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Friday, May 20, 2022

Ekow Smith Vs Film Producers: ‘Nobody Can Ban Me’


Ekow Smith Asante

Ghanaian actor Ekow Smith Asante has thrown verbal punches at the modus-operandi of the members of the Film Producers Association of Ghana (FIPAG) and its associate body, Film Regulatory Council, telling them in the face that they do not have the powers to sanction him.
The two associations on Saturday circulated text messages to their members and other stakeholders in Ghana’s movie industry, calling on the recipients to stop engaging the services of Ekow for the next 24 month (2years).
The message, which NEWS-ONE has a copy, read: “FIPAG and the Film Regulatory Council have instructed all members to sideline Mr. Ekow Smith for 24 month for engaging foreigners to shoot a film in Ghana without requisite documentation.”
But Ekow has described the action as ‘illegitimate and unfortunate’. He said he was not a member of the two associations thus their internal laws did not bind him.
Also, he had not been invited by anyone to be officially charged so he defended himself before the action was taken action.
“Are we really building an industry or is it an issue of jealousy or they are just trying to break legs? Sorry, I think it is really unfortunate that they are taking wrong decisions.
Nobody can ban or sideline me, except God. If God takes my life then I have been banned,” Ekow told NEWS-ONE on Saturday.
Ekow said he had gone to Nigeria to shoot movies several times without a work permit because all along, Ghana and Nigeria were considered as ECOWAS countries and as such they did not need a work permit to work as an actor as far as he was concerned.
Besides, he said, with the kind of English movies being done in Ghana, it was the Nigerians who were rather helping to improve Ghana’s movie industry.
“If they want to sanitize the industry by making policies that would affect every stakeholder, then they should be prepared to get everybody involved in the policy-making process.
In as much as they are trying to bring sanity into the industry, they are rather bringing insanity because they are not doing it the right way.
The ideal thing is to set a policy down that is known and accepted nationwide and should spell out clearly things that one should do. That has not been. What they are doing now does not help.
“Film producers can’t make decisions for everybody. We work as a team. If there are no actors, producer can’t work, just as if there are no producers’, actors and directors can’t also work.
It is collaboration. The people who the policies affect should be the people making the policies. A few people can’t make a policy to bind on all of us,” Ekow fumed.
The actor, explaining his fallout with the producers before his sanction, said last week, the members of FIPAG, with a policeman and Film Regulatory Council, stormed the set while shooting a movie at East Lagon to stop them from shooting.
In the process, they attempted seizing his cameras with claims that he was using foreigners (Nigerians) without requisite documentation to work.
He was not on set by then but he was called and he went there to calm tempers down. At the end, all the parties came to an agreement to sit and solve the problem amicably.
Secretary of FIPAG Socrates Sarfo, he said, called him afterwards and advised him to go the Ministry of Information to seek permission to continue shooting and the Immigration for work permit for his Nigerian workers among his crew.
“But when I went to the Ministry, I was told that as a Ghanaian I don’t need permission to shoot. I was told that the Ministry only deals with foreigners who don’t know town and are here to may be shoot documentary that require permission. Normal Ghanaian movie makers don’t need permission.”
He said he continued to Immigration but he was told that he required a long process which would even take him more than a month to secure work permit.
Again, Socrates called him to schedule a meeting between him and the producers to put an end to the brouhaha last Friday.
But on Thursday, “Socrates had sent text messages to the media that I was sabotaging the movie industry and I was called on air. So what was the essence for calling me in the first instance for a meeting?
Is it not correct that you invite me and listen to me before running to the media?” he stated.
“What have I done? If even I am part of an organization and did something wrong, don’t they have warnings, don’t we have queries? You just sit in your office and send text messages and you don’t send the one involved.
I have to hear it from a third party. I agree with them in principle that they want sanitize the industry but is that how to bring sanity. I am not saying anything to put anybody’s name in the bad books but hey! My name is being dragged into the mud here.
I want to genuinely ask, perhaps I don’t know, the Frank Rajas, Phil Bernard’s and Pascal’s and a number of them who are all Nigerians working with our production houses. Are all of them qualified to work? Why me.
What chaos have I caused? It is not by force to join an association. It is only fair that we all come under one umbrella and work harmoniously. But I have just started producing and you want to sideline me. Why?”

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