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Cameroon Film Industry In Dire Need – Actor 

Interviewed by Sixtus Mbom

Pascal Moma Gamih, President of Cameroon Actors Guild, CAMAG, says the film industry in Cameroon is in dire need. He talked to The Post about the importance of the film industry and its challenges and problems. Moma has acted in over 22 movies and says he is yet to be a star because there is very little investment in the sector, which results in poor marketing and inadequate media exposure. Read on:

The Post:  What is the Actors Guild?

Pascal Moma Gamih: There are three guilds in the Cameroon film Industry; the Directors, Producers and Actors Guild. The Cameroon Actors Guild (CAMAG) ensures justice and fair play between actors, directors and producers. It stipulates the rights and obligations of actors in contracts, and also lays down the general terms and conditions for film contracts.

Though the actor’s guild was only created a year ago, some producers and directors are already following up, that is, they now pay actors well, take care of their lodging and welfare during execution of movie projects. All the guilds are controlled by the Cameroon Film Industry, CFI, which is duly registered with the Ministry of Culture.

While installing the new Director of cinematography and audio visual production on June 16, the Minister of Culture, Ama Tutu Muna, asked him to develop new strategies to upgrade the sector. What do you think he should focus on?

I am happy the Minister recognised that there is a problem in the industry and is concerned. The Ministry should provide funds for the industry through grants and loans. These funds should not be granted to individuals but should be put in place to support projects that can be followed up.

They could also organise national events that concern actors, such as annual prize awards to actors, producers and directors. All these are the factors that have stimulated the growth of cinematography in Nigeria and Ghana.

These can be done in Cameroon through the CFI which is an umbrella organisation that covers both Anglophone and Francophone actors and film makers. If enough support is given, Cameroon will be able to sell movies to many countries in central Africa. There is always a market for good products. The Cameroon film industry is in dire need.

What is peculiar about Cameroon movies? Are they replicas of Nigerian and Ghanaian movies as some people would say?

Every country portrays its culture through its movies and that is what we do. We sell the culture of Cameroon. Our stories are being oriented in the context of our culture and that is what makes the difference.

What does the Cameroon Film Industry offer to Cameroonians?

It can provide employment and economic growth. Apparently Government does not understand the importance of this sector to the country.

If it gives it the support it deserves, it will provide employment to thousands of Cameroonians. Personally, I know over 800 Cameroonian actors besides producers, directors and technical crew members. Movies project culture. Touristic sites and geographical landscapes are also shown in movies.

So if they are well marketed, they can bring more tourists to the country. Our culture is being dominated by those of other countries that have promoted their movie industries. For example, some people are even tempted to call their traditional rulers ‘Igwe’ instead of ‘Mbeah’, many people no longer call commercial motorbikes ‘benskin’ they call it ‘okada’.

In the same vein, the US has been able to dominate the world with its culture and every year they have an increasing number of tourists visiting their country. These are all influenced by movies and the media.

Cameroonians seem to be more attracted to movies from Ghana and Nigeria. How do you cope with this challenge?

The problem is that Cameroonians were producing poor quality movies in the past and even now that we have greatly improved on the quality; there is poor marketing and poor media exposure. Sponsorship is hard to come by and the Ministry of Culture still has a lot to do to boost the movie Industry.

What we are doing to cope with the challenge is that, we call Nigerian movie stars to play some roles in our movies so that we can benefit from their popularity. I have acted alongside several Nigeria actors in Cameroon movies such as Emeka Ike, Zack Orji and Olu Jacobs. But Government is not doing its best.
 

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