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)


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