Sunday, September 30, 2012

Of Rings and Things...

I have to admit that I approached the start of my Lord of the Rings movie marathon yesterday morning with some trepidation. This was not to be an ordinary screening, like the first time I watched the Tolkien trilogy. Rather, I was to watch it as the author of The Q'ntana Trilogy books and writer-director of its films.

I had often compared The MoonQuest and its StarQuest and SunQuest sequels to The Lord of the Rings. How would they measure up with this new viewing? And how would my director-self feel next to Peter Jackson and his masterpiece?

About halfway through The Fellowship of the Ring, the first in the trilogy, I began to panic. Not, as I expected, because of the daunting directorial task I perceived to be ahead for me on my trilogy. I panicked because of scene fragments that reminded me disturbingly of The MoonQuest. "Oh, God," I groaned. "I've ripped off The Lord of the Rings."

As the film progressed, I grew more and more depressed...and then I remembered: I didn't read The Fellowship of the Ring until nearly a year after I began writing The MoonQuest and never read its sequels. How could Tolkien's work have influenced mine? As for Jackson's films, I had already completed most of my trilogy before seeing them.

Suddenly, I felt better. I had stolen nothing. What I had done was tap into that same universal well of story that Tolkien had...that C.S. Lewis had...that J.K. Rowling had...that same ocean of story we can all access when we choose to go deep, to write authentically from our passion and to surrender to the greater wisdom of our muse.

To be clear, my stories are markedly different from Tolkien's, even as they call on the same tradition of fantasy adventure that he and his successors did. Unlike The Lord of the Rings, my Q'ntana Trilogy comprises three distinct, though interlocking stories, each of which features a largely unique set of protagonists. For the most part, the resemblance between the two trilogies has more to do with feel and style than it does with plot, characters and narrative.

My director's vision, too, is not the same as Peter Jackson's. Jackson did a stellar job with The Lord of the Rings, and I worried, when I launched my movie marathon, that I would feel overwhelmed by his brilliance, by my lack of experience and by the demands of the epic trio of visual effects-heavy films that is The Q'ntana Trilogy Movies.

To my amazement, I wasn't. To my amazement, The Lord of the Rings did not stoke my anxiety. It staunched it. It did not intimidate me. It strengthened my resolve to move forward and get my stories up onto the screen in my own way.

In this moment, I don't know how I will do it. All I know is that I can, I must and I will. I know, too, that when I step onto the set on the first day of principal photography some time next year, I will know what to do to bring these stories -- my stories -- to life in a way that electrifies, engages and entertains and with a vision that is uniquely my own. I can't wait to see what that looks like!

• For more about The Q'ntana Trilogy of books and movies, including excerpts from The MoonQuest (Book I), visit

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Press Release: Writer Mark David Gerson to Direct The Q'ntana Trilogy Movies

The award-winning Q’ntana creator “the only credible choice” 
to catapult The MoonQuest, The StarQuest and The SunQuest 
to screen success, says producer

Anvil Springs Entertainment has announced that Mark David Gerson, author of The Q’ntana Trilogy books and writer of its screenplays, will direct the Q’ntana trio of adventure-fantasy films.

“As creator of The Q’ntana Trilogy, Mark David is ideally placed to bring its three epic tales to the screen,” Anvil Springs CEO and Q’ntana producer Kathleen Messer said today. “His intimate connection with stories he has lived with for nearly two decades, his innate filmic style and a vision that has already garnered him national and international awards for The MoonQuest, the Trilogy’s first book, make him the only credible choice to take creative charge of this project. We are grateful to have him aboard.”

The Q’ntana Trilogy’s time-twisting, interlocking tales span hundreds of years as three generations of rebel bards battle a cruel king, a corrupt sorceress and the nightmare villain who rules over them. Although offering a unique and compelling spin on the fantasy genre, The Q’ntana Trilogy is also part of a fantasy pantheon that includes The Lord of the Rings, the Harry Potter films and The Chronicles of Narnia.

The MoonQuest book, critically acclaimed and popular with readers of all ages, has won multiple awards in various categories, including Fantasy and Young Adult Fiction. Its StarQuest and SunQuest sequels will be published in 2013.

In addition to his Q’ntana books and screenplays, Mark David Gerson has written the popular and award-winning The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write based on his two decades of creativity/storytelling workshops and mentoring. His memoir, Acts of Surrender, was released earlier this year.

In agreeing to direct The Q’ntana Trilogy, Gerson joins a distinguished roster of filmmakers whose first feature film as writer was also their first as director, among them Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs), Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption) and Zack Snyder (300).

“The opportunity to give these stories and characters a new life on the screen was one I couldn’t refuse,” Gerson said of his new role. “At the same time, I’m not sure I had a choice. It feels, some days, as though the Q’ntana stories created me, not the other way around!”

The Q’ntana Trilogy is slated to go into production in 2013. Its first installment, The MoonQuest, will be in theaters in 2014.

Mark David’s books are available in paperback on Amazon and as ebooks for Kobo, iBookKindle and Nook.

*** Please respond to this quick survey about The MoonQuest book and The Q'ntana Trilogy movies, and ask your friends to do likewise. The results will be invaluable when we meet with potential investors and distributors. Thanks!

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

All That Matters Is That I'm Telling This Story

"Every choice you have ever made, Toshar, has led to this moment. Your moment."
~ The MoonQuest: A True Fantasy (The Q'ntana Trilogy, Book I)

There's a chapter in Acts of Surrender: A Writer's Memoir that chronicles a bleak period in my life. It was late 2008. My finances had crashed and I had taken a physically demanding, poorly paying job that would be unlikely to save me from losing both home and car. Then one day, in the midst of my panic and despair, I had an aha. I realized that none of those external circumstances mattered. All that mattered was The StarQuest, the MoonQuest sequel that I had launched and aborted twice during the previous decade. All that mattered was that I set my situation aside and recommit to the novel, which I did. I titled the memoir chapter "All That Matters Is That I’m Writing."

I thought about that chapter a few mornings ago during a meditative stroll through the Rio Grande bosque. I had felt the need to escape the relentlessly scrubby desert near my home and to surround myself instead with the leafy cottonwoods and willow thickets that fill out the riverbank. Perhaps the rustling trees would speak over my anxieties. Perhaps the rippling water would calm my fears.

God knows, I needed some fresh voices. Since agreeing to direct The Q'ntana Trilogy Movies last month, I had teetered between excitement and angst, exhilaration and terror. Part of me acknowledged the perfection in this new role -- both for the stories and for me. Another part, its buttons pushed multiple times a day, was shrouded in doubt and overwhelm. The emotional teeter-totter was dizzying!

As I ambled through the woods, those fresh voices spoke to me with the same unequivocal clarity they had done four years earlier. It wasn't about writing this time. I had written what needed writing: novel and screenplay versions of all three Q'ntana tales (The MoonQuest, The StarQuest and The SunQuest). In fact, I had completed all drafts of both versions of The StarQuest and The SunQuest in a frenzy of unprecedented -- for me -- creative output: through an 18-month period during which I also finished and e-published Acts of Surrender.

No. Writing wasn't the issue. But the story was. The Q'ntana story. "All that matters," I heard from a deep inner place, "is that you are telling this story."

A film director, I realized when I first contemplated taking on this new role, is also a storyteller. And as I wrote a few weeks ago in "Taking Storytelling to its Next Level," the Q'ntana story is a story that not only wants to be told by me in this as in its previous forms, but that is insisting it be told by me.

As has happened so often in my life, and as I relate repeatedly in Acts of Surrender, that Infinite Mind within me that is wiser than my conscious mind ever could be has made my next steps clear to me, and I have no choice but to surrender if I am to live from my heart...if I am to step up into my potential...if I am to be true to everything I write and teach.

"This is your story to tell," that inner voice continued, in an echo of the opening scene of The MoonQuest book and film. "Only yours to tell."

Arguing was futile.

"No one else has lived these stories as you have. No one else carries the vision for these stories that you do. No one else can bring these stories to life the way you can. No one else."

It didn't matter that I had never directed a film before. I had also never written a novel before tackling The MoonQuest. I would learn what I needed to learn. Others would help and support me. And everything I had ever done -- writing, teaching, coaching, inspirational speaking, art and photography -- had already prepared me for this moment, this opportunity.

"You already carry much of what you need within you. Can you trust that?"

Could I? Could I trust the intuitive knowingness that had always guided me so powerfully and rightly in the past?

"This is different," I said, knowing it wasn't.

"You either trust or you do not. There is no halfway in between." Those words had followed me relentlessly since I first penned them in The MoonQuest. They were still true.

As I continued on my walk, I wondered what the Q'ntana stories' theme was. Of course, I had written the stories, but I don't write to a theme. I allow a theme, as I do the story itself, to emerge organically through the writing. I had never contemplated an overarching theme for the trilogy. Now, though, as its director, it would be useful to be aware of one. A moment later, my inner voice spoke again: "When you acknowledge and move through your fear, you can accomplish great things -- for yourself and for others."

This was not only The Q'ntana Trilogy's theme, it was mine -- has been mine since a spiritual awakening two decades ago made me aware of the fears that, until then, had paralyzed me. Of course, this was my story, and not only because I had written it. And, of course, it was mine to tell...and would be until all the ways of telling it had been exhausted.

As I left river and bosque behind, I knew that, once again, nothing else mattered. In 2008, I had been called to surrender to my writerly self through The StarQuest. Now, only the Q'ntana story mattered. Only the Q'ntana film mattered.

Today, as I pen these words, I know that it cannot matter that, in some ways, my life is even more on the edge that it was four years ago. What matters is that I surrender to the story -- my story -- and that I free myself to grow into all that I can become through this new Q'ntana journey.

All that matters is that I am telling this story.

Photos by Mark David Gerson: Rio Grande Nature Center State Park, Albuquerque, NM. Q'ntana film posters by Richard Crookes.

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