NYU

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

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

2018                                                                                      2017
    
According to these pictures, the camera has definitely upped its game. Now let’s hope the filmmaker has too.

Have a blessed evening,
Maria

 

Psalm 23.

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.

Manhattan

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.

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

About Recovery, Travel, and the Significance of Vending Machines

Hello dear readers!

Thanks so much for the feedback and warming words on my previous post; I’m glad some of you were able to see the humor in it. I did too, it just took a while, haha.


Film school isn’t exactly known to be a health-promoting institution, and it’s no secret that very few of us grad students have the time, nor money, to eat well and exercise as regularly as we’d like. The excessive stress is also a faithful companion to some.

As a former athlete and fitness freak, this was a bit of a shock … and actually one of the hardest things I’ve had to adjust to since I moved to New York. It sound silly, but the fact that these are actual quotes heard in the halls at NYU Tisch, kind of says it all:

Person 1: “I’m so stressed I can’t eat.”
Person 2: “That sounds nice. I’m so stressed I can’t stop eating.”

Person 1: “I can’t afford dinner today.”
Person 2: “Me neither. I just eat Ramen.”

“The only food I’ve had today has been from the vending machine on the 10th floor.”

Same person a week later: “My hair is starting to fall out … I think it’s because of the vending machine.”

Another person: “The vending machine is giving me acne.”

“There was no Nutella Sticks left in the vending machine. It made me more upset than it should have — I almost cried.”

“I need to cry, but I don’t know if I have time … When is our next class?”

“I feel like I have a sword sticking out of my chest. Is that normal?”

“I’ve had this eye-twitch for weeks. I’m thinking about adding it to my resume as ‘special skill.'”

“Do you think the students who smoke are less stressed? I’m considering starting.”

Person 1: “Can you see my heart beating?”
Person 2: No, why? Are you worried you might be dead?”
Person 1: No, it’s just beating so hard and fast I feel like you can see it through my shirt.”

With these quotes in mind, it should come as no surprise that I, too, looked and felt like a haggard mammal after the school-year ended. All the stress and burdens from the semester (that you can read more about HERE and HERE) had left some marks here and there, and I felt like a zombie. When I then caught a nasty virus shortly after my arrival in Norway, things only got worse and I was in bed for over a week, feeling worse than that zombie I mentioned above.

So, when my sister — spontaneously — invited me on a trip to Sardinia in Italy, it felt like bread for the starving.

A week spent on a beach in the Mediterranean turned out to be exactly what I needed.

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Sardinia🇮🇹 📷 @celenalavelle

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P.S: The Norwegian college system is designed in a way that allows students to work almost full-time on top of their studies — which in this case made my sister able to sponsor me on this trip. She knows I’m a poor artist in NYC, so this just shows what a lovely sister I’ve been blessed with. Thank you, Celena.

But after a couple days of so-called “tanning,” I needed to do something and I discovered that paddleboarding can be more fun than it looks.

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Mediterranean🌅 Photo: @celenalavelle

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Especially when you do it the wrong way.

After a week of eating and sleeping more than my lifestyle of the past year has allowed, I returned to Norway a little less exhausted. In fact, I felt more rested than I’ve been in over a year … maybe two.

I’m not sure if it had more to do with the Italian sun, or the news I received while I was there, but I’ll tell you more about that in my next post.

Have a blessed afternoon,
Maria

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