Welcome to the Write by the Rails 2018 Back on Track Now Blog Tour!
It’s been a long time since I’ve been on a blog tour, it has also been a long time since I’ve been involved with Write by the Rails. But a week or two ago, I was feeling lonesome for writing community and decided to go and rekindle. An hour later I had signed up for a blog tour and taken on the task of getting us established at Manassas First Fridays.
But, it was just what I needed to get my butt in gear(ish) and so here, is the first guest on my blog, author/humorist/documentary filmmaker Victor Rook.
And if you’re in Manassas this Friday, please do stop by Centerfuse and say Hi!
An Eagle’s Story
So, I need to write a blog post about traveling and storytelling. This is going to be hard since the last time I had a vacation and traveled any fair amount of distance was in 2008, a decade ago. I believe I drove to Michigan to interview a Jiu-Jitsu school on wrestling. Or it may have been my last flight on an airplane to Oklahoma, or was it St. Louis? Anywho, I think I have a topic that relates to storytelling.
I am a filmmaker. And for the past two years I have been filming and editing a documentary on a pair of bald eagles in Manassas, Virginia. Their habitat in front of their nest was bulldozed down and replaced with two 40,000-sq. ft. warehouses. They paved within five feet of the base of their nest tree. And I documented it all.
This is not my story. It’s a story about how this affected the community of eagle lovers. It’s a story about how we have come to treat our national symbol—shockingly so. And it’s a story about how this pair of eagles, named Ina and Tatanka, have been affected by all the chaos. My part is what I saw and captured, both during the construction and the aftermath.
There was shouting. And a lawsuit. And a lot of angered citizens. It has certainly scarred the city of Manassas, known up to this point for two brutal Civil War battles, a sniper, and a severed penis. That is what has put this town on the map. Now this.
Just a few days ago I watched the first cut of the film. It currently clocks in at 1 hour and 52 minutes. My goal in the following months is to whittle that down by about 15 minutes. It will surely be a challenge. This was the first time I reviewed the documentary as a whole. Up to this point I have been working on the 47 individual pieces, each with its own story to tell. Now I must make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.
After watching the full documentary in the wee hours of the night, I was pleased to see the full story revealed. There is an arc, several climaxes, and a thought-provoking ending. And most important, the film offers solutions: How can this be avoided? What have other cities and towns across the country done to protect their bald eagles? And more.
Storytelling is not limited to print material. It can be in any form: word of mouth, painting, comic books, poems, dance, mimes, and more. It’s all around us every day. We are all telling stories in some way or another.
The ultimate goal, in my opinion, is to have those stories affect a positive change or emotion.
Victor Rook has authored several books, including People Who Need to Die, In Search of Good Times, Poetry Pizza, and Dollar Store Crafts & Recipes. His nature film, Beyond the Garden Gate, won two Telly awards and aired on PBS.
- Diverse Book Review: “Pinky Promise”
- Guest Blogger Morgan Hazelwood: Buzzed on the Right Side of the Tracks