Archive for Month: March 2017

Talking about NYU & filmmaking on the radio


Like I mentioned in my previous post, I was invited to the “In the Moment Live” radio show with Lori Walsh at the South Dakota Public Radio.


This is the second time I’ve done a live radio interview, and it was nice to be back, even if I still think radio is more intimidating than TV. I don’t know why, but it may have something to do with the fact that TV allows you to use more than just your voice to express yourself, and since I’m sort of an immigrant with an intermittent accent, it’s always interesting to see hear how it turns out, haha.

To watch my other interviews, CLICK HERE.

You see, after almost three years in the US, my accent fluctuates between “so American that people ask if I’m from Watertown, SD” and other times I sound like I came riding into the US on a fjord-horse just two days ago.

But with or without accents, I’m happy with how it went and Lori made me feel comfortable in the setting. We talked about Over the Bridge, NYU Tisch and everything in between — for almost 17 minutes. So feel free to hit the play button below and listen along.


Or click on this picture:


Have a blessed day,


Hello all,

This week is another busy one, but I’ll write this quick before I have to run off to a meeting. I just wanted to share that I have now paid the deposit and officially accepted the offer from NYU Tisch! I’m still not quite there with the money, but the rest is in God’s hands. Exciting!

My other announcement is that I’ll be a guest at “In the Moment Live” on SDPB radio tomorrow. Tune in at 12:20 p.m. central time.

It’s been precisely a year since Sarah and I last chatted with Lori Walsh live on SDPB, and I’m excited to be back.

Click on the video below for last year’s interview.

To watch other interviews I’ve done with the media over the past year, CLICK HERE.

I’ll talk to ya later.

KDLT news with Anndrea Anderson 2016. Photo: Jill Johnson.


Why I feel called to be a filmmaker

I first discovered the wonderful world of cinema when I was 11 years old. I mean, I had always enjoyed movies, but it was not until that particular year that I started to realize I no longer had a choice in the matter – I had to be a filmmaker.

In retrospect, I see that I had many filmmakers’ symptoms even before I knew what they were. For instance: when I was introduced to E.T. at age eight, I spent the next months relentlessly searching for a flashlight that could create the same kinds of light beams I had seen in the movie. I even went as far as putting ‘flashlights’ all over my wish list for both my birthday and Christmas – not knowing that those beautiful cinematic beams were caused by the haze in the air, and not the flashlight itself. That was the beginning of my film-nerding phase.

Screenshot from E.T. Dreamworks 1982. Directed by Steven Spielberg.

But this story does not really start there. I am not writing this because of a fascination for “Spielbergian” cinematography, or because I saw one single film and decided I wanted to be a filmmaker. No, I am writing this to share the story of the months that changed my life, and slowly made me discover a passion that goes far beyond light beams and flashlights.

It all began when I was ten, and one morning woke up with terrible stomach pain. To make a long story short: the doctors found three cystic tumors on my liver, and as my health was quickly deteriorating I was and sent to a hospital in a city three hours away for treatment. You can read the whole story here: “The tumors that changed my life”.

During this time, movies became a way for me to escape, and they allowed me–even for just a moment–to forget about the cold liquids that entered my veins through the IV standing next to my bed. I let Charlie take me to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, I saw Ms. Trunchbull hammer-throw little girls by their ponytails in Matilda, and I witnessed Pippi Longstocking’s superpowers with the same excitement I had seen Elliott’s bike fly across the full-moon in E.T. a few years earlier.

The thrill of seeing the young characters overcome their struggles, explore the unknown and stun the world with their abilities made me hungry for more. Despite their young age, they had already experienced severe adversity, but that did not in any way lessen their success. I wanted to be one of them, and I wanted to tell stories like theirs – stories to encourage and inspire.


In the years that followed, my family faced a number of challenges because of my mother’s health, but together with our mutual faith, movies have always been something that united us. It is that time of the week when we are all together, we forget about tomorrow and we sweep through several movies back to back. It is our thing. And it is great.

More than a decade has passed, but my goal is still the same: I want to make films that make people feel what I felt when I was first introduced to Matilda and Charlie, and I strive to make people feel what they only experience in their dreams, or when they look back at their past. That does not mean I only want to make those glossy, orange-filtered music video-looking films that remind people of their glorious youth. No, I want to make films that can inspire people to expand their own horizon, help them see beyond where they are and what they have, and encourage them to believe in something bigger.

As an adult, I see that it was not Matilda, Charlie, Pippi, or Elliott themselves that inspired me – it was their stories; they were ordinary people on extraordinary journeys.

I may never invent anything that will have a universal impact on people, but I want to use my talents to tell stories, and let them speak for themselves, something I think is more important than ever. Not just for entertainment purposes, but because, in my opinion, film is one of the mediums that still possess the power to truly influence people.

So what about the things I said in the introduction, about not having a choice in the matter, and that I had to be a filmmaker? Well, that is how I feel, even if at this point do not have the financial resources to go to film school. I guess some people feel called to be doctors, carpenters, lawyers, priests and teachers, while others are called to make films. I have many times wished I were not so ridiculously passionate about it, because it is certainly not the most secure or financially rewarding job, at least not to begin with, but I am determined to do everything I possibly can to tell those stories that are just waiting to be told on the screen.

Maria Lavelle

Photo: Naras Prameswari.

It’s been a week since I got accepted to the NYU Tisch School of the Arts, and like I mentioned in my last post “Mysterious Ways,” people have reached out and suggested ways to come up with the money. So, after a lot of debating with myself and a lot of “peer pressure,” I have now stepped way outside my comfort zone and started a GoFundMe profile.

It’s really uncomfortable putting myself out there like that, because this time around I’m not doing it on behalf of the homeless community or anyone else. I also keep thinking that having a roof over your head, food on the table and a basic education is a right we should fight for, while going to film school is not a human right — it’s a privilege.

But for me, it is about embracing an opportunity that will allow me to tell more of those important stories. I want to change lives with my work, and I believe NYU can help me on my way.

Mysterious Ways

Good afternoon!

I just wanted to check in to share the most recent news, because things have changed quite a bit since my last post “So very bittersweet.

But first I want to thank you for your amazing support, encouragement, compassion, initiative and love. To see that so many people care about me and my education is just incredibly touching, and I’m lucky to be surrounded by people who truly want to see me succeed.

The past few days have shown me what the “Augie Advantage” really means. It’s not just that the faculty, administration and my classmates express their vocal encouragement, it’s that they go out of their way to find solutions. I haven’t received a single “Oh, that’s too bad you can’t afford it.” No, they’ve all approached me with “This has to work out. We’ll find a way!”

One of my favorite quotes came from Dr. Blank-Libra: “There is money. And the money must and will be found.”


So, some things have been happening behind the scenes, and I’ve decided to accept the offer and go to NYU!


I’m still about $15,000 short, and only God knows how I’ll get it, but I’m going.

Yes, I did receive some generous donations, for which I’m beyond grateful for and will tell you more about later, but the biggest change came from a sudden discovery that made it possible to rearrangement the budget. I can’t use the budget the school gave me, so I’ll probably have to live in a closet-sized room somewhere in Brooklyn and eat a little less, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. Now I just have to come up with $15,000, somehow.

Augustana. Photo: Maria Lavelle


For me, the decision to attend NYU is not about the prestige of going to one of the best film schools in the world. It’s about learning from the best and strengthening the voice I need to tell the important stories.


Thanks again for your support!

Bless you all,

Photo: Mike Shafer

So very bittersweet

Hello all,

I have some news to share. As some of you already know, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in New York City these past few months, but I’ve been very careful with sharing what exactly I’ve been up to. Now however, I can finally tell you that I’ve gone through a long and complicated application- and interview process at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts.

I was first introduced to the NYU program at a Cinema Falls event in 2015, when the Oscar-winning filmmaker and Chair of the film department, Barbara Schock, was in Sioux Falls.

NYU has been in the back of my head ever since.

Their graduate film (Masters Degree) program is consistently ranked top 3 in the WORLD, which also makes it one of the most competitive film programs out there. When I first heard that they receive about 3000 applications, and only accept 38, I was, strangely enough, even more intrigued, and I gave it a shot.

So, last fall I wrote a personal statement, a mini script, a concept, a short story and sent in my film work, just “because it was worth a try.” Then, in February, I was invited to an interview with the faculty before a long wait followed, and —


To say that Barbara’s phone call “schocked” me, would be an understatement. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world, and I couldn’t believe I got to be one of those 38 individuals who would get to learn the craft of filmmaking at one of the best film schools in the world. I could suddenly see this golden path shining right in front of me, and becoming a filmmaker seemed easier than ever before.

Photo: Mike Shafer


But, there’s always a but.

Even though I got their maximum scholarship, I can’t afford to go.

If I include the financial aid and loans I get from Norway, I’ll have most of the tuition covered, but I’m still $30.000 short each of the three years because living expenses are crazy on Manhattan.

I honestly don’t know what to feel right now. I’m proud to have gotten in, but I’m also heartbroken to see this slip right through my fingers when I was so close.

But I try to tell myself that just getting in is an accomplishment in itself, and I give God, my family, Augustana, my professors Dr. Jeffrey Miller and Dr. Janet Blank-Libra, my friend Sarah Kocher and Julie Anderson Friesen at Cinema Falls credit for helping me get there. This would not have been possible without their help and support, and the journey has been fantastic.

I choose to trust God’s plan, and I’ve told him all along that I want to walk on His path, with or without NYU. I want to tell stories, and I want to honor Him with my work. Now I just have to find another   the   way to do it.

If I was put on this earth to be a filmmaker, I’ll be a filmmaker.

Photo: Mike Shafer

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9


Now let’s see what He has in store.

Bless you all,

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