Relay for Life (writing)…

The purpose of this post is to demonstrate the process of shooting, writing, and editing a story.

Last night I went to the local Relay for Life – an awareness event/fundraiser sponsored by the American Cancer Society. I went in with a few ideas – was the walk a solitary solemn event or folks walking and talking. It was both, neither, and not at all what I envisioned.

Weber Point was crowded with tents, booths, and walkers and gawkers. More a party than a remembrance moment. Got the event chairperson nailed for an interview first thing so I’d have enough information to ask intelligent questions. Don’t get me wrong – I know a bit more about cancer than the average person, but I needed to know more about this event.

Next I just wandered in the crowd. Got a few shots, but nothing I liked. The paths were lined with small white paper bags with sand and candles in them. I knew I was going to have to wait for my story…with night the story might develop. I ran into a former co-worker and we caught up on each other’s history as I waited for dusk.

I was right…as the sun went down, my angle emerged. Dark and light – disease and hope. Light was my theme….I saw volunteers lighting the bagged candles and spoke with them. The plain flat bags glowed with an inner serenity…like souls returned for a brief period to light the way for those still here. Then all the lights went out and the formal ceremony began. And I left for the far reaches of the park.

Ceremonies can be entertaining and enlightening…and this one, from what I could see from the outskirts, was appropriate to the spirit of the event. What I was looking for wasn’t in the crowds though…it was with the lone wolves, like me, who wandered looking for something lost. The light of a life gone forever.

Once I found what I was looking for, I left with plans to review the tape Sunday and write and edit.

Sunday midday (1:55) and I’m checking over last night’s video from the Relay for Life. First things first – before I start dreaming about how to write the story, I need to log the interviews and gather additional information. I had a gut feeling last night as I wandered in the dark about how this story might go together. Let’s see if I can pull this off.

3:17pm…still logging. Whenever I get tired, I go out and do some yardwork to stretch. Plus, there are the usual Sunday distractions. Should be done soon.

Nearly 6pm…
Ah distractions. The logging is completed. Now for some think time. And no – this is not a real deadline. I’ve had 28+ years of deadlines and now I like to reflect and consider options a bit. My interviews with the volunteer candle lighters were good. I have one interview with a young mother holding her infant daughter which had potential…and may still work. She fell apart during the interview. There are times to keep rolling during a situation like this and times you just shut down and wait. I did the latter and continued with her voice only. I’ll be back in a bit with a script – and then begin the edit.

For me the script is either the nightmare or the easy part. The latter applies tonight. Here it is.

Relay script

The night was all about light.

It’s just the spark of life, the energy coming alive. With all these candles lit, the energy here it just intensifies and everyone is so….

And darkness…

…cancer never sleeps. People that are diagnosed with that disease don’t get a break.


(begin pan with HOPE and dissolve to Danaris interview)

18:53/Damaris – You hope, but for me it just means that hope, that doing all this and raising awareness and the funds that it brings a cure

The American Cancer Society held its annual Relay for Life tonight in Stockton. Sixty teams took part, raising thousands of dollars to fund local cancer support operations. But also…

:26/Randie – We celebrate, remember, and fight back. We celebrate those that have survived; we remember those that we’ve lost; and we figure out how we’re going to fight back for a cure the other 364 days of the year.

When daylight fades and night begins to draw its cloak across the land, darkness falls.
But tiny sparks of light fight back.
Light appears in smiles
And reflections…
It hovers overhead…
Bouncing off cranes carrying wishes…
And streamers of gold and silver waving…waving….

But mostly the light emerged from plain white paper bags….which flowed with and inner serenity…like souls returning for a brief period to light the way for those still here.
The candle lighters bend and light, bend and light…

4:17/Gina – It’s tiring but it’s worth it. It’s worth every minute because each bag represents a life…an energy that is here and some that aren’t physically with us, but their energy is here. The ones that are lost and the ones that are still here to fight. I’m twenty-one years – twenty-one years! I had ascophsychoma brain tumor when I was sixteen. I’m cancer-free twenty-one years this year.

Twenty-one years of looking to the light…

5:17/Gina – No words can describe it.

6:42/Brad – Right now I’m thinking: I just have to get them all lit. But later on in the night I like to walk by and look at all the bags and wonder who these people are because often I don’t know who almost any of them are.

We can never know them all. Each bag represents a life. A life snuffed out too early. A light representing a life…gone…forever…

I’ll edit tonight and post tomorrow. And, as usual, visuals and inspiration will drive me…so there may be changes.


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