Yaounde, Cameroon | Xinhua | “Stand by!” shouts the director as actors take their marks. The lighting blinks on. The film crew snaps into action after the order to hurry up.
It’s a sunny day in Tiko, a locality in southwestern Cameroon and a local film crew is gathered to shoot for an action series.
The series which spotlights the ills of drugs and human trafficking is called “Boss Daughters” and it’s expected to be premiered in November.
“We have been filming for like four days now and truly this one is a wonderful experience because I love the story line,” said 32-year-old Jackson Stephanor, director of the show.
Stephanor hopes that “Boss Daughters” will provide new impetus to Collywood, the affectionate nickname for Cameroon’s film industry.
Cameroon’s cultural diversity, tree-lined suburbs and sweeping landscapes, deserts and lakes have increasingly dotted the silver screen in recent years, serving as the backdrop for several popular movies in the country.
“For the last four years, the Cameroon film industry has really evolved. We have moved from the sales of DVDs and CDs to online,” said 31-year-old Montana Peters who has produced and acted in several movies.
The Central African nation has seen considerable growth in its film productions with over 300 movies produced since 2008, said Coach Obi who joined the industry as an actor in 2006.
In recent months, a number of Cameroonian productions have been attracting attention from streaming company Netflix, which has so far purchased four Cameroonian movies.
“We are making some strides,” Obi told Xinhua while shooting an advert in a studio in Buea, chief town of Southwest region which has become the center of film productions in the country.
The growth and popularity of the industry has won the admiration and attention of young Cameroonians like Josiane Shengang, 21, Angel Ntube, 21 and Elyon-Bright Ayuk, 22 who raised funds to produce “Boss Daughters”.
“We are just students who are working so hard to bring themselves up there. I will like to take my career as far as above the sky, as far as I can go,” said Ntube.
“We are trying to hit the limelight. We are all young ladies and we have the talents,” added Ayuk.
There are no official statistics on how much the industry has contributed to the Cameroonian economy, but it has undoubtedly created jobs in a country with an economy that relies mainly on oil and agriculture, said Obi.
“Some persons are cashing out. It might not be that much but really producers are making that effort,” Obi said.
Still, Peters said the industry has a long way to go before its actors and directors have a chance to make millions of dollars.
“We don’t actually have platforms where we can sell our movies. That is where the big problem is. That is where Nigeria is ahead of us,” Peters said, adding that a team was working on a platform that will soon air Cameroonian movies online for Cameroonians to stream.
Fueled by low budgets, whirlwind production schedules and little professional collaboration, the industry is still young but has great potentials, said film editor and producer, Musi Gakehmi.
“As it’s growing, as people are trusting production, more money is going to come in and we are going to have better equipment. Our equipment is not the Hollywood kind of equipment as of now, so whatever we have we make sure that we maximize its use,” Gakehmi said.
“In the next ten years, I see Cameroon film industry like one of the biggest film industries in Africa. It is going to be really big because they are working and achieving a lot,” said Shengang. ■