Every few years, I take a look at my personal portfolio site and revamp it a little. Usually with a new piece of work, or to take a look at my biography. And last thing I always do before closing the tab is to look at the bottom. It’s where I have the single word that is supposed to define who I am — Filmmaker.

When I was freelancing, the largest hurdle I faced was defining who I was in the entertainment industry. To be successful in this business, you need to have a specific role that you fit in…


It’s almost like a reflex.

Whenever the topic of identity comes up, being multiracial we start to become mathematicians.

In the past when I was asked about my ethnicity, I would describe it in confusing fractions:

“My dad is white and my mom is black so I’m half and half. But there’s some Native American in there supposedly, so I guess I’m really a third. But we’re not sure how much, so many I’m an 1/8th Native American?”

For anyone who is doing the math — you’ve already calculated that doesn’t equal a whole number. …


This article originally appeared on the weekly newsletter.

It’s been quite a few weeks for the United States of America. Protests, police brutality, it’s been a reckoning moment for our nation.

I attended another meetup for The Mixed Space where we discussed how the issue of how to fight the justice that needs to happen while still coming to terms with our identities.

I am mixed with black, white and Native American. And while I’ve been mistaken for a wide array of ethnicities, many have been very quick to point me out as black and often discriminate me as so…


We’ve reached some grim milestones recently. We’ve seen video documenting the murders of not one, but two of our African-American brothers. And we’ve crossed the threshold of 100,000 dead to a pandemic that holds the world in its grip.


I spent a lot of time during the course of my filmmaking career creating who I didn’t want to be. This desire to avoid being pigeon-holed or categorized for the most part has led me to create work that in parts stands out , but as a complete body of work has been scattered. To use marketing terminology, I have been lacking a brand voice.

This led my career as a filmmaker to stagnate. Trying to create everything led to a confusion of what thing I was actually doing. There’s always a struggle in any creative field to avoid having…


Luck

When I was little, I was fortunate to spend lots of time with both sides of my mixed heritage.

With my Latvian grandmother. I learned how to play the violin, sing Latvian nursery rhymes, and solve puzzles. I watched my father converse in a language that I didn’t understand, but felt completely at ease.

I also spent time with my extended African American family on my mother’s side. There were barbecues, bad Kung Fu movies, and loud discussions ranging from religion to music to family issues.

Preparation

I was immersed in the history, accomplishments, and suffering of both my African American…


Photo by Sterling Davis

I remember sitting in that hospital.

It was only my dad and I. The nurse had just left after telling me there was nothing else that could be done. My father had abused his body with too much alchohol for too many years.

He was going to die.

My dad’s primary thoughts were that he was sorry there wasn’t more time as well as what loose ends needed to be wrapped up. My father, once his mind was made up, was never one to leave anything unfinished. One of the most important was to make sure that each of his children received the money he had…


Photo by Gabby Orcutt on Unsplash

There’s nothing quite like the start of the NFL . In September the weather is nicer, the season is wide open with possibilities, and life is beginning to wind down. It’s also my birthday month, but I promise that’s never swayed my opinion of the beginning of fall.

I was never much a fan of football growing up, even though my brother played it throughout high school and college. …


I recently visited friends in San Francisco, my 4th time there. This time we visited Land’s End and walked through the tunnels and paths where I had never been before.

Every visit to San Francisco I think about the first time there — a school visit to the Academy of Art college and also my re-integration into American society.

I had moved back from Denmark only a month prior. While staying in Minnesota, I opened a TCF bank account the day before my trip and set off for San Francisco with a checkbook and $200 in cash. I took off…


I’ve been a filmmaker for over a decade now and have made a variety of short form work. My earlier work has been generally well received, and I thoroughly enjoyed the process of making them. But eventually, making films that fit inside a pre-determined genre was no longer fulfilling. So I decided to take some advice from my early film school teachers to try and really find my voice as a filmmaker. I didn’t want to simply create something that people would like — I wanted to say something about my own experience. …

Maris Lidaka

Freelance filmmaker and editor. Founder of the Blended Future Project. https://blendedfutureproject.com

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