Welcome to another edition of the Column that seeks to promote Arts and Music in the Gambia.
Film makers in the Gambia have indicated that finance is one of the things they are grappling with.
The actors, actresses and producers that have spoken to this medium expressed the challenges they face in their various areas and call for government's support. The Gambia unlike other African states, does not have strong arts and culture sector as the creative industry is dominated by foreign films. The Gambian films compared to other films have many things to improve on especially the quality.
Speaking to Sheikh Tijan Sonko, a trained film producer, actor, entertainer and a producer of the Special Movie Award said he started acting in the year 1997. He said he has acted over 30 movies with foreign nationals such as Nigerians and Ghanaians.
He added there are many challenges film makers and artists face in the country specially lack of support. He said the movie producers, actors, actresses among others face many challenges. He said film makes are important in the society because they educate, entertain and send information to the people. He stressed that with proper support, the industry can also portray a positive image of The Gambia in the world market by raising the country's flag high in the world. He decried that those involved in the film industry are poor because they hardly get benefit of their work.
He said film makers in the Gambia are poor unlike countries like Nigeria and Ghana were both the young and the old are involved in the field succeed in their endeavors.
He said the quality of films in the Gambia is of low quality this is because of the insufficient investment in making films. He detailed that in The Gambia, to make a film, the lowest amount to be invested is D23,000 adding that that is for low quality videos. He said in order to make a good film, one needs to invest a substantial amount of money. He said in order to compete film makers outside the country, the quality of the films in The Gambia has to meet standard which cannot be done in the absence of huge capital.
He decried that when the film makers invest over D50,000 the saddest part of the process is that there are no available market avenues. He said as film producers, they have to pay actors, actresses, video camera men among many others aside of the capital that has been used to make the film.
"The second Republic actually neglected us" he said.
That Republic, he said has not created any platform that will promote productivity in the film making sector. He said film makers in the Gambia have potentials to sell the Gambia films and raise the national flag higher. He added that film industry also contributes to national development as it generates income for the country.
"Gambia film makers are suffering as they have been over shadowed by foreign film makers and this should not have happened" he said.
He called on the government to work hand in hand with the current executives of the film makers in order for the film industry to excel. He also called on them to create avenues for them to be able to do their official functions by providing them with office as a basement.
The Gambia according to him, has never organised a film festival as other countries do and also it does not have a film calendar. He said the film industry is attached to the Ministry of Information, Communication and Infrastructure and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture to come up with initiatives that are conducive for film makers and not to treat them as private entity.
He said the most challenging thing they face is piracy after going through difficult moments to produce a film. He added that they spend huge sum of money on production and people pirate their products and sell them at cheaper prices to the masses. He said this affects them on their drive to recover the expenses they incur while making the films and make a gain. He said it is expensive to produce a film as it involves a lot of expenses such as paying actors, actresses, cameramen, rents.
Papis K. Jobarteh an actor who lives in Sukuta and a native of Janjanbureh said he became an active actor in the 2009. He lamented the challenges they face as actors especially the financing which deters many people from joining the profession as they view it as a waste of time. He said they are not receiving any assistance from the government that makes their work very hard for them. He added that film making cannot be done in the absence of adequate finance.
All the others who spoke express similar comments and urged the government to intervene in order for the sector to rise and raise the national flag of the country.
Prince Babucarr Sankano a Gambian movie producer based in Germany also reiterated similar challenges and call for positive actions towards promoting the film industry.