· Applications

My Fulbright Application

Personal Statement

My personal objective studying in the United States is to advance my skills as a transmedia producer. Through learning with the eminent academic leaders of my field (most of whom are American), working with upcoming producers, and networking with the established ones, I wish to build a credible platform to eventually become a leading transmedia producer in Europe.

I was fortunate in my childhood to have access to a computer from early on. Learning to program in my teens out of desire for self-expression on the nascent web, meant that when I fell in love with photography, dreaming of being a National Geographic photographer, I was able to pay for myself to go on an YFU exchange program that I believed would make me a photographer -- like the ones on the pages of National Geographic. Instead it came to change how I experience the world. In Northern Argentina, a high-school kid at the time, I hustled my way into a course at the Anthropology program of the Salta National University. In a social anthropology class depicting the complicated relations between Argentine nationals and indigenous populations, I made friends with a group of Tango-dancers. With their help, I eventually learned to speak Spanish and photographed their journey to a dance competition in Peru. One part of my dream had come to fruition.

The summer in Brazil I became 18 marked me even more than Argentina. It was my first encounter with a Portuguese-speaking culture. The incredibly welcoming people I met were the first to begin teaching me the language and invited me to their homes. The Brazilian tradition: a mixture of influences from Africa, South-American indigenous peoples, and the Portuguese, combined into a remarkable culture of representation and dance, completed by the charming music and language, meant that the Lusophone world would capture me for years to come. This was the beginning of my second dream. It deeply influenced my decision in my Sophomore year in Audiovisual Media at Tallinn to convince the University to create a ERASMUS exchange program in Portugal. Then I took a risk in proposing a thesis project the University committee thought beyond possible. I believed myself capable, as this was exactly the project I wanted to do. In Portugal I had started a blog on Sao Tomé & Principe after a youthful flame for a girl from the island of Sao Tomé and now I wanted to expand it into a film. The island being completely unknown and the home for a number of inspirational painters, it was the perfect location for my first movie. Emotionally very much involved, I networked myself into the circles of businessmen in Estonia and Sweden, finally raising money from 15 venture capitalists and inventing a marketing position for myself at a Swedish company in Sao Tomé that allowed me to travel with. My documentary on the artists of Sao Tomé and Principe became possible. Even though looking back, the project didn’t garner a high artistic grade, and I was on the brink of my ability as a producer, it did remind me that reaching for my dreams is worthwhile. Things that may seem out of reach at first are ultimately possible with dedication. Moreover, it convinced me of something that has since become my deeply-held belief: learning comes most of all from a deep interest in the subject.

The transmediatic fashion in which my thesis unfolded led me to discover transmedia storytelling. This was the beginning of my third dream. After graduating in 2011 I signed up for the Crossmedia Production MA at Tallinn University that involves the same curriculum of multi-platform storytelling that I had experimented with. I was able to receive a competitive full-scholarship. In the second semester, thanks to an European scholarship I won for studying in Portugal this spring, I had the good fortune to meet twice Henry Jenkins. The man who founded transmedia as an academic field and authored one of our key texts: Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. Jenkins’ work has been influential on me and the fact he came to his first conferences in Lisbon and Madrid this year, seemed like a sign to me that my stars are aligning. My excitement was so apparent that Jenkins even mentioned me in his blog. Furthermore, apart from beginning to meet the established names in transmedia storytelling, I also wrote my first 80 pg synopsis for a feature-length science-fiction movie set in Sao Tomé & Principe and Angola called Principes: The Sky People. I am expanding this into a full 120-page transmedia screenplay. Finally, having completed my first year in the MA with excellent academic results I received an invitation from Karine Halpern to become a founding member of the Transmedia Europe umbrella organization that I now have to confidence to accept.

I have often been among the first Estonians to test new mobile apps and online services coming out of Silicon Valley. My friend Oliver Wihler was inspired by the carrying idea of the book Never Eat Alone by the American author Keith Ferrazzi. Together we begun building a startup titled Wannalunch. It would optimize lunch-breaks for business-people so instead spending lunch alone, people of similar interests would be able to share a meal. We imagined bridging the gap between online and offline social networks. This however failed as a business. We didn’t know how to grow the service into profitability. It did however give us a sense of what it would be like to build a product for consumers. American Transmedia Producers continue to be more successful in creating transmedia franchises that are financially profitable which is crucial for sustainability in working as a producer. Moreover, the Producers Guild of America is the only producers’ union to officially recognize the Transmedia Producer credit. It is awarded for the creation of compelling multi-platform content, where the producer leads audiences across platforms within the same fictional universe. I wish to convince European financiers to recognize a similar credit. This is just one example of diverse aspects of knowledge transfer and potential experience-share within the transmedia storytelling field that would be valued highly in Europe both by myself and the upcoming Transmedia Europe organization.

In conclusion, I submit that my experience in diverse media platforms in conjunction with my academic interest in the exploration of transmedia storytelling draw a clear path towards studying transmedia among remarkable peers at a world-class university. This opportunity will move me further in reaching my full potential as a producer and help me transfer knowledge to Europe. Transmedia is what American scholars, American producers -- and in some ways the highly mediated American society have experience in. I want to profit from this in the most comprehensive way possible.

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