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True Wolf… a wolf film with a twist.

When Bruce Weide first told me the story of the journey that he and his wife Pat Tucker forged with a wolf named Koani, I was hooked. It was a story that was filled with conflict, sacrifice, love and ultimately transformation. My mind raced across the pages of one of my favorite stories, Jack London’s The Call of the Wild.
I have an absolute fascination with what it means to be “wild” so I had to make this film believing that I had come across a real life Call of the Wild. Naturally, I had assumed that the journey we would take would be to enter the world of a captive wolf and in turn learn what it means to be wild. For me, this was a dream come true. After all, it was my own story of a wolf that, in part, drew me to live in the mountains of Montana in the first place.
As with any good story, there is a twist somewhere in the plot, something that the audience didn’t quite see coming, yet was not so out of left field as to be not believable. True Wolf is such a story. But here is where the story takes yet another unexpected twist because this time, the twist happened not on the audience, but on the storyteller.
Indeed the master storytellers love to take us to places that we haven’t been, places we do not know and within that place we somehow find ourselves. I had expected that in entering the world of Koani, I would be a bit closer to understanding what it means to be wild.
Yet, what I had been focusing on were the facts of the story. Koani was captive and I could explore through a captive wolf those elements that define a wild wolf. What I really wanted was the truth.
As Robert McKee puts it so eloquently, “…story is not life in actuality. Mere occurrence brings us nowhere near the truth. What happens is fact, not truth. Truth is what we think about what happens.
And therein lies the twist. Truth is what we think about what happens. In my exploration for truth, I had missed the key element and that is what do I think about it? What did Koani’s life mean to me? What could I learn from her life in captivity and hence translate that onto screen for other people to experience.
In the end, what I discovered was that the truth in this story is that Koani taught me less about what it means to be wild and more about what it means to be human.