Actress Zynnell Zuh
Leading Ghanaian actress, Zynnell Zuh is one of the most sought after brands on the African continent.
The talented filmmaker and scriptwriter is a major force to reckon with in Ghana’s movie industry with many Nollywood collaborations and three independent films to her name.
In this interview, she shares her thoughts on the state of the movie industry, Netflix, and opportunities in the movie sector.
She has also announced her return to the movie production scene with an upcoming movie.
Que: Tell us about your growing up and educational background?
Ans: I grew up in the Greater Accra Region. I was privileged to attend some of the best schools in Ghana. After Junior high school, I attended Wesley Girls High School in Cape Coast.
After obtaining my first degree at the University of Ghana, Legon, I studied Law at the MountCrest University College
Que: What inspired you to movie production?
Ans: I decided to produce my first movie because it was the only way I could bring the many ideas in my head to life. Besides, I enjoy the whole process of filming, from conceiving the story, scripting, getting the cast and crew together, principal photography, post productions and eventually showing my ideas in pictures to the world. My first attempt at producing wasn’t easy. I spent double the amount I initially budgeted for. The moviecame together beautifully and did so well at the cinemas that Netflix contacted me in 2016 to acquire it for two years. So far, I have produced three movies specifically, ‘When Love Comes Around’, ‘Love Regardless’ and ‘Anniversary.’
Que: What’s your take on homegrown cinema culture?
Ans: Ghana’s movie industry has the talent and appetite for ambitious and original films, but it needs to cultivate a homegrown cinema culture to make this a reality. One of the many ways that we can achieve this, is to get the Ghanaian Government to invest in the film industry by professionally training filmmakers and employing them to produce films for the socio-economic development of the country just as ex-President Kwame Nkrumah did.
Que: What impact has the collaborations between Nollywood and Ghana’s movie industry made so far?
Ans: Collaborations between the Nigerian and Ghanaian film industries have been integral to the growth of Ghana’s movie sector since 1997. It has not only produced several films, but it has also brought to the limelight some of the Ghanaian top actors and actresses including myself and these collaborations have given us continued access to work in Nigeria (Nollywood).
Que: What was your breakthrough movie in Nollywood?
Ans: My first breakthrough role in Nollywood was in the movie ‘Just Married’, and my most memorable has been ‘Hire a Man’, I enjoy working with my Nigerian colleagues. I am a firm believer in Nollywood and Ghana’s movie industry working together to push the narrative and to continue telling our own authentic stories.
Collaborations between Ghana movies and Nollywood remain one of the most crucial aspects of the growth of the Ghanaian film industry and I look forward to more collaborations.
Que: Are there opportunities in the Ghanaian film industry?
Ans: There are many opportunities out here to encourage the artistic development of our film industry. However, one factor that is perhaps less obvious and less immediate – but no less crucial – is the fact that producing films in Ghana is relatively more cost-effective than in Nigeria. This is one of the structural areas that the Ghanaian film industry can truly invest in, capitalize on and strengthen more collaborations with Nollywood.
Que: What has funding been like with Ghanaian filmmakers?
Ans: To begin with, filmmaking is as much a business as it is about art and the film industry here is severely underfunded.
Que: What do you mean?
Ans: Money is a crucial element in the world of cinema, and more sustainable funding is essential to enabling Ghanaian filmmakers like me to take risks rather than just repeat tied and tested formulae in a bid to secure a return on our investments. It would give us the freedom to put in the time and training to develop our craft and produce more original and ambitious works. We need production value in our projects and that can only be achieved by having the budget for it. A lot of producers are afraid to go the whole nine yards when producing because they are afraid they may not recoup their monies and that limits creativity which can stifle the growth of our industry.
Que: How about the Ghanaian movie industry’s relationship with Netflix?
Ans: Rather than exclusively producing and financing movies in Ghana, Netflix opted for the licensing of Ghanaian movies to stream on its platform, In 2016, my movie “When Love Comes Around” was one of the first two Ghanaian films to be licensed by Netflix. This was all before Netflix’s giant road into the Nigerian market. The implication of this is that Ghanaian producers, directors, and writers would need to take more daring choices in their approaches to filmmaking, not only for global recognition but for a better return on investment that will result in Netflix vying for Ghana’s attention.
Que: Is any new project in the works?
Ans: Currently at the pre-production stage of my next project.