Written by James Peak on Oct 23, 2009. Posted in Production News

Cadbury shoot in Ghana

An innovative brief from Cadbury’s left London creative agency Fallon, and production company Rattling Stick with a huge filming challenge in rural Ghana earlier this year, which relied on a combination of slick UK pre-production, and the on-the-ground assistance of an entire village.

If you ask Producer Sally Humphries, veteran of several high-profle Levi’s, JC Penney and Orange campaigns, you’ll hear that: “Ghana is wonderful!”

But there’s no denying that the small West African democracy is a challenging place to film. There are no government subsidies, and precious little government support for local film production. The country has a very limited infrastructure, and investors have long considered the place a very risky place to invest.

There are also hardly any professional-standard crews, and precious little domestic production, which allows nearby Nigeria to swamp the region with it’s own domestically produced films. The process of obtaining press accreditation can be extremely time-consuming and cumbersome, and, according to local fixer Teddy Sabutey: "The coastline is intersected with rivers and streams, most of which are only navigable by canoe.”

So it was a brave decision by Fallon and the UK's Rattling Stick to sign up for Cadbury’s recent Zingolo campaign which celebrated 101 years of trade in cocoa with Ghanian farmers. The spot needed a 200 strong cast and crew to shoot a sophisticated dance-promo, laden with incredible special effects, in a remote village in the rural east of the country.

Clearly, the brief made it absolutely non-negotiable that the shoot happened in Ghana. Phil Rumbol, marketing director for Cadbury has been quoted as saying: “We wanted to celebrate Cadbury’s Fairtrade certification and Ghana, the heart of our Fairtrade cocoa, in a unique way. We were inspired by Ghana’s love of music so it seemed the perfect way to capture the spirit of the country.”

Ghana is located on the Gulf of Guinea, a few degrees north of the Equator, between some of the poorest and least developed nations on Earth - The Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Togo. Ghana itself is often seen as a model for political and economic reform in Africa because of its stable cocoa and gold exports, but the country has no indigenous film industry at all.

Nevertheless, the thriving cocoa village of Osiem in the Eastern Region was the principal location for the Cadbury’s campaign, although extra filming was done at the Cadbury’s cocoa plantation, also in the Eastern region of Ghana. It was the perfect backdrop to celebrate the chocolate manufacturer’s relationship with the Ghanaian cocoa industry, and formally fanfare it’s move to Fairtrade ingredients.

Despite the challenges of filming in such an undeveloped environment, Humphries had a spectacular time filming in Osiem Village, as she explains:

“The shoot was great, completely different! The people were incredibly friendly and helpful, and most of the village became involved in one way or another. Catering was a bit of an issue that took a while to resolve, until we found a lovely lady called Amy who ran the local guesthouse. She catered for all of the crew and 200 extras a day.”

Rattling Stick did not underestimate the importance of local knowledge. They signed up a Ghanaian production service company to ensure their shoot ran smoothly, in the form of old hand Teddy Sabutey, of TS Productions, based in the capital, Accra. He had previously worked on BBC’s long-running drama Casualty, several European feature films, and on pre-pre-production for Mission Impossible 3. Humphries had nothing but praise for him:

“Teddy was immensely helpful behind the scenes. He sorted all of the press accreditations and other issues with the authorities.”

It is critical when filming in Ghana, that the local tribal chiefs are consulted, as they form a layer of unofficial local government. Filmmakers are advised to consult with the chiefs for projects that film in any public areas. This is where a fixer like Sabutey really earnt his Cedi. There is simply no substitute for a local guy to keep things ticking along. And that’s not all that was local, as Sally proves:

“All the talent was local to the village, barring the dance troupe High Spirit who came from Accra and Tinny, the Ghanaian musician who provided the soundtrack.”

It proved difficult to source a full professional crew in Ghana itself, and so Rattling Stick had to look further afield, as Humphries explains:

“We hired some crew from Accra, but the majority of crew and all of the equipment had to travel up from South Africa.”

Sabutey himself is effusive about the potential for filmmakers in Ghana, pointing particularly to the UNESCO World Heritage Monuments forts along the coastline at Elmina, St Jago, and Cape Coast. He also mentions the incredible Lake Volta, now the site of the Kujani National Park, and the 500 square km Mole National Park, an inexpensive safari destination, with lions, elephants, antelope, monkeys and crocodiles, where there is plenty of filming potential.

Fallon’s finished product Zingolo does indeed manage to capture the love of music and community celebration that anyone who has been to Ghana will recognise. And filmmakers will do well to recognise that a shoot of this caliber is always possible, as long as it plays to the strengths of local experts, and local talent.

Zingolo is available to watch on YouTube, through the Glass And A Half channel and Cadbury’s is donating all proceeds from the sale of Tinny’s track Zingolo to Care, a charity working with Ghana’s cocoa communities. The track is available on iTunes now, through Glass and A Half Full Record’.


Client: Cadbury's
Advertising Agency: Fallon, London
Executive Creative Director: Richard Flintham
Director: Ringan Ledwidge
Production Company: Rattling Stick
Producer: Sally Humphries
Director of Photography: Franz Lustig
Production Service Company: TS Productions
Post production: The Mill, London

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