I had my colleague and friend Anil stop by about a month ago to take a look at the footage I had been editing thus far. I must confess I was floundering a bit with the process, lacking direction and swimming in circles. He looked at the footage, a montage of semi-edited sequences and interviews patiently and then about midway through stopped and said, "Ok, so what's your story about?" Instinctively, I responded with what I have been saying this story is about for about three years now, I started off with three concurrent narratives, "Well, it's about these three things: the renovation, the people who lived in the house and the larger neighborhood, Free Gut and...".
And he asked me again, "What's your story about? The central idea, what is it about?"
In slight panic mode, I wasn't sure what to say. I wanted to keep saying, it's about all those things, I couldn't pick one thing. It's about all of it. And then suddenly I picked one, or rather, one stepped forward and said, "It's me. The story is about me, it's about Free Gut". "It's about the neighborhood", I said.
And then he reminded me of something I knew, but for some reason keep avoiding, "You have to write the story La Vaughn".
I responded impishly, "I know, but how do I do that? What's the format? Is it like a script with voice overs and image sequences, is it the narration? What is it?!" I wanted someone to show me. Give me an example I could follow. So we revisited the funding trailer that I did and the way I was talking into the camera and telling the story. He told me why he believed it was so effective, because it was me, telling my story. Not necessarily the physical me on the screen, but me as in my voice. He reminded me that no one could tell this story better than me, and that I had a strong voice and questioned why I had opted to not use it. "You need to tell this story La Vaughn, you are the one who will tie all the pieces together. When you have your story you can then revisit what you have shot and see what you will need from it. Until then, stop editing."
So here I am weeks later, tangling myself up again in this project with another self-imposed deadline to finish the script this April. I have this idea of using some of the techniques from this film The Beginners as a narrative device to help ground the story and move from the micro to the macro in a similar way as "The House That Jack Built". It's exciting and exhausting at the same time. But here I am, at it again. In the work. In the work.