Some answers to some popular questions, related to Wolf Quest
Byanca Moureen: You mentioned that the studio wanted a sequel to be much more different from the original and with a focus on Inuit and Native American mythology, and that you were inspired by the biography of your husband and embodied it in Aleu and her journey. Can you tell us about the process of creating and developing the story? Have there been any early versions of the script before you or from you? How did they differ from the final scenario? Were there any darker or more dramatic ideas that ended up being scrapped?
DR: The process of creating the story had to do with what I was personally experiencing at the time. I was creating a film with Native American teenagers in Oklahoma, USA, on their Indian reservation. I was inspired by their stories of trying to be their authentic selves in a white dominated society and how they, in many ways, were pressured into assimilating.
There were no earlier version of the script and nothing of what I wrote was scrapped.
Byanca Moureen: We heard that the script was a little longer than the final movie. Were any deleted scenes that remained on the script? And what scenes were not in the script, but they appeared in the film?
DR: Sorry, but what you heard isn't true from my perspective. Perhaps, the director would say different, but I know of nothing that was cut.
Byanca Moureen: Did you have an idea of who Balto's father was, and what was his backstory? Did Balto ever know and see him? Was this character ever discussed or created?
DR: Balto’s father was never developed. It’s just a known fact that there are mixed wolf and dog breeds — as can happen in the wild, if a dog is feral or loose. I raised a wolfdog myself. In my own mind, I imagined Balto’s father to be a stray dog, a loner, a surviver. He is like a human father, who begats a child and then never even knows it.
Byanca Moureen: I'd like to ask you about Aniu. She appears as a totem spirit-shapeshifter and clearly legendary figure among the wolves. Wolves refer to her as The Great Aniu and honor the information from the visions, created by her. She can take the form of different animals and appear in the dreams and communicate through them. The wolves never mentioned that Aniu died or ever existed as a living wolf. Even the film clearly hinted that all totem animals are her guises. Is Aniu a kind of wolf patron goddess for wolves? Who is she? What is she? What’s her role? Is she really Balto's mother or is she just a guardian spirit? Is there any backstory here?
DR: Aniu became the white wolf and is now the Great Mother of all wolves and serves as their guide — if they will listen. She represents the "call of the wild" that exists in us all. Most of us ignore that call, repress it or can't even hear it. But some do. Balto did, but fought it to be like regular dogs. But his daughter could not repress the desire to return to her roots, her true nature. Aniu is part of the Great Spirit. She is the reminder that we all are part of nature and must honor nature as a powerful force. Aniu shows herself to those who will listen.
(Trivia: In my mind, her great love for her pups and her wolf pack made her a guardian spirit once she died. And, yes, she joined in with a Greater Force, a Great Guardian Spirit. Unfortunately, I don't know, why and how she died — that was decided before I came on the project.)
Byanca Moureen: Was Aniu a character your personal creation, or she was planned by the team working on the original Balto? Was she the white wolf from the original movie? Was already stated by the original film and its team, and you just expanded and developed it in the Wolf Quest? What’s behind this mysterious character?
DR: The white wolf was in the first Balto, but not developed. I loved her and wanted to make more of her in my film, so I made her Balto’s mother. No one gave me any information on her, so I named her Aniu and developed her a bit more. I was hoping to do more with her in another film, but I wasn’t hired to do another.
Byanca Moureen: I’d like to ask about the totem spirits. The wolverines symbolized the fear, the fox symbolized the guile, the bear symbolized the intuition, the caribou symbolized life. What did the white wolf, the mouse and the raven symbolize? And what was the essence of the totem spirits? Are they some kind of the deities from the beginning or they were mortal animals in the past and before death? Maybe every spirit (including the ones in the cave) has a specific role, they have some kind of hierarchy, panteons? And if Aleu was the true leader from Aniu’s prophecy, why the dreams and the tests were addressed to Balto, why Nava considered Balto as this true leader from the prophecy? I feel the emotional and psychological arcs here, so I’d like to go deeper into this topic and to know a bit more.
DR: White wolf symbolized being in touch with one's true self, one's true nature. She is an invitation to explore the deepest parts of yourself. She is the Great Mother, the one who loves you absolutely. The one who wants you to self actualize.
The mouse is the symbol of wisdom of examining. The mouse seeks to get you to look inside your mind.
The raven is a complex symbol. It can represent loss, prophecy and insight.
Balto had the dreams, because dreams bring up what one often represses. His daughter was in touch with her wild nature, while Balto repressed it — thus his dreams. Nava felt Balto was the true leader, but discovered that Balto was only a part of a greater plan.
Byanca Moureen: Many fans wondered about the puppies. There are six of them, and we only know the names of three: Aleu, Saba and Dingo. The name of the fourth puppy (Kodi) we learn in the third film. What are the names of the other two puppies? Or were they nameless even in the script?
DR: I thought I gave names to all the puppies, but, sorry, I don’t remember.
Byanca Moureen: Nava has the traits of shaman, he speaks with the spirits and the nature, the wolves themselves are clearly inspired by Inuits and Native Americans. Can you tell more about the culture and traditions of the wolves in the film? Maybe you had some ideas for their developing?
DR: I can tell you that I studied how wolves are, how they exist in packs and fused that with Inuit and Native American culture. I had access to a lot of wisdom from Native American elders and used it in the film.
Byanca Moureen: If you were again asked to make a continuation of the story of Balto or Aleu, would you agree? And if so, what would you like to tell about?
DR: Yes, I would agree. I would take up in the wild with Aleu. Most likely, I would have her return to her father, because she needed help. Perhaps, because of enviromental issues or that her pack had been captured or run off by humans. I was very disappointed, when they did not hire me to do the third Balto, so I made myself look elsewhere for writing satisfaction. Balto 2 was very personal for me.
Byanca Moureen: Thank you for your answers!