Joya: AiR / writer in Residence / HD Motyl / USA
'This morning, I sliced a banana into a bowl, covered it with yogurt, stirred it as I sat on my couch, with a cup of coffee nearby, and sunlight pouring through the windows looking out to my garden. All of this, together, reminded me of Joya, and my mornings there, with virtually the same food. The sunshine there was filtered through Iberian skies and clouds of course, and that sun beat down on land much rockier and more sparse than the earth in my backyard, but it was the morning writing, the steaming coffee, the competing flavors on my tongue that brought me back to Las Gázquez . . .
Joya. Jewel. A rocky jewel in the mountains of Almería. Turn one way, and the land climbs to the sky; turn the other way, and the rocky soil tumbles to a valley that, for me, was often an inspiration for meditation, a kind of of visual respite from the computer screen I stared at as I wrote, and a reminder of where I was, what a gift I was given to be here, and a jewel this place was.
I had given myself a goal to write two film scripts while at Las Gázquez—two short film scripts with similar settings, related themes, and very different circumstances. I achieved that goal—I finished both scripts—and I was thrilled for that, and proud of myself, because I can allow myself to be distracted, to be lured to concentrate on something unrelated, usually inconsequential. The fulfillment of the goal, in and of itself, is good, but in this case, it was what was fulfilled in terms of the content, how the stories grew, changed, became intertwined, then unraveled from each other, only to grab onto one another again. It was how the characters spoke—to themselves, to each other, to me—and how they changed genders, professions, how their relationships morphed from one thing to another . . . and how the autobiographical nature of the stories and the characters grew fainter as those characters themselves became independent of me, telling their own stories, and living their own lives on the page. I put them on my narrative springboard but the water they dove into was their own—is their own—and the stories are a part of their biographies.
All of this might have happened—hopefully, would have happened—even without being at Joya, but Joya, the jewel, hastened the process tremendously. Allowed me to live in isolation (almost) with the characters, with their words and their thoughts, so we became better acquainted much more quickly. And they became feistier, and sexier, and more caring, and, in the end, more human. Whether taking a walk around a mountain and coming upon crumbling buildings, or sitting quietly with a bowl of yogurt at a window watching snow falling, or sitting on the crest of a hill gazing down into a distant valley, the characters were with me—sitting quietly or babbling like fools—and the solitude, the attitude of Las Gázquez gave me the space to tell the stories of Charlie, and Vinnie, and Matt. For that I, and they, are grateful’.
HD Motyl has been transitioning from a documentary media maker to a narrative media maker. He has been a Producer/Writer/Director in the Documentary world of Chicago, creating work for both the educational and home video markets, then for TV (National Geographic, The History Channel). These video were historical documentaries, children’s documentaries and scientific documentaries. When he turned to teaching full-time, he produced a feature-length documentary (using grant money) called American Rodeo: A Cowboy Christmas, that looked at the behind-the-scenes lives and work of professional rodeo cowboys. (This film is now available on Netflix and Amazon Prime.)