I created Dark Cloud out of my own experiences. This all started when I fell in love with the George Miller film The Road Warrior. What could top that? Then I started to think further. Why were we looking to Australia for a desert? We’ve got a wonderful Wild West here. Granted, it’s hard to get even 100 miles away from a gas station, which is a bummer, but it’s here. And why did the main character have to be male? Technology is a great equalizer, and I used to be pretty kick-butt myself. The skills that the main character in this story has are skills that I also have. We’re only talking a matter of degree, though I’m definitely no action hero in RL. Never was.
But there’s more to it than that. A lot of people liked ‘The Road Warrior’, so why me? Actually, that movie only gave this project the basic idea, but it wasn’t the drive. (Sorry George, but at least I mention you first.)
I also created Dark Cloud out of my own frustrations. I was just out of college with a theoretical degree, and the rug yanked out from under my career plans – again (don’t ask.) No job skills. No Real World skills. I didn’t even know how to type. I felt like I had been sold a bill of goods. “Get a degree, any degree, and you’ll get a great job.” That stopped being true back in the 1950’s. But there I was, theoretically ‘educated’, unable to go on for the graduate degree I knew I needed – and wanted, and feeling very frustrated. I began to go through my own ‘Angry Young Woman’ phase.
It burned in me, and the alter ego of Dark Cloud surfaced and made herself known. I began to think, “I can’t be the only one.” There had to be other young women out there, ‘educated’ or not, who burned with that frustrated knowledge that they were more than just grunt laborers, drab, non-descript, required by society to be ‘nice and sweet’, frilly, and cute if they wanted a job (I noticed that my male counter-parts were getting away with attitude a lot more than I was, which rubbed me to no end,) – and had that fiery vibrance inside them; capable of so much more than the role a perceived ‘system’ would have them fill.
I decided to share what had emerged in me with the world. Hey, I didn’t have anything else going on after my latest choice of careers paths got blocked (after years of study – talk about frustrating!) “Screw it,” I said. “I’m going to set the most outrageous goal possible. I’m going to make a really good feature-length film that gets cinematic distribution. Let’s see how far I get…” [Update: Now that the first Graphic Novel has turned out so well, and it’s a lot easier to create Graphic Novels than films, I may just stick with Graphic Novels for the majority of my Dark Cloud story-telling! …But film was my first focus, way back then and for a long time. Since my personal emphasis is on story-telling, a lot of the skills are transferable, too!]
To do that I needed a story. I began developing a story. To tell it, I had to present it in a format people would accept. I began learning how to write a screenplay.
Then something interesting happened…
I began to learn Real World skills. First I had to learn how to type and be organized. I went back to school and learned Admin Assistant skills. I learned business organization and how to present myself.
Then I finished my first draft of the screenplay. It was BAD. “Rewrite Needed,” doesn’t begin to describe it. So I started working on a rewrite.
But I looked at the script and asked myself, “How does a movie get made from here?” (I still want a movie out of this.) “Oh! It’s somewhat like putting together a small business.” I started reading books on business and taking classes in that direction.
Something interesting began happening again…
I realized that I was beginning to figure out how society itself works, as though the pieces of a giant jig-saw puzzle were falling into place. I don’t have that puzzle completely solved yet, but I’ve got some good sections.
Even the way I was thinking began to change…
The journey has been continuing ever since. It hasn’t been a straight line. That’s for sure. But it has moved forward.
Fear not! The young woman who starts out as Dark Cloud can become Cleopatra VII in her own right further down the road. That Cleopatra still has Dark Cloud in her, and keeps the leather jacket in the back of her closet, ready to bring out should the day ever return when she has to go kick butt in person again, but she never would have become that powerful, effective woman were it not for the ‘bad girl’ of Dark Cloud.
I really feel those young women who get labeled ‘bad girls’ are being seen through the wrong light. They have the potential to become Cleopatras. Hey! Did that Egyptian Queen ever have to act like Tourist Guide Barbie just so she’d keep her job as a receptionist? – And what’s this bull that if she doesn’t pull that off successfully, then she can’t do bigger and better things instead? I do get mad at those social messages. They’re real, too. They need to go.
These are the heroes we need. From Dark Cloud to Cleopatra, it’s all on the same continuum.
I’m still working on Cleopatra. When I control more real estate than the modern day country of Egypt, and have life or death say over millions, I’ll let you know. Then I can stop reaching higher and further, becoming yet more, refusing to let someone else define me.