Hail the size of popcorn kernels announced the second return of a local event — Lady Lake Superior has turned on her snow-making machine. Late as she is, she’s back. Hail softened to flakes big and downy as chicken feathers. A couple of inches covered rooftops. My weather app can’t predict lake-effect snow, but to its credit, technology attempts to keep pace. Officially, we have recorded two inches of snow.
The Big News, however, is that 41 North Film Fest has returned after a pandemic hiatus. I had never been to a film festival before going to the one hosted at Michigan Tech University. Typically, these cinematic events feature independent films from a diversity of filmmakers.
Maybe I can blame our film noir columnist, Bill Engleson. His latest Tales From the Silver Screen is a compelling reason to study story through film. Cinema gives us a dual-lens approach to issues and art through perspective and originality. Take the film, All Light, Everywhere by Theo Anthony. He connects the development of cameras and weapons to policing and justice. Yet, he also set out to create a beautifully artistic look at ugly social issues.
It might not be noir, but a film festival is a comprehensive cinematic statement on the current condition of the world from cats to artificial intelligence. It is art, expression, absurdity, awareness. And with the snow, it is coming to my town.
What does film have to do with NaNoWriMo? Inspiration!
National Novel Writing Month challenges writers to draft daily for thirty days. While many hope to achieve the 50,000-word count by November 30, the real magic happens when writers realize they can cultivate a daily practice of their craft. Even if one doesn’t hit the big goal, the understanding of limits is just as valuable. It’s important to learn if you are a binge writer (hand raised) or a daily sprinter. It’s practical to learn your daily or weekly word count.
It’s vital to learn what fuels your inner writing engine. I’m talking Muses and Inspiration. No writer can spew stories without absorbing life. All artists require a full well.
“In filling the well, think magic. Think delight. Think fun. Do not think duty. Do not do what you should do—spiritual sit-ups like reading a dull but recommended critical text. Do what intrigues you, explore what interests you; think mystery, not mastery.”~ Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity
Inspiration is linked to your passion. What excites you? Take your inner writer kayaking, hiking, snowboarding, or wind-surfing. Go watch people. Find solitude in nature. Visit a museum, art gallery, or food market. Watch a performance, listen to live music, or take dance classes. Play in the snow, the sand, the attic. Play.
This week, in ENG I, I created a 41 North Film Fest playlist of shorts, trailers, and interviews to capture a taste of the film festival. While they watched, they had to jot down moments of inspiration — a reaction to what they saw or heard. They then had to write a 99-word story from that spark and will share it in class. Then they will work in small groups to discuss how they can expand their story into 450-900 words. Next week, they will peer critique their longer drafts and have one more opportunity to finalize their short story.
Even if you arent in my class or writing a marathon 50k words this month, pause to reflect upon your own sources of inspiration. You can share them in the comments. For your story, come along to the film festival with me!
November 4, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a film festival. It can be a small-town indie fest or the Festival de Cannes or anything in between. Who is in the story? An audience-goer, filmmaker, actress, or something unexpected? Through in some popcorn for fun. Go where the prompt leads!
Respond by November 9, 2021. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form. Rules & Guidelines.
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Film Fest Debut by Charli Mills
Whiskers tickled Barnyard Betsy’s arm. She patted her lead horse, Magic, her hand shaking. Two country souls about to debut at a big city film festival. BB had never attended a “fest,” but this movie was different. An independent documentary. Instead of her horses acting, a filmmaker caught the relationship between movie wrangler and herd. The promoters wanted BB and Magic to meet movie-goers. Terrified she’d have to put on one of those sparkling sausage casings of a dress, she was relieved they liked her idea of looking authentically Nevadan. The crowd roared when Magic pooped on the carpet.