This is Tisch
Good evening, dear readers.
In less than a month I’ll head to Norway to direct my first short film on European soil. As you may already know, I did a number of documentaries in both Norway and South Dakota when I lived there, but this will be my first time exploring the actual Scandinavian film industry from a narrative filmmaker’s perspective.
With my former crewmate and dear friend, Jorge Sistos. Photo: Sharon Lee.
While we wait for our productions to take shape, we’ve spent some quality time with the Arri Alexa camera. Yes, that’s a crane sticking out of my back, and yes that’s a string holding the camera — it’s a heavy chunk of metal. Thankfully this so-called “easy-rig”-backpack will compensate for the hours we should’ve spent at the gym.
Photo: Sharon Lee.
I’ll shoot my film inside a prison, and there will be a car-speeding scene; which means I have a lot of pre-production work to do between now and November. I’ll also be producing two other short films — one in Florida and one in Lebanon — so I’m certainly not lacking things to put on my calendar.
Good thing I’m one of the weird few who likes that kind of stuff. I don’t see how else I would be able to do the no-days off, 16 hours a day-routine.
Seeing all the pieces come together gives me a rush, and in the midst of these long days I’m repeatedly reminded why I do this — I love it!
And judging by the pictures, I don’t think I’m the only one.
This is what happened during a four-hour tech class with no chairs #Squats4life
According to these pictures, the camera has definitely upped its game. Now let’s hope the filmmaker has too.
Have a blessed evening,
Stories at Every Corner
It’s been a long time since you heard anything from me, and the only excuse I have is the fact that school started again. I still haven’t had a day off since I got back to the city a month ago, and I’ve been working 12-16 hours most days — weekends and all.
I guess that’s what you get for prepping for a film with a large production that you’ll shoot at a different continent (my hometown in Norway!). I somehow volunteered to go in the first slot, aka early november, so I better wrap up this post and get back to work RIGHT NOW, haha.
Anyway, I’m loving it, so don’t you worry — I want to spend my time like this.
I’ll give you a more in-depth post later.
In the meantime, I’ll share a strange encounter I had the other day.
If you read my previous post, you already know that New York is the place for strange encounters, but this one is different.
I’ve been thinking a lot about “Over the Bridge” lately; the documentary about homelessness that Sarah Kocher and I made two years ago. I’m still blown away by the impact it had, and maybe it was those exact thoughts that got me into the situation I’ll describe below.
So this is what happened:
This particular morning I had left home earlier than normal, and when a homeless woman suddenly grabbed my arm as I passed her, there was something about her that made me want to walk an extra mile for her (or in this case — an extra two blocks). To me it was such a small thing, and it would only have taken me a few minutes, but then this happened:
I made this short video as a part of a homework assignment, but every line coming out of the actors’ mouths are from the actual encounter.
And let’s give it up for these two amazing ladies who totally rocked their roles!
In New York there’s a story at every street corner.
With actors Rachel Zeppa and Mindy Matijasevic. Photo: A random guy.
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.
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.
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.
- The 8mm black-and-white film with the bird.
- The short documentary about the Vikings.
- The narrative short about the sisters.
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.
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.
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,