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Television of Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Source: Swaye Kidd

Forget not our screen veterans

Grace Omabo, Kofi Middleton-Mends, Kofi Bucknor, Fred Amugi, David Dontoh, Grace Nortey, Mac-Jordan Amartey, Brew-Riverson Jnr. These are few names of ace actors and actresses who have at one point in our cinematography life blessed us with awesome performances.

With the exception of a few who are currently playing ‘active’ role in this new age, many have disappeared from our screens. The question to be asked is what has accounted for their early retirement?

Did Ghanaians become too comfortable and got fed up with them? Did movie producers think them not suitable for roles anymore?

Do they find the script of today too lousy? Or they moved on to other endeavours rather than have a young director (age-wise) screaming at them during shooting? It could be a complexity of factors.

Undeniably, these old actors have contributed majorly to the growth of the industry. The likes of Kofi Bucknor, the lead actor in the classic movie ‘Heritage Africa’ exited the scene only to re-emerge in ‘Run Baby Run’ playing the drug baron by Revelle Movies. David Dontoh and Fred Amugi have managed to remain relevant, taking up roles in TV productions, adverts but less features in movies.

I can’t be convinced that these veterans are bad actors or have lost their gloss. Yet our movies seem not to accommodate them. And here is where Nigerian movie producers beat us to it.

They have succeeded in finding roles for some of the old actors in some of their movies. The likes of Olu Jacobs, Pete Edochie, and Patience Odzorkwo are cast in movies as rich men, fathers, mothers, chiefs etc and they play these roles with a touch of finesse. I still can’t be convinced that these Nigerian compatriots are better than their Ghanaian veteran counterparts.

Let’s look at Hollywood. How old is Morgan Freeman, Frank De Niro? What of Meryl Strepp? Sandra Bullock? Have they retired from acting? NO! They are still on their A-game. Morgan Freeman is still enjoying more success despite his age. Meryl Streep I read is being cast as lead in upcoming Expendables (Female Edition).

We can argue that these are two different scenarios. Hollywood is Hollywood. But then age wise some of these Hollywood stars are might be older than those we have here.

So to my question: How come our good old actors and actresses are not giving many roles to play in Ghanaian movies (Ghallywood)? I listened to an interview recently in which this question cropped up. Emmanuel Armah who can be described as ‘veteran’ said painfully that some of these movie producers come with peanuts in hand as payment fees.

Some come with the ‘I’m-doing-you-a favour’ temperament. That’s the producer is coming to help a veteran out of his/her ‘poverty’ or misery.

The argument often proffered by movie producers to such discussion is that these veterans have seen their best days. And that many weren’t able to re-invent themselves and stay relevant till date.

But movie producers, directors and script writers must understand that the experience some of these veteran actors bring on board is valuable, something most of the new actors don’t have. Plus there are roles that don’t cut for some of these young actors. I watched a movie (forgotten the title) in which Jackie Appiah was cast as a mother. It was ludicrous.

It must be said that when it comes to casting veterans in movies, the Kumawood producers do much better than their Ghallywood compatriots.

Let not forget these veteran actors. Their experience comes in handy. Movie directors and producers should employ them so they add a bit of ‘taste’ to movies. Remember the right casting is as important as the story. Those in the movie scene should cud on this.