Sunday, November 30, 2014

Film festival wins and pre-production for Tree Hugger!

Me as a 5 inch tall voice coach genie in the first episode "Big" of my co-directed web series Absurducopia.
Hello readers. So let me preface this with a word of wisdom to you all: this is not information generally given to the public, but an amazing thing has been hidden from us all... that amazing thing is the beverage of carrot juice. I just discovered a few days ago that carrot juice is not only delicious, but is jam packed with Vitamin A. Oh, and in one thing of carrot juice there are 39.5 carrots?! Now that I've shared that with you, let me move on to some news!

The Mini-Film-Fest-Tour

Me accepting my award. So classic of me to be covering my face because my smile is about to fall of my cheeks.

All American High School Film Festival (October 23rd-26th)

So I just went on my first mini-film-fest-tour as I've been calling it. Let me tell you the story of how that all went down... So the night of October 23rd I arrived in NYC for the All American High School Film Festival. I am originally a New Yorker (I was born and raised in Upper Nyack, NY... it's maybe a 45 minute ride away from the city?) so it was lovely to be back. The next day I interviewed for a paid internship at Warrior Poets, the production company of the amazing documentarian Morgan Spurlock. Super cool energy in that building. Hours later I reunited with my best friend, amazing filmmaker, and back-up vocalist Abbey Sacks. I hadn't seen her for 5 or 6 months... and yet that night we sang my original song "Warm Rush" in front of almost a thousand people. Cool story: my first live performance was about a year before with the same song alongside Abbey... it was surreal to go from an on campus talent show to the New York Hilton's Grand Ballroom in front of so many talented people. Here's a 15 second clip of the performance:

On the red carpet at AAHSFF!

The next day 5 of my films were screened (We're Okay, Girly, Hello from Malaysia, & my music videos Warm Rush and Beautiful Creature). That night I was nominated for six Finalist nominations including Best Directing and Best Drama for We're Okay; two nominations for Best Music Video for my films Warm Rush and Beautiful Creature (from my recently debuted CD, Confused Travels); Best Special Effects for Warm Rush; and Best Female Rising Star. So they were about to announce the final award for Best Overall Film... and at this point I whole-heartedly believed that I wasn't going to win because I had already been nominated so many times. So they call up the first 5 nominations... none of them are me. Then they announce the final nomination: they say "We're Okay" by Kira Bursky. I get slight butterflies, but still believe I won't win. But then.... I WON!!! Crazy moment. I went up there in front of more than a thousand people, accepted my award, and then the crowd requested I give a speech! I won $1,000, a new camera, a trip to work on a Relativity Media set for a week, lots of softwares, and some other things. So that was that. All high school filmmakers should enter this festival. It is one of the fanciest, most exciting festivals I've had the pleasure to attend. Plus everyone is so supportive and kind.

Mosaic Film Experience Film Festival (November 7th-8th)

Standing next to my talented best friend Abbey Sacks!
Two weeks later November 7-8th I arrived at the Mosaic Film Experience Film Festival in Grand Rapids, MI. The year before my film Girly had one 1st place. This year they paid for me to travel up to the festival to be a guest speaker! And to make life even more amazing, Abbey Sacks came to the festival as well! So we got to reunite again. AND the head of my film program back at Interlochen, Michael Mittelstaedt, decided to make a trip to the festival to support us. I hadn't seen him for more than 6 months since graduation. So they both supported me as I gave my presentation on my work since making Girly. I showed Girly as well as 4 other films (Hello From Malaysia, Warm Rush, Demons in Disguise, and Halfway). I talked about how with each film I learned so many things and I really tried to emphasize how all young filmmakers should not feel afraid.... you just need to go for it! There is no such thing as "failing." All of these "failures" should really be thought of as AWESOME LESSONS! The glass is half full, folks. So side note: this year my film We're Okay was in the competition- but I assumed since I had won last year that there was no way I could win again. So the next day, sure enough, We're Okay won first place!! So I won $1,000 again! AND Abbey won this Made-in-Michigan award plus 3rd place! So we both celebrated by stuffing ourselves with soup from the soup place across the street. It was a glorious occasion of smiles and friendly familiar faces (of whom I had met one year prior).

Cucalorus Film Festival (November 12th-16th)

Why are we all unicorns? Well the woman on the righthand side is named Leah Meyerhoff. She directed a fantastic feature film called "I Believe in Unicorns." I had the pleasure and honor of meeting her- she is truly inspirational!
Three days later November 12th to 16th I was at the craziest (in the best way imaginable) festival ever: Cucalorus Film Festival. So the past two years Filmmaker Magazine has named Cucalorus one of the Top 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World! Instead of focusing on prizes, they focus on making the experience for the filmmakers A-mazing. There are parties, events, and screenings non-stop. So they paid for my airfare and accommodations, making this trip like a retreat! I seriously met so many unique individuals and really felt like I had a chance to truly bond with them. Cool story: one night I was "baptized" in a tub of ice water. The guy who "baptized" me is Jewish. I am Jewish. And this ritual was in order to awaken me. It was 3 in the morning. What followed this was dancing and sharing ridiculous old films we had made long ago... what a beautiful night that was. I'm addicted to the vibe of this festival. It is definitely a goal of mine to get back to this fest. It is something I do not want to miss.

Tree Hugger... Kickstarter and updates!

So I'm currently in pre-production for my short dark fantasy film Tree Hugger. Before I say anything more about this project, here is the link to the Kickstarter where any contributions are more appreciated than you know:

If you are inspired by this project and are interested in helping me bring this film to life, please feel free to help me in spreading this Kickstarter around. 

I'm currently in the midst of rewrites for the script as I have discovered that this topic is very hard to write about. But, alas, I am drawn towards things that are hard to express because I feel like that will help stretch me as a person and has the greatest chance at stretching and touching my future audience. Vulnerability + honesty = a more truthful film. I value truth. So if you are reading this and you happen to be or know someone who has dealt with sexual assault or abusive relationships, I am currently looking for individuals who can relate to this topic to read my screenplay and let me know if the screenplay is doing a justice to your experience and mindset of these topics. Feel free to contact me if you are interested or know of someone who is interested in giving me feedback. 

I'm scheduling meetings and rehearsals with my cast and crew. I have a really awesome group of people I'm working with. I love how each time I make a film my crew and cast quickly start to feel like a family. I'm also currently in the process of location scouting. Trying to find a magical woods has proven to be slightly harder than I had imagined... but I have not lost faith! 


Since my last post, Wayne and I have created three more Absurducopia episodes! For those of you who do not know, Wayne Culpepper and I have a co-directed, co-starring musical comedy web series! Big was accepted to TOFF The Online Film Festival (November edition) and Novella Showcase which is a TV Station in Lansing, MI and Jackson, MI. Halfway was also accepted to the Novella Showcase and additionally was selected for the Colchester International 60 Hour Film Challenge Top 10 which screened in the UK, October 26th, 2014. Here are the most recent three episodes: 

Episode 3: Halfway - dissatisfied with their life, a couple orders a guru in a box. Unfortunately, he is not the guru they expect him to be.


Episode 4: The Antidote - a scientist tries to convince the world of a zombie epidemic on a live talk show, but soon discovers that he doesn't have as much power as he thinks.

Episode 5: Use That Talent - the owners of a "famous" cat try to make a new hit video, but the cat has decided to pursue her own dreams...

Various Film Festival Acceptances and Updates!

Girly has been accepted to the Grace Film Festival 2015. The film festival takes place April 23rd-25th in San Francisco, CA. Girly was also accepted to Embarras Valley Film Festival and screened November 6, 2014, at 7:00 in Doudna Fine Arts Lecture Hall in Charleston, Illinois.

Hello From Malaysia took 2nd place for the High School Narrative category at the The MY HERO Project International Film Festival! The film fest takes place November 22nd in Santa Monica, CA #MYHEROIFF14

We're Okay had a screening in St. Louis, Missouri November 26th. October 21st at 8:00pm there was a local screening of my film We're Okay at the Bebe Theater in Asheville, NC. We're Okay took second place in the student category at Highway 61 Film Festival (Pine City, MN)! 

Bye Bye Lullaby and Hello From Malaysia (ha, Bye Bye and Hello....) screened at the Citizen Jane Film Festival November 7th to 9th in Columbia, Missouri. This film festival is awesome- their mission is to empower women filmmakers! High five to all kinds of filmmakers of all different backgrounds, ages, genders, orientations, races, perspectives and all that jazz! The more stories the merrier.

Warm Rush was National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY)'s Film of the Week- sponsored by Volvo. Also, Warm Rush was accepted in the Music Malt Online Fest (October 18th, online). Warm Rush was named a semifinalist at the Highway 61 Film Festival (Pine City, MN).

October 13th I was interviewed about my movies and music on Living Well on Asheville Free Media ( from 12-1PMEST. The podcast should also be available on the website

I've been doing some freelance work. Here's a BTS video of a 9 day photoshoot that I edited together for FishEye Studios. I also have been photo assisting for them on various shoots.

I additionally made a music video for music artist Jonathan Brown. Here's the video:


So I better go back to working on Tree Hugger related things! Oh, and tonight at 3 in the morning I'm helping a good friend of mine film something.... the things you do for filmmaking! Goodness! Ha.

Thanks for reading. Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of pies, pies, and more pies. Remember: stay hydrated! 



  1. Wow, great update. Wonderful news and amazing journey.

  2. Nice and informative update with amazing news thanks for sharing.
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