To begin with, this long rant, let me say I doff my hat to all actresses, actors, producers, and in totality Ghanaian movie makers riding against all tides in reviving what I could simply describe as a “Dead Industry”.
As inconsiderate as it may sound, it is the obvious truth we have to face for the truth they say is bitter but in the end, it brings relief.
In solving a problem, there must first be a genuine admission that indeed there’s a problem that needs to be solved.
Once that is done, the whole problem can be confronted holistically with the aim of finding a lasting solution.
In an era where things have been left unattended to for foreign contents to overly infiltrate our local TV screens, it will surely take the biggest heart for someone to risk using his or her money in producing a film which will have a high tendency of bringing a loss or even not making up to whatever amount was spent in producing that particular film.
Let’s not kid ourselves, whoever produces a movie does that because they want to make profits, hence it is purely business.
The whole issue of investors not willing to invest in the Ghanaian movie industry is because aside from we not having the right structures in place to augment their investment, the actual stakeholders who are the actors, directors, and producers themselves are not doing enough to add some originality to the roles they play in their own produced films.
Undoubtedly, People do not buy CDs like before and in a period where some unscrupulous persons can upload works of other people on their YouTube channels and make money from it at the expense of the producer, producing movies in Ghana is obviously no longer attractive like it should be.
I doubt if those still producing films are able to sell their CDs after their premiere which is even cost-intensive. The very Systems put in place are used to frustrate the very few people trying to keep the almost dead movie industry afloat. I don’t have to tell you the suspension of the premiere of Kobi Rana’s “Freedom and Justice” which some belief was as a result of the film touching on the flaws of our political leadership, Well since this article is not about that, I will leave that for some other time to discuss.
So yes, I celebrate all those brave individuals still holding it down in producing Ghanaian movies even at a time “Twi-Telenovelas” have taken over our national Television Stations pushing our mainstream actors and actresses out of business to which few are now Tv show host and others simply becoming “Vloggers” by producing their own content for YouTube.
However, in making sure we are best placed to compete out there with other filmmakers on the continent in producing top-notch films, it is imperative we digest some of the much-anticipated works over the last few months and see if indeed they merited the hyped they generated or perhaps they need more room for improvement.
When I heard about Yvonne Nelson produced movies SIN CITY and FIX US making it to Netflix a globally accepted platform last year August, I was happy because I was impressed with the quality of production veteran film producer Shirley Frimpong Manso did with her “The Perfect Picture, 10 Years Later” movie.
It was actually not a classic movie but it is better than what Yvonne has produced If I am made to rate both films.
I was hopeful that if our movie makers take their time in crafting such compelling stories into motion pictures, we could get close to reviving the movie industry collectively because it is one diverse sector that can be used in addressing our National issues of unemployment among the youth and also help in selling Ghana to the outside world in our own way without waiting on the western media to do so.
Having watched “YN” movies like “House Of Gold, Single and Married” and other related movies like “4play, The Game etc she (Yvonne Nelson) featured in, which most were directed by Pascal Amanfo, you can easily see a repeated pattern to which events concurrently happens in all the above-mentioned films.
This I believe makes their movies shambolically produced. It is as though they are always working with a single storyline.
Let me begin with what I was impressed within these two movies I mean “Sin City and Fix Us” before touching on the flaws I noticed after watching both on Netflix.
In both movies, one can have that feeling of elite production with their props and logistics.
Truly in every work, you have to get a targeted audience you are producing for, so I know the exact class Yvonne Nelson and co-produced their movies for. Their movies are usually for young adults, this is why they spend time trying to use flashy stuff in the movies to meet the taste of the new generation.
The picture quality in both films was great, the custom was good and in general, the props were okay.
Unfortunately, these are the only good things I felt in both productions because the story itself is just a rebirth of their old movies.
Now to the flaws I noticed starting with “Sin City“
I am not in anyways projecting myself as an expert in movie production even though I can still remember a thing or two in my videography class as a communication undergraduate student, but as a movie lover who always looks out for some basic things that I trust makes a movie great, there are many things I pay ample attention to when watching a film and those things I generally believe forms part of what a great movie could be like.
So, because I don’t want this to be an extremely long narrative, I will mix them up and just touch on few flaws that the production could have done better with so you reading this article can make time to watch the films and make your own judgment, that is if you are yet to watch any.
For those who have watched these two movies already, you can well relate to this article.
One cannot tell what the storyline was in these movies because some of the characters didn’t help in telling the story the way it should. The biggest our film industry faces is casting, directors or producers will just settle on any popular face for whatever role because it best suit their marketing terms and not about the said known actor executing his or her role the way it should be.
In SIN CITY, for instance, the whole plot was about Blackmailing but it was mixed up with some unnecessary twists and turns just to stretch the time. A movie should not always cross the hour mark to make it great.
Yvonne’s mother in the film was cast as a religious person who was always insisting on her daughter to pray and go to church.
From the onset, one cannot tell whose mother the woman was, as the relationship between her, Yvonne Nelson, and her husband in the movie was not clear cut.
We didn’t know if she was Yvonne’s mother or her husband’s mother.
We are Africans and as such, it is highly exaggerating for an In-law to be that cool with her son-in-law and be hugging them at the least chance as we witnessed in the movie.
At least a handshake and taps on the shoulder would have been more formal and real and not hugs and fondles as the story depicted. These events make the production a mediocre one.
In most of her YN Produced movies, there’s always this theme of either Yvonne getting married or in a relationship with a well to do young man and then the issue of the man about missing her BIRTHDAY because of his cooked up busy schedule will pop up and thus in trying to make it up to her(Yvonne Nelson) from his busy schedule, very predictable things will start to unfold.
This has virtually been all her YN Produced movies.
Predictably, This was the case of Single and Married, House of Gold and SIN CITY.
In Sin City, Yvonne’s husband was an ambitious Lawyer who is working hard to make wealth and build a legacy for himself.
Since it was never established that he was living on an inherited wealth from his family and was rather working for someone in a law firm, it was really out of reality to see the sort of affluent lifestyle their characters were made to enjoy in the film. Not until his colleague begun his set up plans in the film, viewers could not have to tell if the law firm was his or he was also just an employee.
How many lawyers in the African setting can live in such plush houses and drive Range Rovers as the movie depicted?
Indeed, movies are imaginary events in most cases, save the few real-life stories but you don’t have to overly exaggerate as to how events unfold.
That’s a major problem or flaws of our movies in recent times, producers and directors are much concerned about the houses and cars that will be displayed in the film than paying attention to the story itself and how real the actors could act in telling the story.
Nobody leaves a cinema with the cars or costume in his or mind but the storyline and how the character executed their roles.
I agree, it is a movie and thus an imaginary event Yes, but it also does not make practical sense for couples to go on a vacation in a hotel away from home and easily give in to joining an orgy party when Yvonne herself has consistently maintained in the movie (Sin City) that she needed more attention than just sex from her husband.
Really, it was never as though they were in the early stages of their relationship but in this situation, they are married.
To think neither Yvonne nor her husband in the movie objected to the idea of having a THREESOME when none of such conversation has ever crossed their minds before going into that hotel makes it fake to relate to. At least movies as fictional as they are free to be should be a bit realistic.
Furthermore, the role of Adjetey Anang was out of touch to me.
In a domestic blackmailing story like this particular one In Sin City, nobody will involve a former “MILITARY INTELLIGENCE” as they did in the film.
He could have been a former Police detective than a soldier as he was cast to be.
No retired soldier goes about investigating a Blackmail issue. I am shocked it never crossed their minds.
Then again, events in the movie were soo clumsy that one cannot tell the whole idea of Yvonne’s mother in the film and the very auntie she brought to her in-law’s house in the movie which we are told Is gifted to “see things“ in the spiritual realm and lost her children in an accident which her relatives believed was by her witchcraft.
A night before leaving the hotel, Yvonne and her husband bumped into a guy harassing the “physically challenged” worker of the hotel which had earlier served them when they checked in speaking in a strange foreign language, one cannot tell how relevant that scene was to the movie as it served no purpose to the whole storyline. It was perhaps meant to drag the story to cross the hour mark. Our filmmakers should understand that a short film can still be a great film and not how many parts they produce like “Kyeiwaa“ which I’m told ended at part 12.
We were later told by Yvonne’s husband that the language the guy at the hotel spoke sounded like the one Yvonne’s creepy auntie who was brought to the house her mother speaks. Of what purpose was that scene meant to achieve?
Now to Adjetey Annang’s capture when he went to that strange house to fish-out an Information of the blackmailer. From the scene, he was ambushed and overpowered by the thug in there whose job was to make sure whoever makes it to the house does not make it out to tell their story.
How did he(Adjetey Annag) free himself back to Yvonne’s husband’s house, knowing that his capture was a signal to those behind the blackmail that indeed Yvonne’s family had also sent someone after them in the person of Adjetey Annang the former military intelligence, they should have either killed Adjetey Annang or even keep him hostage till their demands are met before setting him free.
Even before that, for a couple who were haunted by blackmailers, the first thing to do would have been to keep the security of their house intact.
But without a break-in or anything, Adjetey Annang was able to come into their house late in the night into their kitchen to even prepare coffee, come on it should not have been that easy.
Whoever knows how Pascal Amanfo directs his movies would have known from the onset that truly the set up was coming from Yvonne’s husband’s colleague at the office, it was very obvious with how he was always pressing issues.
Now to the dialogues in the film and the whole acting process.
After 10 years of doing movies, Yvonne Nelson still only recite words than acting.
Her expression and body languages are always far apart.
The only thing she does right is her phonetics and perhaps “Sex” scenes.
It’s not an attack on her brand or me belittling what she has been able to achieve but I feel she can do better.
She has been able to stay consistent that I agree but she lacks that touch of dynamism in executing her roles.
Take out relationship or marriage roles from the story and Yvonne is virtually handicap in executing roles perfectly.
In the said blackmailing pictures, the couples were naked but when they woke up the next morning they were still in their clothes they went to the Sex party with.
Who leaves a sex party, meets a stranger in their hotel room, has a threesome, and later puts on the same clothes they wore to the party before the next morning?
That was actually not a smart directing from the movie director and it amazes me that after directing plenty of films, Pascal Amanfo still makes such petty mistakes. These mistakes only make it difficult for Ghanaian movies to compete with other African films on digital platforms like Netflix.
Now to FIX US, simply put it’s a poor movie produced, they are all bad but if I can choose between the two, I will rate Sin City as better than Fix Us.
In FIX US, the story is about 3 actresses whose personal issues are to be concealed by their management so it does not get to the media for bad publicity Which may ultimately affect their brands.
Right after their audition which landed them their roles, they were seen getting out of A G-waggon, Range Rover, and another expensive car.
Come on, Is the movie really paying that much for the up-and-coming actress as Yvonne Nelson and Yvonne Okoro were cast in the film to be seen enjoying such luxuries in the movie when the first scene shows they were actually struggling before landing those roles?
Now to the character of Jojo in the movie, a 21-year-old does not look that grown.
They could have said he’s 24 at least to make it feel real.
There was never any connection between Ray the married man whom Yvonne Okoro was chasing and his family.
It looked too fake when he returned from seeing Yvonne Okoro and his son met him outside dressed as though the boy was going out with his mother when he was meant to be playing around in the house while his mother was inside.
Costuming is another big challenge for Ghanaian movies.
To date producers and directors cannot get right the right clothing characters should wear when they are home living a normal everyday life.
Even in bed at night, the female characters are made to wear heavy makeup.
If indeed Jojo was having mental health issues, he should have been under the watch of someone at age 21 and not his cousin who was the Personal assistant of Yvonne.
Undoubtedly, the movie FIX US was around the two Yvonnes that is Yvonne Okoro and Nelson but having the other lady opening up the scene, it would have been better if she was also given other scenes to appear in as in most parts of the film she went completely missing only to pop up having to contemplate over a marriage proposal from Prince David Osei who is her boyfriend even though she was to be part of the main cast.
I am not a photography expert but my basic knowledge in videography teaches me that capturing good images with a good camera lens alone does not make a good movie but knowing how to explore various camera angles even in a confined space s what makes a movie a good movie.
In doing that, you are able to fully engage whoever is watching the film and make him or her feel as though they are part of the events unfolding.
Unfortunately in both movies, they failed to make use of the right camera angles.
It made it felt like a stage drama than a film.
If you have watched some Nigerian movies like Lions Heart Produced by veteran actress Genevieve Nnaji
and Merry Men which featured Ramsey Noah and Jim Iyke, you will appreciate the fast pace at which Nigerian movies are growing at leaving Ghana’s own behind.
Their aerial views were great and there was that touch of a Nigerian setting as the actors mixed up the English with Yoruba, which has been missing in Ghana’s elite targeted produced movies.
There is usually nothing “Ghanaian“ in Ghana produced films.
We can have discussions about Nigeria’s big market and structures but trust me the very problems facing the Ghana movie industry is equally faced by Nollywood but in the midst of all that, they are able to make good movies that are helping in projecting the image of Nigeria globally and sustaining their industry.
Ghanaian movie producers will only be moving their cameras from “room to room” as though there is nothing good externally to capture.
Then again our people are failing to be real actors than just reciting words on set.
Their body language and facial expressions do not match their actions onset and the genuineness of the whole scenes are left in limbo.
To date, Ghana movie producers are still living with the idea of using “Stars” to sell their movies than getting the right casts whose acting will help tell the story the right way.
When you watch Kobi Rana and Kofi Asamoah Produced movies which are all below average movies, their whole focus is always on packing the movie with already known faces to help in selling it during the premiere season.
In the process, they end up giving roles to some known faces who are not able to act perfectly those roles making the whole production to be full of comic and sex-packed scenes which does not add any value to the film.
It is the same mistake Yvonne Nelson did in her two movies I’m trying to breakdown above.
It is true local movies are not selling due to many factors which I believe goes beyond those producing the films but knowing who to give which role to is what makes a good movie.
That is why you wouldn’t see Arnold Schwarzenegger playing the loverboy in films even if he can.
While we wait for clear cut policies to help shape the industry, those already in and still producing movies will have to do a self-assessment of their work and ask themselves some basic questions such as;
What do I want this film to achieve?
For how many times can those who will watch this film be enthused to watch it?
What will patronizers of this film always remember about it?
Will this film be able to compete outside the shores of Ghana?
What are other producers doing right in other jurisdictions even without their central government support that we are not doing?
These five questions I believe should be the guide to producers in producing good movies.
I will have time to write a full assessment on the industry in general but this particular write-up is meant to throw light on my personal flaws I noticed in SIN CITY and FIX US vis-a-vis why movie makers can do better with their works.
In all, I will rate both movies 4/10.
My low grading of both movies is informed about the fact that having been in the industry for a decade and over, Yvonne Nelson and her team should be producing quality movies than they did with Sin City and Fix us.
I’m not running down her effort but if you watch other films produced by actors or actresses in Nigeria available on Netflix and compare them to Ghana then we are far behind which shouldn’t be the case
Notwithstanding that, we have other nice Ghanaian-originated films like Adzali, Keteke, The perfect picture, 10 years later, and others available on Netflix you may want to check out as this deadly virus is keeping all of us at bay from going to the various cinemas around town.