of the film. The producer is usually employed by a production company.
Distribution is really a marketing job, which is a tricky task, and takes a heck of a lot of money and the role of the distribution company is to get the finished movie into cinemas and out in DVD format.
Indeed, all these elements of filmmaking do, or once existed in out film setup.
Yes, We Have An Industry But…!
There’s such profound documentary that tells the story of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah setting up the Ghana Film Industry and building the largest studio in West Africa in what is today known as Studio B at TV3.
The Ghana Film Industry is said to have welcomed film makers from Nigeria, Togo, Senegal and Kenya. These students of Film came to Ghana to learn from the very best in Africa and such persons were tutored by luminaries such as Tom Riberio, R. A. Fenuku, Frank Parks Rev. Chris Hesse, Sam Aryittey and Ashong Katai.
Clearly, there was an industry; an organization that was vibrant and marketable.
Through the bumpy days of GAMA through to independent filmmakers like Kwaw Ansah, Nana King, Socrate Safo, Veronica Quarshe through to Abdul Salam Mumuni Shirley Frimpong, Leila Djansi and the emergence, there was an industry which had scriptwriters, producers, cinemas, and distributors.
What we have now is an industry which has its structures and systems all messed up due to varied reasons – from political to economical.
What The Industry Needs Is – Revival
When the NDC government under President John Mahama formed and added the Creative Arts to the Ministry of Tourism, there were high hopes that, the film industry would experience some revitalization, but, although some efforts were made – they were not enough.
The industry sunk into near oblivion due to harsh economic decisions and lack of policies to protect and sustain it.
What the Government did right was the passing of the Film Bill – a document that can help the restoration of the industry.
The Bill has directives and policies that are sure to create an enabling environment for producers, distributors and other major players within the sector.
Thankfully, the new government under H.E Nana Akufo-Addo, through his Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture, is promising to fortify the Creative Arts Council and promulgate the Creative Arts Bill, a document that assure the funding of film making and the showcase of a higher percentage of Ghanaian films on national media.
There’s also the Cultural Policy which, when made effective, would provide some leverage for filmmakers, provide room for establishment of cinemas and give support to organizers of film festivals.
Surely, the film industry may be decrepit at the moment, but it does exist. What it needs is a jolt to bring it back to life!
Join GhanaStar.com to receive daily email alerts of breaking news in Ghana. GhanaStar.com is your source for all Ghana News. Get the latest Ghana news, breaking news, sports, politics, entertainment and more about Ghana, Africa and beyond.