The director and brain behind Sparrow Production, which is the purveyor of many top Ghanaian movies, was speaking to Jessica Opare-Saforo on the Traffic Avenue on Citi FM. According to Shirley, the movie industry is bedeviled with many hardships, most of which stem from financial difficulties, because it has, in her opinion, been hit hardest by the economic hardship facing the country.
Shirley, who is set to premiere her latest movie Grey Dawn, also expressed disappointment and concern at the level of piracy in the Ghanaian film industry.
“There is no money anywhere, because people do not buy movies on CDs anymore and for most Ghanaians, [watching a movie] at the cinema is not an option; it’s a luxury that many simply cannot afford. Apart from the fact that it is not [a natural phenomenon of] our culture, people [would prefer] to use their money to buy fuel to power their generators in this era of dum-sor”.
The best director at the 6th Africa Movie Academy Awards debunked rumors that movie directors in Ghana are rich, because they make a lot of money through their movies.
“You need, on average, $100,000.00 to shoot [just] a regular action movie of international standards and, clearly, [such money] is not easy to come by; in fact you will never make that amount of money in [the film industry of] Ghana. I laugh when I hear people say that ‘Shirley makes a lot of money’ because it is just not true. Even Abdul Salam Mumuni will bear me witness.
“I do not get bothered when I hear people say ‘we are tired of romance and drama, we want action films.’ What they do not know is that making these movies is very expensive, especially when after the premiere of your movie, no one shows up at the cinemas to see it again. Sponsorship is also scanty. [Honestly,] it is heartbreaking when a director or a producer goes to the cinemas to see only empty seats. We do not make money and I laugh every time I hear [people spewing assumptions that] we make lots of money.” she passionately revealed.
Shirley minced no words on her view of the movie industry in Ghana, saying the future, at present, is very bleak. She also cautioned business people against investing in Ghanaian film, without having conducted proper research. And Shirley did not hesitate to take a swipe at government. In her estimation, our government has done very little to grow the industry and this has contributed to the stunted growth.
She however gave a thumbs up to the ‘Kumawood’ movie industry saying that Ghanaians should cut them some slack and watch the movies for what they are:
“I personally watch [Kumawood movies] and I laugh every time I see one. They do what they can [with extremely limited funds] and, believe it or not, they make [their money back] because Ghanaians love to watch these movies. Kumawood films are light-hearted and whether we like it or not, there are people who practice withcraft and juju, [which Kumawood projects]. We should learn to take the Kumasi-made movies for what they are. People love them and that’s all that matters.”
Shirley is the brain behind several movies, including Six Hours to Christmas, the Adam’s Apples series, Contract, a Sting in a Tale, Potomanto, among others. She has also won several awards including Best Video Editor and Best Movie Director, at the 2014 Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards.