What’s this thing all about?
Duration: 80 minutes
First Draft: November 2009
Last Update: June 2011
Original Treatment By: Kris Haamer
An artist’s journey towards recognition.
In a forgotten island-nation a group of talented painters dreams of showcasing their work around the world. On our journey across the country, we meet artists who reveal their entrepreneurial stories, ambitions and inspire each of us to take charge of our artistic destiny.
Entrepreneurship creates opportunity.
Concept & Premise
Becoming an artistic success is a great challenge anywhere. But it’s even a bigger adventure on a tiny, little-known island in a country nobody has heard of. The protagonist – Alex-Keller – is a somewhat offbeat young man who travels in a yellow taxi cab, on a motorbike, and on foot - in his city of Sao Tomé and on the only road around the island looking for mentors and advice before his first individual gallery show at the Brazilian embassy.
Tomé is the story of an up-and-coming artist. It’s an exciting journey towards recognition but also an intimate portrayal of one man who tries to make something of himself.
Alex-Keller begins to question his love of work – and begins a journey of self-discovery. What is he really going to be doing on this small island? Many don’t recognize his aspirations. He’s close to becoming a social outcast. But he keeps seeking the answer to one question – how to become successful with his creations?
Alex-Keller showing of his work
I believe one becomes an artist when he begins to pay attention to the feelings of his own inner visionary, laying bare one's soul. Alex begins to understand how visionaries and entrepreneurs create change in-spite of hardships. And failure really doesn’t matter that much.
Tomé is a film for a global audience. It’s a universal story in a fresh context. Audiences are tired of superficial TV shows; Tomé provides entrepreneurial inspiration by telling a true story that gets into the heart of what it means to believe in oneself.
In May 2009 Estonia and São Tomé and Príncipe established diplomatic relations. The Estonian Ambassador to Portugal Mart Tarmak said São Tomé and Príncipe could become a destination for Estonian tourists.
Estonia Established Diplomatic Relations with São Tomé and Príncipe
At the time I was a student in Lisbon, at the University of Lusofona that has many students from Sao Tome & Principe, some of whom I made friends with. I became curious about the islands and started working on various projects connected to Sao Tome. I conceived the idea for a film in November 2009 as a way to raise funding for my relationship with the islands.
I’ve been working on this project since November 2009, I am presenting a small part of the film in 2011, as my thesis for Tallinn University, and hope to finish the film later in 2011.
What’s the whole story? Continue reading my synopsis of the film.
The story in 250 words. Images are screen captures of production footage.
Alex-Keller is an aspiring artist in a little-known country who dreams of putting his work on the map of the art world. As he travels around his city, meeting both failed and established artists who reveal their entrepreneurial stories, he starts to believe his own ambitions and takes charge of his destiny.
In other words: This is the adventure of Alex-Keller.
So how does one become an artist? Alex is looking for success on the international art market. He strikes out to meet other creatives in Sao Tome in hopes to find a mentor. While traveling around the island, the painters Kwame Sousa, Olavo Amado, René Tavares, Osvaldo Reis, and the sculptor Nelito Pereira each reveal the story of their own entrepreneurial beginnings. These stories lead Alex to believe his ambitions and take charge of his future in the art world.
Can he do it?
Who are all these people in the movie I’ve just mentioned? Continue reading character profiles.
The external dramatic tension and the internal ambitions of each character becomes apparent in each character's storyline. Even though this is a documentary, I use these profiles to inform my directing approach taken for each person.
Alex Keller is painting fervidly. His furious strokes cover the canvas with blue and pink, in a portrait about a young Santomean mother caring for her baby.
Working alone in his studio at Casa Equador that has been a home for many Saotomean artists, Alex paints alone rarely talks to anyone.
While Alex may be among the most talented artists in Sao Tomé, he doesn't necessarily sell much, saying he looks for people who respect his work and will take good care of the painting they buy. One day he might become as famous as the famously solitary Caspar David Friedrich.
See paintings by Alex-Keller.
Ronny Key is surrounded by colorful pieces of fabric about to become clothes. He’s talking about his inspirations in the fashion world abroad, far from Sao Tomé.
Ronny is a young designer who wants to put his island on the world map with his designs. He uses African fabrics in combination with European style dressmaking.
African fabrics are not that common in Sao Tomé and Ronny also wants to bring that color and texture back into fashion in his native land.
Working on the colorful attire of red, yellow, brown, a seamstress is pecking away with her sewing machine in the background. A mototaxi arrives and Ronny jumps on. He travels to Sao Joao Dos Angolares what according to him is the most peaceful place in the whole world and where hi gets his inspiration.
See Ronny Key's designs on Facebook.
Olavo Amado is surrounded by his colorful paintings he calls the labyrinths of life. At the heart of the story is the gallery where he works, Teia D’Arte has been the heart of the community of Santomean artists.
Olavo makes strong statements because the labyrinths he paints are also the the story of life. Yes, why not give it try - do your best make your dreams come true. Life has it’s mysteries and challenges and labyrhints in his painting express those difficulties. This strong aspiration, when becoming an artist, is often the only thing you have. Discovery of one’s artistic capabilities is not enough, the backbone of you success in the art world will be your stamina and never giving up.
Olavo has studied art in Paris and traveled for a few to times to the Netherlands to study with other artists but always returns as his loves his island, and says that's the best place for him.
See paintings by Olavo Amado.
Osvaldo Reis sits in the midst of tubes of acrylic color, telling me a story about his first experience with real paint at an art competition.
With a big table in front of him, wearing a simple blue shirt, he tells me about circles. Circle is the symbol of an island, and Osvaldo can feel the limitations around him. On a small island islolated by the sea, and limited options, has its entrepreneurs in the art world, expressing diverse ideas and creating multi-faceted artwork.
Osvaldo sells most of his paintings to tourists, as according to him Santomeans are not an appreciative market. For them, art and painting is something new, but he has hopes for the future.
Kwame Sousa recently finished a project in Brazil and is now going to India for 6 months to work with local artists.
Why is he in Sao Tomé? Kwame says Sao Tome has a special energy. No matter where he is, the islands remain the most important place for him.
He's trying to shake off the image of an African painter, and create an individual brand that truly belongs to him.
The most important person for Kwame is his daughter.
Nelito Pereira stands with the bright sea behind him, talking about his challenges when starting out.
Nelito worked with his father, and also Nezo, an artist from Angolares, in sculpture, before striking out on his own.
People will look at your sculpture and go hmm... They try to make out what is it, each says something about what’s there, and that's always fun.
Nelito reuses materials for art, and he’s out to prove that Africans too care about the environment. There are two faces to Africa. War, poverty, misery. But also culture, creativity, beauty.
René Tavares sits in white roof coffee shop in Tallinn and talk elatedly about his inspirations. He lives between Lisbon where he studies, and Sao Tomé where he feels his home is.
René believes Santomean art is a marriage between Africa and Europe. He likes to compare and contrast the role of women in Sao Tomé and other parts of the world, Europe, Asia. His work is a marriage between influences from Sao Tome & Europe.
René also like to combines painting with a special brand of theater from Sao Tomé, taking inspiration from Tchiloli, the french drama popular on the islands, and has just published a book with his paintings.
See paintings by René Tavares.
Kris Haamer (That’s me!)
When I was 12, I fell in love with the daugher of a banana saleswoman in the Dominican Republic. That experience lit a passion in me that led me to study Spanish in the outskirts of Salta, Argentina.
While in South America, I ended up for a whole summer in the North of Brazil, where I fell in love with the Portuguese language and the Samba music, and became a lusophile. So a few years later I decided to study in Portugal to actually learn the language. In Lisbon, through some friend and the Lusophone University I discovered Sao Tomé.
And decided to investigate the islands in detail for my university thesis, and spawned the idea for my first documentary, Tomé.
What will I make these characters look like on the screen? Continue reading my artistic vision.
Who are all these people in the film, and what are the locations? Screenshots taken directly from production footage.
Screenshots from both preproduction and production footage.
The frequently and not so frequently asked questions.
Why did you make this film?
While studying in Lisbon at the Lusofona University I made friends from Sao Tome and Principe
I realized I had a unique opportunity to become a cultural bridge, and create an Estonian portrayal of Sao Tomé and Principe.
I was encouraged by the Estonian ambassador to Portugal - Mart Tarmak - who signed diplomatic relations with Sao Tome and Principe.
At the same time I became curious about African cinema, as films by African directors such as Flora Gomes and Ousmane Sembène are often shown on the streets Lisbon, and at Portuguese film festivals.
I then created a website called Africa on YouTube that analyzed the content of YouTube videos that portray Portuguese-speaking African countries.
Through my media research, I recognized Africa is often shown as a primitive continent and Africans as primitive people, and my own experience was different - so I wanted to show my experience and point of view.
In Sao Tome, while looking for my protagonist, I recognized my own artistic aspirations in one painter, Alex-Keller, so he became my main character.
Santomean art is a reflection of the Santomean society. Through his paintings, Alex, and also other Santomean artists draw attention to social problems, such as the status of women in Santomean society, the status of children, and to the protection of environment. Alex’s main concern is to lessen the social divide between men and women, and the protection of children.
I invented the journey of interviewing artists as a narrative device, to understand all the artists’ reflection of the islands, and to give Alex a chance to meet all of them and work with me in front of the camera.
Why did you film this by yourself?
I didn’t have budget to pay travel for a full team, and I was unable to convince (for most of the time) people to work with me for free. I was able to pay for some help though both in Portugal and Sao Tomé, and many friends helped out.
Why did you make such an expensive film?
My connection to Sao Tome was personal and it had become part of my life. I was motivated to work on this project.
Why didn’t you complete the film by deadline?
Raising sufficient funds took time.
Why did you submit the film now?
Why not? I wanted to get your feedback. I also wanted to start a master's program this fall, so I decided to take the risk of trying to finish it in due time.
How long have you been working on this?
1.5 years. I spent 3 months in Lisbon talking to art curators, painters, just normal Santomeans. I have met the majority of Santomean artists and talked to literally hundreds of Santomeans.
What have you learned from this process?
Making contacts. Fundraising. I found the whole experience very valuable. I really feel it’s the best thing I’ve done in my whole life.
What was the role of BFM in your development?
Inspiring professors Dirk Hoyer, Hagi Shein, James Thurlow, and inspiring quests such as James Tusty. Also, freedom to experiment with my ideas.
In one word, what is the new film about?
Were you able to make the film you wanted to make?
No. Not yet. I failed in many areas but gained immense experience. Nonethless, with preserverance, and with the help awesome I'm getting there. I believe in pushing one’s boundaries. I believe one has to take risks to be true to one’s vision. Then it's worth it.
How did you fund the film?
I first used my own resources, funds from the Erasmus program, my student loan. When all of that still wasn't enough, I presented my ideas and shot material to a number of people in Estonia, and fortunately some of them decided to become involved.
How did you get into filmmaking?
Since I was a child people were always complementing my writing and my photographs. So filmmaking seemed like a natural combination of these talents. At the same time I was heavily into computers and was able to earn money by developing websites for small companies. These funds acted as a subsidy for my artistic aspirations.
Are you happy with the film?
Yes and no. I put everything I have into it. Time, money, contacts, all my energy. Everything. But it obviously still needs a lot of work. So I’m trying to involve people from varied areas and various skill-sets to make the film better.
Why did you change the main character?
When I first went to Sao Tomé I started filming this aspiring fashion designer with big dreams, Ronny Key. By the time I was able to return to Sao Tome, Ronny Key had been able to go study design in Lisbon so he was no longer in Sao Tome. I knew Alex from the first time and was impressed with his work, so he seemed like a natural fit.
What does this thing look and feel like?
I take a lot of inspiration from fashion photography, showing characters from below with an air of presence and confidence. But I also take inspiration from raw, unedited documentary footage you can see on YouTube. For smooth camera movements, I use a Steadicam. But I also use the straight-to-the-point look of a handheld video camera and the stillness of a camera on a tripod.
I believe convincing sound design can be more important to a film than even stellar photography. I convey cultural context through the use of bits and pieces of Santomean music and sound recorded on location.
I’ve also chosen a male lead that has a particular, memorable voice. Alex-Keller self-narrates his story, and the b-roll images shown during interviews. Alex-Keller’s posture and self-awareness convey a strong character. He carries himself with confidence.
Music is the consistent soundtrack of life in Sao Tome, with the styles of Kizomba, Zouk, and Kuduro, mostly from Angola, Portugal, and other Lusophone countries booming out of every household since early in the morning. I’ve chosen music by the local Santomean Kizomba star Haylton Dias and a selection of tracks from Cape Verde for the film’s soundtrack.
This is a young film so to be consistent with that youthful energy of the film I use fast cuts and speedy editing reminiscent of the style used by the MTV channel.
Sao Tome is definitely a colorful place and the Santomean people love to use color in their attire; the group of artist I focus even more so. Thus I use strong primary colors, low-key highlights and thick black tones in the shadows to bring out the liveliness of the characters.
Principles of Form
For consistency throughout the film, I’ve chosen to follow 5 general principles of form.
One, I use visually diverse cinematic language, lending ideas and mixing genres of documentary cinema and fictional narrative, I combine fictional elements with traditional documentary methods such as interviews and observation.
Two, I recognize that shorter clips are easier to share on social media. I simplify the storyline. I divide twenty one minutes of footage into 3 segments. Each plays 7 minutes in length.
Three, I create an over-arching storyline. Each sequence furthers the journey of the character or reveals some aspect of his personality.
Four, I tell the story in pictures, rather than telling it in words. Smooth camerawork and careful use of color emphasize elements of the story. I create disruption and inspiration and weave aspects of the location into Alex-Keller’s story thus revealing something about the country (much like Woody Alles does in Vicky Cristina Barcelona).
Five, I follow in the tradition of documentaries created by the BBC reporters but I also recognize that audiences are increasingly well-traveled. I provide a meaningful film experience that’s more authentic than the common Travel Channel overview.
How will I direct the film? Continue reading the director’s point of view.
How do I direct the film?
Point Of View
The film represents my (the director’s) personal point of view. I make no pretense of objectivity. Viewers may agree or disagree with my views. A strong director’s vision and my background play an integral role in the film.
I combine documentary elements and interviews with a semi-fictional story arc. I craft a non-fiction story with care to give narrative structure to a documentary story. To achieve this, I use strong directorial intervention and do away with the objectivity associated with documentary film.
Throughout the film, characters speak in Portuguese, sometimes switching into Forro or Angolar (local dialects of Sao Tome & Principe). I use an English voice-over and Estonian subtitles to make the film intelligible for international audiences.
Throughout the film, I use present tense narration to give a feeling of contemporary images.
I try hard not to be dogmatic, and tell the story in a conversational tone. I use contemporary images.
I base Tomé on laboriously conducted research and interviews, written narration, and originally conceived creative ideas adapted to real footage. I try to be personal and involved. I create a biographies and character profiles. I ground interview questions in research and written character profiles. I employ interviews with people in disparate economic status. I record interviews on varied locations. Each character has its own location. It’s their personal space.
The film is thesis-driven. I focus on the journey of one single character that is doing something exceptional in the country. The character changes through that experience. I reveal what the character sees, feels, and hears.
Clarity & Conciseness
I believe clarity and conciseness to be important to narrative storytelling. I carefully craft a narrative of nonfiction story-telling, using a fictional story arc to push the documentary storyline forward.
Who will watch the film? Continue reading my take on the film’s audience.
Who will watch the film? Why?
I believe for the YouTube generation safe content is boring. I try to push the boundaries of my basic equipment with bold editing.
Film’s Objective & Value
I believe reporting of many African stories is dominated by large news organizations and international aid agencies. These include the BBC, CNN, and Reuters, as well as the World Bank.
In other words: there’s a distinct lack of independent African stories. Sao Tome & Principe in particular is unknown. I bring to life a place that’s new for the audiences.
I’m trying to tell an independent story. I use data gathered in my previous research project Africa on YouTube. This study showed that YouTube videos featuring the São Tomé & Príncipe have focused primarily on the categories of aid, health-care, and cocoa production.
What are some of the stories that remain to be told? I am showcasing an entrepreneurial story in a little known country. I focus on the adventure of one single character. I personify the country through individual interviews.
Tomé has 3 objectives.
- Revelation – I believe cinema and television news have often pigeonholed the whole continent of Africa into people of desperation, fleeing from violence and poverty. Violence and poverty is not the only African story. Fresh points of view deserve to become part of brand Africa. Seldom do people talk about Africa as home in European television.
- Documentation – I believe Santomeans share a deep love for their islands. There’s a strong relationship with home and a lot of warmth to be shared. At the same time Santomeans wish to make their country known to the world. I want to show that aspiration.
- Promotion – I am weaving the story of the artists together with the story of São Tomé and Príncipe. This can be great marketing for both.
I portray the experience of a young man on his way to becoming an artist. As an aspiring artist myself, this is my own story I’m externalizing through documentary characters. I bring an Estonian point of view to Sao Tome & Principe. This is something that has hardly ever been done before.
Traction & Social Proof
I believe a film is only successful if it finds and audience. Thus I’ve started early and tried testing some of the content appearing in the film on Internet audiences through social media. So far 500 people on Facebook have become fans of Saotomeblog that has published some content form the film and 200 people on Twitter follow the blog’s feed.
The film as also found endorsement (see attached letters) by Portuguese novelist Joao Lopes Marques, and the author of the Sao Tome & Principe guidebook Kathleen Becker.
Where will this movie be filmed? Continue reading my treatment of locations.
Where is this thing filmed?
Tomé is filmed in São Tomé & Príncipe, an island country in the Gulf of Guinea.
Also known as STP.
By its location STP is the best candidate for the geographical center of the world. Right on the Equator and 6° east of the Greenwich line.
With a population of 150 thousand living on 1001 square kilometers, it’s the smallest country in West Africa (the 2nd smallest in the whole of Africa).
Why S. Tomé?
STP is a tropical archipelago that provides a unique context for an universal story.
I also happen to like the place.
Balcony of Ronny Key’s mother
Balcony of Nelito Pereira’s restaurant Mionga
Olavo Amado’s studio
Teia D’Arte gallery
Passante Café and the waterfront
Roca Sao Joao
Roof of the Portuguese Cultural Center
Riches are on the horizon. Sao Tome & Principe has hopes to become a wealthy oil nation.
People in the city and around in the villages know that demand by Asian countries is increasing the need to drill oil around the world.
(The United States has 8 years of oil left on their shores. Instability in the Middle East means the U.S. needs to diversify its production partners to more stable areas. New places to drill are actively being sought out. Like this tiny unnamed country.)
Six multinational companies, including Chevron and The Chinese National Oil Company have bid on the oil permit. For the permits of exploration (no drilling has begun) the country received 83 million U.S. dollars.
The promise of easy wealth – the myth of oil – has been in the air for years. But no real results have been delivered.
If there’s no oil, entrepreneurs can make money with non-oil business.
I use the idea of an entrepreneurial journey as the driving narrative force.
Pushing the story forward.
How are you going to produce the film? Continue reading production plan and schedule.
Production Plan & Schedule
When is this thing going to be ready? Show me the schedule and deadline.
Project development: November 1, 2009 to August 29, 2010 (Tallinn)
Preproduction: September 1, 2010 to December 1, 2011 (Lisbon and Sao Tomé)
Production: March 19, 2011 to May 1, 2011 (Sao Tomé)
Postproduction: May 1, 2011 to August 25, 2011 (Tallinn)
Deadline: August 25, 2011.
Things happen. Should any of the interviews be uninteresting - or canceled - they will be replaced. Tomé is an investigative documentary. Discoveries made during production may change plans. Production schedule depends on interviews. Interviews that cannot be set up beforehand will be arranged during production.
How much is this thing going to cost? Continue reading the budget statement and spreadsheet.
How much does this thing cost and who's funding it?
Tomé is funded by me, the director, and a number of private investors. I self-funded the movie’s preproduction and then sought production funding from foundations, corporations, and private individuals with interests in entrepreneurship, the arts, and cinema. A number of people were interested. My huge thanks goes to people or organizations that gave you support for its creation.
I've completed shooting and am now in the post-production phase of Tomé. If you are a corporation, a foundation, or a private individual with interests in entrepreneurship, the arts, and cinema, and wish to associate your brand with Tomé, you may qualify as a sponsor and help pay for editing, sound editing, and related post-production costs.
I’ve broadcast funding calls on Facebook, Twitter, HumanIPO, and the film’s website. A fundraising campaign is planned for the Kickstarter crowdfunding community.
What kind of tools are you using to make this film? Continue reading about the production tools.
What equipment do I use to make this thing?
I use the following tools and services in the film’s preproduction and production:
Screenwriting: I mainly use Final Draft and Celtx. Occasionaly I share some work with another writer or reader over Adove Story or even Google Docs.
Storyboarding: I've tried creating characters with Xtranormal to experiment with story ideas. But drawing by hand (even if done on an iPad) is still the best method.
Teamwork: I make extensive used of Skype, Google Docs & Gmail.
Editing: I started editing on Adobe Premiere & After Effects, with image work done in Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop. However, as there are few people on Premiere, I eventually have to switch to Final Cut Pro.
Sound Design: I don't do sound design myself, but the tools used in the process include a combination of Avid Pro Tools, Adobe Audition, the Ableton Suite, Cakewalk Sonar, and perhaps FL Studio and Native Instruments Traktor.
I use the following equipment in production and postproduction:
Video: The Canon EOS 60D + BG-E9 Grip + 17-40mm F4.0 is the main camera. The Canon HF100 + WD-H37C Wide Angle lens is always with me day and night for those unexpected opportunities. The Nikon D90 + Sigma 50mm F1.4 is used for still shots.
Sound: I started recording preproduction material with an Edirol R-09HR, however that broke due to heavy usage. When more funds became available, I switched to a Zoom H4n.
The microphone used include the Rode SVM attached to the camera, the Sennheiser ew 112-p G3 Wireless Lav, and the Sennheiser ME66/K6 + directional microphone with a Rycote Grip & Softie windmuff. I use the AKG K518LE headphones that cancel noise, or sometimes normal mini headphones that come with the iPhone.
Grip: I used the Manfrotto 190XPROB tripod witha 701HDV Video Head. When using the HF100, I occasionally attach it to the Steadicam Merlin for moving shots. Unfortunately I haven't been able to stabilize the Canon 60D on the steadicam yet.
Storage: I use 5 Western Digital External HDDs, that in combination give me 12.5 Terabytes of storage space (4x3TB + 1x500GB). I have 4 SD cards, that combine to 60 Gigabytes of portable storage (EMTEC 32GB + 16GB + 8GB + 4GB).
Transport: the reddot award-winning Kata Bumblebee-222 UL fits all my gear (apart from grip) and still works as a carry-on for air travel. I need a new backpack. Who wants to help out?
Computers: use a Macbook Air.
Power: 2 sets of each: batteries, chargers, cables, etc. Batteries are charged with the Technoline BC700 intelligent charger.
If you’d like to help out with providing more high quality equipment, please get in touch.
Who are the people behind this film? Continue reading about my team.
- Kris Haamer
Who makes this happen?
Preproduction by Kris Haamer, with help from Joao Lopes Marques, Ze Santos, Kaisa Masso, Ermis Quaresma, Antonio Santos, and others. Original treatment written by Kris Haamer.
Three people on location. Kris Haamer (Estonia), and Wannes Debusschere (Belgium), and some help from Leonardo Umbelina (who works as a sound recordist at a Santomean TV station).
Editing by Claudia Silvestre. Narration by Antonio Santos. Graphic design by Teet Kuusmann and Agne Lund.
Who else am I working with? Continue reading about partners.
- Kris Haamer
Who I’m working with?
Advisor to the director is Monica Bravo.
Two Estonian companies afforded significant discounts of purchased equipment.
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Work in Progress
I’ve identified the following brands that could potentially benefit from being associated with Tomé as potential partners. I'm trying to get the attention of the following companies.
STP Air and Pestana hotels have been contacted, however talks are ongoing and no agreement has been reached. Others have not been contacted.
I’ve identified the following organizations as potential partners. StepUP has been contacted, however the organization puts its priorities on aid. Others have not been contacted.
LeArt Castello Group
I’m actively seeking new partnerships. You’d can help out with producing Tomé. Get in touch.
How are you going to get this thing to the viewers? Continue reading my marketing plan.
- Kris Haamer
How will I get this thing off the ground?
Tomé targets YouTube viewers. This media-saturated consumer is characterized by a low attention span. And ease of leaving the page. Thus content needs to be clear, engaging, to the point.
I use the blog to spread stories relevant to the audience. With the goal of creating expectations and buzz around the film.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="500" caption="Saotomeblog"][/caption]
In conjunction with the blog I’m using social networks as the main online marketing channel for the film, and the film’s sponsors.
The film's Facebook and Twitter accounts engage potential viewers with relevant content. As of December 2010 Tomé has 180 followers on Twitter, 450 on Facebook.
I will submit Tomé to film festivals through the Amazon Withoutabox service. Showing the film in festivals grants me exposure to the film industry. And hopefully helps me share my creation with wider audiences.
I’m seeking funding to make this happen. Each festival charges a submission fee. The average fee is around 30 EUR. I’m asking my generous supporters to sponsor my festival entry fees so that I can share the film with the world and advance my career as a filmmaker.
You can help me fund the submission fees.
USA & Canada
Pan African Film Festival
San Diego Black Film Festival
New York African Film Festival, Inc.
Clermont Ferrand International Film Festival
Palm Springs ShortFest
Toronto International Film Festival
Tribeca Film Festival
African, Asian and Latin American Film Festival
International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam
Tarifa African Film Festival
The European Film Market
Africa in Motion
The Atlantic Filmfest
Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF)
Zanzibar International Film Festival
Encounters South African International Documentary Festival
Everglades Film Festival
Recife Cinema Festival
São Paulo International Film Festival
Any additional available budget will be used to submit Tomé to more film festivals.
Sample footage? Sure. Check out the interview with Osvaldo Reis and the sequence of Alex Keller painting. Note: post-production, such as narrative editing, sound design, image stabilization, etc is missing from this sample footage.
Why are you making this film? Continue reading director’s statement.
Who am I?
How many years does it take to write a book? 3 months but 30 years. It takes 3 months to put the words on paper. It takes 30 years of life experience.
How long does it take to direct a film? I‘m taking my life in 3 countries and travels in 25 with me on the journey of film directing. I’m telling a story that’s personal.
People in the slums, favelas and bairros, the neighborhoods of Europe, South America, and Africa live with my imagination every day. Tomé is my directorial debut. I make this film in my own image.
In 2005 I created documentary photography project about dancers in the North of Argentina. I studied Audiovisual Media in Tallinn University Baltic Film and Media School. I’ve worked on a number of short films and music videos in Estonia and Portugal. This is my thesis project.
I was inspired to write Tomé was by a multitude of sources in cinema, the web, radio, television, and literature. And experience from my own life.
During the preproduction of Tomé, I viewed films for inspiration. Ideas from the following media were the most helpful.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Woody Allen)
Episode 3: 'Enjoy Poverty' (Renzo Martens)
Cidade Dos Homens (Paulo Morelli)
Land Of Look Behind (Alan Greenberg)
Relentless (Andy Amadi Okoroafor)
I don't accept the division of BIG screen cinema and small screen YouTube. For me (and perhaps my generation) it’s “content”. Independent of where it’s consumed. We travel and live in the Internet. These sites are an inspiration: Africa On YouTube and Kickstarter.
Radio & Television
I am inspired by news and current affairs programs such as the BBC & CBC Dispatches and Documentaries and the BBC World Have Your Say (WHYS).
I conceived the idea for Tomé two years ago. The more I researched the country, the more I realized how little known São Tomé & Príncipe was to the YouTube audience. There was no information out there about the story I was going to tell. It’s the entrepreneurial story of becoming an artist in a little known country and finding one’s confidence.
As a documentary filmmaker, I am constantly seeking out stories for the global audience. There are stories with the potential of being authentic and universal with ambitious characters.
At the same time, I am exploring Africa beyond the news headlines, sound bites and statistics. I use contemporary images and I believe mine is not a colonial eye of the Portuguese of Spanish of old age. I give my best to be engaged and participative. It’s about looking at Sao Tomé with my own eyes, from my contemporary point of view.
I look at Sao Tomé with a new intensity. The form of the images is a vital element of the film. I celebrate the sensuality, the joy, the jokes and the laughter. I am making a stylized and entertaining film that’s busting with creativity.
Call To Action
I’ve put thousands of Euros into making this film. I’ve donated a couple hundred hours of my time doing research and interviews.
For 17 000 Euros I can complete the production of Tomé. I am trying to balance a tight budget with doing this story justice. The money I raise over my target amount will allow me to strengthen the film.
By supporting Tomé, whether it’s in spirit or a financial donation, you are expressing your care about this inspiring but under-reported story. To reach the wide audience that this story deserves I need your help.
My voice becomes lauder when you join me. Be in touch.Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and our website’s comments. You can add your contribution even if you cannot become a backer. If you have any questions, comments or ideas, and spread the word about the Tomé Project.
Who’s endorsing this project? Continue reading endorsements by the author of the Bradt Guide to Sao Tome & Principe Kahtleen Becker and the Portuguese novelist Joao Lopes Marques.
By Kathleen Becker, author of the Bradt Guide to São Tomé & Príncipe
São Tomé & Príncipe, and the world, really, needs more people like young dynamic director and blogger Kris Haamer. While everybody is talking about the crisis, some are minting creative currency from it, a theme that is in a way also reflected in “Tomé”. Reading Kris’ treatment for the film reveals the huge amount of thought and work that’s already gone into this inspirational project, and the empathy born from the director’s background in another small country on the margins.
Living in one of the poorest countries on earth, Santomeans are surrounded by crumbling cocoa plantations from the country’s centuries as a Portuguese colony, and colonialism’s legacy, with the country’s own hierarchic structures as well as a deep aid culture has bred a certain lethargy. Also, young people who want to make something of themselves are faced with real hardship: banks offer prohibitive credit rates to entrepreneurs, painters often struggle to find money for brushes and few can afford to travel to Portugal to develop their skills.
Much of what I see in the film’s treatment chimes with my own experience of São Tomé. The country’s iconic yellow taxis that the film’s protagonist is travelling in were my own means of transport when I was researching my guide (I had no budget so no money for hire cars). They gave me a great insight into Santomeans’ everyday life, and they will provide an excellent vehicle for the progress of the film’s plot.
When I was living in the capital I remember once seeing an offbeat film made by an Austrian director about the travels of a giant breadfruit through the country. I never forgot that film. I also remember São Tomé and Príncipe as place that despite being small is densely packed with riches of all kinds. I know “Tomé” will do fantastic work in bringing a slice of a small West African country with so many exciting facets to a larger audience, in the contemporary visual language of the YouTube generation, as well as inspiring young Santomeans to look beyond the quick oil fix.
I wish Kris all the best for his project and wholeheartedly support his call for funding.
Continue reading the endorsement by the Portuguese novelist Joao Lopes Marques.
By Joao Lopes Marques Dear Sir/Madam
Hereby I certify that Mr. Kris Haamer was a trainee of Diagonal Blá from August to November 2010 and that his pioneer project "Tomé" is a long-awaited bridge between Portugal, Portuguese-speaking African countries and Estonia.
More importantly, Mr. Haamer focus on an entrepreneurial character from São Tomé e Príncipe, one of the most peripherial and unknown African archipelagos. His triangular vision is about the power of creation in the Internet age and how other angles are possible when we think out of the box.
Globalization is in a crossroads and reflections like "Tomé" are more and more unavoidable.
João Lopes Marques
(Diagonal Blá Founder)
Continue looking at artwork by the film's protagonist Alex-Keller Fonseca.
Paintings by Alex-Keller Fonseca. Work is available for purchase.
This is a slideshow of 24 paintings presented at the gallery event April 24 at the Brazilian Embassy in Sao Tomé and Principe.
Continue looking at artwork by Alex's good friend Dio Lima.
Paintings by Dio Lima. Work is available for purchase.
Paintings by the only female Santomean artist, Olie Ribeiro. Work is available for purchase.
Paitings by Olavo Amado.
Paintings by Jesus Quaresma. Work is available for purchase.
Paintings by René Tavares.
All done? Now that you're familiar with the synopsis, characters, and painter's artwork, you can return to the top to the film's overview.
Pledge Your Support
This is the presale price: €20.
Buy Tomé now and receive the download link when it's released march 2012. If you purchase now, your money will still go into the post-production of the film.
To purchase the film, send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
-- Kris Haamer∎ Back to Index