There is no disputing the fact that the movie industry has seen a decline in the past couple of years, and with the onset of COVID-19, the situation worsened as productions came to a standstill and cinemas were closed.
The Daily Graphic set out to look at 2021 in retrospect for the movie industry and spoke to some producers who gave their thoughts on the situation.
First was Ivan Quashigah of Farmhouse Productions. He said, “Last year wasn’t quite what we expected because productions didn’t really take off due to the COVID-19 pandemic and cinema houses remained closed for a very long time. So even when they opened we did not see a lot of Ghanaian films being sent through the cinema houses.
“But on the production front in terms of content for television, with the advent of Akwaaba Magic on DStv, quite a number of productions have been made and Akwaaba Magic has been funding the production of some of their content and that has given us a lot of work to do. At Farmhouse Productions we produced ‘To Have and to Hold’ which is a 26-part series.
“I know Shirley Frimpong Manso has produced over 260 episodes of ‘Dede’ and we have also just started producing ‘Inspector Bediako’ which is the remake of the old ‘Inspector Bediako’. So basically, in terms of television, we have done quite a lot. However, we haven’t done much in terms of producing feature films for the cinemas.
He added, “a few films have started coming out. We have seen ‘Savannah’ which has recently been premiered, and then ‘A Happy Surprise’ which is still showing. There was a collaboration between Germany and Ghana titled ‘Burger’ which was produced here and it featured some Ghanaians and abroad. Adjetey Anang and Lydia Forson starred in that movie.
“The cinema houses we have are very few but in terms of television we have seen what we haven’t seen in a long time. DStv is heavily funding productions and that has gotten us very busy that if DStv continues funding and then we have Showmaxx coming in, the way DStv lifted the Nigerian Film Industry to the level it is, we believe that our industry will also rise to the heights we are all hoping for”, he said.
According to Ivan the future looks very bright for the film industry and “definitely with the number of productions by courtesy Akwaaba Magic, lots of productions are going to take place.
We are being asked to expand our capacity to be able to take care of all the productions. It means that the future looks bright for us. The cinema houses are now opened and though the omicron variant of COVID-19 has come and is kind of pushing us backwards, in a few months’ time, it will settle and things will take off and we will certainly see lots of productions.”
On her part, Sparrow Pictures’ Shirley Frimpong Manso opines that we are still feeling the effect of the pandemic. “Silverbird opened in 2021 and it looks like a couple of Ghanaian movies have premiered in the place so hopefully when it comes to that aspect of the business things will probably pick up”, she said.
“Then there was this whole hullabaloo with the National Film Authority and the name change which honestly I don’t know where it is now. The Minister of Tourism said he was going to take a look at it and I think they have put it on hold.
However, It will really boil down to individual efforts; what we have done in the past and what we continue to do. Government will come through with something, but it really boils down to individual efforts. We will continue to do our best. Like we have done in the past, we will continue to do more. Hopefully the pandemic will go away and open up the market for us to do better business”, she added.
The CEO of Venus Films Productions, Abdul Salam Mumuni, said “From 2021 people have started improving shooting better movies for cinemas and I think in 2022, people will continue shooting good movies. The cinemas are opened now so people have started premiering movies in the cinemas and there are other platforms which are buying content so I believe 2022 looks very bright for the movie industry.”
He hinted that his outfit was preparing to go on set this month to shoot their first movie for the year.
We also spoke to Kumawood producer, Jackson Bentum, who looked at the whole industry from a different perspective. “I have always said that we need investors in this industry and the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture will have to help to achieve this. We are independent filmmakers and we fund our productions ourselves making it very difficult for us.
“When you go to Nigeria, the government supports the industry. They even send producers abroad for training, all funded by the state. But the situation is different here in Ghana. You know Netflix accepts only top quality movies and here in Ghana we need about seven producers to come together to be able to raise that kind of money for their kind of productions and you know how money issues can be.”
“We plead with the government to support us to produce good quality movies because we have been doing it on our own for all these years and it has not been easy”, he said.
Miracle Film’s Samuel Kwasi Nyamekye believes that producers have started doing full feature films and the trend will continue this year, making the future of the industry look bright.