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Filming Uncle Paapa, the artist – A Ghanaian Roving Eclectic

By Billie McTernan in Accra
Posted on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 11:19

Tell us about your production company?

My production company is called sofraiche media. It is a full service media company based in London. Our partner company, just known as so|fraȋche! (So Fresh) is a blog/social media platform and has established itself as one of Europe’s leading young professional platforms. Our focus is on creating mainstream informative and entertaining programming for terrestrial and non-terrestrial broadcasters including international markets. Using our bloggers/ researchers from around the World so|fraȋche! is able to lead the way in visual trends & innovative concepts.

What inspired you to make this documentary?

At the time I was on trip in Ghana, where I was born. I was staying with my Uncle, my mother’s elder brother (Paapa Nketsiah). We were having a long conversation and I found it captivating. I remembered I had my camera with me and felt the need to document what he was telling me. I was with my younger sister; a journalism student, who also has strong artistic prowess and she assisted me with the film which she co-produced, we planned it there and then.

How long did it take you to make the film?

It took two days to film. I started late in the evening one night and I filmed cutaway shots the next morning before I had to leave his compounds in this remote village and move on with my trip.

Is it the first you’ve made?

No it’s not my first film. I’ve produced and directed short films in the past and my first documentary before this one, which was on a musician called Kwame Kwaten. a final year university project.

Give us a bit of background about your uncle. For example his profession and where he’s lived? What made him want to live his life the way he does?

My Uncle Paapa wanted to be a footballer when he was younger and also found a knack for art. He was persuaded to pursue the arts. Which, ironically is a very similar story to mine. I believe his religion, beliefs, his surroundings, his career with the government and his nature have made him decide to live the way he does.

What message do you hope to convey in this piece?

I want this piece to convey the fact that everybody is significant and has a story. Even if you are not famous or do not have much, you have the power to make a difference and influence, inspire and teach others, no matter your situation.

What lessons did you learn from it? The filming process and from the people involved?

First and foremost I loved the filming process because of the tranquility of the location and the beauty of my Uncle Paapa’s compounds. I didn’t have a film crew with me or the best production equipment, but I think that this guerrilla approach to filmmaking made me enjoy the process a lot more. I loved the people I met because of how selfless and different they were. As I have grown up in western society I think my way of thinking is challenged when you meet people who are not so materialistic and have a different outlook on life.

When and where will the film be out?

The film is out. Currently, [it is] available online on YouTube and Vimeo. The film festival route is something I have considered and already tried to approach. Unfortunately some of the creative decisions I have made do conflict with some of the rules and regulations of a lot of these film festivals and I’ve always been a bit of a rebel soul.

Are you working on anything new? Documentaries or otherwise?

I am in talks with some art industry insiders about taking this documentary a step further. As well as getting Paapa’s artwork out there. I hope he becomes a celebrated artist worldwide. I urge anybody who can help make this happen [to] get in touch. I am working on some exciting projects in the New Year, most of them you will be able to find on

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