Cult of Celebrity

cult of celebrity
Celebrities are often hired to draw an audience to film and television projects. This not only happens in Hollywood but in Africa too. Top left to right: Denzel Washington, Boris Kodjoe, Chiwetelu Umeadi “Chiwetel” Ejiofo, Van Vicker. Middle left to right: Jackie Appiah, Boris (again), Samuel Jackson, Idris Elba. Bottom row left to right: Kerry Washington, Djimon Gaston Hounsou, Morris Chestnut and Lupita Nyong’o.

Most times I have spoken to young filmmakers who think it’s so important to have a “star” in a film to make it more attractive to a potential audience.  The logic of this, of course is obvious that is, until you think about it more.  I think the “star” thing is superficial and it is filmmakers who are lazy, desperate or naïve and do not hold up to substantive thinking who embrace it.  I am not saying there aren’t any benefits to having a recognizable “name” in your film; indeed there are. What I am saying to young fledgling filmmakers is that, “stars” cost more money and even if you get them to work for free, they are used to certain levels of treatment that will still cost you.  Also, stars can often wield their experience and status to run roughshod over the creativity of a fledging director and, in fact, over a whole production. Of course there are exceptions to this fact.

“Stars “can greatly disturb the tone and balance of a film. What I find with most of our Ghanaian actors and actress is that they bring with them baggage of what we know of them from other films they have been in, and the last thing a young director needs is an actor who is not authentic to his film and leaving his /her audience pulled out of his film.

My advice is, unless their acting abilities truly benefit your film creatively and is extremely important to use a “star” in your film, make your film the star.  Let your distinctive ideas and creative energy sell the film and be the marketing hook that will attract your audience.

Secondly, think of casting the actor that best fits the role and will bring the most to your film. If that person happens to be a “star” great. But always make your film the priority, there are plenty brilliant actors and actresses who are not a “star” and cost less. Have the courage to champion them, take advantage of their accessibility and energy. Use them to make your film and you will have your “star”.

Keep your film authentic.


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