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  • Never stop exploring. Never stop discovering.
    Here at Mancel Studios we’ve made a career out of telling stories. The usual format is video but the real content, the story, is the same as if it were in the pages of a book. As the founder and creative director of Mancel Studios, this got me thinking. What if I could combine an ordinary day of exploring with a fictional story while drawing from my own life and experiences? However, I didn’t think about this until sitting at a coffee shop reviewing everything I wandered to that day. This added another ingredient to the story that proved to be a very interesting way to pick which photos would be chosen so not to completely take over Instagram’s feed.
    My time in San Francisco was completely played by ear. Aside from the one meeting and reason for even making it out there, I had absolutely no plans. Not even a place to stay. And let me tell you, when the sun goes down in San Francisco, you really start to want a warm place to stay. The first night I found using the app Hotel Tonight to give me the best price, even comparable to Airbnb. The second night I wasn’t so lucky but did have three options approved on Airbnb. I chose to not utilize any of them and continue my journey into the early morning hours seeing as much as I could. After a 12 mile walk/hike this quickly becomes a questionable choice around 2am. Exhausted and freezing (it really does get cold) I took the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to the airport. My flight was a full 10 hours away and security wasn’t even open. I found a spot on the floor, took a 45 minute nap, and then began to build my story for Instagram.
    I chose one photo at a time creating the sentence or two to continue the story to the next. I knew how the end looked visually (Golden Gate Bridge) but I didn’t know how many photos it would take to tell a story that made sense and inspired me on some level to make the next 8-10 hours worth my iPhone tapping time. Each photo and subsequent section of the story created new possibilities of where I could and couldn’t take it. When I as done editing a photo and it’s section of the story I immediately posted it to Instagram. In this way, the photos I took helped create the story as much as my own references and imagination. It also locked the story in. I guess I wanted to keep the theme of the weekend and continue to play it by ear, letting one thing lead me naturally to another. In the end, it made for a way to tell a short story quickly, without second guessing, and the ability to finish in one sitting. It simplified a potentially very complicated situation.
    The story itself is fictional, even though I chose to speak in first person. I drew from some of my own experiences and personal growth over the years. I was feeling a bit like The Goonies after my big day and search for gold – a bridge in my case. By combining a search for something ‘golden’ with the obvious association with the city, I was able to sprinkle in questions of personal growth, spirituality, truth, awakening, perseverance, and myth/legend. Every photo was hash tagged with #sanfrancisco so there was no question where it was leading. The only concern was the story. As the audience, we knew where we were and where we were going. But no one, even me, knew how to get there. Once I entered the woods and trails I chose not to use my GPS or other references to find my destination. Almost the whole day was like this and it made exploring a truly visceral experience.
    At it’s core, this story is a sort of hero’s journey that reflects the trials and tribulations of starting something, overcoming obstacles, trusting your instincts, and forging ahead for greater purpose than you might have originally set out. It’s about small accomplishments and saying to yourself  ”I wonder what’s on the other side” – To never stop exploring. Never stop discovering.
    See this story on Instagram by searching: #goldendreams051713
    Follow Mancel Studios on Instagram: @mancel
  • Chapter 1: 17 May 2013 : Today I embarked on an expedition twelve miles into the unknown. With few resources and only the #golden sun to guide me, I breached the clearing.
  • Chapter 2: I kept moving and so did the scattered foliage of brightly lit green and #golden and wild nature. It surrounded from all sides but also gave space, as if to encourage me forward on this journey. And so I did.
  • Chapter 3: There it was. The clearing into the deep. Waves of grain bending and leading to hues of true blue, hopefully to reveal the #golden majesty of the far west I was seeking.
  • Chapter 4: The crisp cool air gave me breath and comfort indeed. Beautiful it was but it was also time too move on toward the #golden beaute myths and legends speak of.
  • Chapter 5: Suddenly, as if to have been birthed from the vast waters above, an incredible creature of flight maneuvered to point me in the way I should go. I went. With blue in my eyes and #golden dreams in my heart, I went.
  • Chapter 6: And there! I could just make out it's presence as my eyes transitioned from blue to that opaque #golden red. However, it would prove to be a mirage in many ways as unforeseen obstacles would distract my focus and test the strength of my resolve.
  • Chapter 7: At sight it was unscalable, insurmountable, and threatened all strategies I'd planned for. And yet there had to be a way through this #golden blockade of dreams.
  • Chapter 8: To the right there was a lonely #golden trail leading a forty five degree incline. Halfway to the summit I thought I'd take a short rest. My thighs were kindling and my feet were roasting. Two minutes and we'd push on. Wait! Who was that up ahead and what were they doing out here? Slowing now for comfort not only seemed silly but certain death to my soul. And so I climbed. And without reserve.
  • Chapter 9: Shortly after reaching the summit and finding no such silhouette of a man to be found, the #golden sun began to set into the distance and I grew uneasy. Certainly I felt cold and tired and abandoned. But that too would pass, as does the sun with each rising dawn. Until it doesn't. I needed to move quickly.
  • Chapter 10: What is that?, I said aloud but to myself. I came upon an old building not nearly worthy of its place among this incredibly beautiful landscape of #golden existence. But then, there it was again, a silhouette of a man. I think. I think it was a man. Only this time he was not independent from me. He moved as I moved. And I he. No no, of course it was my shadow. Something seemed strangely different though. No longer was I alone. Whoever he was, a part of him lingered. Oh so very close now!
  • Chapter 11: Climbing up over the roof's edge, I was immediately stunned by the #golden horizon half circling my legendary destination. I began sprinting before realizing how quickly I was moving. Cold salty sea air rippled the skin on my face. Both elated and numb I forged through my final jaunt as if mimicking the water below. Cutting the ageless rocks without awareness but with purpose. Out of necessity. The overflow.
  • Chapter 12: I wanted to stop so badly just to enjoy the #golden wonder. I had to keep going. Just a bit further. It was magnificent to get so close to something of such mythic proportions. I kept pace. Lacking in nothing. Hoping for everything.
  • Chapter 13: And then I was there. I made it. What amazed me was that once there, everything came into view with clearer focus and substantial brightness. Even the night shown brighter than it previously had. Of course it always had been this way. Nothing changed. Just me. I wonder what's on the other side?