1. INITIAL CONCEPTIt all has to begin with an idea, and for me I happened to know exactly which idea I wanted to work with. I came up with the idea even before I knew I was going to Sheridan, and that was because I already had a story in mind: the story of my great grandmother, and how she journeyed for hundreds of miles alone and by foot to her home town during World War II.
I knew that I couldn't possibly show every aspect of this story, since we had a two-minute time limit for our final films. So I had to find a visually symbolic way of representing aspects of the story that I wanted to focus on. The story went through many iterations, including versions where the weather was a sort of living antagonist, where there was a "magical" compass, and where there was even a map that the protagonist would refer to throughout the story.
One thing I did know from the get-go is that I didn't want to literally represent my great-grandmother's story. I didn't want the film to have to come with a blurb every time someone watched it, because that would become a storytelling crutch. I didn't want this backstory to be involved in the critiquing process, because I wanted to know what a real audience member - someone who might stumble across the video on my website or on Vimeo, for example - would experience. I knew fairly early on, for example, that the recurring motif would be a tree; trees have special significance in practically every culture, and they bring connotations of peace and life. I also thought it would be a nice reference to the fact that my great grandmother would eventually start a family after her long journey, and one of her sons would grow up and start a longan orchard - but that's a story for another time.