Some folks have started getting queasy about inroads being made into the Nigerian film industry by Ghanaian actors. First it was the Ghanaian superstar Van Vicker getting slammed with $2,000 per fee to make him more expensive to hire, now it's a blanket 250,000 naira clearance fee in addition to cost of hire per Ghanaian (and presumably other foreign) actor. This seemed petulant to me, but it seems as though the Ghanaians may have started all this by instituting a $1,000 fee first:
In a statement sent to the Actors Guild of Nigeria [AGN] Board of Trustees, the Ghananian said, henceforth, any Nigerian actor participating in any of their productions will be compelled to pay $1, 000 (One Thousand dollars) or risk losing the job. This development, according to the Ghanaians, is to give ample opportunities to their local actors, and as a result, develop their movie industry to an enviable height.They are of the opinion that their Nigerian counterparts seem to be dictating the pace in the Ghanaian movie scene, and they want to address the issue before it gets out of hand.
But their counterparts in the Nigerian movie industry see this as a ploy to stop Nigerians from working in Ghana. They may be right because Ghanaian artistes and artisans have insisted on no longer being called Nollywood practitioners and have even gone as far as coining their own name Gollywood. This is being seen as a move that threatens to wipe out the gains of Nollywood.
Many in Nollywood feel that the Ghananias are ingrates that have no sense of gratitude.
The feeling of any average Nollywood practitioner was voiced by the Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Actors' Guild of Nigeria, Prince Ifeanyi Dike, who informed that he and his executives are already addressing the issue.
He expressed shock on receiving the news because he never believed that devilish decision could come from their next door neighbours.
“I never believed such decision could come from the Ghanaians. Nollywood has done a lot to improve their movie industry and what they have done now is a clear indication that they are ingrates. How could the Ghanaians insist that Nigerian actors must be paying $1, 000 before participating in their productions? A lot of our popular artistes have been calling me on this issue and I have assured them that we are going to make the necessary moves. It was Nollywood that made Ghanaian actors like Van Vicker, so it is absurd for them to be creating hurdles for our own actors now.”
Ghanaian movie marketers, in a bid to save their industry's skin, are apparently making it difficult for Nigerian films to be marketed in Ghana if a Ghanaian actor isn't involved in the production. Jealousy? I suppose it could be that. Or maybe a mixed Nigerian-Ghanaian cast of characters makes the movie more profitable:
Reacting to this development, Nollywood marketers who also double as financiers, have once expressed the view that while sale of movies had declined in recent times, the need to recoup their investments prompted the use of Ghanaian faces in our films.
According to them, high sales of movies occurs whenever Ghanaians acted alongside Nollywood actors. Recently, the swing in the production pendulum from the Nigerian marketers to their Ghanaian counterparts has also been given as one of the reasons for the invasion. Marketers in Gollywood (Ghana's movie industry) were said to have insisted that for Nollywood movies to be marketed in Ghana, such movies must feature their own stars, definitely not roles relegating them to the background but those that would put the spotlight on them.
Besides, the N1 million 'upfront market orders' bait by the Ghanaian marketers, dangling temptingly before their Nigerian counterparts to be used by Nollywood producers prior to the shooting of the movies (if Gollywood actors are used) have been eagerly swallowed by the Nigerian marketers.
People would make of this what they will ('Those jealous Ghanaians' and all that) but a tax on foreign actors and paying some money upfront to sweeten the deal if movie makers use Ghanaian actors seems like business savvy to me. Ghanaian film marketers know that the demand for Nigerian films is very much there, and so they're piggy-backing off the Nigerian film industry to garner more recognition for their stars. I ain't mad at that. The free-market lover in me is decrying a tax in either direction, but Ghana seems to have struck a nice balance of carrots and sticks in this case. Especially since many Ghanaian actors have become stars in Nigeria, the demand for the Vickers and McBrowns is now there and it's not clear to me that the Nigerian filmmakers can do much more about the situation.