Behind the Scenes

Many years ago I helped to produce an Independent Feature titled, The Secret by MDR Films, Inc. It was a lovely story about a dysfunctional Ukrainian American family in Chicago. One of my favorite parts of the film was the way that it captured the setting of Chicago’s Ukrainian Village.

I think I took the beauty of its gardens and architecture for granted when I was a girl going to Ukrainian school on Saturdays or dance practice during the week. I didn’t really see that there was something special in the way that the Ukrainian people of my grandparents’ generation worked to maintain their neat gardens and community atmosphere.

After having lived in Europe, I see now how European it is in many ways, with its neighborhood markets and bakery, the shops and bookstores. The Ukrainian American community sought to recreate some of what they had to leave behind, and this melded with the opportunities that only America could offer.

The Secret successfully gives the audience a glimpse into that sense of place, especially in the opening sequence of the film. I like knowing that the Ukranian Village will be forever preserved in that little montage.

Often when we go to the movies (or watch them at home), we give little thought to what went on behind the scenes to make that film a reality. For me, it was fascinating to see all that went on and to be a part of it–from the writing of the screenplay and raising of funds, to casting and location scouting, to rehearsals and filming, and so much more in between.

I would imagine that for those who are not writers, it’s a similar experience when reading a book. Little thought is given to the process by which that book made it to the shelves: researching, writing, revising, querying, collecting rejections, revising, querying, collecting more rejections, revising, submitting, revising, and so on. While it doesn’t usually involve as many people as a film production, it can be as lengthy a process, if not more so. Books can take years to write and publish. Writing a book, fiction specifically, is also a lot more solitary that making a movie. Usually it’s the writer alone with her computer in her favorite writing location: office/bedroom/bathroom/kitchen/beloved coffeeshop.

This Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest is fascinating for many reasons, one of which is the many diverse communities that are popping up. There are the communities surrounding each novel entry, the community of ABNA and Amazon reviewers, and the many subsets of writers’ communities popping up on the Discussion Boards.

Writers are supporting each other, writing reviews for one another, sharing tips about marketing, commiserating on critical reviews. For the few months that this Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in going on, many writers have slipped out of their shells (albeit virtually on the internet), and have connected with others of their quirky, idiosyncratic, and often introverted kind.

It will be interesting to see how the rest of this contest plays out and what happens after it’s over. Will the solitary writers crawl back into their dark corners to do what they do, or will some remnants of these communities remain?