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Roman Coppola, partners pick ‘Four Stories’ winners

Short films will be produced at W Hotel properties

W Hotels, Intel Corp. and Vice Media have chosen the “Four Stories” they want to tell with filmmaker Roman Coppola.

As part of the first screenplay competition launched by the companies in August, pitches from Ben Sayeg, Adam Blampied, Kahlil Joseph and Amy Jacobwitz were chosen to produce as short films at various W properties worldwide.

Sayeg’s “Convention,” for example, will lense at the W Mexico City, while Blampied’s “Godfont,” will be shot at the W Washington, D.C., Joseph’s “The Mirror Between Us” at the W Retreat & Spa in the Maldives and Jacobwitz’s “Oscar Is Typing” at the W Doha.

Coppola will write and direct a fifth film that will be filmed at the W Hollywood.

The contest drew more than 1,000 submissions online; judges narrowed the number down to the top 50 concepts, from which Coppola chose the winners.

Coppola was joined by thesps Chloe Sevigny, Michael Pitt and PJ Ransone; screenwriter Jeff Baena; Michaelangelo L’Acqua, W Hotels’ global music director; Deborah Conrad, chief marketing officer of Intel; Eddy Moretti, exec producer and creative director of Vice, and Danny Gabai, exec creative director at Vice; as well as Blake Whitman, VP of creative development at Vimeo.

Coppola will produce the shorts through his banner the Directors Bureau.

Coppola said Blampied’s script “Godfont” “had a surrealism and intensity that stood out amongst the others. I found it appealing that the story was adventurous and you cannot predict the conclusion”; Joseph’s “The Mirror Between Us” “beautifully integrated the Maldives location and had an abstract and almost musical approach”; and Jacobwitz’s “Oscar Is Typing” had “warmth in dealing with contemporary ideas in regards to relationships and the Internet.”

The scripts will be developed as 10-minute shorts, inspired by the energy of the global jet-setter and mobile nature of travel, with each featuring its own cast. Scripts had to be set in a W Hotel, and the Intel-inspired Ultrabook had to play a key role in the plot.

Intel is using “Four Stories” to launch its Ultrabook Experience, the computer chipmaker’s new series of collaborations with innovators in the travel, film, business, fashion and design industries. Starwood’s W chain plans to showcase the films through screenings at its hotels and across its online and other platforms.

“Four Stories” is the latest branded entertainment project produced by Vice Media, which has found a niche in connecting with younger auds, especially millennials.

Coppola signed on to participate in the project because he believed “it was an opportunity to be exposed to fresh voices and an up-and-coming generation of people with fresh ideas,” he said.

“Four Stories” isn’t Coppola’s first Web-based project. In 2010, he directed a short featuring Jason Schwartzman demonstrating the New Yorker magazine iPad app. But “Four Stories” is a way to produce similar new-media projects through a special projects division launched by the Directors Bureau.

“The Web is very exciting,” Coppola said. “In terms of media, it’s still finding its way, but it’s of the moment. It’s exciting to participate in that. I’m excited by it. It’s a thrilling new venue for work.”

Whereas many brands have guidelines on how their products or properties can be portrayed in entertainment, Starwood was open in how the W was depicted in the shorts.

“They did voice their wishes that the hotels not be seen in a negative light, but for the most part, they have been supportive,” Coppola said. “They don’t want you to portray something awful happening. But conflict comes from bad things happening, so it can be tricky.”

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