My Apologies

Happy Saturday!

Yesterday I attended my last ever class at Augustana, and now I just have to find a way to get all my finals done next week — while also catching up on everything I missed when I was in the hospital the week before. The fact that I’m about to graduate is still sinking in, but I’ll say more about that when it’s done sinking.

But anyway, I made a very unpleasant discovery this morning. I was writing a paper and decided to use the solid word “obnoxious.” It’s a word I’ve embraced and used frequently throughout these part three years in the US, mostly because it’s so fun to say: Obb-noch-shuss, obnoxious.

However, as I’m reflecting upon my use of this word I suddenly see how obnoxious it is to use words you don’t know the full meaning of.

In improv class earlier this year I was asked how Americans seem compared to Norwegians, and I responded with “Americans are really obnoxious in comparison. Especially Midwesterners.”

Silence in the room.

You see, I thought obnoxious meant: Outgoing, lively, lighthearted, energetic and animated, and I honestly thought I delivered them a compliment so great that nobody knew how to respond — hence the silence.

The second part of that sentence was supposed to be “theatre people are even more obnoxious than normal,” so you can only imagine how relieved I am that I stopped when I did.

It made sense to me to say Americans — and especially theatre people — are much more outgoing than Norwegians, but today, while writing my paper I decided to actually look up this highly versatile English word.


The Merriam Webster dictionary got it all wrong!
Apparently it means “extremely unpleasant,” “disgusting,” “harmful,” “distasteful” and “nasty.”

And I can’t even begin to think about all the other times I’ve used this word to describe something or — even worse — SOMEONE I think of as fun or energetic.

My deepest apologies to the wonderful members of 33rd street improv. I’m surprised you let me be a part of the group at all after such an incident.

And after this realization I’m filled with a tremendous gratitude over the fact that our live show turned out so well, despite the prejudicial, ethnocentric and ignorant Norwegian person you had to deal with during the process.

33rd Street Improv. Photo: Jayna Fitzsimmons.

Love you,

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!


Mini-doc: A Place to Belong

Good afternoon!

In my previous post I talked about the mini-documentary I’ve been working on for my photojournalism class — and it’s finally done!

My group — consisting of Taylor Olson, Shi Almont and Kaylyn Deiter — was assigned the “Arts & Entertainment-beat,” so the theatre felt like a natural place to start. But we quickly realized that the three minute-limit was too short — too short for all the amazing stories we found underneath the costumes and behind the stage at the Edith Mortenson Center.

However, I want to thank everyone who helped us out with the interviews we didn’t fit into the film. I still have all the footage, so if I find myself overly bored on the plane across the Atlantic on Wednesday I may extend the whole thing and let everyone’s voices be heard — because you were all amazing.

Now, without further ado, hit the gear-tool to turn on the HD-quality and watch it:

Shot with a Canon T2i Rebel dslr camera.

Sam Mettler, Malia Lukomski and Juvyan Abobakr.

Maria Lavelle — Director, Producer, Editor + Camera and Sound
Kaylyn Deiter — Assisting Camera/Editor
Shi Almont — Assisting Camera/Editor
Taylor Olson — Assisting Camera/Editor
Sarah Kocher — Editing Adviser via Facebook (Everybody could benefit from some Kocher-opinions, just saying.)

People featured in the film:
Andrew Canaan, Jocelyn Schipper, Sage Backer, Alex Meyer, Michal Barnes, Derek Somnis, Katie Jenkins and Tristan Love.

Special thanks to:
Rachel Polan, Matthew Schilling, Alessandra Abel, Jayna Fitzsimmons and the cast of “7×7 Plus One”


A mini-documentary in the making

In my previous post I mentioned “a much appreciated reunion with the editing room,” and it wasn’t just something I said to sound cool — it’s actually true. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve spent a significant amount of hours in the in front of a computer editing video. It’s been a while since last time. In fact, I haven’t edited anything since Over the Bridge in early March. It’s not that I’ve avoided it, I’ve simply been so busy. But man, it was great to be back at it!

Throwback to this past spring’s long days of editing. Click to play.

I’ve been working on a 3-minute video about the Augustana Theatre. I know three minutes sounds like nothing, but the shorter the video, the harder is to actually tell a story.

I must’ve spent close to 20 hours editing this piece, which probably wasn’t necessary, but I wanted to create a film that I could, for the first time, be technically satisfied with — at least for week or two. I’ll soon find something I could have done better, and in a few months I’ll hopefully laugh at how bad it is, because that means progress happened somewhere along the way.

Don’t get me wrong though; I’m still proud of Over the Bridge, but it feels so long ago that my filmmaker-heart hurts a little every time I listen to the jumpy sound and see the shaky, unfocused footage. We were working in extremely rough conditions, but I now realize that I didn’t know as much about the technical aspects of filmmaking as I thought I did.

So this time I really wanted to focus on the “look” of the film, and I must say that I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. It’s not perfect, but considering I’m still shooting with my “lousy” Canon 550D, it’s not too shabby.

“I didn’t pick theatre because I wanted a lucrative career. I picked theatre because I wanted a place to belong.” — Sam Mettler, with Jocelyn Schipper.
“The people who don’t want to involve different sexual orientations or different ethnic groups . . . they don’t make it here.” — Malia Lukomski.


Screenshot. Malia Lukomski.

I’ll publish the video on Monday, so stay tuned!



First of all, thank you so much for the beyond-amazing response on my last post! It took a lot to share that story, which is why I didn’t do it earlier, but I’m so happy that at least some of you found it inspiring. More than a 1,200 of you stopped by the blog in the hours that followed, and I’m still sort of overwhelmed by all the hugs and nice comments I received the days after. Wow, I have a lot of amazing people in my life. Thank you.

In that regard, I figured it was time to post something less serious, so here’s a perfectly shallow post about what I’ve been up to since last time.


I’ve been swimming (but mostly drowning) in my homework, so the relief of having finished several huge projects is now real.

Also, with the current situation in the US, I probably shouldn’t speak too loudly about building walls, but that’s what I’ve been doing — I’ve designed, built and painted two so-called “Hollywood flats” for my stagecraft class!

It was kinda awful because I had to do it while also catching up on a project I missed when I was traveling for three weeks. But thanks to a couple of very late nights and a lot of rushing, I finally got it done.


I’ve never painted anything except a wall in Rannveig’s house, but I think it’s something I could learn to like …  without the pressure of a deadline, mind you … The lack of hours turned the whole thing into a very sloppy process, but it’s not fine art, so who cares if I went to bed with paint inside my ears.

I’ve also spent the weekend in Minnesota and had a much appreciated reunion with the editing room, but I’ll tell you more about that and my little film project next time.

Have a blessed evening,

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