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How my career evolved - Story of Ivan Quashigah

BY: Emmanuel Bruce
How my career evolved - Story of Ivan Quashigah
How my career evolved - Story of Ivan Quashigah

Ivan Quashigah is a Ghanaian film maker, a creative director and Chief Executive Officer of Farmhouse Productions shared his career journey last Sunday.

He is well known for producing and directing the award-winning television series - Things We Do for Love and recently, Yolo.

His works in film has won him both local and international awards, with his current TV Series, YOLO – ‘You Only Live Once’ wining seven out of eight awards at the Ghana Movie Awards in 2016.

One of the significant things I did when I was young was that whenever there was a cinema show, we will go and negotiate with the promoters, take the board and go out to advertise the show for them. Click to Tweet

This week on Springboard, Your Virtual University, the Host, Rev. Albert Ocran explored the story behind Mr Quashigah’s story.

Mr Quashigah shared the story of how growing up in an area that was the entertainment hub for the community honed his love for film making and advertising and how he used to advertise film premieres with bells to get to watch for free Commenting on how it all began, he said his love for film dated far back to his early childhood at Keta in the Volta Region.

“I was born at Keta and incidentally, our house was next to a cinema house and at the time I was growing up, they had closed it down. But across the road was another cinema.

“The area that we stayed was the entertainment hub of the town so we saw lots of concerts, plays and films which meant I was very close to what I will later grow up to become at an early age,” he stated.

Advertising skills

Mr Quashigah noted that he also picked up his advertising skills at an early age at Keta.

“In return, we will be allowed to watch the show for free as payment,” he noted.

He said after watching each film, on their return home, he together with his friends would attempt to retell the story in the film, using paper cuttings, card boards and broom sticks.

“We also created our own posters that there will be a film show in our house and all the young people in the neighbourhood will come and watch.

“When they come, we take gate fees which included ‘bofrots’, sugar cane among others,” he narrated.

Organising jams/acting in school

Mr Quashigah also pointed out that he, together with his uncles, used to organise jams for the community.

“One of my uncles had a sound system so we will go and rent a place and do jams. My job was to write the posters so I was already doing advertising there,” he said.

He said he was also acting in plays while in junior high school, which helped further develop his love for film making.

“I used to come to Accra a lot for holidays so I would watch Thursday theater and pick learnings from that and deploy those into the plays we were acting back in school. So I was left to add my own creativity to plays.

“The headmaster became my mentor and was teaching me poetry and a lot of things. I wanted to impress him so I was always going to the library to read new things and that was what grounded me in wanting to continue reading,” he recounted.

He said he met one Mr Ato Yaney, who later introduced him to film making and that was how the story begun.

One of the significant things I did when I was young was that whenever there was a cinema show, we will go and negotiate with the promoters, take the board and go
out to advertise the show for them.

12 Lessons from Mr Quashigah’s story

  1. Intro to films and advertising; I was raised up at Keta between two cinema halls - Croydon and Premier. I advertised film premieres with bells to get to watch for free. We acted our own ‘films’ and got other children to pay in-kind.
  2. Mentorship; Ato Yarney realised my love for reading and African writers. He took me on set for a movie, ‘The Last Show’. It was the first film shot on video and produced by Allen Gyimah. I saw icons such as David Dontoh, Grace Omaboe, George Williams, Lola Everett and I was blown away.
  3. Gradual pull of destiny; A divine hand of destiny seemed to be continually pulling me into film and advertising. I had a very curious mind and was eager to learn. I would often perform after a few tutorials.
  4. Pursuing the dream; many thought I had made a mistake when I went to NAFTI. I doubted myself and considered the limited career options. But I pursued it because of passion, conviction and the pursuit of happiness.
  5. Responding to adversity; my father was detained just before my first year in NAFTI. The financial implications forced me to resort to distributing soft drinks such as Pee Cola. It made me a confident salesperson. I later got a scholarship.
  6. Questions; I asked loads of questions in NAFTI in my quest to understand what it took to win awards and achieve success. I ended up winning several awards. I still ask questions and go to places just to learn.
  7. Blessings in disguise; I was disappointed when I was posted to the NSS secretariat for my service. However, their 20th anniversary documentary enabled me to travel around the country. Till today, it has been a blessing in my business.
  8. My first break; while at Lintas, we did a job for UAC Textiles. The client was not responding to the commercial. I leaned over and whispered to the late Jake that I had recorded an alternative. I played ‘Sika O Sika’ and it was an instant hit.
  9. Attention to detail; growing up, I had to use a ruler to measure the space on my dad’s uniform to fix his military badges after ironing. But that made me a detail oriented person till today.
  10. COVID-19 response; as corporates cut jobs due to COVID-19, I committed to retaining my staff. I set up the Farmhouse Movies App, created content and finally broke through. The biggest problem in films is not funding but distribution.
  11. Entrepreneurship; a. Find what you love or what makes you happy. b. Be ready to sacrifice time and money to learn c. Do something for free to practice and improve d. Remember, everyone you are serving is a potential promoter.
  12. Service; volunteering is a big part of your training. It gives you the experience to become the best. At NAFTI, any time I heard of a production, I would go and help to be close to top professionals and learn. I wasn’t looking to be paid.