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For stars of Collywood an exciting galaxy awaits

Updated: 2022-08-20 10:16 ( Xinhua )
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Jackson Stephanor (first from left, front), director of Boss Daughters, gives instructions to his cameraman while shooting the film in the southwestern region of Cameroon. [Photo/Xinhua]

YAOUNDE - "Stand by," shouts the director as actors take their marks. The lighting comes on, and the film crew snaps into action after the order to hurry up.

It's a sunny day in Tiko, southwestern Cameroon, and a local crew is gathered to film for an action series.

The series, about the ills of drugs and human trafficking, is called Boss Daughters and is 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 storyline," says Jackson Stephanor, 32, the director.

Stephanor says he hopes Boss Daughters will provide new impetus to Collywood, as Cameroon's film industry is nicknamed.

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 past four years, Cameroon's film industry has really evolved," says Montana Peters, 31, who has produced and acted in several movies. "We have moved from sales of DVDs and CDs to online."

Cameroon has enjoyed considerable growth in its film productions, with more than 300 movies produced since 2008, says Coach Obi, who joined the industry as an actor in 2006.

In recent months, a number of Cameroonian productions have attracted attention from the streaming company Netflix, which has bought four of them.

"We are making some strides,"Obi says while filming an advertisement in a studio in Buea, chief town of the southwestern region that has become the center of film productions in the country.

The growth and popularity of the industry has won the admiration and attention of Cameroonians, such as Josiane Shengang, Angel Ntube, and Elyon-Bright Ayuk, who raised funds to produce Boss Daughters.

"We are just students who are working so hard to bring themselves up," Ntube says. "I would like to take my career as far above the sky as I can go."

Ayuk says: "We are trying to hit the limelight. We are all young ladies and we have the talent."

There are no official figures 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, Obi says.

"Some people are cashing in. It may not be that much but producers are making the effort."

Still, Peters says the industry has a long way to go before its actors and directors can even think about becoming rich.

"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."

A team is working on a platform that will soon air Cameroonian movies online, he says.

With low budgets, whirlwind production schedules and little professional collaboration, the industry is still young but has great potential, says Musi Gakehmi, a film editor and producer.

"As it's growing and 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."

Shengang says: "In the next 10 years, I see Cameroon's film industry becoming one of the biggest in Africa. It's going to be really big because they are working and achieving a lot."

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