b'that feels positive and celebrates humanity and has depth, she says. We wereGeographyofBliss coming out of [the pandemic] in late 2021, Covid restrictions were starting topresentsseveralchallenges lift, and it felt like an amazing opportunity to reenter the world and reconnectforanexecutiveproducer. with an optimistic pursuit. Sincethetraveloguetakes Woods previous documentary work made her an ideal candidate for this par- placeinIceland,Ghana, ticular project. After growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, she made her way toBulgaria,andThailand New York. In 2015, Wood and her family moved to Maplewood from Brooklyn.(with a concluding episode Its the origin story for everybody here, she jokes. After living in Maplewoodin Los Angeles), Wood and for a year, the family moved over to South Orange. Her husband, Don, is atheteamhadtheirhands medical-surgical nurse and their 10-year-old daughter, Leona, will attend fifthfull scheduling the produc-grade at South Mountain Elementary this fall. tion.Fromaculturalper-IoriginallythoughtIwouldgospective,Woodknewthat intonarrativefilm,sherecalls.Butfinding the most engaging,Melissa Wood, her husband, Don, and daughter, that changed when she got a tip aboutsurprising,andcompellingLeona, live in South Orange.a documentary production companypeopletointerviewwasa thatwaslookingforanintern.Ittop priority. wasntwhatIwasoriginallylookingWilson meets an assem-for,butIfeelsoluckythatithap- blageoffascinatinglocals pened,shesays.Woodsimpressivewho usher him through his resumeincludesworkappearingonjourney.Ineverycoun-Netflix, National Geographic, Show- try we go to we hire a local time, Discovery, A&E, Peacock, andproducertointroduceus more. Previous documentary subjectsto people, she says. Well include the secret service (Secret Ser- havelotsofconversations vice: On the Front Line), video gamewith them about the kinds history (High Score), and an explo- of stories were looking for. rationofthelandscape,landrights,Andthentheyllhavea Rainn Wilson (R) seated next to a Bulgarian woman Melissa Wood and director Niharika DesaiandtheenvironmentoftheU.S.neighbor who they think iswho left the city to embrace the simplicity of rural try to warm up during a shoot in Iceland. (American Outdoors). really interesting, and thenliving.Learn, Grow, CreateMontclair Film offers fall classes for pre-teens, teens,and adults. Sign up now for: Filmmaking Storytelling Documentary Filmmaking Animation Voice Acting CinematographyFinancial Assistance is availableImprov Screenwriting Editing and more!for qualified students. To apply,visit MontclairFilm.org/Scholarship CHECK OUT OUR NEW MASTER CLASSES AND OUR STUDENT CINEMA COLLECTIVE!Space is limited, so register today! Go to MontclairFilm.org/EducationMONTCLAIR FILM 505 Bloomfield Avenue Montclair, NJ@MontclairFilm /MontclairFilmFestfeature story /33'