The intent is for the appropriate authorities to wake up and pay attention to what is happening to the Ghana film industry. An industry that could be so profitable, an industry that could create jobs and income and help shape the image of the country.

Here goes: Because of the demand for the films in Ghana, we decided to release Sinking Sands in Ghana. I have experienced Ghana as a producer. Being used by fellow producers, having a crew that is not competent enough to increase your production value, no equipment, production mafias etc. if you think that’s tough, try distributing a film in Ghana. You may end up committing suicide.

The so-called distributors in Ghana are what I call vultures. What they do is waiting for someone to make a film and bring it. They market it, feed their families and you the producers are left to beg and chase after your money for years on end.

Now, if you are like me, who will not take kindly to intimidation, what they do is go to a meeting and gang up against you and anyone who distributes your film is blacklisted among them. Remember the “banning” of actors?

Kwaw Ansah, the legend of Ghana does not distribute his films through Opera Square because of this very same mafia. Like me, he refused to conform to their crass, backward, ridiculous and embarrassing ways. So he is not in opera. And guess what, the mafias walk about gloating.

“Even Kwaw Ansah, we do not market his films’. Imagine the stark ignorance. You are bragging about distributing packaged noise, films that are not worthy of anyone’s’ career and yet not distributing films that should shape the nation. Duh, what am I saying? These are the same people who make the crap so must form a strong body that protects the crap they make.

Any wonder Hollywood gives their films to South Africa and they never end up here? They are not interested in dealing with this sort of backwardness, neither is South Africa.

This is my opinion; the gangs of men who make up this so-called distribution network are quite insecure. Scared that when things are done right, they cannot bully and shove people around. I have been owed money for the past 7 months by hello! The secretary of the distributors’ guild, Pastor John Issah. Yeah Pastor, a man who bathes in the river of lies. This man sits in his office, you call him and he tells you ‘I’m in a bus coming from Kumasi’. It took a lot of smarts to embarrass him at Opera Square and drag him to the police station.

What is most annoying is that, this clique of men are so tight knit that, they concoct lies and deceit and do everything possible to send out memos that don’t distribute this persons film. I am asking for the part of the Ghanaian constitution that allows that a group of men, whose qualifications are questionable, can come together, form a consortium and decide who to ban and unban. These men, some of who are filmmakers are responsible for piracy and pornographic films.

I ask, are these exemplary leaders? What ministry of Government is the film industry under? Have they tried to find out who these men are and if they are qualified to control an income generating aspect of the economy? No wonder the film bill is not being passed. The people representing the bill are questionable.

The most annoying part again is when some newbies ask ‘when did Leila come to the industry”. If Socrates Safo will be honest, he will tell you when I came into the industry. My first script that I wrote for another producer, I was told that because I was not popular, if they put my name as writer, the movie will not sell. So he put he put his name on the film and did not give me credit at all. No pay, no credit.

When I worked with Socrates, it was either my name was left out of the credit or spelled wrong thus it’s a whole new name, not mine. I left, came back, fell into the hands of an attention seeker, branched off on my own and now I have to deal with a bunch of mafias.

I am so excited, beyond excited, to wave my goodbyes to this industry. It is beyond salvation. Even the titanic is salvageable.

I strongly advise the young filmmakers coming up to form a guild, make sure everyone in your guild is educated and of substance. Register yourselves as an independent industry; otherwise, you will spin in this vicious cycle. Discover other forms of distribution that have nothing to do with the UNCIVILIZED yes I said it again, uncivilized opera square mafia set-up. Be creative and innovative.

At the end of the day, opera is serving consumers; find another way of reaching the consumer. When you stop giving opera square your films, they will wake up and understand that, they have no authority to bully investors. Yes, you the producer are investing in the daily bread of the opera mafia because you pay his bills by giving him your films to market.

One thing I am sure I am going to do is set up movie vending machines in banks and other civilized set-ups so the elite, with good taste in movies will walk comfortably to a vending machine and get a film. Yeah, like red box.

I love to prove people wrong and I am setting out to prove opera square wrong. But then I do believe a formal complaint needs to be lodged with parliament or the ministry of information about these groups of men. Enough is enough.

They have formed a bully organization that says you can’t distribute in Ghana unless you distribute through Opera Square, so they have monopoly. They then use that monopoly to decide who to ban and unban and who to distribute and not distribute.

I am selling my film at 10ghc because I want the boy on the street to make a profit of 4ghc; he deserves that for standing under the sun.

The film is a DVD. These people put part A and B on a VCD each VCD is like 30minutes, then they go produce part 2, so part one and two total 2 hours and each part is 5ghc. So really, are you not also selling for 10ghc? We are trying to come up with a VCD version of Sinking Sands for people who do not have proper DVD players. We’ve been compressing the file for 4 days now. It won’t fit on a VCD. It’s not a VCD film. Yet these men think I am pocketing 10ghc and want to sabotage me. It won’t happen.

If you sleep and you dream of sabotaging me, wake up and apologize. As for my 10k, Issah will pay me, come rain come shine. I really appreciate some of them though. Some have their heads screwed on straight, but the majority, ha!

I pay taxes and invest more revenue than any filmmaker in this country. That is my bragging right. Ghana Embassy in DC can attest to that. We have insurance for our productions, work permits, import duties, district assembly fees for filming in regions and districts, we also give back to the community.

Let one of these mafias show me a receipt of when they have paid tax to the state or provided a comfortable setting for their cast and crew. I will take my tax receipts and travel to every trade department of Ghana until someone investigates these men. When I am done, I will see who they will ban and unban again in this industry.

Continue plotting. I am also plotting. You will tell me which part of the constitution states that you can stop a person from conducting business.

Source: Kojo Smith

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