5. Film Festival in the Netherlands

About this episode:

Taylor Mills gets invited to a film festival in the Netherlands right as the Coronavirus begins to surface. She discusses dating abroad, traveling with her best guy friend, and coming back to the U.S. to quarantine. 

Follow her adventures on Instagram at @tmillsj.

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Leah: Welcome to Wander By Proxy, a podcast featuring women’s travel stories that connect them more to themselves in the world around them. I’m Leah Falyn, and today, we have Taylor Mills, a drone pilot and filmmaker who went to a film festival in the Netherlands right before the Coronavirus quickly started affecting everyone’s travel plans, including mine. Here’s Taylor.

Taylor Mills: I’ve done video production like as long as I can remember. I’ve always loved it, and have always grown up with traveling as well. So I did this, I participated in this worldwide event. It’s actually the longest running, and one of the biggest short film competitions in the world, but it’s called the 48 Hour Film Project. And it’s basically where you can assemble a team. That’s all you can do to start off like a prerequisite. And so you just have a team and then Friday at 7:00 PM, you get a prompt of what kind of genre film you’re supposed to have, a line you’re supposed to use.

All these different things. And then within those 48 hours, you have to turn in a film that has been filmed, edited, written, basically everything by Sunday at 7:00 PM. And there’s 140 cities that do this around the world. And if you get best in film, they’re your best film for the city that you’re in.

You get invited to this film festival. In Rotterdam. So this year was in Rotterdam, I think a couple of years ago, it was in Paris, so it kind of changes where it’s at. But yeah, we were lucky enough to win the best film in Duluth, and then I was invited to join this other competition with every other best film.

In this competition, the winners, they were invited to do another 48, and then because of that, we got top 15, which got my invite to this, this Filmapalooza is what it’s called, and it’s just this five-day film festival I’m just filled with everyone’s screening. So everyone who had won best film and their city, their film was shown.

And then there’s an award ceremony for the last night. So people who have best line or best score, best location, they one for their certain subjects.

Leah: Wow, that sounds really cool. Where was everyone’s minds at then?

Taylor Mills: Yeah, so it was March 3rd to March 7th. And honestly it really wasn’t. I mean, I’m sure people were thinking about it. And I did meet a couple people­, one of my friends from LA who had met out there, he was actually considering not even going to it because he was just so freaked out by it, but ended up going and at that point people were still shaking hands and still, we had these huge, like dancing events mostly every night we had like karaoke, so everyone was really in confined areas and no one really had a second thought about it. Of course, when it ended, things kind of hit. So people were definitely double thinking after the fact, but during it, no one really seemed too concerned, which was kind of surprising.

Leah: Yeah, no kidding, because I think SXSW was canceled on the sixth and I was significantly bummed. And then by that Monday, like, three days later, it was like, okay, well obviously wouldn’t, we wouldn’t go, things were moving that quickly.

Taylor Mills:  If it was the weekend after, you know, if it was the weekend after March 3rd to the seventh, it would have without a doubt been canceled.

Cause yeah, it was just a hundred and I think, yeah, 130 or 140 cities from all over the world that were invited out. So it’s a lot of people, I think it was around 350 people that actually ended up coming out. But yeah, it was no regrets. And I can say that because I tested negative too. But yeah, no regrets on my end.

Leah: Absolutely. Wow. Okay. And then did you travel afterward?

Taylor Mills: Yeah, so we, I actually got into Europe. I left for it February 26. So we’re in Amsterdam. We landed there, cause it’s, I’m sure as you know, it’s cheaper to buy a two-way around trip instead of just a single ticket. So we landed in Amsterdam, left Amsterdam as well. But I landed at about. 8:00 AM on February 27th in Amsterdam. And then we kind of spent the day there. And then the next day we went to London for about four days. And then, so we returned to the Netherlands on March 3rd, and then we just went straight to the festival where there’s the seventh and then I was in Amsterdam again for about two days.

And then I had a 24-hour layover in Ireland.

 Leah:  That sounds awesome. And you mentioned to me a little bit about traveling with your best friend and dating while traveling, which sounds like a really interesting topic. What can you tell me about this?

Taylor Mills: Yeah, so I’m, I was traveling with my best friend, Sam Brodsky. He’s a very talented filmmaker, and we have been really good friends the last couple of years, and we’re both single. And we realized pretty early on that anyone that would see us from the outside would assume were dating. we had this kind of code sentence where it’s like, if you saw it, you know, like an attractive girl, or if I saw one that I thought he might be into, I would just say, Hey, did dad text you?

And then vice versa, if he saw, if I saw a cute guy or you know, he saw one that he thought I’d be into, he would just say, Oh, did mom text you? I know. It was just like, I mean the perfect co-work. Cause then of course people would be like, Oh, they’re brother and sister. And then at the same time it was like, Oh, I should probably look around because there’s someone cute by us, obviously.

That’s a good tip for anyone if you are traveling with a friend of the opposite sex, that was kind of our work around it. We realized that pretty early on. So by the time that we landed in Amsterdam, we had already established code sentence, of what to say.

So that was pretty great. But yeah, no, I, we’re super comfortable with each other. It was, it was awesome being able to just go to these different places and he was a huge help to when my whole phone incident happened. So that was, that was good.

Leah: What happened with the phone?

Taylor Mills: So I was…we had about an hour and a half way over in Dublin. So I was on my way from Minneapolis to Dublin and I was sleeping. I was in the middle of the nap and I woke up and kind of wobbled to the, to the bathroom, go to the bathroom, and I managed to drop my phone in the airplane. Toilet. And without even thinking, I’d just stuck my hand in this very blue water.

And if I was ever to get COVID, I think it would have been from that. But I grabbed it and I was like, Oh, Oh no. What? What have I done? I went back to my seat and I mean, it was just ruined. I’m sure if it was water, it would’ve been another case. But I think the chemicals in the toilet just corroded it immediately.

And Sam wasn’t even sitting by me. So I walk off the plane and there’s now this video of me, I’m just like with my hand on my head, like, what have I done? And so we landed for that hour and a half and we had found like this Apple store in Amsterdam. We went there and then luckily got an iPhone 11 for the time being.

Leah: That is scarring. Airplane bathrooms or the worst. Yup. And your hand was in there. That sounds, again, like travel mishaps, what can possibly go wrong? A `lot of things.

So you mentioned you were going on dates, what is your experience with dating while traveling?

Taylor Mills: Yeah, so I mean, I think it’s such an amazing way to meet people. So I had Bumble, I’m kind of a, that’s like kind of my, my mode of online dating.

I had heard once we landed in London that, hinge is really big in the UK, so both me and him downloaded it and we’re like. All right, let’s, let’s start swiping and, no, it was great. It was actually really funny. I think it was our second night in London. And I had matched with this guy who was really nice, and he agreed to meet both me and Sam out at this bar.

He had suggested this bar that was close to our hotel and we went out and it was just a great time. And at first I think he was kind of like, what? What is this? Whoa, what’s going on? But within a couple minutes, he’s like, Oh, they’re obviously just best friends. And this is just like a very funny scenario.

Yeah, that happened. And it was, it was. Just a really funny situation. But yeah, it was surprisingly not that difficult. And I know for Sam too, like he, he thought the girls in London were just beautiful. And I’ve always loved accents too. So that was, that was part of it. Definitely and then we were in Rotterdam and we got to meet some really cool people from our festival and we got to hang out with, and then going back to Amsterdam, that was fun as well. I know, like Dutch guys, they’re all super tall. I realized their average height is six feet.  a lot of them actually sound American, which is kind of interesting because they’ve watched somebody, American movies and TV shows growing up. So that was interesting. And then in Ireland as well, I was just there by myself.

Sam was still an Amsterdam, but. I used hinge there and met up with this really nice guy. We had a Guinness and, yeah. It was just cool to, to listen to an Irish accent as well.

Leah: What did you do in Ireland?

Taylor Mills: I was, since I was only there for such a short while, I had a kebab and then I had a nap until about 9:00 PM, cause I’d been traveling and just, you know, averaging probably four hours a night, the entire two weeks that I was out. But woke up and then went out with this one guy. And then the next morning I droned sunrise cause I tried to drown in every place that I was at. Cause I just love, love the views, especially during sunrise. It’s just so beautiful.

Career-wise from this, from this festival, I know in the U.S. the amount of females in the film industry are pretty underrepresented. And so it’s was kind of curious to see at an international film festival what that would be like. I was really happy to see that there was a lot of team leads that had females, and a lot of crew that there were female in it, which was awesome.

So I think that was a really cool aspect career-wise. Also really just amazing being able to network. I met people from Australia and Toronto and, all of these different countries, and just to be able to come together over something like film where we all have this huge passion and you have to have passion to, to make a film in 48 hours.

You can’t really do that without a want to do it. So to be able to meet people from all over who share the same passion was really cool. And I know for, with this whole covert situation, it was really interesting to have a layover in Dublin, both when we arrived and when we left. Cause when we arrived, everything was totally normal.

People weren’t really talking about it that much. But when I had one back on the 11th of March. Water fountains. There was now like, they were closed off. So water fountains weren’t available for the public anymore. And on every terminal there was a sign that said, Hey, if you had questions about COVID and anything about it, there’s booths dedicated.

There’s now a booth that you can go to and have your questions answered. And that was, completely non-existent two weeks before. And there was something about being a way to. cause I kept getting updates from my mom of like, Hey, things are getting really serious here. And I could kind of see a couple things on the news, but at the same time, you’re removed from it because you’re not in the U S so like coming back it was just like, Oh man, this is, this is hitting really heavy.

And working in a hospital setting too, it was like this had become so much more serious than I had realized.

Leah: Wow. Yeah. What happened when you got back to the U.S.?

Taylor Mills: So I had, so I arrived on Wednesday at about 6:30 PM. I had gotten into my house and then, two or so hours later, that’s when Trump had talked about how there wasn’t going to be flights anymore or something along those lines. And luckily after the fact, we had heard, you know, Americans were safe and they could still come back. But in that brief moment, I got so many messages from my friends being like, Hey, I don’t know if you’re back yet, but if you aren’t, you’d need to be immediately because it sounds like you can’t come back and, very short amount of time.

And so I was like, no. Luckily I’m back. And so after that I had messaged my manager and was like, Hey, obviously I’m not going to be going onto patients’ floors because I work at a TV studio inside of the children’s hospital and part of our job is to go tell the patients about our shows so they can participate, call in or come down to the studio.

And so I told her, I know I’m not going to be doing that for the next two weeks, but am I even okay to come in? Cause at this point it’s, everything seems pretty up in the air. And on Wednesday at that time she was like. What they’ve told us so far is to contact me or your manager. And that’s what I did.

And she said, you can come in on Thursday and just let a children’s health department know that you’re okay. If you’re feeling any symptoms, obviously don’t come in, but if you’re feeling okay at this point, it’s okay to come in. And so I came in on Thursday and I called them and they’re like, all right, as long as you’re good, you don’t have a fever, you know, test yourself twice a day, make sure you’re good.

Then obviously just don’t interact with patients. So it’s like, okay, cool. Sounds good. And so Friday I came in the next day and I get sneezed at like 12:30 PM right before lunch. And me just being hypervigilant. I called them and I was like, Hey, I know it was this is probably too much or whatever, but I just want to let you know, I sneezed and I’m feeling fine.

I don’t have a fever. I tested myself and I’m okay, but I just wanted to let you know and they’re like, actually, it’s a really good thing you called because from today or from yesterday till today, the Netherlands turned into a level three. So we’re going to have to ask you to grab a mass from the front and then leave immediately.

And I was like, Oh, okay, sure, sure. That sounds good. You know just completely caught off guard and from then they were kind of like, all right. You now have to work from home for the next two weeks, which I was totally fine with doing. Obviously the patient’s health, it’s the most important part.

But I’ve now been working from home since so that’s kind of how that turned, turned into that.

Leah: What’s your connection to Duluth?

Taylor Mills: I actually, it was just them, they had, they had connections there. I think they had a cabin out there, so they filmed something. It was actually Duluth first year doing this competition.

Leah: Cool. Oh, that’s awesome. I went to UMD in Duluth and lived there for quite some time afterwards, so…

Taylor Mills: oh, nice. Yeah, this is beautiful to and it was actually, it was really funny too, the Australians that we befriended, they actually approached us, I think it was the second day we were there, and it’s because he saw a Duluth on my name tag and he was like, Oh, Duluth.

That’s like Fargo, right? The, you know, the movie Fargo? And I was like, yeah, no, you got it. That’s awesome. And he was like. Honestly, I’m pretty disappointed by your accent. It’s going to be stronger. And I was like, yeah, I can fake it. I’ll, I’ll fake it for you.

Leah: I feel like Minnesotans need to travel more just to debunk the whole accent.

Taylor Mills: Yeah. The irony too, of Fargo actually being in North Dakota, that’s always fun to burst the bubbles for people don’t know that. Yeah. Yeah. Just real into Minnesota. We still love Prince, and I think that’s what matters is what matters. You go to any bar and you say you’re from Minnesota and everyone just lights up about Prince, and I know.

Fantastic community. The unifier. I love it.

Leah: Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode of Wander By Proxy. If you’re listening to this as it’s coming out and you’re doing some social distancing, I hope you got a little bit of your travel fixed covered today. Make sure to subscribe and rate and catch the next episode on April 8th.


  1. I’m looking forward to hearing about Taylor’s experience in NL as well as how she managed to get back to the USA. I’m a fan of travel podcasts so excited to add this one to my listening routine!


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