Do you have a story you feel compelled to tell?

This story is 'alive' if you frequently think about it and wonder how you might be able to tell it. You may also have a burning desire to tell this story to a particular audience.  


Who will tell your story?

Will it be you?  Is it your story?  Even if it is your story, do you want to tell it yourself?  It's OK if you do. And, it's OK if you don't. In any event, it's extremely important for you to think about who will be the storyteller. 


Do you own the rights to the story?

If you do not own the rights to your story, do you know who does?  And is this person or organization available and open to you?


Have you written your story, i.e. a treatment?

That blank screen may be daunting, but as the philosopher pointed out, "The 1,000 mile journey begins with one step." So, start writing now.


Do you own any existing footage about your story?

Or, do you have a book, or a poem, or a journal, or even just a stack of photos that would enable you to get started?


Does the story have a strong beginning?

And, most importantly, does the story progress?  Is it interesting, or dramatic, or funny?  Does change occur in one or more of the characters?  Write these things down.


Would you like to see an example?

Please  read about how our recent documentary, "With One Tied Hand" got started...

It starts as a WWII battlefield record kept for 50 years by a
Buffalo Soldier, Ivan J. Houston.

Every story begins with a person or an experience that cannot be forgotten. Sometimes a story like that of Mr. Houston's is put into a box where it sits on the floor of a closet...waiting. Then, one day it is remembered, retrieved from the box, and read, with increasing emotion. For Ivan, his terse entries from long ago generate a flood of memories.

Ivan J. Houston, Gordon Cohn
Ivan J. Houston (seated) asks author Gordon Cohn to help him write about his experiences in Italy.

Ivan finds the fate of a Buffalo Soldier he knew, liked, and respected: Jesse Jarman, killed Feb. 8, 1945.  Overwhelmed by this and other entries, Ivan decides to tell family and friends about his experiences. But  he couldn't just hand such a document to people. It seemed that a written narrative would be needed. Then, a mutual friend suggests that Ivan contact Gordon Cohn.

The two men co-write Black Warriors: The Buffalo Soldiers of WWII, self-published in 2009.

Gordon, who had co-written the autobiographies of over 40 men and women, sits down with Ivan and a tape recorder. His direction is to bring Ivan's journal entries to life. "Ivan, I want you to remember the smells and sounds of the battle. What did it feel like when you were wounded?"

Black Warriors, Buffalo Soldiers of WW II
Ivan J. Houston, Gordon Cohn
In 2011, Mattea Piazzesi, who owns a 500-year-old Villa
mentioned in the book, calls Ivan.

Doing research on the history of her 500-year-old Villa, Mattea learns from "Black Warriors" that Ivan's Buffalo Soldier company had captured what was then the "Villa Orsini"  from the Nazis. Intrigued, Mattea calls Ivan and they start an ongoing dialog which ripens into an enduring friendship.

Ivan and his family are invited by Mattea to stay at her Villa near Lucca, Italy, in September 2012

When the Houston family arrives at Mattea's Villa La Dogana (its new name), they are warmly greeted by Mattea and her family, plus more than 200 costumed World War II Reenactors who had set up an authentic encampment which spread around the grounds of the Villa.

Black Warriors, Buffalo Soldiers of WW II
Ivan J. Houston, Gordon Cohn
On September 13, 2013, the filming of "With One Tied Hand" begins...

Via Gordon Cohn's recommendation, Joe and Dayle's production company, the Pacific Film Foundation goes to Lucca with the Houston Family in 2013 and begins to shoot location footage for a feature documentary, which would be released during Black History Month of 2017 as "With One Tied Hand," named from a poem by Ivan J. Houston (1925-2020).


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Your Story is Told


To Your Curated


Go to Florence
If you will.
See the crosses
Upon the hill.

Notice the murals
On the wall.
Buffaloes in arrows
Represent us all.

Walk the green grass,
Crosses, row on row.
Young black men
Killed attacking the foe.

It is God who looks
Upon this field.
Blessed men who fought
And would not yield.

Jim Crow was there
Blocking their way.
Causing them grief 
Day after Day.

These men fought evil
That enveloped the land.
They battled for freedom
With one tied hand.

Copyright Ivan J Houston, 2014

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