Reality Check

The wall behind me, in this photo, belongs to Paramount Studios in Los Angeles. I was there this weekend for the premiere of the first feature film I directed. Free Trip to Egypt.
On Sunday morning, I walked in the southern California heat and remembered. I had my first “real” acting gig at Paramount. That day felt like all my farfetched dreams might just be coming true.
Mirage.

Life has taken a few twists and turns since then. Dreams changed, clarified like butter over heat. I’ve been doing and living and shaking things up. Mostly jumping into deep waters and not drowning.
Yet.

The road behind me stretches indefinitely. The road ahead of me beckons me to keep going. Where, I do not know yet. Makes me think of a story I wrote in high-school about a pilgrim on the road to Mecca who found something other than he expected. Stories.
Looking for truth.


What I know is that I will finish the “Free Trip to Egypt” tour which ends this Wednesday, June 12th. (It’s had sold-out premieres in NYC and LA. The herculean effort we all put in is amounting to something that is reaching hearts and minds. I am very grateful for that.)
In about a week, I will return to Paris and continue the work on Strigoi. I will finish that film (talk about twists and turns).
Once that is finished, I will listen to the call that feels most true and follow it.

Thank you for being with me on this journey.
Thank you for taking an interest and for all your encouragement.

Hope life is treating you well wherever you may be.

Ingrid

PS. Free Trip to Egypt is screening in 500 theatres across the US tomorrow, June 12th. I will be at the San Francisco screening HERE.
If you want to see it in your town, you can find a theatre near you here:
https://www.fathomevents.com/events/free-trip-to-egypt

Free Trip to Egypt trailer

Coming to the US, but first

I fasted for Lent and now I’m fasting for Ramadan. I’m not converting to anything or anyone. It’s not about joining a religion but about taking part in the human intention to create compassion and peace, within and without.
I still have a couple of people I’m angry at so I have some work to do to get to that peace and compassion.

I was never into fasting. I thought I could never do it because I love food too much but it turns out I like it. I have a couple of flammable moments here and there but for the most part it quiets my mind. Not to mention all the extra time I have during the day! For Ramadan, you don’t eat until the sun sets. For Lent I gave up sugar, alcohol and cheese and went mostly vegetarian. Lent was harder but I loved it too. Just to think that 2 years ago I had my first experience of Ramadan in Egypt. More on that below…

On the MUSIC side, I made a video for NPR’s Tiny Desk for “Leaves,” a song I wrote in a quiet and tiny apartment below Sacre Coeur. The salon window opened onto a big tree. Except for a baby crying nearby, the quiet and serene atmosphere of the flat stood in stark contrast to my metro stop. Barbes-Rochechouart station is as close as you can get to running the gauntlet.

I was in this apartment long enough to see the tree go from bare branches to green leaves. I felt utterly alone, betrayed and lost. I shed many tears there. I also made a best friend and felt the beginning of what it’s like not to feel alone when you’re alone. I tried to put all of that into this song. I hope you like it.


FILMwise, the documentary I directed, “Free Trip to Egypt,” is having its theatrical premiere in the US in just a few weeks. I will be in NYCLos Angelesand San Francisco. It’s been a harrowing and exhilarating experience. As most of you know, this film has been the catalyst to great loss and great gain in my life. The upcoming trip will be a mixed bag of feelings but I am mostly grateful. 
If you would like to watch it and can’t make the NYC, LA premieres, the film will screen in 500 theatres across the US on June 12th (including San Francisco where I will be.)
For trailer, dates and ticket links, go see the goat HERE.

I hope to see you on this trip and if I don’t, please know how grateful I am that you let me into your mailbox aka your heart, and that you care about my adventures, my successes and my failures. 

All my best from the city of lights,

Ingrid

PS. I have Strigoi news to share as well but I will tell you more in my next letter.

xxx

and breathe …

To see 2018, I look into the mirror.
What’s left of what I started with?
Did I learn? Did I grow?
Are the changes within showing on my face?

This year dunked me under water so many times I thought I would never come back up to the surface.
Although it has felt like an attempt on my life, 2018 exercised its full power to dislodge me from most everything I called safe. Home, city, relationship … I am grateful for the saints along the way. 

Was it Leonard Cohen who said that light gets in through the cracks? And so it seems that a little bit did.
When I look, really look into the mirror, I see it glimmer in my eyes, like that eternal serpent of awakening.

Mirrors don’t judge.

Here I am.
And there you are.
Thank us all.

Michelangelo said that he merely removes the superfluous pieces of stone to reveal the statue within. 2018 shaped me into more of me, tender skin with a lion’s heart. I wrote that in a song. I’ve been writing songs but they feel so personal, I don’t know when I’ll gather the courage to share them.


This is one of my photos of the Gilets Jaunes demonstrations in Paris.
I posted a longer account with more photos and videos on my INSTAGRAM page.

2019 Goals …

1. Finish “Strigoi.”
2. Make another doc.
3. Continue to write my fiction project and film as much of it as possible.
3. Write more songs and maybe share them.
4. Keep meditating and writing in my journal.
5. Spend time with the people I love.
6. Eat croissants, go to museums and spend time in nature.
7. Be here.


Love Spell for 2019

For 2019.
I love you even before I know you.
For my friends.
You are so much more than my heart once wished for. Saints.
For all of us.
May we be our true selves to such an extent that the symphony of our co-existence resonates fully into the here and now and the always. 


If you’d like to support the post production of Strigoi, let me know. One option is to make a tax-deductible donation through my fiscal sponsor, SFFILM (only available until March 2019), another way is to send your donations directly to me via Paypal. You will be credited on screen, of course, and I am happy to extend the Kickstarter rewards if you’re interested.

I’m moving towards being able to share some footage with you soon. I’m editing it myself so it’s a little daunting. Encouragements much appreciated. 

Here’s my latest Strigoi video update from outside Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

Thank you for reading.

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April in Paris

April in Paris. Doesn’t it sound romantic?
It’s been everything BUT, except if I count my “know thyself” quest as romance.

I’ve been living on my own since mid January with trips to Chicago to sing with Forest, Oaxaca & San Francisco to screen a rough cut of the Egypt film and Zurich to meet with my executive producer. I moved more times than I care to count. My favorite Parisian neighborhood is Montmartre.

I remind myself that this is the first time I am at the helm of a massive project as a director. Massive is relative, I know, but going from DIY to having teams of people, heavyweight editors all in a couple of months, has had me in a spin. Lots of learning, heartbreak, victories, inspiration, loneliness and loveliness.

As much as I’m squirming from growth pains, I am trying my best to appreciate it all. Seeing the big picture and all of that.


In other news, my friend Jordan Buetow came to visit. We met through the Grammys four years ago. We’re basically twins except that he dresses much better than me.

He was a breath of fresh air, a drink of cool water, a bundle of laughter and a true friend. We got locked in a cemetery, ate too much good food, laughed ourselves silly and walked all over Paris, our adventures well-documented on the socials.


The Egypt film is moving forward. The exec and my US editor came to town this week. Some ups and downs but all in all, we’re moving forward. End of May, we’re shifting into post sound and color at a studio here in Paris. We toured the place yesterday. Mind blown!


New developments for STRIGOI. I met and befriended a vampire expert and through him I made some new friends: a fairy, an alchemist, a bishop and a witch.

In this photo, we are at Pere Lachaise cemetery where Dracula is reputed to be “living.”

Paris has a rich history of vampires and the occult. I didn’t think the Egypt film would bring me here and had no idea that the vampires would be waiting for me. It’s all connected.

These are the past few weeks in broad brush strokes.
Next month I’ll be traveling to Cairo, Zurich and Romania then back to Paris to meet my director of photography who’s coming from London. He and I will work on the coloring for the film at the fancy studio.
I also have to find a new place to live. So. Much. Moving!

Thank you for taking an interest in my life and work, not much separation between the two at the moment. Write back when you can and tell me how you are.

Hugs,
Ingrid

PS. One way I’ve been coping with all the stress is singing and playing the piano. Thanks my friend who told me about this studio. It’s been a late night life saver.

Transilvania Frumoasa

Little movie keeps going …

“Hello Ingrid. Thank you so much for allowing us to share your beautiful film. All enjoyed and had a poignant discussion after the film. We shared your quotes with the audience and also showed the film twice before we discussed it. The international film festival here in Carson City NV looks forward to more of Goat Lips Productions !!  Please keep in touch if you have time. Best regards. Linda”
TF Poster


It’s the end of February! I always like telling you when we are. We are in the year 2018, approaching March in a whirlwind of events, of ups and downs …

I’m sharing a little bit of good news. “Transilvania Frumoasa” was featured at the Carson City International Film Festival. The letter above came from the director of the festival. Being appreciated never gets old. (Thank you to everyone who’s joined this prestigious group, my mailing list so you could watch the film.)

You can watch this short documentary, a simple love poem for my birth place, here: https://vimeo.com/ingridserbanfilms/transilvaniafrumoasa with the password myplace

“Transilvania Frumoasa” (Transylvania the Beautiful) is my first short documentary, made on an Iphone 5. I wanted to say that it was a simpler time back then, seeing that I am now in post production with two feature length documentaries, living by myself in Paris, gearing up to write my next project (the most challenging yet!) … but that time back then, wasn’t simple either. I remember the edit. I had nasty flu, I couldn’t even stand, I was under a crazy deadline … I recorded about 50 takes of the narration. It’s not that long ago but it feels like another lifetime.

I’m keeping this letter short because if I start, it may get really long! All I’m going to say is that this is the most challenging time I have ever experienced, that I’m looking for that space between the “either” and the “or” and that I am experimenting with a new thing: being alone. What a strange challenge. I am grateful for it and for all the film work as well. I am doing what I love with a refining fire blazing around me.


TwelveConsultingChicagoEnd of January, I flew to Chicago to play a show with Forest for these fine people at Twelve Consulting.
They do so much good work in their community.
Jill started the company and her husband Josh joined in.
I am inspired.


What’s next …

  • In 2 days I’m leaving Paris for Oaxaca (via San Francisco for one night. I get to see Forest and smell some redwoods. Ahhh. I can’t wait.)
  • After 5 days of Oaxaca, where I’m doing a rough-cut screening of the Egypt film I will return to San Fran for 10 whole days!
  • Mid March, back to my solo existence in Paris for about 3 more months to finish editing the Egypt film AND the vampire/strigoi documentary.

PS. RIP Ana Misin, the lady on the left on the movie poster.

love,

Ingrid


 

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2018

I’m writing to you from the other side of the time divide. It’s already 2018 in Romania. It’s all good. 🙂
The new year is bringing a feeling of renewal, brightness and courage. At least those were the thoughts crossing my mind while I was watching the neighbors shoot fireworks into the sky. (Fireworks are not illegal here.)  The loud sounds and bright lights of the fireworks are supposed to chase away the darkness and evil and open the way for the new and bright, right? I think they did it.

2017 has been a whirlwind; a magical carpet ride. 2018 shows no signs of stopping. If anything, it looks likes it’s gearing up for more and more. I am grateful. Sure, it’s all coming in at once but I’ll take it.

At the end of 2016, I had no idea I was going to direct 2 feature documentaries in 2017. I don’t recommend it that but like said, the attitude I’ve been cultivating is “bring it!” I have traveled to Minnesota, several times to Egypt, Romania, Switzerland, France and quick trips to Italy, Spain and Portugal. Just in the last few weeks I’ve been in So Cal, Louisville, Nebraska, NYC … I was home in the Bay Area for a total of maybe 6 weeks this year. We have a few more days here in Romania, just enough to get over some nasty colds and then back to Paris.

Mid January, Forest is heading to our home in the bay to begin working on the music for the Egypt documentary. I will stay in Paris to continue working with my editor through the end of February. I will dash over to Chicago end of January just for a couple of days to play a show with Forest and Mike Mullins, our mandolin/guitar player. Then, after a quick stop in Ohio, I’m heading back to Paris and Forest back to the bay.

This is the first time Forest and I are spending so much time apart. I expect it will be somewhat strange and lonely but we’re ready to tackle this new chapter of life and use our talents to continue to create together. And there’s always Facetime, right?

I keep coming back to the gravitational pull of the truth that I love my work. As much as 2017 has been magical and amazing and beautiful, I have met with some of the biggest challenges and like on the hero’s journey, I fought fearful monsters who threatened to destroy me. I am here, I made it through, monsters somewhat quiet. I can’t declare victory yet but I have gotten to know these creatures well. They are no longer strangers. Who knows, maybe someday we’ll be friends.

2018 is setting up to be the most fearful and marvelous one to date. If you’re in the skill and habit of sending bolstering energies, please do.

For you, I am grateful. Thank you for lending me your ear and your care.
A friend of time sent me the perfect wish: Time. Time to do work on I want to accomplish. I extend that wish to you and anything else you might desire.

Ingrid Serban Danc Cemetery

I took this photo of myself next to my grandma and grandpa’s graves. I recorded one of my video updates for the Strigoi film there. If you’d like to watch the updates, go HERE.

Love,
Ingrid

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from the road

After sunshine must come rain.
September 1st rolled in in style, here in Lugano, Switzerland. Yesterday was hot and humid as every summer day we’ve had since we arrived. Then evening came.
A flash of light and a rolling thunder made way for a carousing tempest that raged all night.
Nothing like a storm at the edge of a lake. It feels like a divine dance marked by loud clapping and deep belly laughter. Fiesta, forever!

We have been here in the south of Switzerland for the past 6 weeks, editing the feature documentary we filmed in Egypt this summer. I am very happy with the editor we have on our team. He’s most certainly in the realm of wishes come true when it comes to a working relationship. On top of that, his fiancee has been a real ray of sunshine as we delve in the depths of the footage to find the story.
Forest has been making so many amazing meals for the whole house and jumping in the lake any chance he gets.
We’ve all been living in the same house with rolling guests. My parents came by for a weekend, my friend Caroline from SF for another, Deepa for a day and Tarek our exec has been mostly here but out at times too.
So the core group, consisting of Pierre our editor, Amy, Forest and myself has been holding down the fort.


 

Film Festival Screening

“All Sales Final” is screening at Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema Festival on September 8th @ 10PM.
BAREBOTTLE BREWING COMPANY
1525 Cortland Avenue, San Francisco CA


Concert in Berkeley

Forest Sun and I, joined by the amazing musician and producer Gawain Matthews will be playing a private show for Rosecrest Concerts on Saturday, 9/9

GawainForestIngrid


Paris next …

After just 8 days in the Bay Area, we’re off to Paris for the fall to spend six more weeks on the edit!
At first I felt sad not to come home but then I thought … Paris … the fall … making the movie better …
Although we have been home less than 2 months this year, I am looking forward to being in Paris and polishing this film.
And then, we’ll come home in November. …. and I hopefully and willfully get to finish my vampire film as well.
To sum up the state of my heart and mind, “help and thank you.”

Please write back and tell me how you are.
I always enjoy hearing from you.

Ingrid

PS. To help with the Hurricane Harvey relief I donated to MusiCares. If you’re moved to find out more info about them, you can do so HERE. I am not officially affiliated with MusiCares but I support the work that they do.

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