Monday, August 17, 2009

Before we call it Gollywood, Ghallywood, Sinikrom, etc - let's get our house in order

I can't wait for Shirley Frimpong-Manso's next movie. It's been almost 5 months since Perfect Picture came out. She's not the only one making Ghanaian movies though, some of the other movie houses churn out movies as frequently as once a month. I'll like to touch on a few issues in Ghanaian movies and offer some thoughts and advice. See my previous post about the emergence of Ghanaian movies and some thoughts on working towards more excellence. I know some people don't like the idea of calling Ghana's movie industry Ghallywood or Gollywood and they have a point. Let's do something different. How about we call it Sinikrom? Oh wait, Phamous People has the 'Cinekrom' show. I am a huge fan of Phamous People, will love to see them get involved in the movie industry.

I call the 'Nadia Buari-Van Vicker-Jackie Appiah-Majid Michel' movies the Accra movies. They feature English lines and are set in Accra Takoradi. Owners of magnificent homes in Accra are afraid to release them for shooting of these movies because they feel they'll become susceptible to armed robbers. Who knew there were magnificent houses in Takoradi like that? I hear the house in which Nadia lived in for 'Beyonce' is her own. No, she didn't earn that house through her countless roles in Ghanaian movies, her father is Sidiku Buari, a famous Ghanaian musician. Doing arts and entertainment in Ghana does pay, my people. These 'Accra/Takoradi movies' have used the Nollywood distribution channels to make stars out of their actors. They are enjoying the name recognition that the Nollywood stars have.

I have a bunch of issues with these 'Accra movies'. They are making the same Nollywood mistakes, average sound and video quality, concentrating on making as many movies as possible instead of improving the quality of the production, etc. Do you pay attention to the dialogue in these films? Ridiculous. I made my brother buy 'The Perfect Picture' for me when he came to visit the US, and he also bought 'The King Is Mine'. The differences between the two movies were clear. 'The King Is Mine' tried too hard. These AA (Accra movies) use these big English words that definitely are not used in normal Ghanaian life and the dialogue is fake, to say the least. They sound better in Twi, because we use a lot of idioms there but when you do the same thing in English, it doesn't look real. You don't need to have your viewer sitting by dictionaries to impress them. You need profound lines, good witty conversation and superb acting to make a great movie. These proverbs and big English will make more sense if the lines were in the local languages because that's synonymous with our mother tongues.

If you are making two movies a month, you are not spending enough time on each production. Besides, by using the same actors and actresses all the time, you have the situation where the actors' bargaining power increases and they can command huge sums to be in a movie. It worked for Nollywood around 2003, when Genevieve Nnaji, Omotola, Ramsey Nouah and Nkem Owoh were banned from appearing in movies due to hefty compensation packages and this allowed for new actors to get major roles. We should spend a little more time on the movies, re-take the scenes till they are excellent and edit them properly to get rid of times where the mic is showing on the top of the screen.

I call the 'Agya Koo/Kyeiwaa movies with mostly Twi lines' Kumasi movies. Agya Koo is a gem. He has to receive a national medal soon. As Bradez sang, he helped stop the dominance of Nigerian films in Ghana. He seems to shine in almost any role he's put it in in a Ghanaian movie so far. Agya Koo is one of the most searched names on Youtube and Google and I know that because an unrelated Praye song called Agya Koo on Museke is popular. Recently, he stated that he didn't need script to act in movies. If you talk as much as Agya Koo does in movies, you probably don't want to be memorizing scripts. Many Ghanaians love his movies, etc, but it's about time we found a way to market him internationally so that non-Twi speakers will appreciate his talent.

One of my biggest issues with these Twi movies is the subtitles. It may be tough to subtitle everything the actors are saying but we can be intentional about how we go about it. I feel the dialogue is rich and getting people to appreciate that should be one of the major goals. If we are going to do the subtitling, we must do it right - with zero grammatical errors et al.

I watched a movie called 'Ashanti' the other day. I couldn't finish but it seemed to narrate some Asante history. I liked the idea a lot, the dialogue was super, the acting was great too and the settings were good. There were no subtitles though. I can't say it looked like Akan drama or Concert Party because the latter shows don't tell stories like this movie did. We always caught likening our movies to things like Efie Wura, but it's not our fault, it's what we are used to. I'll like to see more movies talking about our history. It's good for us Ghanaians to learn about it and I think it will have some more international appeal. We need to do this before someone else does and sells back to us anyway.

Where are all the major actors who were around before the movie industry took a nosedive around 2004? Akofa Adjeani-Asiedu, Pascaline Edwards, Brew Riverson, etc? Can someone cast Oscar Provencal in some Inspector Bediako role in a movie? No one mentions NAFTI anymore, is it dead? The idea of doing auditions at hotels for movies is not the way to go. The fact that someone can come and play the part of a lotto doctor brilliantly for 2 minutes doesn't mean he'll play different roles that well in other movies. If we can't afford to teach our actors, let's spend a little more time on our productions. I already discussed the monetizing options, putting out as many movies in a short time is not the only way to make money.

I can only sit here and yob bunch about what I feel must be done. I hope someone somewhere who knows someone who knows someone who is directly involved in the industry would pay heed and get to work. M'ano asi.
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