Mary Trunk: Filmmaker

My NativeAdVantage:


Mary Trunk started as a painter, became a dancer and choreographer and has been making films for over 20 years. She spent seven years filming four mother/artists for her most recently completed feature length documentary Lost In Living. The currently released short documentary The Past is in the Present is about the Pulitzer Prize winning composer, Gunther Schuller. Mary is also working on an interactive website called This Woman’s Life that will feature stories about the invisible women in our lives and what they can teach us about survival and living life to the fullest. Her newest hybrid documentary project, Muscle Memory, focuses on memory, age and the desire to keep dancing in some form or another. Mary and her husband are founders of Ma and Pa Films, a video and film production company. Mary also teaches film and video at Mount Saint Mary’s University, Loyola Marymount University and Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, CA.

What do I do best?

I react and respond. I don’t go to the grocery store with a list for a recipe. I see what looks good and then decide what to make for dinner. Same with documentary filmmaking.

What makes me the best version of myself?

Curiosity. It has often been terrifying but it takes me to places that force me to grow.

What are my aspirations?

To be in a constant state of learning, preferably without pain – most of the time. And hopefully make money doing it. Which involves diplomacy and politics – not fun but necessary.

My Biggest Success?

Learning how to drive a stick shift car on the hills of San Francisco. It’s a metaphor for everything.

My Most Challenging Moment?

My mother’s death. There are many regrets about how I could have helped her during her difficult and lonely life. She died when she was only 64. Losing her and feeling both the freedom and deep abandonment of her loss simultaneously made me understand what it means to grow up. And I miss her every day.

My Motto?

Be kind. In every way.

My Favorite People/Role Models?

My husband who opens my eyes to ways of thinking and feeling that my mind often rejects but needs. My daughter who shows me how to be in a world that I will soon not recognize. And she does it with grace, intelligence and beauty. My four sisters who accept me always. And my artist collaborator and dear friend who partners with me on the strangest of journeys.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

I went to Hawaii for the first time. Had no desire to go but I’d go back in a second just to swim in that ocean for hours on end. I will always remember the Aran Islands off the coast of Ireland. Riding bicycles there was tremendous. I worry that if I did go back, it wouldn’t be the same. Sometimes the memory is better.

My state of mind can make any destination either a nightmare or a dream come true. Unless there are bugs, rats, humidity or below zero weather.