Thursday, May 08, 2014

‘Stringing a Yarn’ takes many turns

Lou preps a microphone during shooting.
PANAMA CITY — So we made a short film about writing — and we made it in a local art gallery and studio.
In the movie, an old fellow hovers on the outskirts of a class where an artist teaches children to weave on makeshift looms. He is inspired by their activity to write a story called “The Weaver.”
And then — facing the choice that all artists must make — he puts his work on display for the public to view, interpret, critique or disparage. “The Weaver” goes on the wall as if it somehow fit among the embroidery, rugs, needlepoint and other woven arts and crafts on exhibit.
Is it art? That’s the question. The answer is less obvious, perhaps.
The film, “Stringing a Yarn,” was directed, photographed and edited by Lou Columbus, a resident of St. Andrews. It was shot at Floriopolis, the new art hub in the historic district, with the cooperation of artist-in-residence Heather Parker and her young students.
To complete the scenes we had in mind, Lou and I also conscripted artist and natural improviser Deborah Kivett, who happened to be in the wrong place at the right time, and whose critiques of the work had us in stitches.
Now the film, like the short story, is out in the world. It’s a thing that is no longer strictly “ours,” but that the viewing public can take and make of it what they will.
Weaving is a natural metaphor for the craft of writing, of pulling together the disparate threads of story to create a meaningful whole. It works as well for film-making, as the director envisions the writer’s scenes and the editor connects pieces shot out of order to form a narrative, often tying everything together with the perfect melody.
It’s not the first time I’ve been inspired by the art of the weaver. I once wrote a piece about a woman who saw in the patterns of her crochet all the quantum secrets of the universe, all the ways we’re connected and how simple it is to become entangled, frayed, knotted or cut off.
Life is a series of interconnected stories, and art is steeped in story (and vice versa). Later this month, Floriopolis will host some examples of storytelling arts you might enjoy:
* A “1940s Noir Night” will be 6-8 p.m. on May 24 to celebrate the release of local author Michael Lister’s latest mystery novel, “The Big Hello.” The book represents the conclusion of his “Soldier” Riley trilogy set in 1940s Panama City. Details: MichaelLister.com.
* Bay Storytellers will hold a Panama City Story Slam at 7 p.m. May 30. Participants must tell — not read — a 5-minute story. No poetry or songs are allowed, and the key word “bay” must be included in the tale. Cash prizes will be awarded. Details: Call Pat at 814-2616, or visit Facebook.com/BayStorytellers online.
Meanwhile, “The Weaver” remains on display at Floriopolis, part of the “Spinning a Yarn” exhibit. Visit the shop at 1125 Beck Ave., and decide for yourself if it should be there.
Peace.
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(This is my Undercurrents column this week for PanamaCity.com and The News Herald.)
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