Friday, December 11, 2015

Really Looking, Meditation, and Other Naturally Curious Updates...

“Because you are alive, everything is possible.” 
-Thích Nhất Hạnh

I’m listening to some gypsy jazz music. This stuff if truly the cats pajamas. And I’m drinking my current addiction-of-the-week: The Diablo. It’s an Americano with steamed half & half, salt, honey, cinnamon & cayenne. I have had one every day for the past week- yes, this is day numero 5.

Really Looking

A screenshot from Really Looking- in the coffee shop set we built!
Crazy opening crane shot...
so much motion-tracking...
I just sent off the most recent cut of my film Really Looking to my composer Nicolas Martin. This is one of my favorite steps in the filmmaking process. I absolutely cannot wait to see what he comes up with. My goal is to have the film finalized by January 1st. So many months of prep and and now we’re in the final weeks. Crazy.

The shoot went quite well! We had four shooting days. In three days time I designed and built a whole coffee shop. We shot all the scenes in it on a Friday- then that night we took it all apart. Then we built the “surreal installation room” set that night / the next morning. On Saturday we shot in that set. Then the next day we took down that set and built the final “exterior surreal installation room” set. Conclusively: 3 sets were built quicker than I had imagined to be possible. Also conclusively: I LOVE production design and shall pursue it full throttle! I plan on creating some ultra-whimsical, ultra-magical & ultra-strange sets in my lifetime. Isn’t it just so cool to know that we can truly build the worlds of our dreams in reality? We can!

Me (Kira Bursky) talking to cinematographer, Brad Hoover,
in the Surreal Installation Room set!

I was full of so much love and appreciation for my cast & crew. My lead actress, Ioanna, flew in from NYC. She was so lovely and immediately felt like a long lost sister. She brought such a warmth to set. My other lead, Ben, is a dear friend of mine. He is charismatic and always brings a smile to your face with his quick-witted puns and his deep thoughts about life. My crew… ahhhh. I love each and every one of them. Brad, my cinematographer… my goodness, I’m the luckiest gal to be able to work with him! He was my first film teacher about 6 years ago, and now he is my collaborator. He really understands me and my vision. The Monday after we wrapped Ioanna and I had a few hours to adventure around Asheville before she flew back to NYC. Believe me when I say this: we spent almost the full time (probably around 5 or 6 hours) sharing our thoughts of appreciation and gratitude about every single individual who was a part of the production- including the extras! So much love. Gosh I love love.

Post-production has been… eye-opening! I have many green screen shots in the film. This is my first time working with SO much SFX. It was daunting at first… but after diving right into it I discovered that motion tracking & creating worlds within my computer is not all that difficult… it just takes a lot of render time. Ha.

For full behind the scenes pictures, check out the All Around Artsy Facebook page!

Big Little Filmmaker

There are too many things I want to pursue… too many projects that I can’t wait to jump right into. Upon reflection, this is my normal way of being: constantly drowning in inspiration. Big Little Filmmaker is one of the big projects. I launched the site a month or so ago. One week into it’s launch, about 25 registered members in, the site was infiltrated and attacked by hackers. Oh the joys of learning the hard way. We had to take the social media aspect of it down, and the site is currently under-going a revamp so that it is strong and muscly against confused hackers! In the meantime I’ll be posting more interviews & articles (the main site is still up). If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, here’s the website:

Thich Nhat Hanh & Meditation

“For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.” 
-Thích Nhất Hạnh

Me on the first shooting day of Really Looking. This is my home. The Blue Ridge Parkway is so peaceful.
I kept reading these inspiring quotes by Thich Nhat Hanh (you should look him up- he’s marvelous)… so then I decided it’s time I read his books! I’ve been reading “How to Love,” “How to Relax,” and “Peace is Every Step.” I highly recommend any / all of them if you want to live a more fulfilling, present life. I already feel differences in the way I am perceiving things. I, like many, constantly get caught up in projected fears & anxieties of the future, or replaying scenes of my past… but I don’t want to live the rest of my life that way. I simply can’t allow that. I want to embrace the only thing that is real: right now. So last night I went to my first group meditation. It was so wonderful. Difficult at moments (when my brain started drifting into Kira-La-La-Land…), but wonderful overall. I have a lot to learn. We had tea, cookies, and a nice discussion afterwards.

Friends Visiting Me!
Screenshot from Adulthood~ Abbey Sacks and I in a trance!
Guess what! I have friends visiting me! In a little over a week my mind-blowingly fantastic friend Katie Larson is visiting me for a few days! She is a talented musician / songwriter and her band, The Accidentals, is MAGIC. Every time I hear about The Accidentals, I find out that they are blowing up even more. Katie Larson and her band The Accidentals are ones to watch. Trust me. Anything is possible with her. She’s such a lovely person and on top of that she has explosive talent. Look up her music! Anyways, I miss her. I briefly saw her for like 45 minutes in May…. but aside from that, I haven’t seen her since 1 year before this past May! It’s about time we see each other again!

And then a week after that: my bestie, collaborator, and the-spontaneous-art-maker-extraordinaire, Abbey Sacks comes to visit me! Naturally we will be adventuring into the moment, making art as much as we breathe, and having two-person dance parties every morning/night. Nick Ramey (a SUPER DUPER talented cinematographer and lovely guy!) will be coming to visit us and DP a film that Abbey and I will be co-directing! Collaborations… ahhhh. Love it. I feel so lucky to be spending the first day of the new year with my best friend. I will never be able to fully express how grateful I am to have her in my life. You should look up her film work. It’s prolific, experimental, and meaningful.

Screenshot of Abbey and I blind-folded in our film Adulthood.

Reviewing the crazy shot...

I was about to post this blog post... but then I realized: I haven't talked about Adulthood! Abbey and I co-directed for the Seattle Horror 48 Hour Film Project. Our film Adulthood won Best in City, Best Directing, Best Actor (Dan Crisafulli), Best Writing, Best Sound Design, and Audience Favorite!  It was my goal to keep on competing in the 48 Hour until a film of mine won Best in the City... and it happened! We will be screened at the Filmapalooza in March, I believe. It's taking place in Atlanta this year, so I should be there! ...But don't think this means I am done making 48 Hour films... I'm addicted! There's no stopping me!

In Conclusion…

…I have many more things to say, but I’ll leave those other topics, thoughts, and projects for when we talk in person. Up next: working on my actual website, planning potential photoshoots, editing some articles for Big Little Filmmaker… and much more. LIFE!

Lots of love,

Friday, October 16, 2015

Launching a new company, travel, and pre-production!

D r i n k i n g  J u i c e

My best friend Abbey Sacks and I drinking juice in San Diego a few weeks ago.

I'm drinking juice. Guess what kind of juice? Yes, you are right. Carrot juice. But the twist? It is carrot, orange, lemon, and ginger. AKA: My favorite kind of juice. It's my current addiction. I scout it out everywhere I go.

Where am I now? Where have I been?

Navigating NYC with some film friends at AAHSFF!

Kings Theater in Brooklyn @ AAHSFF Awards!
I'm in Laguna Beach, California. I didn't know I was gonna be here until the day before I arrived. Spontaneity seems to be the current theme of my life. Fortunately spontaneity and adventures are the goal! Tonight is the start of the Laguna Film Festival. I actually have 3 films screening here!: Tree Hugger, Demons in Disguise & Warm Rush. (Oh, and tonight Tree Hugger is screening in Greenville, SC at the Reedy Reels Film Festival!) My best friend Abbey Sacks has two films and she is train'ing on in to town! Though we thought we would not be seeing each other all that often now that she goes to CalArts and I go to.... well, all over the place -- we have been seeing each other most weekends! In fact next weekend we are both flying out to Seattle, WA to co-direct a Horror 48 Hour film! And two weekends ago we met up in San Diego for San Diego Film Festival!

2 weeks ago I was in California. Then I was in South Carolina. Then North Carolina. On Wednesday I was in NYC. Yesterday I was in NC. Today I'm in California. Monday I'll be back in NC. Then Thursday I'll be in SC. Then Friday I'll be Seattle. Then the Monday after this coming Monday I'll be in Atlanta. Let that all sink in...... it's insanity... but I LOVE IT.

Big Little Filmmaker

Big Little Filmmaker! Don't miss out on this, young filmmakers!
Me (Kira Bursky) at AAHSFF Opening Night
announcing Big Little Filmmaker in front of 500+
amazingly talented young filmmakers!
I had an epiphany a couple months ago. All of my passions came colliding together... filmmaking, supporting other young filmmakers, blogging, meeting inspiring filmmakers, etc. I have been working on building the site for my new company Big Little Filmmaker and it will be launched November
1st! Here is more information:

Are you a young filmmaker between the ages of 12-22? We're excited to launch the sign up & countdown for the official Big Little Filmmaker site! Sign up today to stay notified on the official launch of this exciting online community! This will be your one-stop hub for networking, jobs & opportunities, advice and inspiration, all geared towards you: the young filmmaker! Check it out and tell your friends. Let's support each other and the future of film!

For more information and to stay updated on the launch, please sign up here!:

Also, if you know of young filmmakers, or organizations / film festivals geared around young filmmakers, please please please pass the word along! I want to really build up the community so that young filmmakers can have a ton of support!

New Sizzle Reel

Here is a new sizzle reel of my directing work! 

Film Festivals & Jobs & Various Updates:

-"It's Just You," the film I co-directed with Abbey Sacks for the 24 Hour world-wide Film Racing competition took 3rd Place overall as well as Best Editing and Best Sound Design!
-Hattie won Best International Short Film at the Brighton Youth Film Festival in Brighton, England!
Crew of all girls for the Tesla shoot! #femalefilmmakers
-Massada Fashion Eyewear Film: I have officially casted the two lead roles in the film. Now I'm in pre-production, scouting out locations, working on the shots with my cinematographer, etc. I will be shooting next month!
-I co-directed an instructional video for Tesla Motors out in San Francisco a few weeks ago!
-This past weekend I was a guest speaker at the All American High School Film Festival in NYC (my film We're Okay won Best Film last year)
-I made some After Effect graphics intros / outros for SOCAP (a conference in San Francisco)
-August 24th I spoke on Adrenaline Radio show "Behind the Lens" about my Los Angeles Film Festival accepted film Hello From Malaysia, as well as my other film projects!
-Girly has been accepted to the Made-In-Michigan Film Festival which takes place in Frankenmuth, MI October 16-18.
-New directing reel for 2015! Features clips & scenes from 10 films-- including Tree Hugger! Cheers to many more films to come.
-Tree Hugger Festival Acceptances:

  • Queen City Film Festival (QCFF) Oct. 1-4th, Cumberland, Maryland
  • Reedy Reels Film Festival - Oct. 16 & 17 at Clemson University in Greenville, SC 
  • Citizen Jane Film Festival - Oct. 22-25th in downtown Columbia, Missouri.
  • Qabila's 3rd Annual Short Film Festival taking place October 8-10th in Cairo, Egypt
  • Laguna Film Festival taking place October 16-18th in Laguna Niguel, CA (that's where I am now)
Me (Kira Bursky) with Andrew Jenks,
the founder of AAHSFF.
-Tree Hugger, Demons in Disguise, & Warm Rush have been accepted into the Laguna Film Festival taking place October 16-18th in Laguna Niguel, CA.
-Warm Rush has been accepted to the Bideodromo Festival 2015 taking place in September 11-28 in
Bilbao, Spain.
-We're Okay is an official selection at the Tallgrass Film Festival in Wichita, Kansas October 14-18 as a part of the Spotlight on Emerging Young Filmmakers!
-Hattie is an official selection of Cucalorus Film Festivall in Wilmington, NC from November 11th-15th! 
-San Diego Asian Film Festival! Hello From Malaysia is playing November 7th at 11:00am! Here are the details!:
-Hattie has been accepted to the OutWest Film Fest in Reno, Nevada for the “Fountain of Youth block October 18th at 11:30pm!


Okay, well, I'm gonna get changed for the Opening Night of Laguna Film Festival! ...I'm still not done with my carrot-lemon-orange-ginger juice! I guess I better chug it.

Hopefully my next blog post will be more comprehensive. I haven't had much time these past few months... just trying to embrace the moment!

Sending lots of love out to you, the universe, juicers, and young filmmakers!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Vagabonding Full Speed Ahead & Starting a New Organization!

A drawing I made inspired by my friend Ben Hinton
who biked all the way from NC to San Diego.

"What I find is that you can do almost anything or go almost anywhere, if you're not in a hurry." 
-Paul Theroux

Right Now

My Joshua Tree goat friend. Oh, and my Caleb-friend in the background.

The chicken creeped on me as I worked on my screenplay.

At this very moment I am sitting in a cute Airbnb rental place in the desert of Joshua Tree, CA. The goats like to eat my shorts and lick my kneecaps and the three chickens all have very distinct personalities. I've been here for the weekend with  one of the most talented, dedicated filmmakers I know- his name is Caleb. I met him in Seattle at NFFTY about a year and a half ago. All of his work is truly inspirational. We've spent the weekend like a writing/working retreat. I've been focused in on writing new drafts for my Massada Fashion Eyewear film. (I was hired by Massada to make them a short film. I'm shooting in October. Pretty excited.) In a few hours we will be heading to Los Angeles where I'll be staying till the end of the month.

A few weeks ago my grandmother passed away. My mind is drawing a blank on how to appropriately form sentences reflective of what I truly want to say... but simply put: since the news, I have restructured my priorities. I realized how important it is to express your gratitude and appreciation for those in your life. Embrace the moment and embrace the people you are with in the moment. Let them know how much you love them. Keep on letting them know. And love them fully. Now is the most important moment of your whole entire life.

Okay.... time jump: I paused on writing and next thing you know: I'm in L.A.! I'm at this cute coffee shop in Silverlake called Casbah. I'm drinking an iced chai and waiting on a chicken empanada. I'm so hungry.

Time passed again. I just ate TWO chicken empanadas... I think I overdid it. None-the-less:

Various Travels & Adventures Up Until This Current Moment

Snuggling with my friend's cat in Vancouver!

My first Canada Day!
So in my last blog post I was sitting in a coffee shop (ha) in Seattle. I had just arrived after my two week train trip with my wonderfully amazing best friend Abbey Sacks. (She truly is the bees knees and I reserve that word for only the jazziest of the cats). Since then, the traveling and adventuring and exploring has just sky rocketed. While in Seattle Abbey and I went to our first Pride parade. I had one of the most freeing moments ever: in front of probably at least a thousand people, Abbey and I took our shirts off and danced around in a massive water fountain alongside about 15 other shirtless/nude individuals. I don't want to get too personal here, but the past 2 months my sense of body image and self has positively blossomed.  I traveled to Vancouver to reunite with a cinematographer friend named Sean (and while at the border control passport check I freaked out and forgot his name, to which the security lady started drilling me and doubting my viability-- it was intense!) who I met at The George Lindsey Film Festival in Alabama. The film (Dead Hearts) he DPed actually won Best Film... and it's one of my favorite short films ever. Anyways, he had mentioned to a bunch of the filmmakers that if we ever needed a couch to crash on in Vancouver we had one. And so naturally I took him up on the offer. While in Canada I got to celebrate Canada Day! Woohoo!

Then I went back to Seattle. During this time around Abbey and I co-directed a film for the 48 Hour Film Project. We actually ended up acting in it as well! I'm very happy with what we created because the vibe and feeling we captured is the kind of vibe I want to continue to explore and capture in my work. I love off, is this real or is this fantasy?, creepy but enticing feelings.  Here's the film we made:

My new WWOOFing friends!
So then I left Seattle and had my first WWOOFing experience. WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. So I volunteered for 5 days on a farm in Boring, OR. Yes, it is indeed pronounced 'boring.' But the farm was so much fun! And so exciting! I learned to prepare soil beds, to plant beets, to harvest carrots, to pasteurize milk, to feed pigs & ducks and much more! I made some awesome new friends and I finally had the chance to make caramelized carrots... they were delicious. While there I was provided with my own cabin & all meals. Super cool experience. I highly recommend looking into it for yourself.

An adorable exotic chicken that wandered on to the farm!
The caramelized carrot dish I finally made! I will surely be making this again!
Then I took a bus to Portland! Because of how amazing she is, Abbey took a train to Portland so that she could spend the weekend with me. We rented two different AirBnb places during our stay-- both were wonderful. Abbey and I had some unique experiences... too edgy for me to type here. Just ask me about it and maybe I'll tell you. Ha! I bought a new sketch book and have gotten back into drawing again. Thank goodness. I feel more free when I'm drawing. I also purchased a tiny book called  "Mindfulness on the Go." I would like to share with you a passage of this book that really resonated with me (pg. 97-98):

I drew the head, Abbey drew the body.
We had no clue we were drawing elements that would fit together!
"Many of us have a mind that measures self-worth in terms of productivity. If I did not produce anything today, if I did not write a book, give a speech, bake bread, earn money, sell something, buy something, get a good grade on a test, or find my soul mate, then my day was wasted and I am a failure. We give ourselves no credit for taking "being" time, for just being present. "Waiting" is thus a source of frustration. Think of the things I could be getting done!

And yet, if you asked the people that you care about what they would like most from you, their answer is likely to be some version of "your presence" or "your loving attention." Presence has no measurable product except positive feelings, feelings of support, intimacy, and happiness. When we stop being busy and productive and switch to just being still and aware, we ourselves will also feel support, intimacy, and happiness, even if no one else is around. These positive feelings are a "product" that is much desired but that cannot be bought. They are the natural result of presence. They are a birthright that we have forgotten we have."

I think the most important thing to me in life right now is to be fully present with each moment. I am focusing a lot of my time practicing this. It is becoming more and more natural, but I have a lot to learn.

My new Portland to SF road-mates.
I think she referred to us as the Babe-Wagon.
Also while in Portland I stayed 2 nights with my friend Kendra. She was one of my first friends when I went to Interlochen (the high school boarding school I went to) and she also starred in my film We're Okay. We had some wonderful beatboxing / singing improv sessions as well as nice conversations about life. We spent one day at a beautiful river and I got over a fear of mine: I swam down the river! On the final night with Kendra I found out that Abbey and my 48 Hour film Togetherness has made it to the awards screening! So out of 80+ teams we were going to receive an award! So although I was planning on going to LA for the rest of the month, I decided to buy a plane ticket to Seattle... but first things first:

I took a roadtrip to San Francisco! And when I say "roadtrip" -- well, let me elaborate: I posted on Craigslist that I was looking for this elusive thing called a "ride share." Did ride shares even exist? According to a couple Portland-people: yes, yes they did. So at 5pm while I was completely submerged in the river I received a text from a mysterious lady saying that "tonight she was leaving for San Francisco and she would be picking up another girl and a dog." I thought it through for about an hour or so... and then bam: less than 4 hours later I was on my way. The drive was an adventure in it of itself... oh yes. After almost 12 hours of overnight driving, we stopped by Mount Shasta Park where we all drank the "magical" water. I drank it and then google searched to make sure it was safe... it was.

One of my adorable cousins!
Anyways: it's now 10am and we're just reaching San Francisco.... I literally had no plans of where I was staying, so I contacted some friends... and then bam: my plans for my San Fransisco trip were made. The first night I stayed with Ruby, a talented film friend I met at NFFTY. Then the next night I stayed with Ben-- he is FANTASTIC! Such a loving soul. He biked all the way from NC to San Diego... what?! Then for one night I posed as an Airbnb ladies niece and she hid me in her garage. But that's another story.... And then for 2 nights I stayed with my cousins and their three adorable children. On the first day with them we went to a park and met up with some of their friends. For about 20 minutes I pushed THREE children on swings at once. I ran between them all as they shouted "I want to go higher!" - "No! Push me!" It was crazy, but amazing. We took a trip to the boardwalk in Santa Cruz. I road some rides, ate some fried zucchini, and watched Dip & Dots spill everywhere. On my last night in San Fransico I stayed with another NFFTY filmmaker friend: her name is Rachel. She's fantastic and we did the "7D Experience" where we shot down zombies together and screamed until our voices were in pain. We soothed the pain with funnel cake fries. The next day I boarded the plane to Seattle.

Happy Team Favorite Flannel after receiving the awards
(minus our cinematographer Noah Martin)
So now it's time for the Seattle 48 Hour Film Project Awards! A dream scenario occurred, yes indeed. First we won Best Sound Design. We were both ecstatic, but of course we were both thinking: oh gosh, is that it? But then!: we tie for Best Ensemble Cast! Abbey and I were two of the three actors?! We are in disbelief! AND THEN..... wait for it..... We win Best Direction?!? Abbey and I freak out with happiness. I am flooded with love. It is 10 times more amazing to win an award with your best friend then on your own. Seriously.

So I had about a week more in Seattle after that night. While in town Abbey and I adventured...
and we started making this animation thing based around some of our nude drawings we both had been making the past few weeks. We shot some pretty cool drone footage as well. Anyways: on Friday (so 3 days ago) I flew out to Palm Springs-- Caleb picked me up-- we stayed in Joshua Tree-- now i'm here in a coffee shop in LA.

A screenshot from the drone footage-- Abbey and I floating in Seattle.
So this concludes a [not really] brief recap of the past two months. And now for some future plans...

Future Travel Plans 

So while I'm in LA I will be meeting up with a ton of amazing people who I've met in the past- most are film friends. I also have a couple meetings set up. Around September 1st I will be heading back to the Carolinas. Tomorrow it will be exactly 7 months since the first day of my internship at Morgan Spurlock's production company Warrior Poets in NYC. Since then I've only been home for 4 days. This is the longest I've been away from home! I can't wait to return... especially because our house is for sale... so I kinda want to say goodbye to my house. And right when I get home I will go into hardcore pre-production for my Massada film project. 

Speaking at the AAHSFF after receiving my
award last year. What a happy moment!
So I just got a freelance job to work as a camera operator on a shoot for the car company Tesla. I will be flown out to San Francisco for a 2 day shoot at the end of the October. Then after that I will be traveling to San Diego to visit my 2 brothers and sister in law. I haven't seen my brother Jeremy and his wife for probably 3 or 4 years now. I can't wait. I will also be going to the San Diego Film Festival where my film Hattie is being screened. Should be fun!

Then three days after I get back home I will be flying out to NYC October 9th to be a guest speaker at the All American High School Film Festival. Last year my film We're Okay won Best Overall Film. So many amazing things have happened because of that. I'm really excited to go, as a lot of filmmaker friends of mine will be in attendance. I love reuniting with film friends at film festivals- it's one of my favorite things. While in NYC I will also be conducting some interviews with inspiring filmmakers-- I'll elaborate on this in the next section...

When I get back to the Carolinas I will be going into production for the Massada film project. Then at the end of October I will be returning to Seattle for the Seattle Horror 48 Hour Film Project! Abbey and I had such a fun time with the 48 Hour that we decided we needed to reunite and do it again... but this time horror! Wooohoo!

And the most far out of my future plans.... I may head out to Europe in the winter to start taking polyphonic throat singing lessons.... but more on that later. (Yes, I am currently teaching myself to throat sing-- and yes, I love it!)

Starting a New Organization!
Big Little Filmmaker

Yes that is truly Obama and I, Kira Bursky.
So while reading the amazing book "The 4-Hour Work Week" (which I'm still reading and still in complete awe of) I had en epiphany of something I want to create. I realized there is no central hub for young filmmakers. Yes, there are tons of fantastic opportunities and film festivals geared towards young filmmakers, but there is no one place to find all of that-- there is no real central community. So with that in mind many of my passions came colliding together: blogging, filmmaking, meeting inspiring filmmakers, inspiring young filmmakers, and helping young filmmakers make the most of being a young filmmaker! I've gotta say, my experiences with being a young filmmaker have been nothing less than unbelievable and unexpected. Being a young filmmaker brought me to the White House where I met Obama and Neil Degrasse Tyson and was interviewed by Bill Nye the Science Guy. Being a young filmmaker gave me many FREE trips to all over the U.S.! Being a young filmmaker has connected me up to tons of unbelievable other young filmmakers. My dream is to SHARE this! I want other young filmmakers to get all of these incredible opportunities and experiences and connections. And there you have it: Big Little Filmmaker is born. More on this soon. Planning on launching the website in early October.

Film Festival & Various Updates

June 19th my films Hattie and We're Okay opened up the Up and Out Film Festival in Minneapolis, MN alongside my best friend Miles' film Borderwoods!

Hello From Malaysia has been accepted into the kids shorts program for the San Diego Asian Film Festival which runs November 5th to 14th.

Hello from Malaysia has also been accepted into the International Peace & Film Festival which will be taking place in Orlando, FL November 12th to 15th.

Abbey and I with our awards at the
Seattle 48 Hour Film Project Awards!
Demons in Disguise has been accepted to the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival which takes place August 4th-9th in Walhalla, MI.

“It’s Just You,” the film I co-directed with Abbey Sacks, made it to the top 24 in the 24 Hour Film Racing and will be screened at the Gala Screening and Awards Ceremony in New York City on Saturday, August 29th at SVA Theater.

Warm Rush is an official selection at the Heart of the Pines Film Festival and will screen July 25-26th at the Civic Center in downtown Minden, Louisiana.

My film Hattie (which was the short I shot entirely on a cellphone) has made it as a top 3 finalist in the International 16 - 19 Short Film category at the Brighton Youth Film Festival. Hattie will be screened at the Award Ceremony on September 19th in Brighton, England. Girly was also accepted to this festival.

At the Seattle 48 Hour Film Project Awards, Togetherness, the film I co-directed with my best friend Abbey Sacks, won Best Direction, Best Ensemble Cast, and Best Sound Design!

In Conclusion... 

I'm hungry again and I think I'm gonna buy a pastry. And then I need to shift gears into writing another draft for my Massada Eyewear film. Full speed ahead!

Oh, and please remember: stay hydrated! (especially if you're in a desert getting lick-attacked by some spunky goats)


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Cannes Film Festival, Train Trip, and Discovering Life Purpose

 “Run from what's comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious. I have tried prudent planning long enough. From now on I'll be mad.”

"And still, after all this time,
the Sun has never said to the Earth,
“You owe me."
Look what happens with love like that.
It lights up the sky.” 

 Where am I? 
What a good question. Once upon a time I wanted to travel, but I was timid. I thought that I wasn’t the “kind of person who was able to travel.” I thought I wouldn’t travel for a very long time. This all seemed obvious and unchangeable. But now… well, I’ve re-written my story, naturally. And life is limitless. I’m so excited to be alive. I’m sitting in a coffee shop (big surprise, no?) and I want to jump up on the table, do a dance that makes everyone in the room uncomfortable, and scream at the top of my lungs “we’re all free!” Because we are. And someone needs to declare it!

Let’s start off with a quick summary 

— side note: Danish music is so good. Look up: “Balstyrko.” Thanks Adrian. —
-I finished my internship at Morgan Spurlock’s production company Warrior Poets in NYC.
-I went to NFFTY Film Fest in Seattle for the second time. I won Best Emerging Female Filmmaker.
-I visited my awesome brother in a super cool Buddhist retreat place in upstate NY.
At the private cast & crew premiere of Tree Hugger with my three lead actors.
-I became a finalist in a competition through San Diego Film Festival and shot them a movie in 4K all on a phone.
-I had the cast & crew private premiere of Tree Hugger back home.
-I turned 19.
-Tree Hugger got into the Short Film Corner at Cannes.
-I went to Cannes Film Festival… my first time in Europe.
-Went to Italy for 45 minutes.
-I finally met my composer Nicolas Martin (he did music for both Girly and Tree Hugger) after 3 years of first working together. I stayed with his family in Mallorca, Spain.
-I got my first paid short film job. In pre-production now.
-Visited my old high school Interlochen for their graduation.
-Went on a 2 week train trip from Michigan to Seattle with my best friend, filmmaker Abbey Sacks.
-We stopped in Minneapolis (MI), Minot (ND), & West Glacier (MT) - each for 4 days.
-We couchsurfed for the first time together… with a total of 3 couch surfing experiences.
-We hitchhiked for the first time together… with a total of 5 hitchhiking experiences.
-Now I’m in Seattle sitting in a coffee shop. Oh! Abbey just arrived. She was at her house playing with her dogs. Oh Abbey.

Cannes Film Festival

Me and my friend Guillermo Del Toro... ;)
On the Red Carpet at the opening night screening.

I “cannes’t” believe I went to Cannes. Ha. Anyways: It was truly surreal. When we talk in person I’ll tell you about all of the cool people I met. Made some great connections and wonderful new friendships. Had some meetings that could lead to some exciting things. I met my favorite filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro.

 I went to a panel on the new Pixar film Inside Out. The lead cast (which includes one of my heroes: Amy Poehler) and director were there. I touched Amy’s shoulder. I plan on returning to Europe so I can meet back up & collaborate with these new connections. This has given me a whole new perspective on the world of filmmaking and has made my drive to create even greater. Who knew that was possible. And none of this could of happened without the graciousness of my Gofundme supporters. So much thanks and gratitude to you all.

Here’s a short VLOG of my trip to Cannes:


Snuggle fest at NFFTY.
During my train trip I had a lot of time to think. As usual I had some life altering epiphanies. I discovered something really big. I discovered my life purpose. I want to live a life of helping people live magical lives. I realized that since childhood I’ve always been making decisions based off of the following thought process: will this lead me to magic? I wasn’t even aware of this until recently. But really, truly, I have lakes of magical memories. Baptisms in tubs at film festivals at 3 in the morning with Jewish folk, love letters to people I’m forbidden to profess my love to, skipping flights in order to sneak new friends into my Airbnb room so that we can have a couple more hours together, seeing a crazy-flaming-orange shooting star with the biggest crush I’ve ever had, snuggling with two lovely guys platonically and feeling infinite, screaming “we’re alive” on a bike in Minneapolis by the side of the sweetest girl I’ve ever known and basking in the cliched-nature of it all realizing that it feels good to embrace the cliches… these unique moments are full of vibrancy. These moments fill me up with a sense of meaning. I pursue a life of magic because I won’t settle for anything less. My purpose in life is to help other people achieve this magic.

My train mate Abbey Sacks drawing away.
On the train I realized I need to spend my days learning to truly love myself so that I can love and help others. A wise gal once told me [aka my first girlfriend and first heartbreak] that “you can’t love anyone else until you love yourself.” This phrase really upset me at that time… I thought “why would she say something like this? I LOVE her.” But then after years of dealing with depression and finally starting to float and breathe, I’ve discovered the difference in how it feels to love when you don’t love yourself versus to love when you do love yourself. When you love yourself, you are not seeking out other people to fill you up. The love you give out is not because you expect something in return. The love you give out is honest love. It is the kind of love that just is. It feels warm to give out… not scary. It feels magical. So yes. Every day I’m learning to be softer to myself. The way I dress, the way I look, the way I talk, the way I think, the depth I love… I’m learning to stop judging myself. I have a lot of love to give. I want to make it pure & sweet & magical… because the people I love deserve that and nothing less. Man, I love them.


On the set of Hattie.

Here’s the film “Hattie” I shot entirely on a 4K shooting mobile phone for the San Diego Film Festival. I sent in a proposal video to the competition and was then selected as one of fifteen finalists. They sent every finalist a Qualcomm mobile phone to shoot the film on. It will have it's film festival premiere there in a few months.

Various Media Coverage:

Different media sources covered the news about Cannes! Exciting times.
Citizen Times:
Greenville Online:
Mountain Xpress:
Was featured on a TV Channel in Greenville, SC! Here's the segment.

indieWIRE made a post about the screening group that my film We're Okay screened in at the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY)! My best friend Miles Carey's film was also screened in the group with his film "Border Woods."

Film festival updates / screenings / awards:

At the private premiere screening of Tree Hugger.

-We're Okay and Warm Rush were official selections at the West Chester International Film Festival located in West Chester, PA which took place April 24-26. Girly was an official selection last year.
-Demons in Disguise played at the first ever SC Comicon Film Fest in Greenville, SC. March 22nd. Wayne Culpepper, my assistant director and producer, represented the film.
At NFFTY talking about my film Demons in Disguise.
-Warm Rush was accepted to Heart of the Pines Film Festival and will have three screenings in three different places! The first screening will be in Minden, Louisiana (just outside Shreveport) on Saturday, July 25th, 2015. The other two screenings will be announced soon.
-We're Okay and Demons in Disguise have been accepted to the Three Cities Film Festival- more details in regards to potential live screening locations will be announced soon- for now it is taking part in the online film festival… and the festival is going to make We're Okay Spanish subtitles! Yay!
-I sent in a proposal video to a contest and was selected as 1 of 15 finalists for the San Diego Film Festival Qualcomm UltraHD 4K Mobile Challenge. I received a phone that shoots 4K and shot my film Hattie. It will be screened at the San Diego Film Festival.
-We're Okay was accepted to the KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival held May 27th to 31st, 2015 in Mumbai, India and was screened in the Keep Calm! Live & Let Live screening group! KASHISH was voted as one of the top 5 coolest LGBT film festivals in the world by a worldwide poll conducted by MovieMaker Magazine in 2013.
-What Are You? and Warm Rush were accepted to CineYouth at the Chicago International Film Festival held May 7-9 in Chicago, IL. What Are You? screened Friday May 8th at 8pm and Warm Rush screened Saturday May 9th at 12pm.
-Warm Rush has been accepted to the Lovett School High School Film Fest held May 2nd in Atlanta, GA. and won Best U.S. Animation.
With the fabulous filmmaker Iver from Norway!
-We're Okay and Warm Rush were accepted to the West Chester Film Festival which took place April 24th-26th in West Chester, PA.
-My video for the Grammy winning Eighth Blackbird Ensemble's piece "Counting Duet 4" premiered at Interlochen Arts Academy April 9th.
-We’re Okay and Demons in Disguise screened at NFFTY. And then I won Best Emerging Female Filmmaker.
-Girly was screened as a part of the Santa Monica International Teen Film Festival in Santa Monica, CA June 6th.
-Hello From Malaysia was screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival (Los Angeles, CA) on June 13th as a part of the Future Filmmakers Showcase.
-Hello from Malaysia will be screening at the The Lawrence Arts Center's Free State Film Festival, June 22-28, 2015 (Lawrence, KS).
-Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) accepted and screened Girly and Warm Rush as a part of the teen video showcase on May 30th in Miami, Fl.
-I acted in the short film "Li Chi Slays the Serpent" that was made for the The Sparrow Film Project and premiered June 6th at the Museum of the Moving Image in Brooklyn, NY.
-I Competed in the 24 Hour Film Race June 12th. I co-directed with my best friend Abbey Sacks.


OKAY. Well, I gotta go do a lot of other things now. This includes finally going on the Space Needle in Seattle, eating an Indian food lunch, and lots of film related things. Ta ta for now! And remember: stay hydrated.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Writing a Feature! Tree Hugger Updates! Alabama!

Why hello there!

My breakfast from the Butcher's Daughter... oh yes. Oh yes indeed.
I just ate a steamed pork bun and finished my milk bubble tea. I still have 3 Chinese pastries to eat. Oops. I just ate half of one. And guess what? It's a dessert I've been searching for for 4 years! I ate it when I went to China and have been craving one ever since. It's a coconut rice cake thing-- this one was filled with peanut. I'm literally passed out on the floor with happiness & love right now. (Okay, I lied, I'm sitting on a chair typing... but in my head I'm passed out on the floor). Oh, and yesterday I ate at a Kosher Vegan Chinese restaurant?! And then today I ate at a Vegan restaurant called the Butcher's Daughter (what an amazing name for a Vegan restaurant). I'm not Vegan... but I've been obsessed with finding Vegan restaurants this week! Ha. Yum yum.

Tree Hugger Updates

So the picture is locked for Tree Hugger! My sound designer will be working on the film this weekend and tomorrow morning I meet with my colorist who will begin working on color grading this weekend as well! So a few weeks ago Nicolas Martin sent me back the score for the film... and let me just say... I am once again in awe of his musical genius. He perfectly captured the whimsy, magic, and dark fairytale vibe I was going for. He scored my film Girly 2 years ago and since then I've been dying to work with him again. So grateful that I had the chance!

These past couple of weeks I've been researching all of the festivals I want to enter. Let me know if you have any suggestions! I've become quite addicted to film festivals. It's this amazing phenomenon of creative people, filmmaking, eating, bonding & travel.... all my favorite things in one! Can't wait to do more of that... and speaking of which:

George Lindsey UNA Film Festival Trip 

Last Wednesday I left for the George Lindsey UNA Film Festival based in Florence, Alabama. My film Girly was selected as one of 30 films from 3,000 entries! They paid for my travels & accommodations and I stayed till Sunday. I met filmmakers from all over the world: Germany, Canada, Spain, Santa Fe, L.A., etc. This film festival really focused on making the experience amazing for the filmmakers. I miss my new friends so much already. But I know we will all stay in touch and cross paths again! That I will make sure of.

First Feature

On a plane heading to LA... while on the plane I day dreamed about the feature film screenplay.
During Valentine's Day weekend I had a breakthrough: it hit me all at once what feature film I wanted to make. I knew which story I had to tell. Here's the pitch (as quoted by my boss after telling him the concept): "You're writing the Disney Channel Polygamist movie." Yeah... something like that.... But in all seriousness: I don't have a logline yet (as I'm still fleshing out the plot) but here's one I came up with earlier today: A girl searches for a classical, fairytale romance but unexpectedly falls in love with a couple.

Prepare for magic! And love! And passion! And whimsicality! The past 2 or 3 weeks I've been fleshing out the plot, characters, etc. Alongside this I've been reading books on producing & financing films. I plan on utilizing my Tree Hugger film festival tour as a financing tour for my feature. In the next few months I will start looking for a producer for my film. If you are a female film producer with some experience and are reading this or if you know of a female producer with some experience, please contact me! Or if you are an investor or know an investor who may be interested, once again, please do contact me! In the next couple of months I will be writing up the business plan for the feature.

Film Festival & Various Updates

Demons in Disguise & Girly are official selections at Starlite Film Festival which took place in Winter Garden, Florida from Feb. 26 to Mar. 1 2015. Demons in Disguise won Best Domestic Student Short.

We're Okay and Demons in Disguise are official selections at National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY) located in Seattle, WA taking place from April 23rd to 26th.

Girly was named 1 of 30 finalist films in the 2015 George Lindsey UNA Film Festival in Florence, Alabama from March 5-7.

What Are You? has been accepted to the Boomtown Film & Music Festival which takes places in Beaumont, Texas from February 25th-28th!

I finished and turned in my short film for Sony! A few months ago my film We're Okay won a the All American High School Film Festival in NYC and one of the prizes was a new Sony camera-- in return I made Sony a short film.

Working on a collaboration with the awesome Grammy winning Eighth Blackbird Ensemble. Making a video to one of their songs for a live performance!

I finally got to go to LA. It's a crazy story... but 10 minutes into my Monday a couple weeks ago my job sent me on a random trip to LA?! It was so surreal. I had 30 minutes before a car picked me up and whisked me away to the airport. I was on a mission to get Morgan Spurlock his passport that very night! They put me up in an amazing hotel in Santa Monica. And then the next day I came back to NYC. Life is amazing.

About to start composing for my best friend Abbey Sacks' thesis film. It is so surreal and dreamy and magical. Cannot wait to create music for her!


Well, I guess I better go eat the rest of my Asian snacks & day dream some more about the world of my screenplay. Sending magic, hugs, and smiles to you!
Remember: stay hydrated!