The Ghanaian movie industry has been faced with a barrage of issues from funding, costuming, props, influx of foreign cultures and infiltrated storylines.
Over the years we have seen our Ghanaian stars cross over to feature in Nigerian movies and vice versa.
One of such Ghanaian actors who has virtually become a part of the Nigerian movie industry is 60-year-old Kofi Adjorlolo (K.A).
K.A quit his broadcasting career in 2003 to pursue his passion in acting.
MzGee caught up him on the set of Bank’s Chronicle at the Ussher Forte in James Town and the actor among other issues lamented that lack of funding to acquire adequate props will denies the country the making of great movies.
MzGee: I know you’ve been shooting movies for some years now, what is it like for you?
K.A: This work is very tiring but the passion drives us on. Someone my age with the civil service would be thinking of retirement or i could get a shop and sit in front of the shop selling to customers and having it easy but I can assure you that, this is a very tedious job, it needs a lot of patience, passion and dedication to go through it.
MzGee: Apart from the passion that keeps you going, is it lucrative?
K.A: Why not, I believe that when I started, it was not lucrative for me but I’m the type of person who has patience, once i have my eyes on something and today I can sincerely say I dictate my price and anyone who dictates his price, it means that person finds himself in a lucrative business.
MzGee: There are a lot of older folks like yourself who are equally good but you seem to be getting all the roles, what’s your secret?
K.A: Commitment. I was a broadcaster on TV and Radio for about 13 years and when I decided to go into this industry, I laid off everything so i could give it my all. I was always ready to work, so most of the producers were aware that if they needed me I was always available unlike some of my colleagues who didn’t have the luxury of time because acting was not their sole occupation, inconveniencing some of the producers.
Another factor is that i am very humble person, very disciplined, very stern and hardworking. My broadcasting also aids my interpretation of my roles.
MzGee: Many pundits say we do not have Ghanaian movie industry and our success is dependent on the Nigerians movie industry?
K.A: In the first place we never ever depended on Nigerians for sales or marketing. It was rather the Nigerians who were depending on us for sales and marketing because at the point Ghanaians were not actually buying Ghanaian films, we were more interested in the Nigerian films so we were rather doing more sales for Nigerians not vice versa but fortunately it came to a point, we Ghanaians also started doing good films. Some Ghanaian producers decided to do collaborations with Nigerian artistes, directors and as they mingled with us, our folks began learning better ways of movie productions. Basically, we reaped from each other.
MzGee: Some Nigerian movie makers says its much cheaper to use a Ghanaian artiste?
K.A: It is a lie, I go to Nigeria to work and they see me as a professional of a certain standard so what I need to take is what I take. If a super star in Nigeria sleeps in a 5-star hotel, I will be given a 5-star hotel to sleep in. That is the standard, people shouldn’t think otherwise. I was presented the Nollywood legend award; it was not because they were paying me less. It’s because I worked hard. Using Ghanaian art helps them boost their sales.
MzGee: What is the minimum you take for a role?
K.A: It all depends on the script.
MzGee: What is the range of your charge?
K.A: Well, I can’t mention it.
MzGee: Why is difficult for you all to mention, I simply seek to know how lucrative this business is?
K.A: You know, when you ask of range, ours is not like in the public service where the remuneration are fixed. It depends on the script, because if I am to sleep in a coffin, dress like a woman and play that gay, I will charge more than usual.
MzGee: If you were to be given a role as gay, would you execute?
K.A: I have been given a lead role as a gay man but I told the producer that I wouldn’t be skillful enough to play that role.
K.A: If you give me a role as a carpenter, a rich man , a politician or a doctor etc, I will excel in executing it because at 60yrs, I have met different types of people and i can relate with their activities but I have not lived in a community of gays and so they may have some expressions i may not know and my ability as an actor will be downplayed. So I refused the role.
MzGee: In this era where there’s so much talk against the vice could your rejection of the role be out afraid of being victimized?
K.A: No, I didn’t think so. I have played the role of a rapist and never thought of being victimized.
MzGee: Do people relate with you as the character that you play in movies?
K.A: Here in Africa, because of our illiteracy level, people do.
MzGee: Have you been attacked or vilified publicly because of a character you played?
K.A: Well, not to that extent, like teasing but i have come across some persons who do not understand it is just a craft. For instance, an elderly lady in the community, i lived refused responding to my greetings after my role as a rapist in a movie. so for about 2-3 yrs, the woman didn’t want to see me until it was impressed upon that all that we do in films is not real.
MzGee: Will ever have a movie on our heros or national icons?
K.A: Movie is not just by carrying a camera and then getting some people to play . Movie is about budget, for instance, if I want to do a movie on kwame Nkrumah, how he got independence for us even his home or his office, table, clock, TV and all the props must reflect that time. Now how do you get these props if you don’t have money to afford them.
If I want to do a film on J. J. Rawlings, I need to have at least amour cars, soldiers, guns, how do I pay about 100 soldiers in a film. How do I pay for helicopter because we know Rawlings was piloting helicopters?
The producers we have here around us don’t have that money that’s why I keep saying that if people want to produce such types of films for international consumption, for big screens, then government must be ready to fund this industry.
MzGee: Has anybody written to government demanding funds for such movies?
K.A: I believe that its not the matter of writing to the government, even the bill that we presented to parliament is still there. It’s not gotten the executive nod so many years now.
MzGee: What Bill is that?
K.A: Film and Arts bill that one hasn’t gone through and we are talking about funding?
MzGee: So you think government is not interested in your business at all?
K.A: Well, Government is interested because I know that officialdom is always talking about the film industry, they are aware that they need to push the industry because across the borders there are so many people or even situations that happened in Africa that can be depicted in films and all these need money.
MzGee: What about the ministry of creative arts and culture and tourism?
K.A: I think they are doing something to get us together. I know that the minister for tourism is always very anxious to get the creative arts industry going by organizing seminars and trips for some of the artistes. It creates certain kind of awareness but for what we are talking about right now is about funds.
MzGee: Has the industry proved itself good enough to earn investors interest?
K.A I don’t think the banks have any idea of what the film industry is like and what they can gain out of it. I don’t think the banks have any idea basically they don’t.
MzGee: What do they stand to gain should they extend a hand to the industry?
K.A: You see the banks sometimes will ask for collateral, they want to be sure how much they are making out of the money so the bank is rather secondary source of funding. I believe if it is not the private sector itself, then the government. I don’t expect banks to come into this matter but I believe that the government can fund the project.
Credit: Gloria Nyarku | @ammzgee on twitter