Chris Koney’s column
Without a doubt, black screenwriters, directors, producers, and actors now have more global visibility than ever before and as audiences continue to demand for stories from diverse voices, filmmakers from Africa and across the African diaspora have the opportunity to equally share their work for the world to enjoy.
It is a known fact that women with roots in Africa are among the most dynamic storytellers working in the film industry today and making their works speak for themselves. One of such extraordinary talents is our very own Kuukua Eshun, a young creative making a difference with her craft.
I had no other option than to follow Kuukua’s exploits and later connect with her after a good friend and an arts enthusiast, Pep Junia, chronicled how Kuukua had professionally handled a major project to his admiration on his Facebook page.
Describing herself, Kuukua said “I am bright colors with a mixture of summer flowers. I am sensitive and made up of emotions and poetry. Also, I’m a woman who allows myself to grow through feeling everything in full.”
Kuukua is a filmmaker, director and writer by profession. She co-founded a production company called Shoot Your Reality (Shootyourreality), a woman-led production company based in Ghana with operations across the African continent. The company produces films, commercials and everything in between.
She has worked on some groundbreaking projects with her last personal work titled ‘Artist, Act Of Love’ which has won over 15 film festivals around the world including the world wide women film festival. She recently worked with Nigerian music superstar, Wizkid and shared the inside story.
“Wizkid is an amazing person to know and work with. I met his manager and we had an instant connection after we started talking about what I do. She saw my work and fell in love with my storytelling and the rest is history like it is often said. We had a great project together which I am very proud to have been involved,” she revealed.
Speaking about her upbringing and family, Kuukua recounted her challenging childhood; first having a father who was never in her life and then her mother relocating to the United States of America when she was just about five years old.
“I grew up with my auntie and that was it for me. After my mother left for the United States, the next time I saw her was in my teenage years when I was getting ready for my high school education. I took college classes during my senior year in high school and then attended Columbus State College where I studied Art and Science,” she explained.
According to Kuukua, her entrepreneurial journey started with her passion for storytelling. She added that “I am a storyteller and I have always been full of untold stories. Obviously, there is a business aspect of filmmaking and as we all know, sustainability is important. Clients and big corporations would come to me to visualize or direct films and videos for them. From this, I built my team over time and co-founded a production company with Ama K. Abebrese.”
Most businesses around the world have been heavily affected by the devastative impact of the novel coronavirus. As some have had to shut down their operations, others are dealing with the new normal in order to remain in business. The production sector hasn’t been spared this adversity and Kuukua highlighted the reality in the creative space.
“Business was slow in the first few months after the World Health Organization declared COVID – 19 as a pandemic. After most countries started opening up, things started picking up. We live in a day and age where everyone wants to see content from the continent of Africa. I barely get to rest lately; my production company is always filming. As a director, my work doesn’t end on the field. A lot of my time is spent on pre and post production,” she emphasized.
With the current state of affairs, business owners and entrepreneurs are expected to become more dynamic, innovative and creative for their businesses to remain in operation and also be relevant. It is now time to do more than just the ordinary things and look beyond today when planning.
Kuukua spoke about her company and the motivation for getting into a male dominated business. She indicated that “the company is fast rising and I’m a woman boss with a voice, dreams, stories to tell and the ability to tell them. My motivation is that I’m blessed with a gift and because of that, I get to walk and live my life with a purpose.”
She added that “filmmaking was born out of my courage and ability to write poems. In fact, every film I have made started with a poem. Over the years, I have evolved in the act of storytelling and I will describe myself as an experimental filmmaker at the moment.”
Businesses have their challenges and Kuukua shared her major challenge. “I find myself being one of the few or only woman in the room. Several times, I have tried to find women in film in Ghana to work with but I haven’t had much luck. There isn’t a lot of space in the filmmaking industry for women over here and sometimes, I am underestimated because I am a woman. I think it is getting better and I know it will with time,” she revealed.
Knowing that she is allowed to take up space as a woman and that her purpose is way bigger than just her keeps Kuukua going in life. In the next five years, Kuukua hopes to train young women across Ghana and Africa and help them to understand that their voices and stories are needed. In addition, she wishes to change the narrative about women in filmmaking.