Over the past couple of weeks, two events happened somehow to catch my attention. The first was the arrest of a trotro driver for illegally screening Kumawood movies in his vehicle.
Even though, a definite directive has been given by the Film Producers Association of Ghana (FIPAG) to stop the showing of Kumasi-made movies on passenger buses, the driver and many other drivers have continually flouted it, hence his arrest.
The other event concerns a discussion about Silverbird Cinemas and their supposed reluctance to screen Kumawood movies in their theatres.
The shortcomings of Kumawood are there for all to see but aside that, their movies are doing well on the market. They have always done well.
If Kumawood were a football team, the team could be said to be on top but the truth is that, most of their movies lack the quality that are expected of movies.
Despite disapproving comments said about the quality of their movies, Kumawood movies still cannot be taken for granted. If for nothing, they have been able to sustain an industry which is beneficial to the movie makers as well as to the people who believe in the Twi-speaking productions.
Even though the culture of movie premiering has been well accepted in Ghana as a form of promoting movies before they are released, Kumawood has not used this system much.
One of the important features of movie premiering is that, it affords movie enthusiasts the opportunity to come close and meet their favourite movie personalities as well as meet the cast and crew of the movie being premiered.
Another plus is that, movie producers or the potential ones can strike a deal with any of the actors depending on how appreciative they are of the roles in the movies. This does not happen always but a lot of actors have struck deals via movie premieres.
For all these years, Kumawood, the largest and biggest movie industry currently in Ghana, has not joined the movie premiering party. What could possibly be the problem?
When I read from the Marketing Manager of Silverbird Cinema, Cynthia Ellorm Dumfuor, that Kumawood productions cannot be screened at Silverbird Cinemas, I thought she was spot on with that comment.
She was quoted as saying at the Women in Film Making Forum that, “It is not as if we don’t want to show any movies produced locally at the cinema. We have movies from other producers being premiered at our cinemas but most of the Akan movies have lower quality and are sub-standard that is our issue with those movies.”
She continued, “If they can upgrade their movies, I am sure we will be glad to show Akan movies in our cinemas because we also want to contribute our quota to the movie industry”, the marketing manager said.
Later after meetings with the Film Producers Association of Ghana (FIPAG) and the management of Silverbird on August 8, Silverbird Cinema rescinded its earlier decision. Present at the meeting were the Manager and Marketing Manager for Silverbird Cinema, President of FIPAG, Mr. Asare Hackman of Hacky Films, FIPAG Secretary, James Aboagye, and FIPAG PRO, Michael Kwaku.
Silverbird were said to be working on a roadmap with FIPAG on how Kumawood movies will be shown at their cinemas. But I doubt if something fruitful will come out of this.
This is perhaps why, I repeat, perhaps why I’m the only one who thinks that, Kumawood doesn’t need Silverbird to show their movies despite the Silverbird apology to the earlier comment of not wanting to show their movies due to bad quality.
Kumawood producers unlike the English-speaking or glamour movies producers are not confused. They know their market, so they gladly produce movies to satisfy those who fall within their catchment areas. The people in their catchment areas are very loyal and in turn, they are bombarded with the movies.
They hardly cast English language speaking actors because they already are aware that, their core fans and followers are mostly the Twi language speakers, so all their productions are geared towards that lane.
Another thing is that, Kumawood movies are the ones that could be watched over and over again due to the comic that is generated by such movies.
People actually buy such movies and keep them after watching and would watch them again when they are in the mood for some comic relief.
I therfore do not see how a hardcore Kumawood fan will purchase an expensive ticket to go to Silverbird Cinema and watch a Kumawood movie, when the same movie can be bought at a much lesser price and even get the opportunity to re-watch it over again and again.
According to the PRO of FIPAG, “Every business person knows his catchment area and his target market so the movie producers have also come to the realisation that their market, geographically is changing to the hinterlands.
“They are now having more and more people patronising their movies in the regions like the Brong Ahafo region, Ashanti region and Northern region so they seem to be paying more attention to advertising in those areas than in Accra.” They have recorded low sales in Accra over the months and that alone is discouraging them from advertising on Accra radio.”
If the movie producers are beginning to shift their attention from the capital to the hinterlands because sales in Accra has never been encouraging, of what benefit will it be to them when Silverbird starts screening their movies?
Which people are they going to screen the movies to? Is it the same people who have refused to buy the movies? The reason for turning down Kumawood movies is genuine. Silverbird should not bring down the standard so as to accommodate the local movies; instead FIPAG must be strict on its members to up their game and meet Silverbird’s standard.
Will you actually pay over GH¢20 to watch a Kumawood movie at Silverbird Cinemas and watch it once while you can buy it at GH¢5 and watch it many times until the CD decides to give up on you?
By Ebenezer Anangfio / Graphic Showbiz