Film - Sisters

U-Hauling Away

Dearest readers,

I used to be rather unforgiving when my favorite bloggers went MIA for more than a week — it would be pretentious to assume that my blog is anyone’s favorite, I know — but¬†instead of apologizing for my five-week absence I’ll welcome y’all back — Welcome back! ūüôā

After my last post, one could think I got so comfortable on the prairie that I simply chose to stay, but before I tell you about that glorious piece of adventure, let me create some context for you.

You all know that I struggled hardcore with my housing situation earlier this spring. So, long story short: After days with phone calls across the country and meetings with brokers, my roommate and I lost our new apartment (deposit included). So, the day before I flew to Sioux Falls I didn’t know if I’d have a place to live when I returned. The irony of the situation was that the film that got me into NYU in the first place was about homelessness . . . Add this on top of the fact that I’d be out of town for four out of the 14 already-too-few days I had to edit my film, and you have a world-class stressload.

You can only imagine the relief of boarding the plane knowing that I could just fly away from all my troubles for a little while.

As a result, the whole trip to Sioux Falls became a safe haven where I didn’t have to worry about a thing. My dear Alma Mater, Augustana University (arranged by Dr. Mike Nitz) had taken care of everything; the flights, the schedule and most importantly — the HOUSING. I had a whole apartment for myself — a rare luxury for a poor student in NYC.

I did four guest speaking events on campus, and the audiences ranged from freshmen to a large group where the median age was closer to 80.

In between these more serious commitments, I looked like I was devouring a microphone, I had several other meetings lined up about a film I may shoot in Dakota next year. I also had some time to catch up with my dear friends who still live in the area.

Like these two amazing humans, Dr. Jeffrey Miller & Dr. Janet Blank-Libra (who besides being legendary journalism professors, also put in their fair share of effort into making film school become a reality for me).

And dear Ana who throughout my years at Augie always made sure I ate well in the cafeteria, and who taught me some new Spanish words every morning

And these folks here, who mostly distracted me from my homework. Or maybe it was the other way around … Anyway, you know I love you.

And my lovely Brittany! (Who gave me the best reason to come back next year — she’s getting married to her prince, Michael!)

And shortly after, my fellow Norwegian Augie-Viking announced that she’s getting married next year as well! I’m counting days!!

All in all I could not have asked for a better weekend at my old stomping ground. It was kinda strange being back, walking around campus like I used to, but this time without the burden of final exams. It was also weird being there without my full house of friends, but in turn, it was truly heartwarming to run into former floor-mates, professors, staff and other acquaintances. Too bad I didn’t have time to catch up with everybody. (Thinking of ya #StagecraftFam).

I left the Midwest feeling rested and recharged for the last stretch of the semester, and God knew I’d need it.

Back in NYC

Thankfully I got permission to stay in my apartment for one extra week, but my roommate Alejandro had to move out the day I returned. And as the relatively na√Įve person I am, I offered to drive the moving truck: a 17-foot beast all across Manhattan to Brooklyn.

As if narrow streets, heavy traffic and raging drivers didn’t exist.

Due to the lack of parking space outside our building, I had the rather immature idea of entering via a sidewalk … which happened to be a liiiittle more narrow than we thought. At one point there was only about three inches clearance on each side, but Alejandro is a champ and guided me through: not sure if he feared more for his life or the health of the truck, but a couple of close calls later we made it without having gotten sued nor fined. #EverydayMiracles

(This was after we almost got stuck)

Six hours later he had successfully moved into his new place. I, on the other hand, found myself in the situation of not knowing if I’d even find a new place to stay … again. As a foreigner in a city where you need a US guarantor to get approved for almost any apartment on Manhattan, I once again had to lift my eyes to God in faith (and desperation) for a solution.

To be continued.

In my next post I’ll tell you all about my new film, the premiere, my thoughts about having completed my first year as a grad film student at NYU Tisch. I may even share the experience that took me a giant step closer to being a real New Yorker — a story you don’t want to miss. Stay tuned!

Blessings,
Maria

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.

AND I’M MORTIFIED!¬†Oh my God!

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,
Maria

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!

Maria

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.

Starring:
Sam Mettler, Malia Lukomski and Juvyan Abobakr.

Crew:
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”

XOXO,
Maria

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.

safehouse_screenshot5
“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.
safehouse_screenshot2-2
“The people who don’t want to involve different sexual orientations or different ethnic groups . . . they don’t make it here.” — Malia Lukomski.

safehouse_screenshot3

Screenshot. Malia Lukomski.

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

Maria

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