Saturday, August 4, 2012

Taking Storytelling to Its Next Level

TOSHAR: How do I start? This story has so many beginnings.
NA'AN: Where all stories begin: Once upon a time.
~ The Q'ntana Trilogy: The MoonQuest Movie

In this moment, I feel like Toshar in one of the earliest scenes in The MoonQuest book and film: I have a story to tell you, but I don't know where to begin.

Do I begin with the genesis of The MoonQuest book? Do I go even farther back to share, as I did in Acts of Surrender, all the ways I denied my creativity its expression through so many years? Do I leap ahead to the moment I knew, without it making any sense, that I needed to adapt The MoonQuest as a screenplay? Or do start closer to the present moment, with the completion of The SunQuest, the final story in The Q'ntana Trilogy?

Na'an, the single-minded Tikkan Dreamwalker of my Q'ntana stories, would have me begin where all stories begin, and so I shall...

Once upon a time there was a Story and a Storyteller. Although, somewhere back at the beginning of  time, The Story chose its Storyteller, The Storyteller knew naught of that...knew not, in fact, that he was any kind of storyteller, let alone this Story's teller.

The Storyteller moved through many lives in many forms until he reached this one. But though The Story had brushed up against him often through those lifetimes, it had never lingered. It had whispered on the breezes that danced around him, caressed him gently in the falling of the rains, and crooned to him softly at the setting of the sun and the rising of the  moon.

Still, he knew nothing of The Story, or of the hidden destiny that linked his story to The Story...until the moment he did. In that moment, The Story he did not know so filled him that he had no choice but to begin to let it out, even as he did not know what he was doing, even as he did not understand the import and implications of his actions.

He wrote first one part of The Story, which titled itself The MoonQuest. He wrote it in one form, and then another. Before long, a second part of The Story began to push its way through him. It called itself The StarQuest and also emerged in two forms. The ink had barely dried on his parchment when the third and final part of The Story insisted itself onto the page: The SunQuest -- once again in two distinct forms.

Somewhere through that lengthy journey, The Storyteller grew to realize that he could no longer separate The Story from his story, that they had always been indivisible and that his destiny had forever been to tell them.

Then one day, finally, The Story was told. And although it had not fully achieved its final form in the world, The Storyteller believed that his work with it was done. He had, after all, set it to parchment as he had been instructed to do. The final form would be for others to realize, for that form was beyond his purview as Storyteller.

Or so he thought.

The Story thought otherwise. The Story knew otherwise. The Story knew that its every form could only be The Storyteller's responsibility, for every form was, itself, a story-telling.

At first, The Storyteller closed his ears to this. But his heart would not close, for his heart knew the truth: that this, too, was his destiny and that he could no more turn his back on it than he could have turned his back on The Story's original form.

And so with the same blend of excitement and exhilaration, terror and trembling, with which he had freed its first words onto his parchment, he embarked on a new journey with The Story. And in the same ways he had surrendered to its initial two forms, consciously knowing little about them, he surrendered to a third -- this time not as scribe but as visual director of The Q'ntana Trilogy Movies.

A few days ago, I agreed to direct the three films that comprise The Q'ntana Trilogy --  The MoonQuest, The StarQuest and The SunQuest. In a life filled with imperatives that make no conventional sense, this is certainly one of them. After all, I have never directed a motion picture.

Yet I recognize the perfection in this call and remind myself that before The MoonQuest book, I had never written a novel and before The MoonQuest script, I had never written a screenplay. For that matter, as I posted on Facebook the other day, "I have no formal training for anything I have ever done, succeeded at and/or earned a living from." It was the Q'ntana stories themselves that showed me how to write them. It will be those same stories that will show me how to direct them. And despite a certain degree of trepidation, I have no choice but to trust them...and get on with it.

I'm gratified by the confidence that Anvil Springs Entertainment has shown me in declaring me "the only credible choice to take creative charge of this project." I'm more gratified still by the confidence The Story has shown me, and I will do everything in my power to meet its potential and honor its essence in the months and years of work ahead.

In one of my first acts as director of The Q'ntana Trilogy Movies, I was asked to write a "director's statement." At first I didn't have any idea what to say. Then, as with the rest of my involvement with Q'ntana, the following flowed onto the page as the perfect expression of my relationship with its story...

"This story has always been bigger than me — from the moment it insisted itself onto the page as first a series of novels, then as a series of screenplays and now as its director. It’s a story that has so long been such a part of my life that it’s as though it lives deep within my cells. I am every one of its characters, villain and hero, and have lived each of their joys, triumphs, disappointments and disasters. For decades, I have watched its themes play out in the world around me...just as I have experienced them play out in my own life. In the end, I am as much the story as its storyteller, as directed by it as I am its director."

A new journey begins.

• To celebrate this new road for both me and The MoonQuest, I have discounted The MoonQuest book on my website by 44%. The hard-copy paperback is now $8.99 instead of $16, but only through Aug. 8...and I will continue to sign copies to you through that time, even at the reduced price. Order yours today!

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