NYU

The Small City

Disclaimer: If it wasn’t for the fact that I had two classmates with me when this happened, I probably would’ve chosen not to tell you about it; it simply sounds too weird and unlikely.


Ever since I moved to New York, I’ve explored the city feeling comfortably invisible.

Walking down any street or avenue on Manhattan has had the same therapeutic effect on me as walking in the woods of Norway; I’m able dive into deep thoughts knowing that I won’t be interrupted by anyone I know. I can do whatever, be whoever and behave however.

One time I overestimated that luxury and wore my pyjamas to get pizza, and it did — to my big surprise — NOT go by unnoticed (READ MORE HERE), but other than that I’ve felt pretty anonymous.

A Norwegian Airport

In my hometown in Norway and on the Augustana Campus it’s a different story. There, I have extensive networks of friends and acquaintances, and I always meet somebody I know. It’s also  not uncommon for people to walk over and say that they saw me on local TV or something.

That actually happened at the airport in Haugesund a couple weeks ago. My carry-on bag needed an extra scan and, and after the TSA officer had searched through my entire bag — tampons and all — he looked at me and realized that he recognized me. He introduced himself and we ended up having a nice conversation about filmmaking.

Anyway, in the metropolis of New York, those things never happen. Right?
Not to a Norwegian grad student, anyway.

Well, this is where the weird part of the story begins.

Manhattan

I was in a park on Manhattan with my two classmates, Kaili and Nay, when a guy passed us and said a loud “hello.” I instinctively looked at him and immediately regretted it because I assumed he wanted something from us.

(I’ve also told you before that guys never hit on me, so I quickly ruled out that option).

He looked rather surprised and said “I recognize you from somewhere.”

I looked at him and silently concluded I’d never ever seen him before.

He then says: “I know you!” … “Is your name Maria?”

I thought maybe I had lost my student ID-card in the park, and that he was trying to be charming by “knowing my name” before he’d give it back to me. But no, my card was in my hand.

Thoughts: **Maybe he is one of those mentalists making wild guesses about your identity and expecting you to pay him if he’s right? Maria is a common name, so … **

He stares at me again and smiles.
“Lav … Maria Lavelle, right?”

At that point my eyes almost rolled out of my head. Theories of hidden cameras, and my classmates paying a stranger to freak me out suddenly seemed reasonable.

Thoughts: **I don’t want to say that he’s right, because who knows what he’s up to, but if I say no, I’ll never know what this is all about.**

He then quickly added: “You’re a film director! … And you go to NYU.”

Very cold shivers ran down my spine. When he extended his arm towards me to introduce himself, I probably looked like a social illiterate — I didn’t know how to react.

He then said something about how nice it was to meet me, and how he knew me from the internet and how he had tried messaging me.

I was so shocked that I didn’t even ask where exactly he had tried sending these messages, but I knew for sure that I did not know him.

Kaili and Nay looked as surprised as I felt, and I stuttered something about it being nice meeting him too, before the three of us headed back to school, and he walked further into the park.


I’m sure this guy is a nice person; it just made me question what I’ve actually posted online, because even as much of a compliment it was, it was still unexpected and slightly uncomfortable.

After hours of thinking, I came to the conclusion that my online hygiene is good, despite the fact that I have 3.5 years worth of blog posts floating around the interweb.

‘Tis a small world, indeed.


In the lack of a recent photo, here’s one from the archives:
October 2016 — a month before I applied to NYU.

The Beginning

Good afternoon!

I’m just taking a quick break from all the pre-production work for my next film and the approaching school year to let you in on what I’ve been up to.

Like you already know, I stepped away from social media almost three weeks ago, and I cannot explain how wonderful it’s been. I won’t go on and on about this, but he amount of uninterrupted work I get done in the absence of the 100 daily requests I get shot at me from all directions is just unbelievable.

Anyway, back to the project I promised to tell you about last time.

It’ll be a fictional short film inspired by real events, and I’ll shoot it here in my hometown in November with a crew from both NYU and Norway.

Producing a film outside the US will be a new experience for me, so these past days have been filled with all kids of meetings.

It’s been quite refreshing, honestly, because even though Norwegians have a reputation for being cold and unfriendly, I gotta say: New Yorkers are far worse. People actually want to help here, and I get so blown away every time that I want to hug them all.

Just realized that the statements above made me sound like a foreigner … but as a filmmaker in Norway I actually do feel like a foreigner — I don’t know the industry as well here, and I have to repeatedly remind myself why: I’m about to take on my fifth year in the US. I haven’t lived in Norway since July 2014. Gosh, time flies.

I’ll head back to NYC next week, and will continue sharing more about the project as I go.


Here a photo from my first ever short film in NYC.
Photo: Avi Kabir.

Have a productive and blessed day,
Maria

Oh happy day

I have some news on this rainy Monday afternoon.

But first I just want to thank you for being so understanding regarding my break from social media. I never thought I’d be one of those people who would take a step back from the interweb, but Oh Lord, what a treat it’s been! I haven’t even missed it the slightest, and the amount of work I’ve been able to do in its absence is simply astonishing.

I didn’t even spend that much time on social media prior to this “detox,” but it always made me feel that I had to be alert and available—and as a result—was unable to fully charge my batteries. Now that I feel free and at peace I actually feel much better about working long days, and life in general. So, I can highly recommend unplugging and focusing your time and energy towards something productive and creative instead. I’ll stay offline for a little while longer.

Phew! That was a long paragraph.


Photo: Rannveig Froestad.

Back to the good news: You probably remember the nightmare-like scenario related to my housing situation earlier this year? The apartment that slipped through our hands last-minute, a security deposit that never got returned, a stay at a hostel with … eh… bedbugs. Yes, that was a crappy time. Read about it HERE.

However, this is the happy part; the days of being a homeless international student without a US guarantor are behind me.

I      finally     found a room in an apartment that would let me sign under far better conditions, and I have a place to live when I return to NYC in august! The best part is that it’s on Manhattan. In East Village. With walking distance to school.

God is so good!

My motivation to head back to New York suddenly got significantly better, and I’m actually so excited I’ve started counting days. But first I’ll be sure to enjoy quality time with family and friends, and continue writing and prepping my next film – which I’ll tell you more about next time.

Have a blessed evening,
Maria

Change

Good afternoon darlings!

I’m just stopping by for a quick announcement before I head to work.

If you stop by this blog somewhat regularly you’ve probably noticed know that I’m a sociable creature. I love to meet new people, I love to spend time with people, and I’m incredibly fortunate to have lots and lots of people I have the privilege of calling my friends. I have no idea how they put up with me, and I honestly don’t think they know it either, haha.


This is an example of how they always put up with me doing my thing… 

I’m not the kind of person who shows up with surprise-gifts and homemade baked goods in Mason-jars. I don’t invite people over to dinner, I don’t join them in clubbing and, unfortunately, I have a reputation for sending their birthday greetings four minutes before midnight (#timezones, but still).

  

    

In return, I choose to believe I’m a good listener, and I’m certain they all know I love and care about them. Whether they live in Norway, South Dakota, New York or somewhere else, they under stand and accept that I’ve chosen a path in life that doesn’t give me much free time, and they know I have a tendency to get very focused on the things I do. They’re okay with it, and I’m forever thankful for that.

When I’m with my friends, I give them my full attention and I keep my phone out of sight most of the time, and that’s what I’ll talk more about in this post.

Like I said, I love socializing, and I also love social media — it allows me to stay in touch with friends all over the globe, and I think I’ve done a pretty good job staying connected with most of them, even after I’ve moved across continents or oceans.

However, this is where I’ll make a slight adjustment.

Over the past year, social media — combined with an enormous amount of emails (that I actually have to respond to, as opposed to ads and spam) — has started to eat away so much of my time that I need to make a change.

Contrary to a lot of people — especially students — I actually keep my inboxes clean. I don’t leave 8,756 unopened emails hanging, but this is often what my phone looks like after just a short time away from it. This was after I returned from an hour at the gym.

Where to begin?

The emails in this case are, perhaps, on the more extreme side because of several projects and my full-time job: I can assure you it’s usually slightly less overwhelming, haha.

Even as much as I love to be connected, I’ve realized I have to give myself more work time, and less “trying-to-stay-on-top-of-all-my-social-media,-and-realizing-I-won’t-have time,-and-end-up-walking-around-feeling-guilty-because-I-don’t-make-enough-time-for-my-friends – time.”

I’ll soon start my 2nd year as an NYU Grad Film student, I have a script to write, a film to direct, and four films to produce in addition to regular school work, so I figured it was better to write this post, instead of having people wait on my ever so slow snapchat-replies, or wonder why I suddenly stopped liking your posts on Facebook or Instagram.


Before and after I’ve cleaned up my inbox.

To summarize: I’ll now reduce my social media activity drastically. I’ll turn off the notifications and only check them occasionally. I do want to stay connected with you all, but please contact me via email or text.

My email is marelav@gmail.com, and I can currently be reached on my Norwegian phone number. I’ll switch to my US number on August 19th.

I’ll try this for a while to see if it gives me more time. I’ll update the blog like I usually do.

 

Much love to you all,
Maria

Watch my Viking-film

Hello and good afternoon!

I’ve spent the weekend with my grandparents in Bergen, so I’ve been logged off social media for a couple of days. Today, however, I figured it was time to share this with y’all.

As you know, I made three films during my first year at film school.

I’m already working on my next one, but thought maybe some of you’d be interested in watching the so-called documentary I made?

(The other two have not been published online yet due to the possibility of entering film festivals.)

Before we start watching, let me just explain a couple things.

This documentary is a so-called Observational Character Study (OCS), which means we as filmmakers were prohibited from doing interviews or directing the action in any way at all. We simply had to observe people in an environment of our choice, and then try to patch it together to a somewhat cohesive piece in the editing room.

Since we had to shoot this over Christmas break, I decided to find some interesting individuals in my hometown. The choice fell on a group of people who spend their time researching the history of the vikings and practicing real viking-crafts.

If you didn’t already know: Norway actually got its name from the sea-lane here in Haugesund, during the Viking Age. The viking history in this area is, therefore, pretty significant.
Read more HERE.

Anyway, this is what came out of my observation:

Please disregard the noise from the hurricane winds, and try to watch this with your journalist-eyes, rather than your movie-eyes.

To see some behind-the-scenes shots, feel free to watch this interview I did during the production as well:

Special thanks to
– All the members of Vikingklubben.
– Harald Ottøy and his family.
– Assistant Producer – Cathrine Glette
– Boom Operation – Fredrik Skauge.
– Production Assistant – Cecilie Udstuen.

Photo: Cecilie Utstuen.

Blessings,
Maria

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