Posted by Webby on
Since the late 1980s a booming video feature film industry evolved in Ghana. While established film makers both within and outside the state-owned Ghana Film Industry Corporation (GFIC) found it extremely difficult to generate funds for film production, formally untrained people of various backgrounds - from cinema projectionists to car mechanics - took ordinary VHS video cameras, wrote a brief outline, assembled actors (from TV or just “from the street”), and produced full fledged feature films which appeared to be tremendously successful in urban Ghana, and especially in Accra. Established professional film makers initially met the initiatives of non-professionals and their use of the medium of video with suspicion.
Yet when they noticed the extraordinary success which these productions had in Ghana and realized that screening these films in local cinemas could generate sufficient funds to sustain a viable video film industry, they also turned to film production in the video format. Moreover, in order to improve the productions made by untrained — and, gradually, self-trained film makers, the GFIC offered editing services and other forms of advice to film makers in exchange for the right to show the film in its own cinemas in Accra first. Gradually, production networks and systems of distribution evolved and since the beginning of the 1990s, each year saw the release of about fifty video movies made by private and GFIC producers.
Twi films are referred to under the sobriquet of being "Kumawood" films, while other Ghanaian films are sometimes known as "Ghallywood" productions. Films depicting African witchcraft are popular in Ghana, despite criticism being directed towards them. There are numerous low-budget visual effects films produced in Ghana, including the 2010 science fiction film 2016, and the film Obonsam Besu, also known as Devil May Cry.
Ghanaian actors abroad Around year 2006 through 2007, Nigerian filmmaker Frank Rajah Arase signed a contract with a Ghanaian production company, Venus Films, which involved helping to introduce Ghanaian actors into mainstream Nollywood. This collaboration eventually led to extreme popularity of certain Ghanaian actors, such as Van Vicker, Jackie Appiah, Majid Michel, Yvonne Nelson, John Dumelo, Nadia Buari and Yvonne Okoro, arguably as much as their Nigerian counterparts. Furthermore, over the years; due to the high cost of film production in Nigeria, Nigerian filmmakers have been forced make films outside Lagos in order to cut costs, mirroring the exodus of filmmaking in Hollywood from Los Angeles to cities like Toronto and Albuquerque, a phenomenon known as “Runaway production”. Several other producers as a result started shooting in cities like Accra, Ghana, channeling the savings into investing in better equipment, many of them trying to get their films onto the big screen.
This development sparked media attention; mostly concerns that Ghanaians were taking over jobs meant for Nigerians. While some industry stakeholders such as Bob Manuel were unwelcoming towards the development, others like Mercy Aigbe, Belinda Effah, and Yvonne Jegede saw it as a welcome development; noting that the industry is big enough for everyone, and that other major film hubs across the world also have presence of other Nationalities. Theresa Edem commented: "A united Africa sells any day, anytime. It's been a great partnership so far. They’ve added colour to Nollywood and they’ve brought about healthy competition. Emem Isong, a Nigerian producer comments: "It fosters unity and integration and that's not a bad thing".
Some Ghanaian media on the other hand described the trend as "Brain drain" from Ghana. However, Ghanaian director Frank Fiifi Gharbin, expressed satisfaction with the development, saying: "there shouldn’t be much fuss about Ghanaian actors in Nollywood. For us it is a good development. It shows that our actors are beginning to gain prominence and are being accepted worldwide".