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.



  1. Wow, what a long list of accomplishments you have! I'm so proud that you're so young (and a female!) and have already achieved so much.
    I love your new perspective on life, wonderful ideas to live by.
    Lastly, I have to agree that Danish music is great. You should check out "Blå" by Ulige Numre.
    Can't wait to see what's in store for you next, may you succeed in all that you do!

  2. Ah loved the vlog and so enjoyed viewing your beautiful travel vid. Your new friends look lovely, the food you ate exquisite and Cannes looked amazing.. thanks for sharing.