NYU

Prairie Bound

Good afternoon!

I’m on my way to school (on a Saturday, yes) to edit my film, but I wanted to share some exciting news first.

I’ve known about this for several months already, but I just realized it’s coming up so soon I better let you know — I’ve been invited to guest speak at Augustana University in South Dakota!

If you’ve followed the blog from the beginning you already know that Augustana has a very special place in my heart, and that I graduated as a proud Augie Viking after precisely 1000 days on the prairie.

Photo: Jessica Ruf.

When I, as a teary-eyed graduate, packed my suitcases and headed for the airport last May, I thought I had said goodbye to the magical place of Sioux Falls for good … or at least for several years. The geographical position of South Dakota just doesn’t allow for random visits and accidental layovers, so I didn’t know I would have the money nor opportunity to go back next time.

Parts of “The Fam” posing in front of the Sioux Falls. Yup, this is where the city got its name from, haha.

When I earlier this year received the invitation from Professor Mike Nitz, I was — naturally — beyond thrilled. The fact that my schedule later filled up with an additional five guest-speaking requests and tons of catch-up coffees, dinners, breakfasts and hangouts just makes me more excited about the trip.

I’ll be there from April 26-29th, and I’ve already told you I have to move out of my current apartment on May 1st, and that my film has to be done by May 11th, and that I’ll fly to Norway a couple days later, and that I also have 25 hours of classes to attend every week and a load of grants I have to apply for. So quite frankly, I have to wrap up this post and get to work.

But since we’re talking about Augustana: my Facebook just reminded me this happened on this day last year. I can’t believe how time flies!

Talk to you soon!

Blessings,
Maria

It’s a wrap!

Good evening, dear readers!

I know it may have seemed like I just disappeared from the world for a while: my social media accounts have remained untouched for almost a month, and I don’t even want to think about all the birthdays and events I’ve missed, the dozen Skype-calls I’ve promised to make and the postcards I haven’t responded to. I used to take pride in replying to texts within 10 minutes, but life in film school has forced me to take pride in other things instead — there’s simply not enough hours in a day to be on top of everything. Thankfully I have friends who understand.

Since last time, I’ve spent nearly a month out and about on film sets, crewing on my classmates’ films and–just now–shooting my very own short film. Read more HERE.

Behind the scenes: Here with the talented Lily Brooks O’Briant and Willow Eve. (Lily Brooks just won the award for Best Actress at the First Run Film Festival, and landed a recurring role in Amazon’s new big series THE TICK. Remember the name) Photo: Cinematographer Kai Torres.

As I may have told you already: Our class of 36 was split into groups of six and during the course of a month we’ll all direct the film we wrote and produced earlier this year. Each of us get a maximum of three days to shoot our films.

So far we’ve done two shoots in the lovely neighborhood of Ditmas Park in Brooklyn, one shoot in Upstate New York, another one in Staten Island, a 3-day overnight shoot in Lynbrook, and before we wrap up this year’s production period we’ll shoot one on Manhattan.

I’ve already told you about the preparations for my film; the intense location scouting in crazy traffic and the never-ending rounds of auditions, but I now have the tremendous pleasure of telling you that the production part is done!

Behind the scenes: Here with Willow Eve, who impressed everyone with her unflinching stamina in the tough conditions. This girl has a bright future on the screen. Photo: Kai Torres.

Director Kathryn Bigelow once said that “there’s nothing easy about shooting” … and I must say that I agree.

The fact that I got knocked out by a fever two days before didn’t help, or that half my crew felt sick on the first day of my shoot, or that 75% of all my background actors never showed up because they “had a death in the family”, or that it was so cold on set that I at one point actually thought we’d have to cancel the whole thing … None of that made it any less hard.


Photo: Kai Torres.

But, thanks to God’s grace, the amazing effort of my hardcore crew, the resilient and extremely talented actors and the steadfast discipline from the assistant director, Joe, we were able to complete the shoot — a full day earlier than planned.


Behind the scenes: Here with AD Joe, DP Kai, Sound Narine and parts of the cast. Photo: Mate Vincze.

We actually ended up getting two days worth of shots during that last day, so I’m more than happy and impressed by everybody’s work.

Behind the scenes: Willow Eve, Lily Brooks O’Briant, AC Mate Vincze and DP Kai Torres.

The rush of working under this kind of pressure, and seeing that things start to flow, and your vision comes to life — beautifully — must be one of the most satisfying things a human can experience. I had so much fun that I’m already looking forward to next time. I just now realized I might need to write a separate post about “directing as an experience” … because that’s what it is; an experience.

End of day 1: When you’re tired, have a cold and you’re struggling to breathe because the location is normally a cat-ghetto and you have a severe case of allergies towards those furry creatures, but you’re very happy things went well. Here with cinematographer Kai Torres and the amazing Melanie Little!

A sunburned, windburned and happy trio. We did it!

A very special thanks to the cast:
Lily Brooks O’Briant as ELIZABETH.
Willow Eve as CHRISTINE.
Melanie Little as MOM.
Chynna Holder as BRIANNA.
Ava Lattimore as SOCCER PLAYER.
Ellen Zheng as SOCCER PLAYER.
Sofia Espinal as SOCCER PLAYER.
Alex Wright as CLASSMATE.
Madeline Hettrick as CLASSMATE.
Arielle Nickerson as CLASSMATE.
All the parents, Hope O’Briant & Alison Humphries.

And the crew:
Co-producer and cinematographer — Kai Torres.
1st Assistant director — Joseph Longo.
2nd Assistand director, set dresser and gaffer — Drake Burnette.
Assistant Camera — Mate Vincze.
Sound mixer — Narine Sargsyan.

+ the NYU Tisch Faculty.

Now awaits a month of post-production editing. I do not expect things to get any less busy, but it’s funny how working on set for weeks makes you hungry for the calm of the editing room. I’ll do my very best to keep you posted along the way.

Here’s a screenshot for ya:

Have a blessed evening,
Maria

 

 

They said it would be fun

If you read my previous post, you probably remember how I explained a day at the park as if it was the happening of the year: Two fresh-air-deprived film students who hadn’t seen daylight for weeks + a violently cold day + wet shoes + hours or location scouting in an abandoned park in Brooklyn = FUN!

You see, our complete lack of freetime forces us to find joy and relaxation in things that most people probably wouldn’t even find to be worthy of the three letters “F-U-N” — and that’s how these stories of park-exscursions and other expeditions come to life.

Don’t get me wrong, the most fun thing we do is called filmmaking, and we do it all the time — 17 hours a day, to be exact. It’s just that even film nerds need a moment to breathe sometimes.

Since Kai and I are producing each others’ films and neither of us seem to have the ability to write easy stories, we’ve both been on a desperate location-hunt for weeks. As a final resort, we decided to devote one more Saturday to scouting.

Since it’s highly discouraged to drive in New York City — especially for foreigners and out-of-towners — we decided to rent a car and drive until we found the locations we needed. The fact that I’m a foreigner and she’s from Florida didn’t get to have a say in that decision.

Nevermind our distorted smiles. Surveillance mirrors tend to make your face that way.

But it actually went so well that I didn’t mind spending the entire 12 hours in the driver’s seat. Yes, you heard right; we were on the road for 12 full hours, and must have visited every corner of New York State.

We drove so far upstate that things started to look like Canada, so deep into Brooklyn that we found a Target that looked like a Midwestern one, and spent so much time on Staten Island that we decided we’d never want to move there. Ever.

I looked at it, and it turns out that we could’ve made it to Chicago in that time. Or Indianapolis. Or Charleston in South-Carolina. Or Montreal and back.

As the sun set behind the Manhattan skyline, we headed home and returned the car with one less thing to be stressed about.

Now awaits heaps of paperwork, permit applications, meetings with park managers, acting rehearsals, logistics, budgeting and never-ending stream of problem-solving.

This is filmmaking.

They said it would be fun.

And it is.

Even if it doesn’t sound like it.

It is.

🙂

Breathing Tisch

Good evening!

I just wanted to stop by for a second before I allow myself the two-hour “weekend” I’ve been longing for since my last post, where I plan on watching something silly on TV and go to bed early. Yup, you heard right; I used to be a vocal opponent of TV-shows, but now that I spend every breathing moment thinking about film, I have started to appreciate the low-quality sitcoms that allow me to turn off my filmmaking brain for an episode or two.

These past few weeks have mostly consisted of class, more class, shooting directing exercises, editing directing exercises, thinking about directing exercises, script-writing and pre-production work for my upcoming short film “Sisters,” which is–by far–my biggest project yet. I can’t wait to tell you more about it!


I have made time for some relaxing too — in the form of running my heart out at the track, ahh.

Like I’ve mentioned before, one of the first things we were told at Tisch was to avoid working with animals and children for our early projects, because of the extra challenges it has caused for student-directors in the past.

So, what did I do? Well, as you know, my first NYU-film was about a pigeon — and now I’ve somehow managed to write a script with three kids under 11 years old as the main characters for my spring project. But I’m SO EXCITED about it!


Where the inspiration came from? This. When my sister and I were young enough to rock the 2001-fashion.

Kai and I spent the entire weekend auditioning young actors, which turned into a great learning-experience. The fact that 136 actors submitted applications to be in MY film is just unbelievable. I’m not used to being able to observe, judge and pick actors from a pool this big, and I honestly don’t know how to feel about it. There are so many talented little kids and parents working hard to succeed in the industry, and I wish I could just cast them all.

Auditions – Day 3🎬

A post shared by MARIA LAVELLE (@lanoet) on

Yesterday we went location scouting. Again, I could’ve made it easy for myself by setting the action inside one room, but since you know me pretty well by now, it should come as no surprise that I wrote a film that requires no less than three very different suburban locations. Good Lord. I’m praying I’ll find the right spots in time.

Anyway, as two tired grad film students who have lived inside the Tisch building for weeks with no days off, Kai and I found great excitement in traveling into the depths of Brooklyn on an ice-cold, windy and gloomy Sunday afternoon as we walked through miles and miles of marshy park-paths in wet sneakers.

The fact that our conversations started revolving around hypothermia and about how we couldn’t feel our faces did not significantly hamper our enthusiasm for this moment of fresh air.

Blessings,
Maria

Catching Up

Good evening!

I must say that this very moment is a special one. You see, the fact that I’m writing this post means I have 30 minutes to spare, and as a grad film student at NYU that is rare. Very rare. It’s actually so rare that I can’t waste any more time telling you just how rare it is.

Since classes started last week, I’ve spent more time at school than at home, and I’m not joking when I say that we’re talking about 2:1 ratio, but after a very productive Saturday I’ll indulge in a night off; an evening with just Netflix, Pizza and I. Ahhh!

Anyway, besides writing the script for my next narrative project, and attending 29 hours of class every week, I’ve been editing the Viking-documentary I mentioned last time. I don’t know what it is, but editing has a soothing effect on me, and I really quite enjoy the process of piecing together a story, frame by frame. It’s a nice way to relax while also being productive, so even if I’m busy I make sure to enjoy myself.

Follow me on Instagram: Lanoet

But I have taken the time to socialize outside the Tisch building too.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of reuniting with one of my Augustana-sisters, Irene! She goes to grad school in Texas and was in the city for a track meet, so I jumped onto the train and headed for Columbia University where she raced.

For a moment, as we sat on the bleachers and talked and laughed, we traveled back to the time when we were both overwhelmed international students competing in our first college meet in the US. We had both arrived on campus a week before the rest of the school that first fall, and as two European girls with American dreams, we shared our joys, frustrations and English-issues in-between the grueling workouts and ice baths. So to catch up, almost four years after, in New York, at a track, was pretty special.

Have a blessed weekend,
Maria

Copyright © 2018 marialavelle.com

Privacy & cookies | Terms & conditions | Copyright