Master of Arts (M.A.)
Degree Granting Department
S. Elizabeth Bird, Ph.D.
Tara Deubel, Ph.D.
Daniel Lende, Ph.D.
Africanus Aveh, M.Phil.
film, arts, West Africa, documentary, visual anthropology
This research looks at the production of media in Ghana, specifically, film produced in the “Glamour” style or Western-style tradition that originates in its capitol of Accra. The film industry in Ghana, known as Ghallywood, is a vibrant and prolific field in which content is produced and distributed throughout the country for local consumption. Research on production practice, rather than content, can show cross-cultural differentiation in visual media production and also offers a lens through which to explore Ghanaian culture. The following research questions frame this study: What are the production practices of Ghanaian video films? How do Ghanaians communicate the process of creating Ghanaian video films? How do the practice and discourse of the video film production work to create and reinforce messages from the producers to the audiences? This research necessarily departs from looking primarily at the content of films, instead exploring the processes behind the creation of those products. Nick Couldry recognizes practice as an emerging theme in media research and this work focuses on his theory of media practice, in which the focus shifts from a content analysis to what people are actually doing in relation to media and its production.
Using visual techniques and on-camera interviews, this work supplements a documentary about Ghanaian filmmaking and the voices that characterize the industry. This research and its visual product show the processes and conflict within the industry, including several different players who are often at odds with one another: students learning film from either academic or trade institutions, professional filmmakers who are either academically trained or self-taught, as well as scholars who provide their perspective on the industry as a whole. This research shows that filmmaking in Ghana is characterized by many competing elements, including a rift in what is known as “Ghallywood.” Two separate industries actually exist: the Accra “glamourwood” industry and its highly localized “kumawood” counterpart based in Kumasi, Ghana. This research also introduces concepts of how Ghanaians see the world and reproduce it in film, with the use of long takes and wide shots.
This work illustrates the value of understanding production practices of media products cross-culturally as a departure from the more traditional approach to media studies of content. The attention given to a supplementary visual product in the form of a documentary aims to raise awareness of visual methodology and the value of visual and public anthropology in research and its applications to dissemination to mass audiences beyond academia.
Scholar Commons Citation
Vickery, Farah Leigh, "Behind the Lens: the Pride and Politics of Filmmaking in Ghana" (2017). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.