Interview: An Insight Into The life A Young Ghanaian Filmmaker And Entrepreneur
Onyamepe Opoku-Agyemang is the perfect definition of “if men can do it, women can do it better”. She describes herself as assertive, resilient, and a gem. These qualities have been the propellers of her entrepreneurship journey. Onyamepe is a final year student of the National Film and Television Institute, Ghana’s public institute for higher education in filmmaking.
In our interview with the filmmaker and entrepreneur, she takes us on her entrepreneurial ride.
Digital Times: What influenced your decision to become a filmmaker?
Onyamepe: My filmmaking journey stemmed from self-realization. I realized filmmaking is inbuilt. I am dramatic, fascinating, creative, and imaginative. These qualities automatically set me on course. But, of course, money was a necessary factor too.
Digital Times: What have you learned along the way?
Onyamepe: I have learned that there are levels of filmmakers. Some are educated and well connected but lack the talent. So the films produced by this calibre of people are launched into the mainstream. Others are talented but have no means of connection. Those unfortunate filmmakers have to struggle so that their films launch into the mainstream. Another thing I have learned is that a filmmaker always has to generate fresh content and different perspectives to nullify monotony to captivate the audience. Those who fall out of the mainstream are those whose contents are monotonous.
Digital Times: Who or what has been your support system?
Onyamepe: My central support system is me. I have received support from my classmates, but I think before people offer to help you, they must have seen what you already do. Nobody will support you if you are doing nothing.
Digital Times: What are some significant projects you have worked on so far?
Onyamepe: I have produced a film titled “Single @ 30”, which has premiered on YouTube. The film addresses the nagging situation concerning age and marriage. Of course, everyone expects you to be married at a particular age but what I think is, people should not rush others into marriage.
I have also worked on a TV program called Love Circle. Furthermore, I am the founder of an all-girl band called Kweendom Band. We have had the opportunity of playing live shows at various pubs in Accra. Additionally, I am the founder of a union called “Our Kweendom Come”. It has been founded to support women physically, mentally, and emotionally while preparing them to become critical players in the entrepreneurial space. Finally, recently I was contracted to work on an advert for the Ministry of Health to communicate the importance of hygiene.
Digital Times: How does it feel being a young female filmmaker and entrepreneur (the positive and negative)?
Onyamepe: Speaking on the positive, it feels good to finally give opportunities to other women without taking anything in return. Often, women have been taken advantage of by some so-called directors in the hopes of becoming a star. In my case, it is not so because I am a woman and can finally give back to other women. Another positive thing is the money I generate from the business. I earn in a week what another may earn in a month, which is a big blessing to me.
On the negatives, as a young female filmmaker or entrepreneur, you would have to prove yourself ten times than a man. Since it is a male-dominated space, you are usually looked down on or tagged as a prostitute to have made it big. Another negative thing is that every man wants to have a relationship with you before giving you an opportunity or patronizing your work. It is a never-ending game in the industry.
Digital Times: Who do you look up to in the industry?
Onyamepe: I look up to Shirley Frimpong-Manso, founder of Sparrow Productions, and Ivan Quashigah C.E.O of Farmhouse Productions. Shirley understands show business, and she is not limited in any form. She has directed many great films we have seen in Ghana. Nonetheless, Ivan Quashigah is the real deal. His films are timeless, hold value, and compete with other films in the system.
Digital Times: What is your favorite movie, and why?
Onyamepe: Money Heist! As a filmmaker, I can see the effort that went into the production. Every character has been well developed, and the film has a proper structure, and at no point can one predict the story.
Digital Times: Who is your favorite director, and why?
Onyamepe: My favorite director is me because I am unique. Every other director is unique in their ways because they are a direct representation of their thoughts and imagination.
Digital Times: Why do you think Nigeria does it better than Ghana in the industry?
Onyamepe: Nigeria is leading because they emphasize quality. They go to great lengths to invest in productions. Also, they have a sound distribution system, and their population simplifies the job in the end.
Digital Times: What are some critical things you wish to address in the industry?
I have noticed that there are no support systems in the industry. A more pressing one is that the industry has no structures. Due to this, it is very tedious getting things done. Furthermore, celebrities have publicly declared their political stance and are politicizing everything. Their actions have prevented them from voicing out when things get messy. For instance, the cinemas have still been closed following the COVID-19 protocols, but schools, churches even pubs are still operating. The celebrities ought to advocate for these things, but they are not doing so because they have taken a political stance.
Digital Times: What societal issues do your films address?
My films address societal issues that seem trivial but are harmful. These issues are the regular conversations people have. To them, they seem normal, but I sense the harm and capitalize on it. The usual conversations about marriage and childbearing or the talks about making money through relationships with “big men.”
Digital Times: As a director, what would you say your best quality is?
As a director, my best qualities are focus, strictness, and preparedness. I expect and ensure professionalism and perfection from my crew. These are the qualities that have ensured productivity on set and progress in my businesses.
Digital Times: Thank you so much for your time Onyamepe. It has been great having you, and we hope to see more women dominating the industry.