Night Sun (3/6) – Story
Adding a written narrative to Night Sun would do two things:
1. Be a layer where Light Night’s themes of Hope & Peace (WW1 centenary) could be more obviously explored.
2. Be the part that leads people on to find out more – turning the handle of the music box to reveal segments of the story spread out over the three minutes of music I was writing.
Emma Lannie is a fantastic writer. Her short stories have this thing about them…when you’re in one they’re like air – all around you and you’re breathing in the words and exhaling sentences. They’re impressionistic, but not avant-garde or vague. Emma uses imagery, actions and words that are familiar, but the world she places them in is not. Most importantly for Night Sun, they pull you on by the hand, leading you towards their end, they make you want to see what’s there.
So I commissioned Emma to write the short story with this brief:
It’s up to you what kind of story you want to tell, but some initial ideas that I’ve had are of a little girl wandering war torn streets after an army has moved out (I’m reading The Book Thief and a lot of Kundera at the moment!). Or someone who is alone and trapped, but who sees a light and is rescued from the dark by someone (literally or metaphorically).
Or that the music box contains different memories of hope/rescue, and the winding of it (by the public) releases these memories (like the skulls and the old dreams in Murakami’s Hard-boiled Wonderland & End of The World)
Emma emailed me a half of a first draft and, amazingly (although not suprisingly), it was perfect.
I sat and read the story at a slow pace while listening to the music, marking out the ‘hit points’ where the music and story should change together or influence each other. From this I worked out that over the course of the music’s three minutes, we’d need eight paragraphs.
The paragraphs were the perfect length for a single screen, and they worked seemingly in any order. Each one contained, in its words, an image that we could use as inspiration for the photography that would accompany the words on screen.
“The clouds hang heavy over the city. The sun has been gone for weeks. An occasional window will glow with the light from candles, or a wind-up lamp, but mostly the city is dark. I can’t find him anywhere.”
It just made you want to find out so many things. It conjured up images of post-apocalypse, war-torn streets, a spiritual darkness. On the photo expedition, Dan and I talked for ages about the different things that these initial parts of the story made us think of, all while walking through the streets where the story would be told a week and a half later.
Dan was so quick with developing the photos that the second half of the story was inspired by the images he captured (which I’ll talk about in the next post), creating this really nice collaboration where one thing inspired the next, which inspired the next version of the first thing.
Emma’s latest collection of short stories, Behind A Wardrobe In Atlantis was published by Mantle Lane Press. I thoroughly recommend you buy it. She is also on what I hope is the last draft of her first novel, which I can’t wait to read.
Next: Night Sun – Photography