The world is moving at such a fast pace with technology, with almost every aspect of our lives being altered with the advent and advancement of information technology. It is either one gets along or gets left behind.
In the movie-making world, Hollywood majors are embracing digital to a greater degree than ever before, moving towards an on-demand world to allow streaming, day and date released with a DVD release across a host of devices from PC, tablets and smart TVs, to game consoles.
The Ghanaian movie industry has not been spared in the drastic changes technology has introduced and of course, filmmakers who have been unable to tag along the swift movement have been left behind.
Many have embraced the new trend, producing movies and selling them online – doing away with long periods of the movies staying in the cinemas, the hustling in the markets and the burden of distribution.
Others are also not enthused about the technological alterations to the business, considering how marketers and traditional distributors have been rendered redundant by this new trend.
Drop in Movie Releases
For the past five or so years, the number of Ghanaian movie releases has plummeted drastically. The chaps in Kumasi, popularly known as Kumawood have been able to sustain some interest and still maintain an appreciable market – but the same cannot be said for the English-oriented movies or glamour movies.
The average movie release for the so-called glamour movies is 1 movie release in 3 months, a major decline to what used to be 3-5 major releases in a month.
Several factors have been assigned to the dwindling fortunes of Ghanaian filmmaking; from economic hardship to movies screening on every TV Station, lack of interest, poor sales to lack of funding.
Major cinemas across the country are now premiering more foreign movies than local and movie actors are now floundering for other avenues to stay relevant.
The Producers’ Delight
Typically, the Ghanaian movie producer would have to look out for funds to shoot a movie, cast quality actors and after going through the production and post-production, he/she must contend with distribution and the marketing of the product.
At the end of the day, the producer goes to make claims for his profit and guess what? He/she goes home extremely disappointed. She/He’s made a loss!
Some producers have embraced the digital distribution of their movies, as they get to reduce stress and cut off all the linkages that connect their products to the market.
After post-production, they look out for the best online streaming service, negotiate and put the movies there, end of story – for them.
Candidly, the monies made by these production houses via online streaming mechanisms do not offset the usually huge production cost, but these producers are content, because, they do not get to go through tales from distributors when they release movies unto the traditional market.
The Distributors’ & Marketers Nightmare
Marketing and distribution are the essential elements in how successful a movie sells or otherwise. With a strong marketing strategy and an effective distribution format, a sub-standard movie can sell, not to talk about a good product.
The marketing and distribution wing of the Ghanaian film industry is made up of many experienced professionals who have worked and still working tirelessly at major distribution points like Opera Square and Kantamanto, all in Accra and Adum in Kumasi.
The progression of online distribution is making these professionals jobless; there’s no movie out there to market and distribute anymore. In fact, there are no movie posters to even paste!
This developing phenomenon is causing a serious strain on the industry and on the country’s economy as the number of unemployed citizens’ increase.
The biggest canker to the film industry all over the world has been piracy. It is a global crime that commenced way before the establishment of any film industry in Ghana and its perpetuation continues unabated in every corner across the world
The emergence and development of new formats for film distribution using digital technologies like CDs, DVDs, VODs and online streaming platforms have done little to curb piracy.
Every stakeholder, every government and every investor knows piracy is and has been the biggest threat of the industry for decades, but strangely, not even Hollywood has been able to find lasting solutions to this sludge.
Interestingly, most of these producers who thought they would find solace with the online distribution and not get affected by piracy got it wrong. There’s a high percentage of pirated works online, where the pirates even operate easily and quickly without having to brood over the packaging and marketing of their pirated materials.
The issue of piracy must be handled holistically, with all major units within the sector coming on board to find a panacea to the canker.
The fact is that, Ghanaian film producers and production houses are turning to digital and that’s better than having them to jettison the trade. They being in business means actors will stay in business, so would crew men and post-production personnel.
However, if digital distribution is going to be their haven, they must also take movie-loving Ghanaians along by publicizing the release of the movies as well as the online streaming device which have such movies.
A surge in the digital distribution would encourage other investors and producers who have given up on the trade to get back to the fold and reap the many benefits that come with the business.
The many distributors and marketers who have become redundant should also upgrade. They must get familiar with the new technological trends and fit into the new wave or get submerged.
By Arnold Asamaoh-Baidoo(www.entertainmentgh.com)