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Storytelling and exercise: Why director Michael Lovan stays active

Who would’ve thought that there was a connection between storytelling and exercise?

“For as long as I can remember I only wanted to make movies. It is the only dream I ever had, I have lived and breathed storytelling my entire life,” said Michael Lovan, director of Murder Bury Win

He mentions that he went to UCLA theater school for both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and explained that it was there where he drew great inspiration particularly from his classmates and amazing pannels. 

“I was only aspiring thinking that my dreams would never come true,” Lovan explained. Although he had several years of training, Lovan confessed it took him another decade to feel ready to make a film.

Michael realized he needed to understand who he was as a person, for him to come to a place where he knew that he not only had something to say but that it was worth listening. 

“I made my dream come true by putting all the research, and the time the effort, and the money … so I do believe that everyone with that passion can make a film it’s just a matter of putting everything in and exhausting yourself.” 

Michael Lovan, 2020

It turns out that for Michael the correlation between storytelling and physical activity is thinner than what one may think. Because, believe it or not, he wrote an entire screenplay while jogging. 

Storytelling and exercise are a parallel experience

“I don’t think that you need to be fit to be creative,” he said during an interview. “But staying active and not being a couch potato surely helps stay creative and clearing up your mind.”

But, perhaps Joyce Carol Oates said it better: “the twin activities of running and writing keep the writer reasonably sane with the hope, however illusory and temporarily, of control.” 

They share a parallel experience when starting; getting the foot out the door, and the words out the mind to move from one point of the journey to another.

A simple, yet troublesome action that entails a marathon of effort. And, contrary to popular belief, they both rely on a routinely act. Thus running and writing are fundamentally linked with discipline, perseverance, and endurance. 

With some sprints of inspiration, one is lucky enough to get lost in thought and space. But, like many ventures, they can be a long hard slog. However, they assure progress working the muscles of both the body and the mind, leaving space to wonder: a place for ideas to incubate. 

Finals School GIF - Finals School Work GIFs

In fact, not only has there been notorious research about the creative benefits of writing but historically there have been many writers who claim that running facilitates their creative process. “It’s all about leaning into habits and designing a mindset that keeps you creative,” said Lovan. Because, even when not inspired, that mindset becomes a lifestyle.

‘Yes, I believe that it is important to let the creative forces flow through you,” said Michael. “But I think diligence and giving yourself time for that to happen is even more important.”

The process

Even without realizing it, Michael had created an exercise routine for him to stay creatively fit for the storytelling process of every project. He gives himself a time slot to write, if the ideas are not flowing during that given period of time, he turns to books and research for inspiration.

“Normally I would hop into autobiographies of filmmakers That way, even when I was blocked, there would be no excuse not to make progress. Normally, I brainstorm while working out, it enriches the process by clearing my mind and giving me more energy to do creative projects”

Michael Lovan, 2020

Michael was experiencing a creative block when he went on the run to clear his mind. His storytelling was inspired by exercise. That is exactly how he created an entire screenplay only while running. And, once he got the first act together while on the move, he committed himself to only think about it while running.

gif run running fitness track and field XC cross country howtorunfree •

The still “Untitled Ghost Story” is an original horror-drama feature. The story is about a group of friends attempting to bring back their dear friend from the dead. Unbeknownst to them, the magic they were using to invoke the resurrection spell was created by a demonic cult.

Interestingly enough, the screenplay tells a frantic story, full of movement and actions where no character is ever still.

Should call it a coincidence?

“I ultimately attempted to film in 2006, though it didn’t quite work as a movie – it felt more like an art piece.”

Michael Lovan