Film - Over the Bridge

Over the Bridge is now on DVD

I’ve been waiting to share this with you for a while, and now it’s finally time:

Our documentary about homelessness in Sioux Falls, Over the Bridge, is out in DVD-format, and you can buy it here on the site!

Just click “Shop” in the menu above, or use THIS LINK to go directly to the product site.

20% of the proceeds will go directly to Bishop Dudley Hospitality House — the shelter where we first met the people in the film. The volunteers there do an amazing job with the homeless in Sioux Falls and deserve every penny they can get to keep up the service. I wish we could donate more of the total sum, but the production costs for an edition this size were simply too high.

365 days ago: With Robert Eggers, the star of the film. Photo: Sarah Kocher.

We also have a Norwegian edition for all those wonderful people who supported us from across the ocean, and both versions have a section with extra material from the production process. CLICK HERE.

Bless you,
Maria Lavelle

Reflection: 2016 in pictures

With the exception of my occasional “personal disclosures,” this blog has mostly revolved around film work, so I wanted to take a moment and reflect over the past year as an aspiring film director, so, here we go!

The Sioux Empire Film Festival (2016) Photo: Rachel Johnston

I can’t talk about 2016 without mentioning Over the Bridge, and now it’s been precisely a year since Sarah Kocher and I started the production process inside the Edda office at Augustana. Little did we know then, that our little zero-budget amateur film would still be screened across the US a full year later!


Like I’ve said before; we just wanted to make a documentary for fun, and if it turned out somewhat decent, we would show it to our professors for some constructive criticism. And maybe — just maybe — we’d do a screening at Augustana. You know, for our really close friends and stuff … But, well, 200 people showed up, and there was no turning back.


After the premiere we took Bob, our homeless friend, out to eat at his favorite restaurant to symbolize the ending of the Over the Bridge-chapter.


We thought that was it, and I was ready to move on to new projects, but God wanted it differently.

And we got invited to an actual film festival! Woooohoo!


We certainly never expected we’d ever get to screen it at the opposite side of the Atlantic! Even if the Norwegian premiere was less “packed,” it was still a nice experience.


Then, the highlight: I got to travel from coast to coast of America!


Red carpets and cocktail parties in downtown LA suddenly became words I could use in sentences formed in first person. Even if it was only for six days it was an experience that made me hungry to learn everything about the film industry. Read more about it HERE and HERE.


The following week I flew to Washington DC with a bunch of awesome journalism majors from Augustana. Read more HERE.


Two days later I headed to New York City (Read about it HERE) I visited the NYU Tisch School of the Arts (the university of my dreams) and did some film-related errands in the beautiful city of New York. I’ll tell you more about all that when it’s settled.


Even if I didn’t find time to make another film this year, I learned a lot from directing my first play. Read HERE.


And during the last weeks of the semester my photojournalism group and I made a short video about the Augustana Theatre, which was a nice way to tie both film and theatre together.


Throughout the year, Sarah and I have been invited to universities, churches, organisations and Homeless Advisory Board meetings to speak and show the film, we’ve done several TV- radio- and newspaper interviews, and we’ve had the chance to raise awareness around an issue we’re both passionate about.


Only God can spread a tiny documentary with jumpy sound and blurry footage to eight states and two continents without even publishing the film online!

So my conclusion is that God is good, and all honor goes to Him. I’m so thankful for the doors He’s opening, and I want to continue honoring him with my work. Let’s see what He has in store next. I choose to trust him.

Thanks to everyone who has helped make this a good year. Bless you all!


Guest Speaking and Rehearsals

Thank God it’s Friday!

We’re currently in the midst of rehearsals for the play I’m directing here at the Augustana Theatre. Read more about it HERE. And as a result, I’ve had to adapt to the circadian rhythm of a theatre director — laaaate nights, and not-so-early mornings. I usually hit the gym at 06:00 AM, and if I go to Yoga-class I leave home at 5:00 AM, so I basically live in a different time zone now, but rehearsals are going well, and I can’t wait to see my actors take the stage on Friday.

The set is still under construction, but we’re getting there.

Yesterday I was at the Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell to show Over the Bridge, and do a Q&A with the audience. I actually felt pretty honored just to be invited, and it was nice seeing a different campus, and a different crowd respond to the film.

To show a documentary with profane language — in the chapel of a Methodist college — was a tiiiny bit uncomfortable, but the reason I didn’t cut or bleep it out was because I wanted to give a realistic view of what Sarah and I saw and heard when we explored the homeless community in Sioux Falls. Luckily, the audience was cool about it, and the event went very well. Thanks to Arin Winger for making me feel so welcome, and to everyone who showed up and asked questions after!

This weekend is another busy one, so I better get to work. Talk to you soon.

God Bless,

Photo: Naras Prameswari
Photo: Naras Prameswari

Sweaty is the New Skinny

Good evening, dear readers!

Last time you heard from me I was out on the East Coast, but I’m back in Sioux Falls — with less free time than I thought was possible, haha. Like I mentioned earlier, I worked three weeks ahead on my homework before I left for LA, but I had to take all the midterm exams and do all the projects after I got back, so needless to say, I haven’t had much time to keep the blog alive. But you’re here, and that means you forgave me. So, welcome to you all!

I thought Over the Bridge was ready to be put to bed after LA, but I’ve been invited to show it at the Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell on Thursday, and then there will be two more screenings here in Sioux Falls before Christmas. I’ll tell you more about it later.

Another new thing is that I’m directing my first theatre show! This whole theatre thing has really grown on me — it wasn’t that long ago I thought it was a … rather… weird form of art, but after picking up a theatre minor to help me improve my directing skills, I’ve really learned to love it. It’s so much fun, and I’m very excited to present the play “Precipice” on the Augustana main stage next weekend. It’s a short play that will be shown together with seven other short plays, so it should be pretty cool. More about that later too.

Theatre does come in handy whenever Halloween is around the corner as well. Flashback to the past:

Even if it’s tons of fun, I’ve been craving an hour of free time. You know, just one hour where you can relax, scroll through facebook, watch an episode on Netflix or go grocery shopping (Wal-mart makes me relaxed, I know it’s weird), but with all the projects and exams it seemed like a long shot. I was, therefore, delighted to learn that daylight-saving was coming up, and I got a whole extra hour! You’ll never appreciate something like that until you’ve skipped three weeks of the semester and have to catch up on the 504 hours you lost while traveling, haha.

Since this is not a fashion blog, I’ll also take the freedom to share a a time-saving tip I discovered last week:

I’ve been wearing running shoes and leggings everyday lately, because you see, walking to class, walking to meetings and walking to the cafeteria is simply too slow. I won’t get there in time if I just walk, so I’ve been running. Not only do I get to my appointments a little faster, I also save that hour I’d normally be spending at the gym. Win, win.

Paparazzi shot by: Naras Prameswari

And if you add the weight of your backpack, camera bag and theatre props in the plastic bag you get a full body workout!

We all know sweaty is the new skinny, right?


In the City of Angels — Part 2

Good morning!
It’s been less than 50 hours since I returned from Los Angeles, and now I’m back at the airport with a ticket to Washington DC in my pocket. No time for relaxing just yet.

In DC I’ll attend a journalism conference together with a bunch of other Augustana journalism majors, stop by The Washington Post for a tour, catch up with my dear friend and marathon-buddy, Matthew, observe and experience the capital in the midst of these crazy election-times and celebrate my birthday before I head to New York on Sunday.

Oooh, that was a long sentence! Well, catch your breath and carry on.

I’ll tell you more about it later, but first I wanted to respond to the requests about an extended LA-post. So here it is!

Things got a little stressful the week leading up to the trip because there were so many “extracurriculars” that suddenly popped up in relation to the Awareness Festival. I was invited to a meeting with Downtown Sioux Falls Inc. to show the documentary in the State Theater (which is still being renovated, hence the run-down Eastern-European vibe in the video below)

Then I also had to fit interviews with KSFY, KDLT NBC, the Augustana Mirror and We Are Moving Stories into my schedule. But it went well, and I was very relieved when I finally got to the airport.


Click to see the interviews below:

Read the feature story in the Mirror HERE.
Read the interview with We Are Moving Stories HERE.

Like the news anchor mentioned, I did get to visit Universal Studios while I was there, and it was a.m.a.z.i.n.g.! Just to see the sets of many of my favorite movies and to walk on “Spielberg Drive” was an experience of its own, haha.

Then in addition to a Gala dinner, another cocktail party, and more red carpet stuff I also went to Hollywood Boulevard, Santa Monica Beach, Venice Beach and ate at the legendary In-N-Out Burger on Sunset Boulevard. Ahh, what a city <3

Photo: The Awareness Fest 2016.
Photo: The Awareness Fest 2016.
That look. Hehh… I think I took “resting bitch face” to a whole new level. Mac’scuse me. Photo: The Awareness Fest.

I loved every minute of the trip, and I felt blessed to have the opportunity to see a tiny little part of the film industry from the inside. I’m hungry for more!

Trip sponsored by: Cinema Falls.

Now the plane is boarding, so I’ll talk to ya in DC!

Bless you all,
Maria Lavelle

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