Award-winning Ghanaian veteran filmmaker Veronica Quarshie has finally broken her silence, several years after she went low key.
The amazing movie director and writer is praised for being one of the few persons whose works changed the then status quo of storylines where women were portrayed as back benchers.
Her stories did not create women who were validated by love. Love was just an icing on the cake. She told everyday stories using realistic plots and had an identity for what a Ghanaian film should be.
Among her movie credits from the 90s were A Stab In The Dark 1&2 (1998), Ripples 1& 2, A Call At Midnight, Shadows From The Past and The 3rd Night.
She told NEWS-ONE’s Francis Addo that there were some other women filmmakers before her. She also spoke about her career prospects, the current state of Ghana’s movie industry and what she has been up to all this while.
We heard you went into hiding.
I never went into hiding…. My time is now divided between family and work… I am still into productions… Currently working on Ernest Abbeyquaye’s production.
How true are claims that you are Ghana’s first female writer and director?
There were others but they just made one or two movies and left… Maybe too my films made major impact at the time.
Can you remember their names?
I can remember Veronica Cudjo and Afi Yakubu.
How did you become filmmaker?
I completed National Film & Television Institute (NAFTI) in 1992 and majored in film directing. After completion, I started putting into practice what I learnt at NAFTI. My main objective was to help raise the image of women in our films.
How exactly did you do that? And how was the feedback?
My first production was Twin Lover by Piro Production in Takoradi…, a film based on abandoned children. The feedback was very positive and that inspired me to do more… I started researching more into family situations and made films based on families.
Which year was that production and what were some of your other productions that followed?
I made my first production in 1994. I did Tears of Joy in 1995, then When The Heart Decides in 1996, all for Piro films Production. I also did “Come Back Lucy” in 1996 for Fletcher Productions and Thicker Than Blood” in 1997 for Adams Babs Production. Then I went on to shoot A Stab In The Dark 1&2 for Princess Films on 1998 and Ripples 1& 2. The rest included A Call At Midnight 1&2, Shadows From The Past, The 3rd Night, Rage, Otilia and Xcapades – a Television series. I worked with Kwaw Ansah on Papa Lasisi and Praising The Lord Plus One.
Are there any upcoming projects now?
Right now I’m working on Ernest Abbeyquaye’s production as the director. We pray for strength, wisdom and knowledge.
What do you make of the current crop of female filmmakers?
I like their zeal … They are passionate and dedicated…
Are you proud of the industry as it stands now?
Though there maybe problems, I think the industry has moved forward in terms of technical knowhow, equipment and all.
What was your vision when you started and has it changed?
My vision was to make family oriented films—films that will help shape society and especially the family. And I still hold unto that vision.
What were some of the challenges you had due to male dominance in the industry at the time?
My first challenge was to prove myself to producers that I could handle their productions with great expertise… I had to go through the mill and prove myself; and thank God I won the hearts of all the male colleagues I worked with.
What are some of the flaws about the current industry?
My major problem with the current industry is that we should dedicate more time on our story development. Some of these stories are done hurriedly. Most of the times, casting is done on friendship basis rather than on strict professional grounds.
When did you get married?
I got married in 1992 to Dr Samuel Nai, my colleague from NAFTI, but who now lectures in film at the University of Cape Coast and I have a 10-year-old son.
How difficult was it, handling marriage and your work as a filmmaker?
Now my time is divided between managing my home and doing my films as well. My husband gives me all the support like looking at the scripts before I shoot and offering suggestions. He takes care of the boy if I have to camp on location for days. Most of my earlier movies were written by my husband and myself: A Stab In The Dark, Come Back Lucy, Ripples, Rage, A Call At Midnight, Shadows From The Past, Third Night and No Easy Target, produced by Christo Asafo. All these stories were written by my husband and myself.
Will your son do something in the movie industry?
Though he follows me on location sometimes… [I am] yet to find out his passion and interest. Anyway, he is familiar with most jargons in the shootings … Like ready, sound and camera… roll, cut, it’s a wrap, etc.
By Francis Addo (Twitter: @fdee50 Email: [email protected])