Blog Posts

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

 

Sprayed away

Phew! It’s been a while since I last stopped by to give you an update, and leaving you all hanging on the “Rough Patch” I mentioned last time wasn’t the nicest thing to do, but if you read my post “You know you’re a grad film student when …” I hope you can forgive my … rather sporadic … blogging.

I won’t bore you with my daily routines, but the truth is that there simply is no time off as a grad student at Tisch. Honestly.

Every day starts early and ends late (it’s not uncommon for me to be at school for 14 hours or longer ever day). Add the commute and normal life things such as sleeping and eating and there’s just no time left.

“But you have the weekends, though, right?”
Well, the weekends are spent shooting our directing exercises; which often takes up all Saturday and all Sunday. Read more about our weekend adventures HERE. It’s worth your time, I promise 🙂

But you know what?
I love it! There’s nowhere else I’d rather be, and nothing else I’d rather do.

Central Park. Photo: Avi Kabir.

Here’s a little snippet from my Snapchat. It’s a random collection of short clips from everyday life at NYU:

Right now we’re about to wrap up pre-production of our first project; a black & white, MOS film, with no music or dialogue, shot on Super 16mm film. It sounds like the easiest thing to do, but when you’ve been robbed of all the crutches that would otherwise help carry a film, it becomes a fun challenge.

It’s also a true privilege to shoot on actual film!

Photo: Avi Kabir.

Last weekend’s directing exercise was supposed to be fun as well, but I think our crew can agree that getting sprayed off a sidewalk with a water-hose could’ve been more fun.

Long story short:
We had set up everything for our scene on a PUBLIC sidewalk in Midtown. However, some people with troubled egos decided that the public sidewalk wasn’t public enough for us to shoot on, so we got into an argument that ended with two men calling the janitor in their building who then started “cleaning” the sidewalk with a water hose where we were shooting.

The picture below was shot before he realized his methods weren’t effective enough. He loosened the hose from the socket to create a sprinkler-effect that sprayed all over shortly after. For the record, we weren’t even shooting in front of their building; we shot in front of a shut-down café next to their building.

Since we also happened to have $xx.000 worth of equipment in our hands at the moment he started spraying, we had to leave — or defend our case in court, I guess.

I wish we were shooting a journalistic documentary, because then we could’ve slammed the First Amendment in their faces, but oh well. Pick your battles.

I personally think we handled it pretty darn well. Go Crew 7!!!

Photo: Avi Kabir.

Talk to you soon!

Blessings,
Maria

 

A rough patch

Maybe I was naïve, but I honestly thought I could go through life without even knowing I had any wisdom in the form of teeth.

That illusion, however, cracked about a week ago when all that wisdom became too painful to bear. I signed up for a consultation, told the dentist I would like to stay awake for the procedure, and after having politely turned down the prescription painkillers, I walked out of the dentist’s office with an icepack on my cheek.

“Hah! That was easy. I just had a tooth pulled, no biggie” were my thoughts as I strolled down the frying hot Manhattan streets. I started wondering who came up with idea of giving patients a full anesthesia for something as little and insignificant as this. I also pondered over all those YouTube-videos of loopy teenagers believing they’re unicorns after being drugged down to handle the pain of teeth-pulling. My conclusion was that the whole “putting under” practice was merely a business trick used to keep the dental care prices high.

Granted, I did cling onto that ice pack until it became the same temperature as my skin, so make no mistake, it wasn’t exactly comfortable. But I told myself I’d probably just channeled the pain-tolerance of my inner athlete, so I carried on.

The next day was spent walking and shooting in Central Park until it got too dark for our camera. Again, no biggie.

Then. Good lord. 

I was scheduled to come back to have another one of these evil molars removed two days later. I walked into the dentist’s office with confidence bigger than the clinic itself, and asked to stay awake for the procedure this time as well. A few raised eyebrows later and a scalpel had started digging its way into my gums.

This is the turning point in the story.

Apparently, this so-called “surgery” was just that; it took two hours, three doctors and so much pain I saw my life flashing before my eyes before they managed to get the thing out. That is, before they managed to get PARTS of it out. The amount of force they used made me question whether or not I would get permanent neck-damage from having someone pull my head that hard. But then, the chief-dentist stepped in to retrieve the last pieces by removing some om my jaw bone and stitched me up.

Once it was done, my face had already ballooned into the shape of a chipmunk’s, and my body had started coping with the trauma by making me so annoyed with everyone and everything that PMS would fade in comparison.

No, this is not a lousy attempt at pulling off a duck-face-pose. I believe it’s called swelling, haha.

Here are some examples:
 – I wanted to yell at the lady at McDonald’s who had given me a fork instead of a spoon for the prescribed post-op ice cream that was now melting in the 90°f (32°c weather).

 – I wanted to sue the City of New York for making the roads my taxi was driving on so freaking bumpy, and Toyota for not making the springs in their cars soft enough to cushion those pumps.

 – I wanted to punch the pharmacy lady for not understanding what I was saying and making me repeat my date of birth five times (it probably sounded muffled because of the gauze in my mouth, but still).

 – I wanted to hit our landlord because living on the fourth floor with no elevator SUCKS when you can feel how every step you make fuels the chipmunk face. Lower the rent, pleeeaaaseee!

Then I went to my room and cried until I felt less annoyed and started feeling sorry for everything I thought about general anesthesia, the poor loopy souls in the YouTube videos and the innocent people who just tried to do their job.

Thankfully I’m able to laugh about it now 🙂

Bless you,
Maria

You know you’re a grad film student when …

1. You consider your 13-hour days to be your short days.

2. “I can’t decide if I should go get coffee or use the restroom” is a completely normal dilemma in-between lectures, because there’s simply not enough time for both.

3. You buy new underwear on a weekly basis because doing laundry is an activity that only exists on the to-do list you never get to.

4. It’s 82°f (28°c) and humid in the city, but you’re wearing long pants because you haven’t had time to shave your legs.

5. Every morning starts with the same optimistic thought: “Today is the day. Yes, today I WILL go grocery shopping.” Then, 15 hours later, you find yourself on the subway, debating whether you should even bother stepping off at your stop, or just ride between the two end-stations until you’ll head back to school in a few hours.

6. “Hmm … I wonder if I could get away with sleeping in the editing lab, and save the money (read: fortune) I spent on rent.”

7. “How many granola bars is it acceptable to eat in a day? Asking for a friend.”

8. Dinner typically happens at Semsom or Fresh & Co, because you rarely have time to go more than half a block away from school to satisfy your nutritional needs.

9. Any normal conversation starts with “Have you shot your directing exercise yet?”

10. You know in your heart that even if your schedule is too busy for a normal lifestyle, there’s nowhere else you’d rather want to be.

Blessings,
Maria

First time filming on Manhattan

Good afternoon!

After a week of several 12-hour days at school and a full day of shooting yesterday, I’m now enjoying a much-needed “me-day.” That probably means laundry, grocery shopping and another attempt at cooking, but all I really ask is a day with sweatpants and some relaxation, so it’ll have to do. (Oh, I’ll tell you more about why my cooking efforts are still classified as nothing more than “attempts” in another post).

Anyway, it’s been an amazing week. On Tuesday I had the pleasure of attending a workshop with Gary Ross (the director of The Hunger Games, Ocean’s Eight, BIG, Pleasantville, Free State of Jones etc). I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to learn some tricks from a successful contemporary filmmaker like him, so it was another evening well spent at Tisch.

The rest of the week has been filled with lectures, techs and shooting on our own. We’re assigned directing exercises before every weekend, so I’ve spent the past two Saturdays accompanied by a camera and actors. Or in this first case; by a camera and two of my awesome roommates, Aaron and Melissa. We shot it at our own rooftop, because, heh, I didn’t yet know that rooftops were off-limits for the exercise. Woops, it won’t happen again.

The sunset and the view of Empire State made the moment pretty magical, nevertheless.

Yesterday, my classmate, Kai, and I set out for what turned into a full day of shooting in the streets of New York.

In 28° C (82°F) and air so thick of humidity you could touch it and sculpt it into little moisty airballs, we carried all the equipment by hand, twisted and turned on screws and bolts until our fingers were sore. The precious and crazy-expensive camera kicked our maternal instincts into overdrive, and for the majority of the day, everything revolved around the safety of the Sony FS100.

Our own needs, such as food, were met only by the prop-food we had to eat in each others’ scenes. (A pretzel so hard Kai almost sacrificed her teeth for my scene, and a hamburger I had to stuff in my face on camera and ended up spitting out over a railing in Central Park). But I haven’t had this much fun in a long time!

After realizing that the whole day had gone by and we still hadn’t eaten anything besides the props, we went to a restaurant on the Upper West side. After we finished our main entrées, we ordered “one cheese cake, and one chocolate mousse, please.” The waiter widened his eyes and warned us with the following sentence: “Eh, are you sure? They’re pretty big.”

We didn’t listen, and as you can see in the video below … he wasn’t joking. It was totally worth it though.

This is what happens when to former student-athletes get a sugar rush from oversized desserts:

Animated GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

My sunglasses fell into a puddle of urine right after this, by the way. Oh, New York, New York.

 

This is what I learned:
– You automatically become a tourist-attraction as soon as you stand next to a big camera. I don’t know how many pictures were taken of us during the shoot.
– People don’t seem to mind having a camera within their field of vision if you tell them that you’re from NYU. Actually, you can do almost anything if you tell people you’re from NYU. 
– There’s an actor on every street corner in the city. “Hey, let me know if you need an actor for a project” is a common phrase wherever you go.
 – When you meet other camera crews out on the street (yes, there are quite a few), a normal conversation often starts with “What are you shooting on?” 
 – It’s relatively normal for people to ask “Which channel will this show be on?” or “What movie is this?”
– When you’re stuffing a burger into your face on camera, it gets kind of awkward when someone stops and sticks their head into the shot saying “I don’t know what you’re eating, but it sure looks delicious.”

Warner Archive GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

I’ll try to keep the posts coming a little more frequently, I just have to figure out how to make time for it. In the meantime, please follow me on snapchat. username: Maria Lavelle

Bless you all,
Maria

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