Saturday, June 19, 2010

Magic more often whispers than shouts

I am somewhere above the Pacific ocean again, hurtling towards New Zealand at a snail’s pace. Most passengers are sleeping but my sleeping patterns don’t know what to do with themselves anymore, so I am not surprised to be awake.

In May, I made 17 interstate and international trips in just 27 days, from Australia, to Europe, to the US, and on to New Zealand – meeting deadlines along the way, and sometimes receiving confirmation of journey segments just three or four days before booking tickets and making traveling. The trip to New Zealand involved selling a vehicle in Sydney, and shipping belongings: it is a move of sorts, although it certainly did not feel like one when I left for Japan only 2 days after arriving in New Zealand.

The final journey that will earn me some real rest is in one week: a spell back in Sydney.

They say the soul takes a while to catch up with one’s international travels, and it certainly feels that way – a whale might keep pace with its soul as it travels the oceans but I’ve quartered, sliced and diced mine and left it strewn across the planet to stumble, crawl and swim its way back towards unity.

This third time in Japan was in character with the land and culture: subtle. If I were tuned to only feeling the big splashes, I would feel nothing right now. But magic whispered regularly, like the frequent, almost imperceptible earth quakes that shake Tokyo.

Hideki and I have refined our process for the Japanese whaling family. We shot some footage geared solely towards a revision of the trailer, in order to present a more balanced impression of the film’s arc. And during sleepless nights, I wrestled with sequence breakdowns, playing with that jigsaw puzzle that is a feature film. From roughly 2am until 9am, the splintered pieces of the whole shifted around, always settling closer to their final resting place, sometimes revealing new pieces that were hidden just a moment before, but without which the film would be but a limping shadow of itself.

These new pieces did not leap out with a shout, full of a sense of their own importance. They just stepped out of the shadows without a word. They had always been there, lying dormant. Like Stephen King says, the story is a dinosaur fossil and the storyteller’s work is archeological work. Unearth as much of it as possible. Listen to its silent confessions. Allow it to exist again.

The bones don’t scream their presence. And we remove them one by one with gloved hands, precision hand tools and brushes, not with jackhammers. We reassemble them one by one in to the coherent picture of a behemoth kept hidden for millions of years. Until the final bone is in place, the whole will remain shrouded, even to me... I am not its maker, only its discoverer and curator.

There will be tales of action in the weeks to follow, particularly when principal photography gets underway in August - if our fundraising hits its mark - but this week was a nocturnal haze of magic whispers: whale bones telling of how to assemble them into a whole, in preparation of its owner’s resurrection, and immortal life in film.

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