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Published on June 26th, 2013 | by Jeremy Brown

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Rene Rawls and Sule

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By Jeremy Brown

“Great fires erupt from tiny sparks…” Let this proverb echo in your mind as you read on.

Years ago, Rene Rawls taught Middle School in Atlanta Georgia. While her students were reading Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, she watched them grow from struggling to understand the proverbs being worked through by the protagonist to becoming self-proclaimed “Proverb Slayers”. Spark.

Years later, while walking the track of an LA high school, Rene imagined the little brown face of a precocious African boy, who fancies himself a detective. His name would be Sule and he would help young people from his village work through the life lessons their parents instilled in them using proverbs. Kindle.

For Sule, Rene finds the proverb and builds the story around it. Truer words have never been spoken as we look over the progress of her journey. Rene, started with what she assumed would be a children’s picture book. After a series of “No’s”, she took a different path. Her journey would land her with an 11 minute 19 second animated short. The story is still the same, and the little boy’s face still warms our hearts as he walks through a fictitious West African village solving a young girl’s struggle to help an ostracized friend without herself becoming alienated by the “cool kids”. The story is simple, warm, and totally relatable to all audiences. And for this reason (along with Rene’s undeniably warm heart and bright smile) this project has received so much attention. Fire.

With just the script, Rene found herself approached by many to get the creative rights for Sule. Normally this is a writer’s dream, but not for Rene; not for this project. This one was too close to her heart. While she wanted funding, it was more important to Rene to stay involved with the creative process. This led Rene to grant applications, and before she knew it her script landed her the Mandela Day TriBeCa All Access Award, giving her $10,000 to go to Africa and research her story’s development and produce its first episode. Eruption.

From here, Rene’s story starts to sound like everyone else’s who finds success producing a project in Hollywood: hiccups, pieces falling together, a stellar team who works hard (for little money) because they believe in Rene and her vision for Sule. This is the part people love hearing about and all film and t.v. producers love to talk about. It’s accessible. But what about future episodes of Sule? This is where Rene is on the cutting edge of technology and shows that she has a firm understanding of the future of television and visual storytelling.

Rene is in the process of developing an App (yes there will be an app for this) that will allow her fans to watch the future episodes of this wonderful, family friendly story. Her hope is to have families and young adults logging in on their mobile devices and tablets to watch Sule unravel the mysteries behind African Proverbs. As technology makes this world a little smaller everyday, I can’t think of a more magical way to make our minds bigger and brighter.

 

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To support Rene Rawls and Sule go to www.facebook.com/rene.rawls
And to watch this amazing short go to www.suleseries.com/tiny_sparks.html

 

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