Film - More Than Just a Number

My model friends

Good afternoon!

I want to thank you all for the positive feedback I got on my post about the dark side of fitness. The number of views reached an all-time high that day!

For a while I thought the one about the pervert who tried to sexually assault me would stand as my most-read entry for ever, but I guess not. I’m glad we got that one knocked down to a second place. Thank you!

Anyway, let’s get to the headline.

A little while back I had the pleasure of doing a photo shoot with two of my dear friends, Hanne and Cecilie. Hanne probably looks familiar to some of you, and that’s not strange at all. She was one of the stars of my documentary “More than a Number” last summer. Watch it HERE.

We actually started planning this photo shoot at a training camp in Portugal in 2014, but we’ve put it off until now because, you know, we live on different continents. The level of excitement was, therefore, rather high when it finally worked out.

The weather was pretty terrible, but we managed to squeeze in some shots despite the rain and thunder (and snail invasion on the lawn)

Hanne Steinstø: Photo: Maria Lavelle 2016
Cecilie Udstuen 2016
Cecilie Udstuen. Photo: Maria Lavelle 2016

I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t help but to think that this photo oozes of real model-vibes. That look.

Hanne Steinstø. Photo: Maria Lavelle 2016

Black and white always does the trick.

Hanne Steinstø. Photo: Maria Lavelle 2016.
Cecilie Udstuen. Photo: Maria Lavelle 2016
Hanne Steinstø. Photo: Maria Lavelle 2016

Okay, okay. The photographer stepped in front of the lens for a second, as well.

Maria Lavelle. Photo: Cecilie Udstuen 2016

I haven’t done much portrait photography in the past, but I’ve observed hundreds of portraits for hundreds of hours while drawing, so maybe it was about time to start shooting some myself.

Drawing 2012

I should write a post about that some other time, because right now I suddenly got an urge to start drawing again. It’s been a while.

Such photogenic creatures…

Hanne Steinstø and Maria Lavelle. Photo: Cecilie Udstuen 2016

To see my earlier attempts at portrait photography, click HERE

Have a blessed day,

About internships and the value of pretending

Yesterday I had my first day at the newspaper I’ll be working this summer, Haugesunds Avis. It’s a daily regional paper in my hometown, and together with a bunch of other girls I’ll be stepping in for the journalists who are at vacation.

At first I thought it’d signed up for the stereotypical internship where the only privilege you get is to make coffee for the editor and to be their personal servant, but after this first day I’m pretty thrilled to say that I’ll be working as a paid JOURNALIST! Not a coffee-maker or a servant — a journalist. Needless to say, I’m very excited.

I’ll start on July 4th, so I still have some time to refresh my Norwegian grammar and vocabulary. I was a little worried about that when I first got back here for the summer, but I guess it’s like bicycling, it’s there even if you haven’t used it in a while.

When I made the documentary “More Than Just a Number” (“Veien til NM”) last summer, I snuck in everywhere pretending I was a journalist, but now I can actually say “Hi, I’m with Haugesunds Avis.”

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From last year’s sneaking around. Here: In the City Hall bathroom.

In the picture below I was in the City Hall covering an event I needed for the documentary, and that’s when I learned the true value of “Fake it ’till you make it.” I had no idea what I was doing, and I felt like I wasn’t even supposed to be there in the first place. But I ended up selling that documentary to the TV channel run by Haugesunds Avis, so I did something right, I guess.

Can you spot me? Okay, I’m the one wearing a light pink shirt, and Toms shoes.

Now I better get back to my screenplay, so talk to you soon!

Flashback Friday and Reflections

Today it’s been precisely a year since I laced up my spikes for the last time as a college athlete. In September I wrote a post explaining why I made the decision to quit track and field all together, CLICK HERE to read it.

I have to admit that the thought of letting go of the one thing I’d always been good at was scary, and even if continuing down the same path was out of the question, I was terrified I would regret it later.

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Homemade NIKE ad from 2013 haha

But now, a year later I’m so proud and happy I made the choice to let go and start following my real dreams instead. Sometimes I even ask myself why I didn’t make the decision earlier, but then I have to remind myself that track was my ticket into college here in the US, and that my time as a competitive track athlete has taught me many things I can use in my filmmaking and life in general.

I also believe that where one door closes, God opens another.

Since I “retired” from track I’ve directed and produced a feature documentary, a 20-minute documentary, a video for TV, 15 video stories, won a Jury Award for Social Impact at our first film festival, and had the opportunity to bring attention to a big social issue in South Dakota by showing “Over the Bridge” at multiple events and by talking about it in the media.


I think that sometimes you have to let go of something to let God show you what you really want and where to go.

Have a blessed Friday all,

Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 10.44.45

Reflection: Summer 2015

This summer has officially come to an end, and I can look back at three wonderful months. Nothing really turned out the way I had expected, but things worked out very well after all!

In April I sat down to think through every detail of my summer. According to my calendar I would practice twice a day, prepare for the National Track Championships that would be held in my hometown, and really just live the life of an athlete. I had even written down a weekly training schedule that would include a whole bunch of track meets all around the country.

Over the past year, I’d worked harder than ever, and was in a very good shape. I’d also sat new PBs in every jumping exercise, as well as in the weight room — so track-wise everything looked bright. I’d even shredded off most of my body fat, so that I could bounce off that runway as a leaner, faster and more powerful version of myself.



Having been forced to sit out on my entire college season, I was convinced that “This is going to be my year at the track!” “Of course all that hard work will pay off and result in a medal at Nationals. Common sense !!”



Ever since I was 12 years old, I’ve been able to summarize my summers with this sentence: “Train, compete, eat, sleep, repeat.” That always meant I had to forget about everything that had to do with the word “vacation.”

This year however, due to a stress fracture in my ankle, my plans of training and competing as a track athlete went completely down the drain. And believe it or not — I’m very grateful for it.


With more time on my hands, I had the opportunity to pursue one of my other passions — filmmaking! Through seven weeks I worked intensively on a three-part documentary film, about the track athletes who actually did get to go to Nationals. So not only did I get to make my first real 41-minute documentary, but I also got to spend several weeks inside the track environment, surrounded by amazing people!


After I released the first episode of the film, I got contacted by TVH (TV station in Haugesund) because they wanted to run a story about me and the film. Which gave the film some publicity that would later come in handy.

As soon as I got done editing the remaining two episodes, Haugesunds Avis (Newspaper in Haugesund) bought the whole thing, and aired it on their TV channel several times a day, for almost a week.


Because of that, I was asked to step in as a “speaker” at the National Track Championship. I felt pretty fortunate to get the opportunity to work alongside NRK’s reporters (the biggest news station in Norway) and a bunch of other journalists.


The documentary has also been signed up for a film festival in Norway. But I don’t know the final “result” of that yet…

So, even if I didn’t get to compete at this year’s Nationals, I got so much more! I would honesty not have traded it for anything. In retrospect (I know the following sentence might sound weird,) I’m actually happy my ankle kept me from doing what I had planned.

I believe that God has a plan, and all I can do is to trust Him.



Bless y’all,
Maria Lavelle

There’s a first for everything

First of all, I’m so thankful for all the nice messages and compliments I’ve received after the documentaries were aired on TV this week! I really appreciate every single one of them, thank you!!!

As I mentioned in my last post, I was asked to do a “Voice-over/speaker job” at the national track championships on Saturday. I felt pretty honored just to be asked, and the lady in charge was convinced I’d do great (for some reason I don’t know of) so I said yes.

Since I did the voice-over on my documentary, I initially thought: “Sure, I can do it, how hard can it be?” But then I suddenly remembered I’d used at least 20 attempts on getting it right in the film, AND I’d been recording when I was alone in a room – so there was really nothing I could do wrong. But when performing live interviews on a track, in front of a pretty large audience, you only get one shot. You can’t mess it up 20 times beforehand, because everything has to happen so fast, and you have to time and coordinate it with everything else that’s happening on the track (including a photographer that’s never around when you need him.)

Then I just told myself. “It’s all about preparation.” So I did my homework, looked up the startlists, did a rough calculation of who was most likely to win and then tried to come up with a few questions I could ask the winners, other than the standard “How do you feel now?” However, several of the athletes who were favorites to win, didn’t even show up to race… sooo the questions I had prepared specifically for the predicted winners didn’t help me much.

Beforehand I was told by the producer that I would have to run over to the winner right after they’d cross the finish line, and the more emotional or out of breath they were – the better for the production. I did as I was told, but then one of the athletes got clearly annoyed, so he pushed the microphone away and refused to talk to me. Fun! Especially when you have the producer on the walkie-talkie yelling “Go get that interview!”

Things didn’t get any easier when I realized everything was streamed on a huge screen at the stadium, and NRK (The biggest TV-station in Norway) had their oversized cameras and “famous” reporter/sports journalist standing six feet away from me at all times – waiting for me to get done, so that they could do their interviews.

But you know what? I think I did good.

Most “speakers” probably started off with local meets for kids etc, but I skipped that part and went straight to the National Championships, so what more could I expect?

I’m grateful for the opportunity, and I think of it as a really valuable experience. But even more importantly, it was actually a lot of fun (in the end) and I’d love to do it again.



Good night to y’all,
Maria Lavelle

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