Nicholas Sailer is a writer and film director whose work has been screened at the Cannes Film Festival and Universal Studios. Sailer got his start when he won Best Picture and Best Director at CMF, the largest student film festival in the world. After studying screenwriting in Prague, Czech Republic, and working in Brooklyn, New York, He moved to Boylan Heights in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he works as the Director of Creative for a startup.
Hi Nicholas! Where are you writing from?
Hello! I’m writing from Raleigh, North Carolina. There is a small, but strong creative community here, and not limited to creative writing. I spent some time working in New York City last year, and will probably return there, but right now, I’ve found a place for my creative pursuits in Raleigh, closely tied to the vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem that is growing here in North Carolina.
Your background is in filmmaking, how did you get into writing?
I wrote a lot growing up, and I would say that I’ve always been a writer – I just took my writing a step further and gave my stories a visual component. The element that draws me to writing is communicating truth through stories, and writing is one of the easiest ways to tell a story. Writing is always a part of the process of filmmaking, and so for me it was necessary in order to tell the stories and make the films that I wanted to create.
What was the inspiration behind this project?
Last year I spent a period of time living and working in New York City. I found a small community of artists and creative people, and we would share our work with each other whenever we met. At the time, I had written a couple of short stories, but I focused mainly on my work as a filmmaker. One evening, a violinist shared her work with this group, and shared her process in developing her craft. Someone asked her what her practice routine was, and she shared that she’d practiced every single day for the last 25 years. This dedication struck me, and I began to think about how I could apply this kind of dedication to my own craft: Creating stories and making films.
“…I had just written a story every day for the last 365 days, and during the first couple of days of 2015, story ideas would jump out at me without me even trying to find them.”
And how did it come to mind?
I considered how I could practice filmmaking or storytelling every single day. Making a narrative film each day was unrealistic for me, but I’d written a number of short stories and really appreciated the discipline of communicating a narrative in a couple of pages. I considered this project for a couple months, and then began on January 1st of 2014.
“…I’m also eager to find collaborators as I move forward into adapting some of these stories into films, and am excited about starting that process.”
What was your process in writing these stories?
My process for writing these stories often varied. Some stories were based on personal memories or experiences. Some were based on experiences of others that I’d witness throughout the day. I got into the habit of looking for things that seemed out of the ordinary, or for small fragments of a narrative from which I could find something interesting. Usually at the end of the day, I would sit down and pull all of these fragments together, then try to stitch them into a cohesive story. This process of writing every single day helped me get really good at finding small things that were compelling enough to craft into an entire story. The most interesting experience I had as a result of this project came to me on the first day of 2015, right after I finished the project. I had just written a story every day for the last 365 days, and during the first couple of days of 2015, story ideas would jump out at me without me even trying to find them. My mind had been primed to look for narratives, and they came to me with almost no effort.
How’s the reaction been so far?
I’ve received very positive reactions so far, and have been very fortunate to be featured on the homepage of Kickstarter for my campaign toward publishing. Numerous people have reached out to me and told me that they have been inspired by my work. A number of others have told me that the stories provoked them to consider things they’ve never thought about before, which is truly my goal.
Do you have a favorite story in the book?
It’s hard to choose from 365 stories, because each one has a different value to me for different reasons. Some of them that I appreciate are: June 4th, ‘Frying Makes Everything Better’, a story set in the low-country of South Carolina, about a son living up to his father’s expectations. September 8th, ‘Fourteen’, a story about an older brother dealing with the complicated emotional effect of a fight between his parents. November 18th, ‘Remote Control Airplanes’, a story about a pilot trying to acclimate to his hometown family and friends after being stranded for years following a violent plane wreck. November 30th, ‘Horses and Stables’, a story about a young girl deciding to restore a relationship with her mother, set over the course of a late night road trip with her brother. This story is extremely subtle, but I’m pleased with the way it turned out.
What did you take inspiration from?
I drew a lot of inspiration from asking myself: “What if that situation had gone really wrong?” or “What would the best-case scenario of this situation be?” I often repurposed my own fears or memories and turned them into a pseudo-familiar retelling.
Did you have a team that helped you in developing this project or was it all on you?
This project was entirely on me, and I think that was important. There were many days when I wished I could’ve taken a break and let someone else write the story for the day, but looking back over the 365 stories, they create a kind of wild, over-arching narrative, and I’m not sure that would be possible with several writers. I also really enjoy designing cohesive graphic campaigns, and so I gladly accepted the challenge of designing the website, the book, the video, and the photography.
What’s next now? Are you going to adapt any of the stories to a script?
I’m in the process of exploring a couple of really cool ideas for how to keep experimenting with narrative. I’m sharing the stories throughout each day of 2015 on www.astoryeachday.com/read, and am very eager to hear feedback about which stories resonate with readers. I would love to adapt some of these stories to films in the future. The stories that get adapted will depend on the support. As I mentioned, writing is always a part of the filmmaking process, and I see A Story Each Day as a chance for this audience to choose the stories they would like to see adapted into films. It is much faster, cheaper, and easier to get feedback from an audience about a written story than a film. I hope to learn which of my short stories would resonate as a film. I’m also eager to find collaborators as I move forward into adapting some of these stories into films, and am excited about starting that process.
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