Users will drive project

Paulo Coelho is turning to his readers, rather than a studio, for the next adaptation of one of his tomes.

The Brazilian novelist will “curate” a Web-generated film based on “The Witch of Portobello” from MySpace video and music submissions. He expects the project, dubbed “The Experimental Witch,” to eventually air on the smallscreen.

Coelho, who admitted he spends “at least one hour a day on MySpace,” said he got the notion for the project a year ago. “I was very reluctant to have my books created into film because readers create the movie in their head,” he explained.

From there it was an easy leap to ask readers for their interpretations. The book is divided into 15 narrators who interact with and interpret the lead character Athena, and Coelho has invited filmmakers from across the world to submit their interpretations of each of these narratives to his MySpace account. Musicians are also invited to submit a general theme for the movie or themes for specific narrators.

An editor will weave submissions into a 52-minute TV movie.

Coelho made it clear that “The Experimental Witch” is an entirely different animal than studio projects based on his tomes. The Weinstein Co., for example, is adapting “The Alchemist.”

Scribe said he had “no idea what to expect,” from the user-generated project, adding, “I’m sure I’ll be positively surprised.”

He noted that 20 videos have already been uploaded to his site prior to MySpace’s official involvement. “The Experimental Witch” submissions must be delivered by July 25; an independent jury will determine winners, with results revealed on Aug. 24.

Winning filmmakers will receive a $4,638 check.

“Witch” submissions can be made in any language with subtitles required if not in English, Portuguese, Spanish or French. MySpace is promoting the “Witch” project in 20 countries.

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