Controversial filmmaker, Leila Djansi, has aired her opinion about Nii Odoi Mensah’s death saying it will be an insult to bury the actor in China. As result she proposed Film Producers Association of Ghana (FIPAG) and Distributors Guild (DG), should be made to bear the cost of bringing Odoi’s mortal remains back home. She wrote:
FOR THE LOVE OF THE DEAD
Everyone is a good person when they’re dead”.
Bell McCain ‘Where Children Play’.
I choose to be candid in this submission. Two men have died. Two men who were president of the Ghana actors guild. Both died amidst health and financial setbacks.
Mr Odoi Sam was the person who helped me realize that I’d always wanted to a filmmaker. I don’t suppose most knew that. Down the line, his ideologies and mine clashed.
I had conversation with one of the executives of the Ghana Actors guild last week. I was curious about the objectives of the guild, what benefits members derived, etc.
His response was the working actors were not interested in the guild. The working actors claimed the guild was beneath them and as such adopted a laissez faire attitude. According to him, due to the Majid’s and Yvonne’s not being a part, the guild was obsolete.
Why not seek to make it attractive? The guild is quite easy to join. 50ghc gets you an ID card and end of story. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that the working actors do not want to be a part. It’s of no use. It’s just a club; we meet and chat and go home. For an actor who is already working consistently, that’s not something essential or beneficial.
Mr Odoi Sam, FIPAG and Distributors Guild were all in bed together, a relationship by which he could have instituted something viable and sustaining.
For example, to distribute a film in opera square, you have to go through the DG. Mr Sam could have insisted that if one was not a member of the Actors Guild, whatever film you star in could not be distributed through Opera square. Before your film is distributed, opera square demands 500ghc as distribution fee.
Mr Sam could have had a percentage of that money go to the actors guild. This would pay for health insurance and pension schemes for the actors. It could also be a financial pool, for emergencies pertaining to actors.
When he was ill and soliciting for funds, I frowned at that. For over 6 years he was president, he had every opportunity to institute structures and also bring in resource persons to educate and help reform.
Now his body is stuck in China and the public is being asked to donate up to 68,0000 dollars or what 25,000 dollars? That’s a stretch. But I know my Ghana. We love dead bodies. Wake-keeping parties and the fashion fare. We cannot raise 68,000 to send the board of the actors guild to film festivals to learn, but we can raise it to fly a body home.
I don’t agree he be buried in China. That’s an insult. I say opera square bear the cost. They have the money. The people he ate with when he was alive should be responsible for finding the money. After all, FIPAG and DG share the distribution fee among themselves yearly. 500ghc per film each Monday. 10 films a week. Do the math.
To whomever becomes the next actors guild president. Death will not be your portion, but I pray wisdom is. Remember, fixing it now is to your own advantage because tomorrow is very unpredictable. Assuming Mr Sam instituted valid schemes and made the guild operational, the current ‘corpse shaming’ would not be in our conversations. The guild is NOT a club! It should work. It needs to be functional.
Attend festivals. SAG-Foundation (in the united states) has events that teach members and administrators. Go study under them. Set up health and pension funds. Get producers to hire from within the guild, meet producers one on one and pitch them. Whoever you choose to be the new president, please, that person needs to be current. You need to work hard with the independent producers and opera square. Collaborate with them, FIPAG, the Independent filmmakers, Distributors Guild and Actors guild need to work together.
Actors, enough shopping. Gucci and channel owners will never beg for money to get an eye surgery because you are buying their products. Are they buying yours? Actors, enough showing off your wealth on IG and pay into a health plan and pension plan. If you’re doing that already, advertise it to your friends so they follow suit.
Look, if you fix it today, it will benefit you tomorrow. Had Mr Odoi Sam fixed it….
RIP Kind sir!
Very sensible thing she’s said there but will anything be done about it?