Film - Holy Jail

What a journey

Oh Lord, do we have some catching up to do!

I didn’t mean to disappear from the blogosphere for this long, and I honestly don’t know how I can summarize these past few months in a single post — it’s been an adventure unlike any other.

Last time you heard from me was when I ran the home stretch of the fundraising campaign for my film “Holy Jail” (which, thanks to God’s grace and people’s generosity and their hard work is now in post-production with a premiere-date set for May 2019)! 

A lot of things have happened, and I’ve learned that living out of a suitcase for three months really isn’t that bad; not when you get to direct your biggest project yet, produce four films on three continents, meet new people, catch up with old ones, share a vision with devoted crew-members, receive an award from your hometown, learn how to do a backflip and spend lots of quality time with family and friends. 

I’ll tell you all about the film, the challenges and victories of the production and the lessons and revelations of the experience in another post.

But here’s just a quick ‘hello’ proving that I’m still alive and forever grateful for your support.

In the meantime, this is some of what I’ve been up to — in the form of photographic documentation.

***If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram this probably feels like a redundant post to you, so I won’t judge you if you stop reading. But feel free to continue 🙂 ***

In October, welcomed the talented and exceptionally hardworking cinematographer, Jall Cowasji, to Haugesund, Norway to begin prepping for the shoot of “Holy Jail”
Photo: Nikolas Hofmann.

Early morning-shoot outside the jail in Haugesund.
Photo: Zille Marie Bårdsen / Appex.

Here’s a behind the scenes video from the set, brought to you by TVH. English subtitles available if you hit one of the buttons down to the right, on the video itself.

 
Some more behind-the-scenes:
With Assistant Director, Karl M. Karlsen.
Photo: William Lyngholm.

2nd Assistant Director Aleksander N. Samsonsen, Sound Mixer Thor Vidar Hjelmervik, Production Assistant Cecilie Udstuen and Boom Operator Mustafa Battal.


Photo: Nora Bode.

Then, after lots fo work and long hours we finished shooting the film and climbed a playground-tower to celebrate! Holy Jail was blessed with the best cast and crew I could ever have asked for. Look at this lovely bunch!


Then I was supposed to be in Sioux Falls to guest speak at Cinema Falls’ Scandinavian Film Festival, but because of the film shoot I had to make a virtual appearance instead. Honored to show my film “Sisters” at the festival!

Video by Karl M. Karlsen.

Then I got the fantastic news that I had been selected as the recipient of the 2018 Culture Scholarship from my hometown. This lifted off a financial burden for the funding of Holy Jail, and I’m so grateful for the honor and support. But since I had already left for Florida to produce a film there, my dad stepped in and accepted the award on my behalf.


Photo: Grethe Nygaard.

Here’s a radio interview where I talk about the award, the film and my life in New York.
Thanks to host Egil Houeland at Radio 102 for making live radio interviews fun.

English subtitles are available if you hit one of the buttons down to the right, on the video itself.


I’ll write another post about my time in Florida, but all I can say is that I had a magical time there, helping my dear friend and director, Kai Torres, bring her vision to life with her movie “Pancakes.”

I also produced a Lebanese film directed by another dear friend, Nay Tabbara, that deserves a wonderful mention of its own later. 

But now that I’m back in New York, attending classes and editing “Holy Jail” I just want to tell you one more thing. (you may consider this a reward to those of you who actually read this long-ass post. Thank you).

Holy Jail the Movie has its own website!
Posters, screen shots and behind-the scenes material can be found right here:

www.holyjailmovie.com

Stay tuned for updates regarding premiere dates, screenings and more.



Huge thanks to everyone who made these past months possible. You know who you are.

Blessings,
Maria

Home Stretch

When I decided to produce a prison-film in Norway — from New York — I did not take into account all the phone calls and Skype meetings I would have to do, before 6 in the morning!

By the time most people wake up in New York, I’ve already worked half a day in Norway, before I take on a full day of work in New York. You see, that’s the only way to fight the time zone difference and extremely limited business hours many companies operate with in Norway.

The funny thing is that I genuinely enjoy it, but the best part of it is that this five-month prep is almost done, and that I in three weeks I can yell “ACTION!”


Throwback to last year, when a filmproduction was 6 people, a camera and an actor. This time we can multiply that number of people by 8.

In november, a crew from the US, India, Iceland and Germany, a cast from New York, Haugesund and Oslo, and I will collaborate on the making of Holy Jail — a short film written and produced by me. Woop Woop!

The amount of dollars, hours and ambition put into this film goes beyond anything I’ve ever done before, and I’m so excited,

The film is about an elderly man who gets the option of either paying his speeding ticket, or going to jail for five days. He picks jail and falls in love with life behind bars.

But in order to pull this off in the best possible way, I need your help.

Through the support of several investors, sponsors, companies and film enthusiasts, we have fundraised most of the money we need, but we still need a push to finish this last home stretch.

We’re “only” $5,550 short of our goal, which sounds like a lot, but in the grand scheme of things, we’re technically almost there. That’s why we created a campaign to close this final gap in our budget.

I need all the help I can get from you lovely people. Donations of a certain amount are rewarded with a producing credit and VIP-access to all the film festivals the film screens at.

If you want more information on how to support the making of my film, please check out THIS PAGE.

And if you want a detailed overview of the production and budget, please contact me by clicking “Contact” in the menu above.

Let’s run the last lap of this race together 🙂

 

Blessings,
Maria

The Tub

I’ve already gotten used to seeing “August” in my calendar, but there’s one thing I’m still not used to; the tiny tiny knot in my stomach, and the slight rush of stress hormones flushing through my veins when I realize what that means.

It means another summer has passed — another wonderful summer spent together with my beloved family and friends has come to an end.

The long Scandinavian nights, peaceful dinners, and evenings of joyful conversation created a hint of the carefree existence that belongs only to childhood, but the responsibilities of being an adult are calling my name.

Every August I have to step out of this warm bath called summer vacation at home, and onto the cold bathroom floor of adulthood.

Deep inside I know that the discomfort of wet hair and cool air will only be temporary, and that I’ll soon adjust to life outside the tub, but August hits a special spot in my gut, regardless.

I’ve lived most of my adult life in the US. I’ve hugged my parents at the airport with a ticket to the US in my pocket nine times. I’ve flown west across the Atlantic with my belongings condensed into a suitcase nine times. And I’ve left the safe and familiar behind in return for new adventures … nine times.

This is what I do, what I have to do, and what I want to do, but stepping out of the warmth and comfort is a challenge every year.

However, I believe God has a special plan for this year and I’m excited to see what it is, so I better step out of this bathtub and get dressed.

See you in New York!

 

– Maria


Photo: Rannveig Froestad.

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

Thankful

Good evening and thanks for stopping by!

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know that my financial situation almost kept me from accepting my spot at NYU Tisch last spring. But what I haven’t told you is that my financial situation almost kept me from entering my second year at Tisch.

The Truth

I had to use all my savings and resources on just making it through my first year of film school. My family, friends and even anonymous donors put a lot of work into making my dream of film school become a reality, and I did end up having enough money to make it through the year, for which I’m incredibly grateful.

As you now, my semester was filled with lots of stressful events that kept me busy, and the truth is that throughout the entire year I had no idea if I’d even be able to afford a second year at Tisch.

I chose not to worry about it, because I wanted to believe God would provide, somehow.

The Bread and the Bananas

My close friends started to notice this “economical scarcity” on my eating habits, while others probably thought I was “just on a special diet consisting of bread, bananas, yoghurt and peanut butter.” I’m not a big fan of either of those foods (certainly not after this year…), but I found that it was cheap enough for my budget and it gave me what I needed to keep going.

However, I received the most wonderful email a few weeks ago. If you follow me on Facebook and Instagram, chances are you already know, but I’ll tell you again.

I got to know I’ve been accepted as a NORAM Scholar and was selected as a recipient for a scholarship that will help me close the financial gap between what I get in funds from Norway and my Tisch Scholarship.

As a result, I’ll be able to attend NYU Tisch for another year!

It’ll still be tight, and I’ll probably have to sustain myself on a few more of those banana sandwiches in this upcoming year, but receiving this scholarship lifts a huge burden off my shoulders. Combined with my reporting job this summer, I might even be able to afford some actual meals.

God is so good, and he does, indeed, provide.

Here are some pictures from the award ceremony at the Nobel Institute in Oslo:


Three Lavelles. My sister had to work, and couldn’t make it to the ceremony. But the three of us had a great time.

 

Have a blessed evening,
Maria

 

Psalm 23.

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