Woodworking Documentary: Paa Joe and the Lion

Paa Joe & The Lion is a documentary about Ghana's greatest living fantasy coffin maker. Film-maker Ben Wigley discovered Paa Joe's work in 2010 and was immediately intrigued. He went to Ghana to make a short film about him, but whilst there, found there was a much bigger story to tell. Now Ben needs your help to finish his film and complete the story of Paa Joe & The Lion.

Who is Paa Joe?

He is an artist and pioneer of the fantasy coffin craft. He was apprentice to the founder of the movement, his uncle, Kane Kwei. Paa Joe is known as the Grandfather of Ghana's fantasy coffin trade for his extraordinary artistic talent. He makes beautiful creations that are often seen by only a handful of people before being buried forever.

In the past his work was sought out by US Presidents and art galleries around the world, but now he is facing great difficulties. Join bens film as he follows Paa Joes highs and lows as he tries to get back on top - after losing his workshop in Accra, to his visit to England to create a coffin as artist-in-residence at the National Trust’s Clumber Park.

More About Paa Joe & The Lion

Paa Joe & The Lion is a documentary about a legendary craftsman and his last chance to save his legacy. Shot in Ghana and the UK, it shows an artist at work, and records a unique aspect of African culture. It all began when director Ben found Paa Joe’s work and flew to Ghana to discover a story that the world needed to hear.
"Here was Paa Joe, the greatest living Ghanaian coffin maker, a true artist and a Lion himself, who had fallen on desperately hard times. He was unexpectedly forced to move from his workshop in Ghana’s busy capital Accra and his business plummeted.."
Can Paa Joe get back on top and leave a legacy to his son and apprentice, Jacob? Help Ben finish the film and find out.

What is a Fantasy Coffin?

Also called figurative coffins, the movement began in the 1950s when two carpenters made their Grandmother an aeroplane-shaped coffin, to fulfil her lifelong wish to fly. Each coffin is carefully crafted by talented woodworkers. Designs include everything from coke bottles to cars and are chosen to represent the person the coffin will carry. Many people in Africa believe a person should be remembered by what they did in life, so often these coffins indicate the profession of the deceased.

About the Film-Maker

Ben Wigley Filming Paa Joe and the Lion

Ben Wigley is an independent film-maker who runs his own production company, artdocs and works on art-related film projects. His clients have included: English Heritage, Tate Media, BBC, Oxfam, Save the Children and Wateraid. His previous projects have seen him filming in far flung places and following intriguing stories nearer to home. However,Ben needs some help to finish the film.  he has made 5 trips to Ghana and gained Arts Council support to enable Paa Joe to visit the UK for the first time. And now, he needs  to make one last trip back to Ghana. For this he hopes to raise £20,000 through a Kickstarter  campaign which will pay for:
             Equipment hire
             Flights for the crew
             Food and much more during our stay
Funding from his Kickstarter campaign will also allow him to start the process of final editing and post-production on the film to get it into cinemas and on screens across the world.

If you would like to help, you can visit Bens Kickstartercampaign here. Fund the film, become a part of the team and encourage others to get involved. As an independent filmmaker, he relies on the support of the community.