I’ve had an interesting learning experience recently. I’d been told by a couple of people that every book deserves a trailer. I could understand the benefit, but the story behind A WILDER ROSE (the true story of Rose Wilder Lane and her work on the Little House books) is long, complex, and multi-layered. I couldn’t imagine a trailer that would do it justice. Then Judy Watters, writer and friend, shared the trailer for her memoir with our Story Circle chat group. When I saw how Judy had used photos and brief captions to tell the story, I was inspired. Her trailer, which was created with the help of a videographer friend (Sue Henderson), was clean and simple, no glitzy stuff to detract from the essential narrative elements. The quiet music fit the time and place of her story—again, no distractions.
I studied Judy’s trailer and a couple of others I liked. I counted the frames in each, noticing how the scriptwriter had created the storyline, frame by frame. Then I sat down and began to think through the narrative of Rose’s life. I made a chronological list of important points in her life and her writing career, and found photos from online and other sources to illustrate each. My list was too long, of course, since I was aiming for a short video of under three minutes, so I had to cut. And cut. And cut some more.
I recreated my list as a script in a simple Word document. I numbered each frame (in my draft, there are 30) and inserted the photo I wanted to use. A dozen of the photos were book covers, illustrating the remarkable range of Rose’s creative work. Another nine are familiar family photos, from online sources. Six are time-and-place photos, establishing the setting and the context. I wrote a text caption for each photo, and edited (and re-edited) until the captions could be read at a glance. I had decided I wanted the photos displayed without enhancements or embellishments, so that the storyline dominated the experience.
Music? I spent several hours listening to and shopping for copyright-free music online, and eventually decided to use the same music Judy had used, with her encouragement. She also introduced me to her friend the videographer, who transformed my script into a simple video. I'm grateful for the help of Sue Henderson and Judy Watters, two artists who helped me make this trailer happen--in something like the same way that Rose and her mother collaborated on the Little House books.
You'll can view the final product of our creative collaboration here. I hope you like it as much as I do.
Reading note. For an artist is not a consumer, as our commercials urge us to be. An artist is a nourisher and a creator who knows that during the act of creation there is collaboration. We do not create alone.--Madeleine L'Engle