Saturday, October 13, 2007
MERARI ALOMELE REVIEWS 20 YEARS OF VIDEO FEATURES AND SAYS…OUR FILM INDUSTRY IS ALL DEAD
The Ghana film industry is no more. It has collapsed face down and needs artificial respiration. Various attempts to revive it have drawn blank because the symptoms of the disease are being focused upon, leaving the causes.
Today, what we have are like TV productions that are more of drama than movies when it comes to a real definition of the term.
Nigerian films have totally captured the Ghanaian market and who can begrudge our sub-regional neighbours? They know what they are about. They have researched into all departments of the industry and know very shrewdly how to liberate its potential.
They know that it takes money to make money. What Genevieve Nanji alias (Sharon Stone) is being paid per slot, no famous Ghanaian actor or actress has earned a quarter of it.
When I had a very brief chat with Mac Jordan Amartey some years back about how he was faring, he said the film industry had made him poorer than he was. The remuneration was not good at all.
The teacher is now doing some funny commercials to keep his nose above water. The actors and actresses are popular but with nothing to show for it, so they are finding more lucrative vocations.
Akofa for instance is now running a restaurant and making good money. Others I know are supplementing by managing Space-to-Space business and retailing phone cards in the side.
Yet another reason why the film industry is not clicking is that nothing is being done professionally. First, there is no division of labour. The film director is the scriptwriter, the guy who films on location, the financier, the accountant, the supervisor of the sound and lighting crew.
You cannot run any successful enterprise by trying to do it all by yourself, that is even if you know how to. It doesn’t work and has never worked. You need to hire professionals for all the sections to give you the best. Of course, you have to pay them well for their services.
Some of the scripts are terrible. No imagination, no creativity and so the entire project is non-starter. In many (90%) cases, there are no scripts. Film directors need to hire people who can let loose their imagination to capture wonderful and captivating scenes on paper. The Nigerians know this.
Any director who has experience in films and so thinks he can be a good scriptwriter must be daydreaming, because with writing, you need the natural flair, the literary flow, imagination and abounding creativity.
Now, what I have also come to see is that the typical Ghanaian film producer does not search for those who can do the job. They rely on cronies and family members who dream up amateuristic synopses and the next time you see them, they are on location. It is a sin against the industry.
The industry players must be professional in outlook and source for the best, otherwise no progress can ever be made.
It also has to do with sound and lighting. When the sound man is not good, the whole film can be rubbish to viewers. And when the equipment is bad, it is even worse. Some films are also not well lit because the machines are handled by amarteurs. The professional touch must be there.
There is no reason why film producers cannot hire professional sound men and lighting experts from neighbouring Nigeria to help them produce good movies?
The business is an expensive one and you must produce something exciting, else you cannot break even. Your storyline must be of class, one that is able to mesmerize your viewers. And that requires a writer worth his weight in gold.
For example, it is wrong when a film is full of dialogue and little action. The good writer must have a ‘digital’ mind that can conjure scenes to titillate viewers. He must be a magician, able to precipitate subtle thoughts into action.
Finally, Ghanaian film producers are always mindful of their budget. If you know you are not financially stable, do not enter into films, because you need to pay well and bankroll the project to get the job done.
For the first few films, you might lose, but they’ll help you to establish yourself and your name, if you do a diligent work. Following this, you are sure to harvest windfall.
Ghanaian film producers and directors should travel to South Africa and Nigeria and research into the nitty gritty of the industry. That way they will be more prepared for a rejuvenation of the industry.
Nothing much can be achieved without research, focus, diligence and a resolution to do it well.
The Spectator Saturday, October 13, 2007 Page: 12