More Art Upstairs

In our latest Mosaic Community event, we teamed with ArtPrize and Celebration Cinema on November 30 to host more than 500 Grand Rapids Public Schools students for ArtPrize OnScreen, a two-hour session that included the screening of the documentary “More Art Upstairs” and a talk back with director Jody Hassett Sanchez and ArtPrize exhibitions director Kevin Buist.

Mosaic Community events include opportunities ranging from afterschool curriculum to industry guest speakers and film screenings that provide a platform for student/professional interaction, storytelling, and diversity.

More Art Upstairs” follows four accomplished artists as they compete at ArtPrize, a populist experiment that inverts the equation of who gets to decide what art has value by letting the general public vote on which works will win much of the $500,000 in prize money – the largest award in the art world.

The film’s characters embrace the ethos of the competition but grow weary of having to repeatedly explain their approach and worry about going home empty-handed. Will this unmediated experience change how the public thinks about art? Will it reshape how our characters make and exhibit their work? “More Art Upstairs” melds humor, extraordinary behind-the-scenes access, and a nail-biting competition to explore these questions.

More Art Upstairs- Trailer from Joshua Woltermann on Vimeo.

After the screening, students pondered the questions: What is art?  And how does art impact daily life? Buist challenged students to think about who decides what is art.

Students asked Sanchez about her approach to selecting characters and the process of editing the documentary.

The conversation then moved toward the topic of careers.  Sanchez talked about the importance of music and the impact it has on a scene.  She noted that aspiring composers can start honing their craft by using accessible programs like Garage Band.  Sanchez acknowledged that aspiring composers can jumpstart their careers by working on short films.

Represented schools included (CA Frost Environmental Science Academy, City, Grand Rapids Montessori, Innovation Central, Ottawa Hills, Union, Grand Rapids University Preparatory Academy, and Southeast Career Pathways.

Mosaic Film Experience YouTube Project


You watch YouTube, right? Have you ever thought about creating your own content and sharing your unique story? The popularity of young, independent content creators is changing our world.

Whether it’s your school, your friends or family, fashion, gaming, sports, music, or social issues, we know you have things you’re passionate about.

The Mosaic Film Experience is teaming up with Carbon Stories to create a student-driven YouTube channel featuring content created by YOU!

Have ideas but don’t know where to start? No problem!

We’ll teach you how to create awesome video content and then let you be the director, producer, or star of the show.

How It Works
High school students throughout West Michigan can apply to participate in the Mosaic Film Experience YouTube Project. Each of the 10 selected students will participate for a two-week period:
• Week 1 will focus on education of technical skills and tools.
• Week 2 will feature content creation.

Your content will be posted to the Mosaic YouTube channel and will be promoted on Mosaic’s blog and social media.

What You’ll Learn

  • What is a creative brief?
  • How to storyboard
  • An overview and tips for using the iPhone camera
  • A walkthrough of iMovie for iOS
  • An overview of video styles (e.g., vlog, improv, interview, etc.)
  • Questions and answers about Carbon Stories and digital media industry
  • Only 10 students will be selected to participate so apply today! The application deadline is December 31, 2017.

    Apply Below

    RECAP: 2017 Mosaic Film Experience Event

    The Mosaic Film Experience uses the platform of digital media to provide students with an opportunity to tell their unique stories and equip them with the critical thinking, collaborative, and creative skills necessary for career preparedness. One way we achieve this is through our annual Mosaic Event, an annual, interactive experience that provides youth with access to industry professionals through career-inspiring workshops and guest speakers.

    On November 8 and 9, 2017, more than 500 West Michigan high school students descended upon the Wealthy Theatre in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the 2017 Mosaic Event.

    This year we were once again joined by Phillip Boutte, Jr., an LA-based Costume Concept Artist who has worked on Black Panther, Inception, Hunger Games, X-Men, and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Phillip shared his unique story and encouraged students to follow their dreams, be punctual, finish what you start, and never give up.

    We were also joined by Ryan Stephens the Post Production Supervisor of Queen, Sugar. As a native of West Michigan, Ryan shared his personal journey to show-business and the importance of staying connected.

    Actor Sammy Publes who has performed in Batman vs Superman, Empire, and Robert De Niro’s STONE, gave students insight into how he went from being homeless to a career in acting.


    Following the keynote presentations, students participating in breakout session workshops facilitated by local professionals including Lady Ace Boogie, Gorilla Pictures, Not-So Starving Artists, Ferris State University, Ryan Stephens, Motivity Pictures, and Midwest Tech Project. Topics ranged from game design, shooting a music video, and designing virtual reality, to post production, podcasting, animation, and music production.


    The event concluded with a film screening and award ceremony for the 2017 Mosaic Mobile™ film contest, an annual mobile film competition for high school and college students where films are shot, edited, and entered on mobile devices. Mosaic Mobile is about challenging the conventions of storytelling. With technology leveling the content creation playing field, our focus is on how students can use today’s tools to tell original and engaging stories. The following elements must be used within student’s films:

    Theme: Tomorrow
    Prop: Letters
    Saying: “Why Not”: These words must be spoken or used in the film

    Congratulations to our 2017 winners:
    HIGH SCHOOL WINNERS:

  • First Place ($1,000) – “A Short Film: Tomorrow,” Mariah Barrera, City High School
  • Second Place ($500) – “Wake Up, Xian Castillo,” Careerline Tech Center
  • Third Place ($250) – “The Rhythm of Tomorrow,” Braeden Harmelink, Brendon Mrozinski, Zoe Frick, Lauryn Rhodes, Scott Sheets
    Rick Wilson Student Choice Award ($250, based on public vote) – “Why Not Make it Better?,” Allison Riley, Careerline Tech Center
  • Honorable Mention – “Issues,” Molly Vance, Briza Castillo, Calum Goodman, Noriajha Hatchett, Desmond Scheelkruger, Grand Rapids Montessori
  • COLLEGE WINNERS:

  • First Place ($1,000) – “Picture This,” Celia Harmelink, Grand Valley State University
  • Second Place ($500) – “Tomorrow,” Justin Thompson and Nick Buwalda, Compass College of Cinematic Arts
  • Third Place ($250) – ”The End’, Spencer Allen, Calvin College
  • Rick Wilson Student Choice Award ($250, based on public vote) – “Henry,” Bryce Thomas, Grand Valley State University

    FIRST PLACE HIGHSCHOOL FILM:

    What Makes an Icon?

    On Thursday, November 9, the Mosaic Film Experience hosted an event centered on one question: What makes an icon? The event was held at the Grand Rapids Art Museum and was tied into the museum’s recently-opened Andy Warhol exhibit. If Warhol, for example, is considered iconic, then what or who else is?

    The evening began with a short film asking students “what/who is an icon?” Many of the students named music artists, athletes, or family members. Their responses indicated that an icon is a positive force in an individual’s life.


    The panel, consisting of Hollywood-based Costume Concept Artist Phillip Boutte, Jr. and Grand Valley State University Sociology Professor Marshall Battani, discussed the concept of “icons.” As Battani pointed out, icons can also be negative as they reflect current societal trends. Phillip Boutte added that while heroes can be personal and temporary (as the students’ responses implied), icons stand the test of time.



    For someone or something to be iconic, it needs to evoke a strong feeling among the masses and each generation creates their own iconography. As Battani asked, “Who’s the Marilyn of today’s generation?”

    Some audience members believed that, regardless of your personal or political views, President Trump is iconic. He evokes strong emotions, reflects the nation’s political climate, and has a unique physical appearance. These traits are common ingredients of cultural icons.

    As Battani and Boutte stated, modern communications technologies have changed the idea of iconography and we are now saturated with visuals that anyone can create. In the past, media companies controlled the images the general public viewed. Today, empowered by the Internet and digital media, anyone can create and disseminate images and stories to large audiences. Iconography is no longer controlled by the few.

    In the end, while individuals may have their own heroes, to whom they can look up to, it was determined that icons are a part of our collective consciousness and unite us throughout time.

    Film, Fashion, and Art



    On Wednesday, November 8, at GVSU’s Loosemore auditorium in Grand Rapids, Michigan, The Mosaic Film Experience hosted an evening of film screenings and a panel discussion about film, fashion, and art. The night began with a screening of the college finalists from the 2017 Mosaic Mobile competition, a short film competition where high school and college students shot and edited their entire project on a mobile device. The winners of the college category were:

  • 1st – $1,000: Picture This by Celia Harmelink, Grand Valley State University
  • 2nd – $500: Tomorrow by Justin Thompson and Nick Buwalda, Compass College of Cinematic Arts
  • 3rd – $250: The End by Spencer Allen, Calvin College
  • Rick Wilson Student Choice Award (based on public vote) – $250: Henry by Bryce Thomas, Grand Valley State University
  • After viewing the films, a panel consisting of LA-based Costume Concept Artist, Phillip Boutte, Jr., Professor of Art History, Suzanne Eberle; Professor of Illustration, Durwin Talon; and Professor of Animation, Julie Goldstein discussed the intersection of film, fashion, and art.

    (Illustration by PHillip Boutte, Jr.)

    Professor Eberle began the discussion with an overview of fashion history.

    “It’s important to remember that there is a reason why people wore different clothes,” said Eberle.

    Clothing has social, political, and practical implications that must be examined when analyzing the past.

    After Eberle, Professor Durwin Talon talked about character design and conceptualization. He used Alice in Wonderland as an example. Alice’s features that we recognize today (blue dress, blonde hair) are a culmination of decades of character concepts and modeling.

    Phillip Boutte, Jr. took to the podium to discuss his career as a costume concept artist. Boutte has worked on films such as The Hunger Games, Black Panther, X-Men, Justice League, and Captain America. Boutte told the audience that he “gets the feel” of a character through personality traits and setting. He stressed that visuals contain much power and are often taken for granted. Boutte also challenges Hollywood by conceptualizing non-white characters into his portfolio, as championing diversity is one of his passions.

    Boutte then went on to highlight some of his work for X-Men and Madonna. He said that much of his work revolves around research. For Madonna, Boutte watched 1920s films to get headdress ideas.

    By the end of the discussion, the attendees had a thorough understanding of how fashion, film, and art are related as well as how research and innovation are major parts of the creative process.

    Mosaic Film Experience 2017

    Students and teachers who attend the Mosaic Film Experience can expect a day filled with career exploration, interactive workshops, and film screenings to encourage a more informed and active approach to consuming and producing media content.

    2017 Keynote Speakers


    Phillip Boutte Jr.
    Phillip is a Concept Costume Designer based out of Los Angeles, California. He has worked on films such as X-men: Days of Future Past, Man of Steel, Inception, Marvel’s: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, and more.


    Ryan Stephens
    Ryan was freelance Post Production Coordinator on the ABC show, 666 Park Avenue. Following that, he served as Post Coordinator on the ABC pilot, Venice Is Burning, then two seasons on Fox’s hit show, The Following, and the Amazon original programming pilot, Hysteria. In the summer of 2015, Ryan was promoted to Post Production Supervisor on the NBC comedy, The Mysteries of Laura, starring Debra Messing. After the show’s run, he accepted a job as Post Supervisor on Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay’s award-wining scripted drama, Queen Sugar. During his hiatus from the show, he was asked to serve as Post Supervisor on the Shonda Rhimes ABC drama, Still Star-Crossed, which debuted in May 2017. Ryan is currently working on Season 2 of Queen Sugar.


    Sammy Publes
    Sammy Publes has appeared in films such Batman Vs. Superman, Stone with Robert DeNiro and TV Credits on Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, Shameless and Empire amongst many others. Mr. Publes decided to start his own theater company, Mixed Roots Collective, to address inequality of representation in local theater and film. By providing a platform for these plays, he hopes to address inequalities in casting as well. Mr. Publes along with Shelly Urbane and Todd Lewis, formed One World Diversity, LLC, in an attempt to address issues of disparity and inclusion and equality in our society and more specifically in organizations and institutions.

    We Are The Stories We Tell Ourselves

    The Mosaic Film Experience partnered with ArtPrize to emphasize the power of storytelling.   On September 21, more than 150 high school students descended upon the ArtPrize STEAM Village for a Mosaic panel discussion: “We Are The Stories We Tell Ourselves.”

    The ArtPrize STEAM Village provides students with the opportunity to explore experiential learning stations that combine the power of the arts with technology, science, engineering, and math.

    “We Are The Stories We Tell Ourselves” centered on where creative inspiration comes from and explored how art has impacted everyday life.  Mosaic Film Experience program director, Liz Merriman, led the discussion between our guest speakers: Co-owner and Impact Producer of Wrinkle Creative, Mallory Patterson; Creative Director and Founder of Carbon Stories media group, Erik Lauchiè; and Junior at Grand Rapids City High School, Mariah Barrera.

    The panelists’ diverse backgrounds provided students with an opportunity to hear from three unique perspectives within the film industry.  While Mallory and Erik both own film production companies, Erik is a creative director and Mallory is a producer.  And while our third panelist, Mariah, is actually still in high school, she has already directed a few videos as a hobby. Mariah’s most recent directing gig was for the Mayor’s greening initiative.

    All of our panelists agreed that music inspires their work.  Mariah mentioned how Frank Ocean’s lyrics inspire several of her photographs.  Erik admitted that some of his Instagram videos are formed by first enjoying a beat to a song and then finding a way to incorporate his art into the music.

    Mallory mentioned that the majority of her inspiration comes from interactions with her clients but echoed Mariah and Erik on the fact that music is a huge part of her inspiration – and students in the audience agreed.

    Mallory went on to mention that inspiration doesn’t always have to come from art, but that it can come from the everyday things in life, like conversations.

    The goal of this event was not to persuade every student in attendance pursue a film career but to show everyone how much of a presence art and inspiration have in their everyday lives.  In addition to music and inspiration, the conversation touched on the power of social media, talking about everything from influencers to how social media can be a great vehicle to share one’s creativity.

    “We Are The Stories We Tell Ourselves” is another example of how Mosaic programs provide students with access to passionate digital media professionals, media literacy resources and opportunities to tell their unique stories.

    We want to thank Artprize for allowing us to be a part of the ArtPrize STEAM Village as well as our panelists and student attendees for providing us with even more perspective on how art is intertwined within our daily lives.

    Growing Stories in our Community: Unity in Diversity

    On September 10, The Mosaic Film Experience team had the opportunity to partner with Living Arts to host a workshop for students at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

    Living Arts is an interdisciplinary residential community in Bursley Hall on the universities’ North Campus that brings together 80 undergraduates in the arts, architecture, engineering and other fields to explore innovation, creativity, and collaboration.

    Each month, Living Arts puts together a workshop led by distinguished faculty or working professionals to encourage the pursuit of creative, new ideas. We were honored to have the opportunity to lead September’s workshop.

    Living Arts strives to educate students about the importance of conveying their creative process and creative journey in a clear, concise and coherent manner. Our workshop activity was a group challenge to create a 1- to 2-minute video about unity in diversity. The Mosaic team facilitated discussions about the importance of individual and collective awareness of stories related to diversity on campus and how personal stories can collectively bring unity among students. After the discussion, students broke off into groups to create videos based on their interpretation of the topic.

    After a couple hours of collaboration, we regrouped to view the student’s presentations and videos. Each group took a different approach, but all were able to clearly define the topic in their films, which is the beauty of art and filmmaking.

    We want to thank our 25 student volunteers for being peer mentors and helping workshop attendees shoot and edit their videos.  We had a wonderful time interacting with more than 100 bright minds at this event and we look forward to the opportunity to partner with Living Arts and the University of Michigan again in the future!

    Mobile film contest provides high school and college students with creative platform, essential skill development

    The Mosaic Film Experience (MFE) today announced the kick-off to its third annual Mosaic Mobile film contest, a short-film competition for West Michigan high school and college students.  All Mosaic Mobile films must be entirely shot and edited on mobile devices (i.e., mobile phone or tablet).  Entries can be submitted via the MFE website until October 13 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

    “By challenging the conventions of storytelling, we are developing creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration skills, which are essential to prepare students for the future,” said Skot Welch, founder of The Mosaic Film Experience.  “Mosaic Mobile films celebrate creative thinking and discovery while exploring the diverse world in which we live.”

    A juried panel of experts will award first, second and third place cash prizes to high school and college winners.  High school and college first place winners will each take home $1,000, second place winners will be awarded $500 and third place winners will each win $250.

    In addition to the juried cash prizes, a public vote will determine the high school and college Rick Wilson Student Choice Award.  On October 25, MFE will announce the top 10 high school and college films, as determined by the juried panel.  The films will be posted to the MFE YouTube channel.  Voting will open at noon on October 27 and the public will have 24 hours to vote for the winning high school and college films.  The two Rick Wilson Student Choice Award winners will each receive cash prizes and video production gear.

    All contest winners will be announced at the sixth-annual MFE Festival on November 8 and 9 at the Wealthy Theatre in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

    “With digital devices in the hands of teens of all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, our community’s youth have an opportunity to tell their unique stories,” said Welch.

    All Mosaic Mobile films must be two to three minutes in length, including credits, and must meet three requirements.  Entrants must use “tomorrow” as a theme for their film, use letters as a prop and the words “why not” must be spoken or used in the film.  Participants can enter up to two entries.  All competing students must to be registered in an accredited high school, college or university for the 2017-2018 school year.  Complete rules and contest requirements are listed on the MFE website, http://mosaicfilmexperience.com/mosaic-mobile/.

    High School Students Create PSA in Support of Mayor’s Greening Initiative

    Students from four Grand Rapids high schools have planned, directed, shot and produced “Breathe, a public service announcement (PSA) in support of the Friends of Grand Rapids Parks and Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss’ Mayor’s Greening Initiative – launched to help the city reach its goal of a 40 percent tree canopy.  The PSA will premiere at the July 7 Movies in the Park screening of “Mrs. Doubtfire” (7 p.m.) and “Forrest Gump” (9:30 p.m.) at Ah-Nab-Awen Park.

    “I had a sneak peek at the PSA and I was truly impressed with what our talented students created,” Mayor Bliss said. “I am encouraged that students are rallying around the Mayor’s  Greening Initiative and that so many of our great community organizations are supporting our youth.”

    The Mosaic Film Experience facilitated the collaboration between the students, video production professionals and the City of Grand Rapids.

    “This creative community collaboration was a result of an ongoing conversation between The Mosaic Film Experience and Mayor Bliss about how we can activate our city’s young people, engage them with real-world learning opportunities in digital media and engage them in sustainability,” said Skot Welch, founder of The Mosaic Film Experience.

    In April, Mayor Bliss met with Gorilla, Carbon Stories and students who are enrolled in the West Michigan Center for Arts + Technology’s afterschool program to discuss the greening initiative.  During the meeting, Mayor Bliss challenged the students to create something that encourages others to get involved.

    Students represented City High, Grand Rapids Montessori, Innovation Central and CA Frost high schools.

    The students met with Gorilla and Carbon Stories multiple times throughout April and May to develop creative and pre-production concepts.  Gorilla provided video equipment and engaged local professionals to volunteer.  Lowing Lighting and Grip provided lights and additional equipment.  Carbon Stories collaborated with students on developing creative ideas and produced a behind-the-scenes video of the process.

    “After meeting with Mayor Bliss, the students were very inspired to create the PSA.  Our role was simply to provide technical education about the tools they were using, serve as professional mentors and then get out of their way.” said Eric Johnson, owner of Gorilla.

    After the video was filmed, the students engaged with Gorilla on the post-production phase, which included editing the footage and reviewing music and color correction.

    “It was an amazing experience to see our vision for the video come to life,” said Mariah Barrera, senior at City High and director Breathe.

    In addition to the July 7 premiere, Breathe will be featured at the remaining 2017 Movies in the Park events.