"As Ghana becomes more and more popular both for visitors and the diaspora community looking to reconnect, we should strive to support local Ghanaian industries as much as possible – especially the creative scene."
As an award-winning director based in London, Adu Lalouschek, has a track record of producing documentaries from around the world. This was a particularly special shoot for him as a half Ghanaian, and he filmed this earlier in the year on one of his annual trips home.
Viewers follow Ghanaian visual artist, Prince Gyasi, as he explores the vibrant life of the nation’s capital, Accra. Taking his surroundings as a source of inspiration, Gyasi composes striking and colourful images using only a smart-phone; “People are usually surprised when they find out I use my phone to create my artwork, but for me it’s about using whatever tool you have to empower creativity in this world.”
We premiere the film alongside our chat with Adu about his creative process and his musings on the creative scene coming out of Accra today.
How did this collaboration start and what drew you to it?
I reached out to Prince on Instagram while I was in Ghana just over a year ago producing a global travel series. I was a fan of his art and had been keeping up to date with his success on social media.
Prince was super receptive to collaborating as he’d seen my previous documentaries I’d filmed in Accra. We kicked it for a day to get to know each other better and then spent a day filming in Accra’s oldest and most vibrant district, Jamestown. We used local crew and equipment – that was important.
What did you want to get out of this project?
I had just come off a big series production in Accra and had flown in a whole production crew from the UK. For this project though, I wanted to take a different approach and use as many local contributors for the production as possible to support Ghana's creative industry.
My DOP was the super-talented Ghanaian filmmaker, Togbe Gavua, whose debut feature film “Lucky” made waves in the international film circuits, and all our assistants and models on the day were also local to Accra. All equipment used was rented from a local camera facility. Like Prince’s story itself, it was about showcasing the creativity in Ghana.
How would you describe the importance of authentic narratives when documenting Ghanaian culture?
As Ghana becomes more and more popular both for visitors and the diaspora community looking to reconnect, we should strive to support local Ghanaian industries as much as possible – especially the creative scene. Africa is not just this homogenous place the Western media makes it out to be. Each country is completely different.
We can’t tell authentic stories without including the people who inspire them. Inclusivity matters.
Why was it important for you to document Prince Gyasi’s story?
It’s important to shine a spotlight on the young, creative talent on the continent. I love Prince’s story because it’s about using what you have (in his case an iPhone) to create art. Art that tells a story from a perspective we need to hear more of. Art that stands up with all of his contemporaries around the world.
Since the filming of this, Prince’s work has really blown up and he recently did an incredible collaboration with GQ and Burna Boy. It’s great to see his work on the world stage.
How would you describe Ghana’s creative and cultural scene and Accra’s in particular?
As Ghana’s largest city, Accra is really the hub of the creative scene. There’s a lot going on. Annual events like the Chale Wote Festival hosted by Saboli Radio, in August - the largest street art and performance festival in West Africa - bring together some of the best creative talent in the country.
How has the city inspired you as a filmmaker and director?
Accra has grounded me as a filmmaker and I’ve always been inspired by the vast number of stories the city has to offer. I first started creating films in Accra years ago with my good friend and fellow filmmaker, musician, Alex Wondergem. Alex and I first met at film school in London. Like me, he’s half Ghanian but he has spent the majority of his life in Accra and is plugged into the creative scene there. This created a great dynamic when co-creating films on the continent. We were lucky enough to tell some incredible stories – from following Ghana’s strongest man in his makeshift gym made of recycled materials to highlighting the female boxing community in Jamestown.
How would you describe Accra to an outsider/traveller?
Vibrant. Accra really is a hub of excitement and creativity, especially during December, when a lot of Ghanaians from the diaspora return home. I’ve travelled to a lot of cities (and I may be biased) but Accra feels like one of the friendliest places. It’s a great first stop if it’s your first time in West Africa.
Photography by: Adu Lalouschek and Samuel Copta
Directed by: Adu Lalouschek