The Ghanaian movie and TV industry is going through what you will call a rough patch.
Contrast the fact that Ghana has a struggling film and TV industry with Nollywood and you will realize that Nollywood has a better understanding of the dynamic between film and TV than their Ghanaian counterparts.
For some time now, very few shows if not one or two have been able to get viewers excited in Ghana and one of those shows is the courtroom series Kejetia Vs Makola. Kejetia Vs Makola gets a lot of things right and if the rest of the industry will follow their lead we will become competitive again in Africa.
One of the things Kejetia Vs Makola got right was the introduction of fresh talents. Everyone in the show was brand new, genuinely talented and has lived up to the billing of the show up until now.
The number one reason for casting brand new or unknown actors is money. Unknowns are much cheaper than established stars, and if you only have a limited budget like in the case of Kejetia Vs Makola when they started, you will want to go for unknowns who will not be a drain on your pocket.
The second reason is artistic. Some roles demand a very specific look. A good example would be when a character appears in old and younger versions and you need an actor who is a credible older/younger version of one already cast. Another example would be a literary adaptation that demands a very specific physical type.
Hollywood is replete with this strategy and I will give you one that’s recent. Netflix cast an unknown Australian teenager for lead role in 13 Reasons Why. She was in the US for holidays when she went for the audition and got the role.
Even though the film is hatednow, 13 Reasons Why has gone ahead to become one of the most successful TV shows to come from the streaming company.
In spite of this bare-faced cheat, good production houses in Ghana’s film and TV industry have not been able to tap into this to create more or better TV shows for Ghanaian viewers.
I say good production houses because there are those trying. Some of their content is on popular networks like UTV but their content is mostly crap.
In My Flatmates, Basket Mouth is the only famous star yet he doesn’t even come in until episode 4 of season 1. This should tell you the importance Africa Magic places on the unknown stars. Even when Basket came in, you would realize nothing changed because the show gets you engaged with or without him.
It shows that with good writing, talented actors without baggage and the right production team, making good TV shows should not be too hard.
Ghanaian production companies should take a cue and sift through the scores of unemployed people who will want to act simply because they are looking for a job despite having zero talent and get the talented unknowns to create a vibrant TV industry.