Joseph Nti is a person that encapsulates the meaning of a creative. He is a content curator, producer, co-creator and host of a podcast, a documentary film maker among others. His notable works include the shows, “Off The Top” and “Cheap Talk” on YouTube as well as the vox-pop driven podcast, “Sincerely Accra.” He has also made documentaries for Odunsi (The Engine), BzDarko, and Kwame Amfo-Akonnor of Biishville fame. In this interview, I (Ayeyi) catch up with Joseph and get to know him a little bit more.
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Ayeyi: Hey Joseph! How are you doing and how have you been holding up during these tough times?
Joseph: I am doing alright, self isolation is not so bad. I am enjoying the time off and getting a lot of rest. Finally binging through shows and listening to all the music projects I’ve been meaning to get to.
Ayeyi: That’s great to hear. To start off, can you please tell us what inspired your love for content creation?
Joseph: Consuming content did! Growing up, I watched everything: Home Sweet Home, It Takes Two, Agoro, Taxi Driver, you name it. And when the internet came around, I became obsessed with YouTube. But before audio visuals, I was obsessed with print; books and magazines and that’s why my first attempt at content creation was Ashesi’s first digital magazine – The Ink. Everything else just came along as my interests and curiosity grew.
Ayeyi: One form of content creation you are engaged in is documentaries and filmaking. How did you get involved in that field?
Joseph: Well, I was fortunate enough to grow up with a DSTV subscription and one of my favourite things to watch was the E! True Hollywood Story which showed a quick look at the lives of Hollywood stars and how they came to be who they are. I loved those documentaries and soon after I had conquered print production, I was eager to get into film. I had the perfect subject matter at the time so I just jumped right into it with no experience at all.
Ayeyi: Interesting. So, how do you figure out what angle you want your documentary to capture?
Joseph: Well, that is really dependent on the subject matter and what their story is. When I decide to work on documentaries, I want to tell a captivating story; something that people will be genuinely interested in watching from beginning to end, so there’s that. But I always tape more than I finally put out. I get as many questions and angles as possible and shape the story through the editing process. So to answer that question, the angles are pretty much dependent on the subject matter and my attempt at telling a compelling story.
Ayeyi: Let’s now shift our focus to your podcasts. You are the host and co-creator of the podcast, Sincerely Accra. A unique aspect of this podcast is that it is done in a vox-pop driven style. Why did you choose this particular approach?
Joseph: Well, Sincerely Accra was started by myself and a friend and we both agreed that Ghanaian millennials have a lot of interesting takes on life as we know it here in Accra, so we decided to give them a chance to speak their mind on a number of topics affecting their personal lives living here in Accra. Plus vox-pops are fun and insightful.
Ayeyi: An appealing angle, I must say. What does exciting storytelling mean to you?
Joseph: People don’t like being bored and that’s mostly how I think through my content to make it exciting. A funny personality, witty comments, and wise cracks carry a lot of excitement for people, so I tend to incorporate them. So I guess my answer to that is, exciting storytelling means telling stories that keep people interested from beginning to end.
Ayeyi: At this point, I’d like us to veer into your YouTube content. You have a pretty popular show known as Off The Top where young people with varying personalities come together and participate in trivia. When it comes to casting, how do you select the cast for Off The Top Ghana?
Joseph: Diversity and personality were the only things I thought of. I wanted people to see themselves and people who represent people they may know because those things matter. People relate more to shows when they see characters they can relate to; someone who is naturally funny, someone who will always argue everything that is presented to them, etc. Along the line, I have cast a few guests strategically to help with distribution (i.e. popular people on social media), but for the most part, diversity and personality are at the top of my list.
Ayeyi: And for your other YouTube show, Cheap Talk, what influenced your decision to pick Jessica, KJR and Papa Kofi as the hosts?
Joseph: These guys are my friends and KJR and Papa Kofi have very strong opinions about the music industry. Every time we hang out, their arguments really crack me up so that’s how the show came about. Jessica, who is also a friend represents someone who isn’t so heavily invested in Ghanaian music but has opinions on it and that for me was a good cocktail for a show that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
The third episode, of the YouTube show, Cheap Talk
Ayeyi: Due to the pandemic we are currently in, one adjustment you have made is to now host Off the Top on Instagram live. How has the reception to this change been so far?
Joseph: Well, its been great. Our following on Instagram has increased and its kept us relevant, especially since we cannot shoot anytime soon. As a content creator for a show like Off The Top, consistency is key and going away for such a long period wasn’t a great option either. I am just having fun with it and our viewers love it too.
Ayeyi: How are you able to monetise Cheap Talk and Off the Top?
Joseph: Monetising content really boils down to numbers and appeal. If a brand notices your show and likes it, they will check the numbers, if you’ve got great numbers you get yourself a deal. So we mostly do brand promotions and partnerships. Though the channel is monetised, we do not get enough views to make any sort of meaningful income from YouTube.
Ayeyi: So far, what has been the biggest obstacle you have faced?
Joseph: That’s a tough question because content creation in Ghana is generally a struggle for me because of the kind of stuff I want to put out but I will say money and inspiration tie in for first place. OTT requires a budget to shoot and without brand partnerships or my personal finances, it won’t get done so when these two options are not readily available, its a bit tough. Also, staying inspired and coming up with new ideas for topics and how to keep the show entertaining is a struggle. We have episodes I will never put out because they didn’t come out how I wanted them to and when that happens, I doubt myself a lot and that hampers creativity. I’m my biggest critic.
Ayeyi: In the next five years where do you hope to see yourself?
Joseph: I am not a fan of this question because they kind of place a cap on what one can achieve. I’m also a ‘take-life-one-day-at-a-time’ kind of person who can be inspired by a butterfly tomorrow and throw OTT away, lol. But at the very least, I want to own my own equipment and production studio to keep creating and give other creatives a chance to create content in a space that caters for all their needs.
Ayeyi: To end this interview, can you please tell us your social media handles and the name of your YouTube?
Joseph: Youtube is Joseph Nti
Ayeyi: Thank you very much for talking with me Joseph. It has been an insightful and intriguing conversation and I wish you nothing but the best for the future.
Joseph: Thanks. All the best with this project. Slay!
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