Standing Up for Michigan Arts Programs

On April 18, Mosaic Film Experience partnered with Creative Many to advocate for Michigan arts programs. Creative Many is a statewide organization that develops creative people, creative places and the creative economy for a competitive Michigan through research, advocacy, professional practice and communications. For the first time in nearly 10 years, individuals and organizations in Michigan assembled at the capitol building to speak directly with lawmakers about the importance of support for arts, culture, arts education, and creative industries.

“The day was filled with discussions, an intimate rally on the capitol steps, and meetings with government policymakers,” said Liz Merriman who attended along with Derk Baartman on behalf of Mosaic Film Experience.

The atmosphere outside the capitol was positive with so many people calling for change. Inside the capitol, according to Merriman, it was business as usual.

Merriman and others had a chance to speak with representatives and senators about the benefits of arts programming and why they should get behind it.

“Arts mean more innovation,” Merriman said. “The artistic process fosters analytical thinking, problem solving, and innovation. Investing in arts programming can turn around failing schools and nurture children from under-resourced neighborhoods.”

For lawmakers to catch this vision and make changes accordingly would be huge for Michigan’s students and future.

“Creativity is among the top five applied skills sought by business leaders, per the Conference Board’s Ready to Innovate report,” Merriman said. “With 72 percent saying creativity is of high importance when hiring. Research on creativity shows that Nobel laureates in the sciences are 17 times more likely to be actively engaged in the arts than other scientists.”

As the statistics show, an investment in the arts comes with great benefits for students and communities. That is why we’re advocating for change in Michigan. We hope the messages our politicians heard at the capitol on Arts Advocacy Day will ring loudly in their ears when it’s time to make decisions.

Learn more about the positive impacts of arts programs:


Mosaic Film Experience Partners with the Michigan Invention Convention

There is no better live, interactive opportunity for youth inventors and entrepreneurs to pitch their products than the Michigan Invention Convention! Mosaic Film Experience partnered with the 2018 Michigan Invention Convention, which was hosted by the Henry Ford Museum, on March 19.

We spent the day hosting a booth and interacting with students. Mosaic Mobile winner Mariah Barrera’s film was showcased at the booth and she talked with students about her work. Mariah also served as a peer judge for the Michigan Invention Convention pitch competition, handing out pins to the inventors she found to be the most creative and innovative.

The rest of the day included presentations on intellectual property and patent rights and live coding by Black Girls Code Detroit chapter. Attendees also had the opportunity to experience a museum scavenger hunt and get connected with some of Michigan’s current innovators, educators, and entrepreneurs. The fun-filled day was capped with an awards presentation.

The Michigan Invention Convention provides a space for the Michigan STEM community to celebrate and be inspired by inventors and entrepreneurs of all ages, backgrounds, and disciplines. From our experience, they did that well!

Mosaic Film Experience Founder Joins Other Michigan Leaders on Education Matters at South by Southwest Festival

For four consecutive years, the Michigan House pop-up space hosted programming at the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) music, film, and interactive conference and festival in Austin, Texas.  This year’s event took place on March 10 and the Mosaic Film Experience president and founder Skot Welch participated in a panel titled, “Think Different, Teach Different.”

Joining Welch was director of TeenArts+TechProgram at WMCAT, Trudy Ngo-Brown, and CEO and co-founder of Grand Circus, Damien Rocchi with cofounder of optiMize and director of Social Innovation at the University of Michigan, Jeff Sorensen, as moderator. Throughout the hour-long discussion, panelists touched on the challenges of preparing today’s students for future careers. They also discussed the ways organizations, like the Mosaic Film Experience, are addressing the skills students are missing out on in the classroom and the tension of career focused education verses liberal arts education.

“We believe in the amazing capacity of our young people,” said Welch. “[But] we have analog teaching methodology teaching digital kids.” The other panelists agreed, sharing that today’s educational system is structured around a mechanical model instead of one that encourages students to use problem solving skills and to be flexible in a society where freelance work and multiple careers are common.

“Students learn differently, and we should listen to them because they know what they need,” Welch shared. “That’s what drives Mosaic: find out how students learn and let them run with it, look at it, finance it, and see how it can lead to a brighter future for them in their careers.”

Panelist Trudy Ngo-Brown discussed the tension students feel between wanting to feed their souls and feed their families when it comes to a career. This is the reality for many of the students she meets through TeenArts+TechProgram at WMCAT. She recognized the strain students experienced in making this decision but emphasized the importance of learning how to freestyle in their career well.

This is a problem Welch also sees with the current educational construct. He shared that students are perfectly equipped for the wrong solution and it’s not their fault. While standardized testing may help students earn a degree, it doesn’t guarantee them a job and, instead, puts them in a box. “We need to give students a skillset that sets them up to be life-long learners,” Welch said, “because that will never grow old and will serve students for years to come.”

Grand Circus is dedicated to that concept as well. Rocchi shared how they are encouraging people to utilize the skills they learn in Grand Circus classes and take them beyond the classroom. By encouraging life-long learning they are hoping people will continue to take ownership of their education and futures.

There was a common theme throughout the discussion about breaking students out of the mindset that there is one way to succeed. According to Sorenson, following these external standards will not help even the most successful students thrive in their careers. While each organization represented on the panel is doing amazing work, all panelists would agree that there is still more work to be done.

2018 Mosaic Film Experience Event Dates Announced

We are thrilled to announce that the Mosaic Film Experience event will be returning to Wealthy Theatre on Wednesday, November 7, and Thursday, November 8, 2018.

The annual event, which is attended by more than 500 West Michigan students each year, immerses youth in an interactive experience. Students are provided with exclusive access to industry professionals from Hollywood and West Michigan through inspiring workshops and presentations.

In addition to workshops, students are treated to a screening of the winning films from the Mosaic Mobile student film competition – an annual mobile film competition where films are shot, edited, and entered on mobile devices – and cash prizes are awarded to winning student film makers.

The Mosaic Film Experience continues to use 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.

Stay tuned for more announcements regarding the 2018 Mosaic Film Experience event.

Mosaic Film Experience Founder to Speak at South by Southwest Festival

Mosaic Film Experience president and founder Skot Welch will be a presenter at the Michigan House pop-up space at the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) music, film, and interactive conference and festival that takes place in Austin, Texas from March 9 to 18, 2018.

SKOT WELCH, Founder of Mosaic Film Experience.

Welch, along with Representatives from the tech, start-up, and educational worlds will come together to share some ideas centered on “Think different, Teach different” on March 10, 2018.

The “Think different, Teach different” panel discussion focus on questions like how do we teach the kinds of thinking the future demands? What does that thinking even look like? Can it be taught? How do we then make sure everyone gets in on the lesson?

Think Different, Teach Different

  • Jeff Sorensen, co-founder of optiMize, director of Social Innovation, University of Michigan
  • Trudy Ngo-Brown, director of TeenArts+TechProgram, WMCAT
  • Damien Rocchi, CEO, and co-founder, Grand Circus
  • Skot Welch, founder of Mosaic Film Experience

In a recent interview with the Grand Rapids Business Journal (GRBJ), Jennifer Goulet, President and CEO of Creative Many Michigan, said, “The Michigan House gives creative practitioners from across the state the unique opportunity to collaborate in ways that shine a light on the depth and value the creative industries contribute to Michigan.” Click here to read the complete GRBJ article.

Michigan House (Photo/Anna Sink)

2018 will mark his second time that Welch is involved in the festival.  Michigan House is hosting official programming of SXSW for the fourth consecutive year on March 10.

More information on the event can be found of the Think Different, Teach Different Facebook page.

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 1,000 West Michigan high school students descended upon the Wealthy Theatre in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the 2017 Mosaic Film Experience 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 Associate Producer 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:

    • 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


    • 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


    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.