YAOUNDE, Cameroon (Reuters) – Tatapong Beyala sets up her camera in a studio in Yaounde, Cameroon, surrounded by an all-women team of technicians, make-up artists and assistants.
For the 27-year-old owner of Gurl Boss Productions, it is the perfect crew to take on the male-dominated world of film production in her central African country and beyond.
“I have a lot of difficulties with my own colleagues, like the other male directors who don’t even want to accept me,” Beyala says on the set.
“I decided to have an all-female production team, firstly based on my history, my experience, the difficulties I faced, which I still face.”
The shoot is a music video for Cameroonian rapper Lor’s new track “Stop”.
“All these jokers think they’ve got something on me,” Lor raps, as masked actors crowd around her. The performer and the extras are dressed in stark black, but other scenes from Beyala’s videos – including one for Lor’s “On Connait” – burst with bright colors.
“In style I am very colorful, yeah. In my videos you always see lots of pink, blue,” says Beyala who is working as scriptwriter, director, choreographer and editor on the shoot.
“So, I try to leave the feminine soft-touch, even if am going for a dark video.”
She began her film career as a model in other people’s videos, then got a masters degree in cinematography and started organizing her own productions. Two years ago she set up her company which now employs a full-time staff of seven women.
So far she has worked on around 50 videos for Lor and other artists that have spread far and wide online.
Many of her fans assume she is a man. “I have people (saying) ‘Beyala I like his work. I like his work’ and when they come on set and they realize it’s a girl. They look at your age, they look at your physical appearance.
“And even when you give them the good work … they think you are a joke.”
(Editing by Andrew Heavens)