Taking Ghanaian content mainstream

August 31, 2020

Since the first episode in 2017, Joseph Nti’s Off the Top, known for its wit and humor, has quickly become of the most talked-about shows on Ghanaian social media.

Inspiration from a dated art form
Like many young people in Ghana, Ashesi alumnus Joseph Nti ’15 grew up seeing a lot of locally produced television shows. Today, however, most of those have fizzled out or lost viewership, unable to keep up with changing audience taste and new technology in media. But with online video becoming mainstream, Joseph started to see opportunities for using the platform to tap into a desire for more local video content in Ghana.

“I wanted to give people that nostalgic feel; the kind you got from watching the TV shows we had when we were kids,” shared Joseph who launched his career producing short videos of young entrepreneurs and creatives in Ghana. “In the same way we watch shows online and learn a little more and more about other cultures, I want to be able to create content that is authentically Ghanaian and can be a portal into our people and culture.”

Building experience at every opportunity
Over time, Joseph continued to cultivate this deepening interest in creating content, and by his second year as a student at Ashesi, had his first production, a student-led magazine called The Ink.

“Through this experience, I not only started building a portfolio but also I gained invaluable experience in production work,” shared Joseph. “Few media houses or creative agencies may immediately give people the opportunity to be at the forefront of high-billed shows or productions. The Ink did this for me and the numerous student contributors who helped produce edition after edition.”

It is from some of these experiences that Joseph has drawn on, in couching a style that is both authentic and relatable, while working with limited resources for his current productions. Off the Top is filmed on a simple set – a couch as the sole prop- an ensemble cast and a few guest volunteers.

“A while back, creating and publishing content was resource-heavy, only a few people could actually get stuff out” he shared. “However with increased accessibility to the internet and smartphones, anyone who wants to create can start immediately. The hard work these days is in building on the idea and executing it.”

Inspiring budding creatives
With the increased reach to smartphones and an audience ready to consume content, Joseph believes that creative arts should be given increased attention in our classrooms. So in 2018, he teamed up with Ashesi faculty to create a Creative Arts curriculum for the Ashesi Innovation Experience, an enrichment program for high school students.

“A lot of people are either gifted or passionate about the arts, yet traditionally parents are more likely to encourage their children to focus more on the traditional paths like engineering, medicine, business and the like,” he shared. “Yet creativity matters a lot, even in engineering, robotics, entrepreneurship, and business.  It plays a role in helping solve complex problems, in how things are perceived, how stories are told, and how information is communicated. And harnessing this in children and teaching them how to make a profession of it, can make a difference.”

Keep creating
With a steadily growing subscriber base for Off the Top, Sincerely Accra, and other content he’s currently hacking at, Joseph hopes his work will inspire other creatives to put out more content to project Ghana.

“In our local creative community, we are each other’s support,” he shared. “Just seeing another person creating, succeeding at times, failing sometimes, and not giving up, is important for all of us. Over time, I’ve learned opportunities will always come my way, but if they don’t come, I’ve also learned to create them for myself.”

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