STORGY, at its core, is about engaging readers and writers in one thing: creation. But what founder Tomek Dzido has done to widen audience involvement is pioneering. STORGY – “Where Short Stories Surface” delivers on its motto. Readers vote on title choices, the contributors have a week to compile a story and the readers, again, select their favourite story to be transformed into a short film.
Words, Pauses, Noises welcomes fellow MA Tomek Dzido to chat with Amber Koski about STORGY – an innovative, interactive, bridge building storytelling machine that will (and has) changed how stories are told and how readers influence and engage with them.
STORGY Interview with Tomek Dzido
By Amber Koski
How did the idea for STORGY come about?
I wanted to create a literary magazine which focused specifically on the short story and enabled writers to share their work with readers who equally adore the shorter form. I also wanted to develop the reader-writer relationship and encourage creative collaboration. The Short Story is an immense ingredient within literature and deserves greater recognition in the UK, as do the writers who continue to write short stories when the industry prefers longer, more marketable manuscripts.
Have you always had an interest in filmmaking?
I got into film making through a couple of close friends who were extremely enthusiastic about film and from the moment I experienced it, I’ve never looked back. I guess it was only natural that my passion for the written word extended into film, particularly with the possibilities of developing a synergy between both. There is something special about seeing an idea grow into a fully formed piece of film and despite the many challenges involved throughout the production process, it’s extremely rewarding if a project completes successfully.
What (practical, challenging, motivating, or difficult) things have you learned when transforming text from the page to the Screen?
The most challenging aspect is the process of adaptation from text to screen. Unfortunately, it’s extremely difficult in technical terms to adapt a story or a novel precisely as it is presented within the pages of its prior existence. This is also problematic because each reader imagines the content of a specific scene independent of outside influence, and hence each interpretation is very different. I always try to be true to the original material and this always poses the greatest challenge, but it’s one that continues to teach me more about the words themselves, which after all, are the most important element of any story, whether in fiction or film.
As a writer, what filmmaking experiences (with STORGY or outside of that project) have changed your writing? Do you see your narratives as films now or are you able to separate them?
I actually wrote screenplays before I wrote prose, so I think direction and dialogue was always something I felt more comfortable with. Writing prose has forced me to tackle the more complex elements of writing, such as form, structure and content, etc. I guess the fundamental difference is that with film you show the viewer, with prose you describe and encourage the reader to let their own imagination run wild. However, I’m far from an expert on film, or fiction, I just enjoy both and love learning and experimenting to see what works, and if it doesn’t, why.
How did you go about finding contributors for this interactive project? What sorts of people are vital to the success of STORGY?
I was fortunate to meet some extremely talented writers whilst studying at Kingston University and the strength of their work always stuck in the back of my head. I also met some impressive writers on a platform called Readwave, and after that it was through the strong recommendations of existing STORGY writers. The most important ingredient for me was passion, and of course talent. When you are lucky enough to find a group of individuals who are highly skilled and extremely passionate, the quality of the writing is the main beneficiary, and close behind is the waiting reader.
What about readership? What’s your secret? How were you able to gain publicity via platforms like Salt Publishing?
I think this was a result of the writing itself. I’m really very proud of what the contributing writers have managed to achieve and I firmly believe they deserve greater recognition, which I hope will come. The other important factor is that readers enjoy the short story, despite its apparent limited popularity. In an age where time is particularly precious and technology enables a greater enjoyment of this form, why shouldn’t it be more appreciated? You can read a short story in an instance, and yet it can change your life forever.
STORGY is an impressive and innovative storytelling mechanism. What has it been like bringing creatives from different fields and backgrounds together to build this text-to-film storyboard (if I may call it that) community?
It’s been incredibly enjoyable. Everyone has been extremely enthusiastic and dedicated and I genuinely couldn’t ask for a better bunch of writers. Each individual writer is very different and that is precisely what makes the STORGY experience so interesting, and I hope, enjoyable. Not only can you see different styles and structures and topic and tone, but you can also see an entirely different take on the only aspect of the story which is shared by each writer; the title. It’s fantastic.
Can you give us some ideas of where you want to take STORGY in the near future?
My main aim is to continue developing the reader-writer relationship and encouraging engagement between those that enjoy all forms of art. I would like readers to become more involved in the STORGY process, such as nominating titles and writing the short stories once titles have been selected. The short story round will also soon extend to reader stories and this will provide an opportunity for the writer to see their story transformed into a short film. I’m also looking to extend creative collaboration and introduce further competitions which will bring in other art forms, such as photography and illustration, in addition to opening up the film round to other film makers. In Spring STORGY will publish its first print magazine which will be more akin to the traditional literary magazine and therefore submissions from other writers and readers will be encouraged. I would love to establish a creative core to STORGY, much like James Frey established with Full Fathom Five, though perhaps without the contractual controversies. I am in love with the idea of a studio inhabited by creative people who all work together to create art in various forms and are able to make a living from their craft. I’m a dreamer, and a writer somewhere underneath.
For the film component in particular do you think this visual aspect will bring in an additional ‘readership’ for STORGY? With the changes in print and publishing, do you think STORGY will bridge that gap with this added end-product feature?
I hope so. The more readers that STORGY can attract, the more exposure writers and other artists will be able to experience. This is one of the aspects I most enjoy about STORGY. All the writers play a part in promoting the community, because each is aware that the more readers who engage with the project, the more may discover their own work. It’s very interesting.
I would also like to thank everyone who has supported us and shared the work of our wonderful writers here at STORGY. At such early stages it really is wonderful to have the encouragement of such a supportive readership. Thank you.
Tomek’s STORGY is an example of how passion and pursuit can create inspirational shockwaves across creative writing communities. Continued education is a time for learning, to earn a qualification, but it is also a place to mingle and create outside of coursework. Who knows what discoveries can be made?