Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Production Post #3: On Story and Themes

  Let me be honest about something: I hate fairy tales and fables. They really, really bore me. Maybe it’s a lack of imagination on my part; any time I’ve read books of old, collected tales, I’ve wound up paying more attention to the pictures. I always know how the stories are going to end, who dies and who lives and who kisses who and who lives happily ever after.
This is because the people in them aren’t real people. They’re types. The boy, the roguish charmer, the maiden, the old woman, the farmer. The lessons gleaned from the stories are based (at times) in outmoded ways of thinking, painted with a broad brush. Vanity has a cost. Pride and arrogance bring about destruction. Love conquers all. Chastity is purity. I think those types of moral lessons are for weiners.
The problem is that these stories are inescapable; as the writer and storyteller Thomas King says, stories are all we are. The stories we tell ourselves shape the world we live in, for good or ill. And so, to some extent, these old, powerful stories underlie all endeavors to spin any sort of tale. I spent a lot of years as a young writer doing everything I could to extricate myself from these narrative roots, and wound up with a bunch of unreadable stories. As loathe as I was to admit it, I needed these cultural touchstones to write, even if it was to move away from them.
The best stories, even if they rely on character types, keep things grounded in reality. I’m not talking about “How would Bruce Wayne make his Batman voice sound?” kind of reality; I’m talking about emotional reality. My favorite books, movies, TV series and comics resonate with me because they put a human face on the the archetypes, and they acknowledge the shades of gray between the fairy tale’s black-and-white.
So here we are, in our modern world (though really we’re always in our modern world, whenever we are), and as long distance communication has become easier and easier over the years, to the point of being taken for granted, we find ourselves far apart from our families, growing up, growing older. This spreading out of the biological family has led to a whole generation of people who create their own families. The acceptance of “alternative” lifestyles, too, has led to a change in the idea of what a family can be. To some (embattled and threatened) extent, we are living in the ultimate age of self-determination.
What is a family? What is a friend? What is the difference?
This is what we want to explore in “Unbroken Skies.” Having grown up often feeling very friendless, I spent a lot of time examining the nature of human relationships. The bonds that keep people together are built in myriad ways, some stronger than others. What brings you to care for somebody can be an illusion of your own mind, the false story you tell yourself. Likewise, a small glimpse of someone’s interior life can plant a seed of respect that grows into a lifelong friendship, and a bond stronger than blood, despite any outward differences.
The Rogue Winds aren’t afraid of danger; they live it and breathe it, and accept that their actions have consequences. That makes them the perfect candidates to make and break very, very strong bonds, to find themselves in unlikely alliances that turn into friendships, to examine the true nature of a person, and to find themselves at the center of a great story, one whose ending cannot be foreseen.

Written By - Dave Shapiro
Story By - Paul Dodson, Dave Shapiro and Vince Medellin

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