From an otherworldy village made of recycled computer parts a hacking collective performs the most outrageous hacks in US & world history full of social commentary & gutsy platform takeovers. They are the virtual heroes of a world drawn closer and closer to authoritarian rule until they cross the line that takes them from beloved hackers to first-world terrorists.
Neptune Frost is the love story between an inter-sex runaway and a coltan miner and the virtual marvel born as a result of their union –
MartyrLoserKing—The world's #1 trend The Authority seeks to end.
Born of an e-waste camp far from the western eye, a village made of recycled computer parts sprouts on a hilltop in Burundi. This is the home of the world’s most subversive hacking collective inventively exposing the gluttonous feast on natural resources from belly of the beast using the gutsiest platform takeovers in the history of a mystery: Who is the MartyrLoserKing?
While Western intelligence looks to the usual suspects, a Dogon avatar whispers through a dream to reveal the coded mysteries of Sirius and the stars to an escaped coltan miner and an intersex runaway seeking refuge from a binary norm, revealing her divine circuitry as the eye of the storm. When their connection sparks the MartyrLoserKing is born.
MartyrLoserKing, the elusive African hacker whose team of “losers” and outcasts ignite the imagination of the world’s most “connected” generation through deep space, deep web penetration. A virtual hero for a world caught in perpetual analogue exploitation. Neptune Frost is the MartyrLoserKing.
We put our energy into everything we touch, everything we focus on, and maybe even into the things we ignore, but conscious energy is an investment. It's what some mean when they type “thoughts and prayers”. Many artists embed and charge their creations with "thoughts and prayers", an energy you feel when it reaches you. Maybe it unlocks something. Perhaps it's the sincerity of the artist emitting a frequency that couples with our own to heal or release the moment. Maybe the beat or melody offers something unsaid, a sensation we never knew we had or needed touched. Maybe it does nothing, just like typing “thoughts and prayers," but that data holds space. It holds the space for us to be moved beyond convention, to experience and explore new stories, maybe even other forms of storytelling.
I wrote a story that I think demystifies the connection, that highlights technology as awareness, that shatters convention and honors the means through which this conversation is taking place. And for me, you are the most precious of resources. You hold the power to fuel a dream and a transformation. You can shake the industry of imagination with a thought (and a prayer). You have masterminded revolutions and shifts in power with more than weapons. You have eulogized tyrants with self-satisfied smirks. Try something that works.
Help me fuck shit up. With beauty.
How many longwinded pitches would it take to convince large-scale investors that a story that takes place in a little-known country, with rebellious and anti-establishment themes, that draws inspiration from many socio-political movements happening today, should be left in the hands of a poet, who isn't interested in making films by committee, who has more critical acclaim than sales, who has never directed a film, who dreams to “spark the brain that will change the world”, who thinks the formulaic aesthetic that births reality stars and super-heroes alike takes it's cues from a cultural mythos that is more invested in the bottom line than illuminating the rut at the bottom, who thinks the bottom is the top, who sees each high-priced tick in the stock market in association with the African country where the commodity is sourced then marks its ranking on the list of poorest nations, who thinks “Wait a minute. If it's that rich in resources, then how...” but knows the answer, who sees how power corrupts and obstructs, who isn't interested in disaster and poverty porn, who thinks it's a kind of colonial projection when dreams of distant galaxies are embedded with fears of being colonized by aliens, who thinks the internet, like poetry, is undefeated, who thinks the job of the poet is to decode, who calculates algorithmic swagger by those who don't follow, who knows the connection was there before the machine, who has never truly danced in a movie theater and thinks it's a shame, who knows each rhythm tells a story, who has a story to tell... How many longwinded pitches would it take? Asking for a friend.
I began working on this project as a graphic novel and a musical. I wanted to center my writing around the social and global issues flooding my actual and virtual timelines and their countless intersections through a story, character, and project that would allow me to focus all of my observations, insights, rants, and talents under one heading.
I pitched the graphic novel to Mark Seigel at :01First Second Books and he jumped on board immediately along with illustrator, Ronald Wimberly and illustrator/visual artist/musician Morgan Sorne. I played the first musical ideas for my ally Jon Cohen at Fader and had no problem garnering support. I pitched the play and got help from Anisia Uzeyman and the BANFF Centre in Canada to write it and then Kamilah Forbes at HI-ARTS (NYC) to workshop it. From there, after speaking with a few producers, the idea slowly evolved into a film. Sol Guy and Tribeca Films offered a small team for me to experiment with some ideas on camera. Stephen Hendel, producer of Fela!, offered his support for us to shoot this trailer, which we filmed in Rwanda with an entirely Rwandan and Burundian cast and crew.
Now I'm turning to you.
All funds will go to the filming of Neptune Frost.
Risks and challenges
This project wouldn't be shit without the music. Music is the door hidden within each door. It's how I met Stephen Hendel, the producer I've teamed with to make sure this film gets made. Essentially, he'll raise what I don't. I'm asking for a fraction of the budget to get the ball rolling, because it's time. In these days it's a strange experience to build up loads of content and not share it. Writing the graphic novel has been that experience. I'm excited to finally be at the point of sharing more of the story with you. Writing the music has written the story. My love of music and theater are as separate as they are together, but musical theater in film and on stage has left it's mark on me. I went to see Sarafina on Broadway seven times. The mix of raw politics, story-telling and music was everything, Those actors risked being exiled from their country and separated from their families for daring to perform truth to power. I was transfixed. I began writing my first musical for film when I was sixteen and living in Brazil as an exchange student. It was actually a mix-tape musical, 'though I referred to it as a "hipopera". Corny, I know, but I was sixteen. The MartyrLoserKing project has three albums (MartyrLoserKing : Neptune Frost : Unanimous Goldmine). Each album contains songs from and inspired by the musical. The graphic novel is from the perspective of the coltan miner, The film is from the perspective of Neptune. Ok, enough already. What's the risk? Maya Angelou once said that anything an artist writes should be written with the urgency of what they would write if someone were holding a gun in their mouth. The state of this country and the world has my mouth propped open enough to swallow whole timelines. We need art that is unafraid to challenge the narrative structure of our programming. Computational propaganda circulates at the speed of colonial diseases through indigenous populations. Music is a time-machine. What's the risk? Ask Carlo Rovelli.
Shout out Indigo Impact for helping us bring this campaign to life!
And I'd like to thank my wonderful cast & crew for the trailer.
Director : Saul Williams Director of photography : Anisia Uzeyman
Assistant DP : Fabrice Mugisha
Costume Design : Cedric Mizero
Producer : Jean Maurice Kabuguza
Rwanda Coordinator : Florentine Kabasinga
- (37 days)