· Stories

Wê (English)

Wê is an anthology of short films featuring characters awakened from paintings.

Many years ago.

The art history teacher switched off the light. We took a comfortable seat on the cushions spread around on the classroom floor. The whispers subsided and she started talking. The image on the wall flickered. In the glow of the projector beam stood a portrait of an ancient Greek man. It was the astronomer Ptolemy. The teacher's voice began leading us through his life. I felt how my imagination took me on a journey, transporting me into a new world behind the painting. I was being drawn into the story of this ancient scientist, making the first discoveries in the incredible starry sky above us. The teacher's quiet tale embedding his image in my memory forever.

I've experienced the same in art museums. Listening to the fascinating stories behind the paintings, the voice in the museum headphones waking the canvases to life, and giving us a way to experience paintings, understand and learn from them.

Like in the classroom and the museum, we can create the same experience with the mobile phone. Just put on your headphones and I hope we can delight the audience with short films inspired by paintings from around the world. The first artworks are from the archipelago of São Tomé and Príncipe.

The Stories & Paintings

The Wê Writer's Group came up with many wonderful stories inspired by disparate painting and among those these two were chosen. The first is by Gilberto Ceita based on a painting by Alex-Keller Fonseca and the second by Edneyse Coelho from a painting by Jesus Quaresma.

Me & My Friend The Slingshot
Roaming the rainforest with his slingshot a boy meets an ornithologist in search of an endemic species in the deep Ôbo. [Adventure]

Love For One Day
One day at school a girl receives a love-letter from a secret admirer. [Drama]

These are simple, hopeful stories. Filled with love and warmth. A far cry from the Captain Americas and Incredible Hulks of the big cinema screen, these are small stories for the small screen. Something to watch on the train to make you feel good. The separate inteveaving stories can be watched separately but interlock like puzzle pieces where characters meet. A fleeting moment when Zezinho & Manelinho from "Childhood Lost" run through the supermarket when Mayne is buying tomatoes shows us how they might not be acquinted and their stories may be different, but they do exist on the same island.

The Audience

Wê is released over a course of time. Streching out the distribution allows the audience to get deeper into the story and the characters and become more curious, with multiple windows of opportunity to create incentives for the audience to watch more content. This model was inspired by the experience of watching Haunting Melissa, a memorable and personal than many of my feature-film experiences in the cinemas. Also storytelling apps such as Alma, The Hobbit Companion, Ken Burns, Cartier-Bresson, Goodnight Mo, Authentic In All Caps, Anne Frank, FoxAndCrane, Capitolio, Cosmos, Disney Animated, I Live Here, Al Gore's Our Choice, Tate / Unilever, Horn, Monument, Inner World, Isolani and The Walking Dead, were an inspiration.

I have been involved with São Tomé e Príncipe through co-founding events like the TEDx and plan to continue to be for many coming years by co-producing an upcoming film festival (the first for the country), so having an app installed on user's iPads also presents and opportunity to announce future projects to an audience already familiar with the "story world" of the archipelago and any of the stories this generation of Sao-Tomean writers and filmmakers will come up with.

As a programmer I have created a few native iPhone apps for events like Africa Mostra-se and TEDx as well a small businesses. I have however started with the conceptual design of how I want the app to look like.

In 2008-2009, when I was an exchange student at the Universidade Lusofona in Lisbon, Portugal I made friends with the soon-to-become journalist Katya Aragao (with whom we later founded TEDxSaoTome) and she led me to the island where in 2010 I met the painter Alex-Keller Fonseca whose work inspired me to start a documentary on the local art scene. After a while working on the documentary and after studying screenwriting MA level I understood I’m much more a fiction-writer (where I started “The Sky People”) and starting a transmedia Master’s which gave me an appreciation of the connections between different forms of art I and decided to dramatise the documentary and enter into the paintings. I joined the Africa Mostra-se film festival production team started by a schoolmate from Lusofona, which gave me an appreciation of how filmmakers are portraying stories in various African countries. As there's next to no film production been undertaken in STP I did manage to watch the handful of documentarie and television programs made in the country. I undertook research in to all the anthology films I could find as well as digging into all the films where characters enter or come out of a world of the paintings.

Late 2013 another story written by Percio Silva entered into the project detailing a history of domestic violence set to his own music. In early 2014 we started shooting "Domestic Violence" with the help of Percio and his sister, a fashion student in the UK on vacation in STP and she became the film's stylist.

We'll begin looking for designers and developers and interaction designers interested in the themes of the project while I develop the conceptual design and build a prototype myself.

I'm a huge fan of Al Gore's Our Choice app and would love to have an interaction designer with the skills and vision of Mike Matas (Push Pop Press/Facebook) or Charles Melcher (Melcher Media) or anyone from the current Facebook interaction design teams to serve as a mentor for the project. Also access to NYC-based transmedia producers such as Jeff Gomez at Starlight Runner Entertainment, radical.media, Lance Weiler for possible mentorship / advisory positions would be useful. I'm a huge fan of Gina Prince-Bythewood for "The Secret Life of Bees", Shunji Iwai for "All About Lily Chou-Chou", George Tillman Jr. for "The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete", Juan J. Campanella (who studied at Tisch) for "El mismo amor, la misma lluvia", Nir Bergman for "Knafayim Shvurot", Flora Gomes for "Udju Azul di Yonta", Arvin Chen for "Au Revoir Taipei". If any of them would be available to look at my project and possibly become a part of it as an executive producer, I'd love that. Watching Gina Prince-Bythewood taught me "On my set, people have to respect the actor's process. I totally respect what actors do. I give them whatever time they need and I never scream out directions from the camera. I take the time to walk up to them and talk to them personally. If any of the producers of sucessful anthology films such as "Paris, je t'aime", "7 Days in Havana", "E nu lie zhuan" would be available for a chat that'd be awesome.

Outreach, Audience Development, Distribution and Marketing initiatives will include but are not limited to Media team: 1 PR lead + 3 volunteers to start building relationships with African film and media bloggers but also mainstream outlets for commercial crossover. Look for outreach volunteers through Transmedia NYC and StoryCode founders Aina Abiodun and Michael Knowlton pitching The Wê Anthology as the first transmedia feature in São Tomé and Príncipe and a unique opportunity to be part of. Design. Hire a designer to begin building consistent branding and look and feel across channels including Facebook profile picture ribbon and an avatar with a Slingshot. Landing Page. Capture Mobile phone numbers and email opt-in so to email / text down the road to build a database of the audience and engage them to market our film in more meaningful ways than a Facebook like. Audiences can engage with the project pre‐release, keep abreast of our progress, participate in “raffles” and special giveaways (be an extra in the film, etc.). We will also provide widgets and downloads. Crowdfunding on Kickstarter as a way of building audience, creating buzz, and engaging the public in the creation of the movie with incentives ranging from autographs to a painting from one of the artists in the film.

Distribution & Marketing Initiatives. Collaboration with local businesses to create uniquely branded publicity materials for the app launch on the App Store. Forming partnerships with grassroots organizations to use their mailing lists to advertise the film’s release, e.g. Women in Film/TV International, African Film festivals, Goethe Institute, African film/ media/culture bloggers, etc. Collaboration with the to rap artist Pekagboom whose music will be featured in the film in the chapter Domestic Violence to create a viral music video. Creating and circulating our own Behind‐the‐Scenes documentary and YouTube clips.

The main access point for the movie is wê.com. The painter Alex-Keller Fonseca, Dio Lima, Olie Ribeiro, and an IMDB profile.

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