NYU

A day on set

Good evening!

In my last post I told you that my crew and I had just completed shooting four out of six short films, and I’m happy to announce that we’re now one step closer to the finish line, with Jorge’s “Eyes Up” as the only remaining shoot.

However, I promised to tell you all about my own first experience directing a film as an NYU grad film student, so here we go.

This is my “Director-trying-to-visualize-a-good-frame face.” With Sonya Vai and Lin behind the tree. Photo: Avi Kabir

This project is a so-called MOS film; an exercise used to teach us how to tell stories without any of the normal aids that can help carry a film.

It’s shot on super 16mm film, has to be in black and white, shot outside, with no dialogue or music.

In other words, it’s kind of like trying to bake a cake with only butter and water.

If this doesn’t sound like mission impossible to you yet, I’d like to mention that we only get two rolls of film — unless we buy more on your own (Codeword: EXPENSIVE!) — so every take has to count. I, personally, tried to step into my high jumping-mindset “You only get three attempts (at each scene), but try to clear the bar the first time.” As an adrenalin junkie I found great pleasure in that.

This is my “Director-holding-a-green-folder-while-trying-to-balance-a-cup-of-ice-coffee-on-head face.” With Master Lin. Photo: Avi Kabir. 

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’re probably aware of my financial situation, so I took it upon myself to make this production as cheap as humanly possible, for extra difficulty, you know …

But, you know what?! Thanks to God’s grace, Sonya Vai and my amazing crew it worked! We made a film! (Or at least, I think we did … I still haven’t seen the footage because it’s being developed, but one can always hope we actually did record something that resembles the film I had in mind.)

It takes a village! Just kidding, we were just eight people and one animal on my set, at most. (If you include the “dead cat” microphone in Pepi’s hand, we had two animals, but oh well.) Here with Pepi, Jorge, Lin and Sonya. Photo: Avi Kabir.

Here’s a fun fact for ya: Sonya, who played the lead character, was my AirBnB-host when I first moved to the city, and she was the only New Yorker I knew for a couple of weeks, haha. Besides being an awesome host, she’s also a super talented actress, and I’m so honored to have her in my film. Her co-star, Cleopatra, is a beautiful white pigeon that will get its own shout out later.

The two stars: Sonya Vai and Cleo! Photo: Avi Kabir.

My crew consists of the following rock stars:
Director of Photography – Lin (also known as Master Lin)
Assistant Camera – Jorge
Assistant Director and Grip – Kai
Sound – Pepi
Set photos and everything in-between – Avi

I haven’t had this much fun in a long time. Everyone worked exceptionally hard, and despite the rough weather nobody complained. We actually finished the whole film in less than eight hours spread over two days. Pigeon-Cleo was very well-behaved as well.

Here are some more photos from the shoot:

These two camera guys, Jorge Sistos and Qiying Lin, helped bring my vision to life. Photo: Avi Kabir.

Actress Sonya Vai warming up inside the car between takes. Photo: Avi Kabir.

I haven’t been OUT running, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been running. With Sonya and “Master Lin.” Photo: Avi Kabir.

The rain stayed away for our important shots, thank God! Lin and Sonya. Photo: Avi Kabir.

 

 

Sonya and Cleo’s first introduction. T’was love at first sight! Here with bird handler Eddie who was an absolute trouper/angel. He spent hours outside in the rain and didn’t even want an umbrella. What a hero! Photo: Avi Kabir.

Sonya and Cleo hanging out on location. Photo: Avi Kabir.

Avi did a great job capturing moments like these on set. I was actually so far into the directing bubble that I didn’t even notice that he was running around lika a paparazzo. Photo: Avi Kabir.

Jorge measures the light while Sonya and Cleo are waiting for the camera setup to be done. Photo: Avi Kabir.

With Lin and Jorge. Apparently I was very selfish and kept the umbrella all to myself. Sorry guys! Photo: Avi Kabir.

Also, if it wasn’t clear in any of the earlier photos: filmmaking isn’t glamorous. Here’s proof; I spent a significant amout of time crawling on the ground looking like a drowned weasel.

I’d also like to breifly mention that the tree-location was covered in poop. Human poop. So we had to throw away our shoes. But hey, what don’t we do for the art?

I want to give a huge thanks to everyone who helped us make this film possible! Now a month of editing awaits us before the premiere in December.

Bless you all,
Maria

Beach

As you know, I’m incredibly proud and thankful to collaborate with Skjaeraasen Jewelry, and since a hint of autumn just hit the city, I wanted to share some of these photos before the summer fades too far into the past.

Please check out their website:
www.skjaeraasen.no

The designer, Kristin Skjæraasen, worked around my otherwise minimalistic style to find jewelry that I don’t just like, but LOVE — and that’s an accomplishment in itself!

Photo: Rannveig Froestad. Jewelry by Skjaeraasen.
Photo: Rannveig Froestad. Jewelry by Skjaeraasen.
Photo: Rannveig Froestad. Jewelry by Skjaeraasen.

 

PS!
If you, after looking at these photos, think that I’m even close to this elegant in real life, let me remind you of who I really am …

Most of the pictures ended up looking like this:

Or this:
(Because I’m always cold and had to warm up between every shot).

But I like running, so it was fine.

This post Part 2 out of many more. Click to see Part 1 HERE.

 

Until next time.

www.skjaeraasen.no

 

House-hunting in NYC is not for the faint of heart

Good afternoon!

Thank you so much for all the good-luck messages and the response on my previous post. You da best. Read the post HERE.

I’ve now been a resident of New York City for four days, and I honestly think I’ve gotten quite a lot done already. Most of it has been practical things and errands, so I’ll spare you of those details, but in addition to exploring “campus” I met up with my future roomie, Alejandro. By future I mean, six days into the forthcoming, and by “campus” I mean the entire lower half of Manhattan.

 

Pizza in Midtown. Photo creds: Alejandro.

I realize that some of my relatives in Norway might need an explanation regarding this housing deal, so please know that I’m not moving in with a stranger, and that this is not a domestic partnership or a “civil union” haha. We’re two ambitious individuals who need someone to share the rent with, and we also happen to be great friends. Win win!

Alejandro and I went to Augustana together, and he’ll begin his Master’s degree in International Affairs at NYU this fall. Yay! We’ll live with two other students, whom we have yet to meet.

 

I’m so happy to have at least one familiar face in this giant city. He’s lived here for several months already, so it’s thanks to his relentless search for apartments that we found the place in Williamsburg.

You see, finding the right place wasn’t easy.

Overpriced brokers, snappy landlords, and dirty rat holes are words that summarize this house-hunt. Lordy, I hope those of you who live in the Midwest and in Norway know how to appreciate the convenient and affordable housing market you have.

Prime ain’t cheap

We were initially hoping to find a place in Greenwich Village, because it’s right on the NYU-campus. It’s also one of the prime neighborhoods on Manhattan, but unfortunately “prime” isn’t cheap, and our budget pretty much forced us to choose between the two scenarios:

1. Good location (aka Greenwich- or East Village) in an apartment so trashy I could blow-dry my hair in the wind coming through the cracks in the wall.
2. Less ideal location (aka Williamsburg) in an amazing, newly renovated apartment where I actually can afford to buy a blow-drier to keep inside the rather spacious bathroom.

This is what I learned:

It seems like New Yorkers generally have a high tolerance for what a Norwegian would consider as “questionable housing standards.” Here’s what I’ve learned:
– Having a laundry machine is a privilege for the rich.
– Living alone is a lifestyle only the famous 1% can afford.
– Elevators are practically unheard of, even when the apartment is six floors up.
– People don’t get overly worked up if they have to share their place with mice and cockroaches.
– You’re lucky if you can bend over the sink to brush your teeth — without having to open the door behind you to make rom for your butt.

The place we found in Williamsburg is, in other words, great! Just one subway-stop away from Manhattan, and located in one of the trendiest neighborhoods in NY. I’ll post pictures when we’re all settled in next week.

I’ve also had some time to figure out the city with my running shoes on. An early morning along the Hudson hit the spot.

 

Later today I’ll catch up with my dear friend and marathon-buddy, Matthew! He’s rocking it in DC, but made the trip to NY for the weekend. I’ll talk to ya when we’re done exploring the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Bless,
Maria

Q&A Answers

Good afternoon and thank you so much for the questions 🙂

Last year I think some of you had a little too much fun with copying and pasting gigantic questionnaires into the comments section, and I didn’t even get to respond to all of them. Thankfully, I didn’t run into that problem this year; I even had time to add some pictures!

Matt:
Do you have all the money for film school now?
No, I only have the first year covered, so far. Which is a miracle in itself, so we’ll see. I trust God’s plan.

Hei:
Er du fortsatt singel? (English: Are you still single?)
Yes. No news since I wrote THIS post.

K:
Name your favorite bible verse.
Philippians 4:13.

Youknowwho:
1. What’s the most dangerous thing you ever did?
 – Ooh, that’s a tough one. Some things are better left untold. Don’t they say that being alive is pretty dangerous?

2. Biggest pet peeve?
 – Conversations like these:
Random American person: You have an accent. Where are you from?
Me: Norway.
Random American person: Oh, me too!
Me: Cool, where in Norway?
Random American person: I think the town was called Stockholm. You see, my great grandmother’s, uncle’s, third cousin’s, great aunt’s sister was from Norway. Do you eat lutefisk? (Pronounced loodafisk)

3. Where would you want to live?
 – Right now I wouldn’t want to live anywhere but New York City, but maybe in a few years I’ll want to move somewhere else. I love Los Angeles equally much, but who knows. I’ll live where God wants me.

4. Your biggest mice?
 – Whooh, thankfully you didn’t replace that “m” withy a “v”. Or else I’d have to share my biggest vice, and that would’ve been bad. You can read this post and see if you’ll figure it out on your own 😉

5. Is your tattoo real?
 – Yes, they are.

6. What do you like the most and least about blogging?
 – Good question! I like that I get to express myself through writing, and the almost-theraputic effect it has on me. It’s a great outlet, de-stresser and a nice way to keep my friends and family abroad up to date with what I’m doing. I also like that it gives me a voice that reaches a little further than it otherwise would have.

I can’t find too many things I don’t like about it. It can get a little strenuous when I meet people I haven’t seen in half a decade, and they seem to know “everything” about me, and I have to ask 40 questions in a row to keep the conversation going. But that’s entirely my fault; I choose to blog about my life, so that’s a part of the deal.

7. Celebrity crush?
 – Hmm, I can honestly say I’ve never had a legitimate celebrity crush. The walls of my room have always been completely clear of posters, (besides the celebrity-drawings I made, that my mom put on the walls against my will) so this is a tough one, haha. I guess I don’t see celebrities as stars; most of the time they’re just normal people with cool jobs, and I also find it hard to have crushes on people I don’t know on a personal level. BUT, on a superficial note I must say that Chris Hemsworth and Tim Tebow are pretty handsome.

On an even more superficial note; some faces are just exceptionally good for drawing.

This makes me feel like picking up the pencil and start drawing some again.

8. Who could you marry in a heart beat?
The right one.

9. How many kids do you want? If you want kids at all.
Ooh, I feel like I’m making big decisions just answering these questions, hah! But yes, I definitely want kids at one point. How many? I have a feeling my future husband might want to have a say in it, so we’ll see.

10. How tall are you?
Somewhere between 5’7″ and 5’8″.

 

Lexi:
I’m confused, did you study media or film?
 – I majored in journalism and took a minor in theatre at Augustana. I’ll study filmmaking at NYU Tisch this coming fall. Read more HERE.

How did you fund over the bridge?
 – When we started, Sarah and I didn’t intend for Over the Bridge to become anything more than a 4-minute film, so we didn’t do any fundraising beforehand. We did however, have a fundraising campaign to pay for entry fees at film festivals.

Photo: Rachel Johnston.

Did you rent the equipment for the shoot?
 – We shot everything the minimalist-way and used our own equipment for the shoot; two DSLR-cameras, a microphone and a tripod. All-natural lighting.

Two film producers bundled up in seven layers. #SouthDakota. WIth Sarah Kocher.

Are you working on any new projects now?
– Over the Bridge turned out to be a much bigger project than anticipated, so I’ve spent all my freetime outside school on following up that project with film festivals, guest speaking, media-interviews, screenings at other schools and city council meetings etc. There hasn’t been any time for a new project, but I’m very excited to take on new projects at NYU this fall!

Hanna K:
What’s your workout and diet regimen like?
– I try to avoid anything with the word “regimen” in it, because I’ve spent so much of my life trapped inside strict training routines, both as an athlete, fitness enthusiast and “exercise addict.” Nowadays I just do some running and functional strength training. During the school year I hit the gym every morning, and now when I’m in Norway I just exercise after work. I eat pretty much everything. But then again; I’m not exactly in this shape anymore.

Photo: Line Valen 2013.

Hannah K:
What’s your comfort foods?
 – Pizza and ice cream. No doubt.

Hannah K:
Do you make money on blogging?
 – Nope, not a dime, but I get other things for it — which I’ll write more about later 🙂

Fight or Flight

Hello all!

I’m writing this while laying on my parents’ couch. Ahh, I can’t remember last time was I able to lay down and just relax. I’ve already mentioned the fact that I’ve had less than five hours of actual free time since September, right? Well, anyway, my point is that I made it back to Norway! Yay!

But things didn’t look too bright when I checked in at the airport in Sioux Falls, and they told me I’d miss my next flight because of a two-hour delay, and that I’d have to get a hotel in Chicago before I could fly out the next day.

The next day?! Uh uh, I wasn’t in the mood for that, and you already know I’m too competitive for my own good, so what did I do?

Well, as soon as I landed in Chicago, I ran. And I mean — I RAN! I can honestly say I haven’t run that fast since before I quit track. I was also wearing a dress coat, boots, a scarf and a handbag, while wheeling my carry-on suitcase next to me, so yeah, things could have been more comfortable, to say the least!

My outfit looked something like this. Very athletic.

 

As I dug out my best stride, people started cheering, and I heard several “oh-my-God”s and “wow”s underway. Yup, it must’ve looked pretty bizarre, especially considering my clothes, but the thought of possibly having to wait another full day before I could even begin the 24-hour journey, made my primal instincts kick into full overdrive.

About a mile later, I nearly threw up out of exhaustion, but through blurred contact lenses I could see a lady waving a huge sign with “Munich” on it. She yelled, “just run, you’re almost there.”

The climax of this story is that I did make it. The gate crew had just locked the doors, but after quick phone call they let me in. I could feel sweat run down my back and I coughed for the next 20 minutes — but I was on my way home for Christmas!

About 20 hours later, the whole thing repeated itself. This time — because my luggage got lost in Oslo — and I had to run across the whole airport to get a ticket for the night’s last flight. But I’ll spare you the details of how I could feel the plane-food crawl its way up my throat and how I almost— okay, okay, I said I’d spare you, so, yeah. I got the last seat, and made it to Haugesund where my dear family was waiting. Hallelujah!

24 hours after I left Dakota I didn’t exactly feel at my freshest. #sweatyisthenewskinny

I can hereby confirm that the “fight of flight response” is real, and since we’re talking about airplanes I thought the title was appropriate. Consider this a follow-up to my earlier post: Sweaty is the New Skinny.

Bless you,
Maria

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