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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Cairo, Egypt

Hello my dear friends,

Yes, Forest and I are in Cairo, Egypt! We are safe and happy creating a fantastic documentary film.
3 days of meeting many wonderful people, finalizing our local crew and Egyptian cast, quite a task in itself. To remind you, we are bringing Americans and their families on a free trip to Egypt so that they can experience this place for themselves, creating a feature documentary around it.

Every single person we met here has been an absolute delight (minus one … more on that later). This is my very first time in Egypt and first time directing such a large crew and cast. Talk about going from 0 to 60 in a few seconds.
The gratitude that I feel for this project, Egypt and the people I’m working with is propelling me forward at a dizzying speed.

The reason why we’re here now is to arrange for the big trip later this summer, part of which includes location scouting. Yesterday we went to the pyramids, which brings me to the “minus one” person.


There is a bit of a fiasco at the gates to the pyramids because they closed at 4pm due to Ramadan. As a result of a flurry of loudly spoken Arabic words exchanged by our people and the gate keepers we end up in horse-drawn buggies going to somewhere outside the pyramids for a “nice view.” The ride is intense and beautiful. We are going through the suburb of Giza, a colorful and dense region populated by many smiling faces, horses and camels.

We start climbing the desert hills. Our driver and horse have a good working relationship, the horse is allowed to rest when he needs to. It is quite beautiful, they way the understand each other without words or the violent whip. I can’t say the same for the other driver. He is cruel and ruthless and he breaks his whip on the horse’s haunch. We get to our vista point I am in tears. I want to free the horse, tend to his bloody cuts and send his oppressor as far away as possible. But I cannot. The torturer is a young man. He knows how I feel and I don’t know if that makes him prouder of his power or gives him a second thought about his actions.

The view of the pyramids is stunning and impressive. The sacred and the suffering seem to have a lot in common, don’t they? I don’t have it in me to get a smiling photo of myself in front of the pyramids. I just stand there and let it all mix in with the strong wind that wipes my tears.


When our American travelers arrive, they will not be taking the horse and buggies to the pyramids.

There’s loads more to share with you but I’ve already written a lot so I’ll close here, but not before I share with you our latest music video, below. Hope you find inspiration and joy in it. I know we do. 🙂

Sending you much love and a warm embrace from the Egyptian sun.

Now Or Never

Forest Sun’s new single, “Now or Never” with Gawain Mathews and Kyle Caprista.

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It’s a wrap

I am writing you from my cousin’s house in Georgia. We arrived in the USA 3 days ago, a little tattered, me with an ear infection and Forest exhausted from the 10-day trip all over Romania right before we got on the plane. Driving over there is a real battle, especially when the car brakes down in the middle of your journey. It was crazy!

As I look back on Romania, my heart is filled with gratitude for all that it had to hold. We had incredible experiences, frustrating times and difficult journeys. Looking into the vampire/strigoi stories was much like pulling the curtain and peering into the darkness of our human souls. I am not only referring to the belief in “evil” but also to our capacity to exclude and demonize others for simply being different.
At times, we may need supernatural language to interpret someone’s cruel and unusual actions. Lots of thoughts …

From my investigations and filming, it’s difficult to conclude on whether there are such things as supernatural creatures and powers. There’s enough evidence to prove both sides. I look forward to editing the film and sharing it with you.

On to new adventures … a new movie!

As we were wrapping up filming our vampire/strigoi film in Romania, a dear friend of ours recommended us for an unusual project. A Swiss entrepreneur wants to take six American families on a free vacation to Egypt. He has no political affiliation or religious agenda. He simply wants to offer this trip to people who are concerned about our country’s and the world’s safety when it comes to Muslims and show them the Egyptian culture. There’s a saying: “If we can have a war of words then we can avoid a real war.”

Where do I fit in? I was asked to be the director of the film. Can you believe it? Me, lil’ ol’ me. Forest is producing.
As a filmmaker I am thrilled to be directing another feature film!
As a human, my heart is eager to contribute towards acts of kindness and understanding.

We’re in the process of casting right now so if you know someone who’d like to come on the trip, let me know. I would love to get someone from Chicago.

Thank you for reading.

If you’d like to see my movie-a-month challenge films, please join my mailing list.

Ingrid

For regular updates, join my MAILING LIST.

Last film of 2016

dsc00491One of the Romanian customs says that you can and should wish everyone a happy new year during the month of January. Today is the last day. Happy New Year!

I know it’s been a tumultuous end of the year and an even more divisive new year. I still hold true that stories bind us together and remind us of our own common ground and humanity.

With Forest helping, I’ve been working on the big film, the vampire documentary. Three weeks left in Romania. I find myself flirting with the feeling of panic. Did I do a good enough job so far? Will I finish capturing everything that this film needs? Is it even going to make sense?
This feeling is ever available during the creative process. I try to see it as a friend and an opportunity to trust and move forward.

Part of the reason for my making a different short film for every month of this year is to repeatedly face all of feelings of the creative process and linger not in their embraces.

Movement is key.

Can you believe I did it? The challenge is completed. 12 short films in a year! Done! That feels good.

Start thinking about your favorite 4 films that I made this year. I’ll polish them and then … we can submit them to festivals and beyond!

Last thing I’m going to say before I part the curtains and show you this month’s strigoi short film (my first of the suspense genre) is that the title of the film, this new Chinese year of the rooster and my starting this challenge right after last Chinese year is a coincidence. Or is it?

Sending you love and gratitude.
Write back when you can.

Ingrid

To watch this film and the other 2016 monthly films, join my mailing list http://bit.ly/IngridsList

PS. The photo above is from the village of Arghis. Over 600 years ago, Vlad Dracula himself was here, perhaps leaving his footsteps on this very road.

PPS. If you’d like to keep up with my weekly video updates, please subscribe to my YouTube channel. http://bit.ly/VampireFilmVideoUpdates