NEWS RELEASE: Mobile film contest provides West Michigan students with a platform to tell their unique stories.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – September 25, 2018 – The Mosaic Film Experience (MFE) today announced the kick-off to its fourth annual Mosaic Mobile film contest, a short-film competition for West Michigan high school and college students.  All Mosaic Mobile films are shot, edited, and entered on mobile devices.  Entries can be submitted via the MFE website until October 12 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

“The Mosaic Mobile film contest is about challenging the conventions of storytelling,” said Skot Welch, founder of The Mosaic Film Experience. “With technology leveling the content creation playing field, our focus is to teach youth how to use today’s tools to tell original and engaging stories.”

Mosaic Mobile Meets ArtPrize

New for Mosaic Mobile 2018, MFE is teaming with ArtPrize to host the first-ever Mosaic Film Experience: The ArtPrize Film Challenge.  As part of ArtPrize Education Days, more than 100 Grand Rapids high school students from four schools will meet at the ArtPrize Theater on Friday, September 28 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.  The event will feature an MFE-taught mobile film workshop and time for students to explore ArtPrize to shoot their films.  Films will be completed over the weekend and submitted by 1:30 p.m. on Monday, October 1.

Completed films may be eligible for submission to the 2018 Mosaic Mobile competition and will have a chance to be highlighted on ArtPrize’s social media channels or premiered at a special screening at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 6 at Rosa Parks Circle.

“Filmmaking is a creative storytelling art form that can be accessible to everyone with the right tools,” said Welch. “Art involves great storytelling opportunities and ArtPrize is the perfect event to find those creative storytelling opportunities.”

Mosaic Mobile Contest Details

All Mosaic Mobile films must be two to three minutes in length and must meet three requirements.  Entrants must use “tell a story” as a theme for their film, include some form of art as a prop, and the words “it’s different now,” must be spoken or used in the film.  Art used in the film must be self-produced or shown with permission of the artist and credited.

A juried panel of experts will award first, second, and third place cash prizes in high school and college categories.  First place winners will each take home $1,000, second place winners will receive $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 Awards.  On October 24, 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.  Public voting will open at noon on October 26 and close at noon on October 29.  The high school and college Rick Wilson Student Choice Award winners will each receive a $500 cash prize and video production gear.

Mosaic Mobile high school contest winners will be announced at the seventh-annual MFE Event on November 7 and 8 at the Wealthy Theatre.  Students can enter up to two entries each.  Complete rules and contest requirements are available on the MFE website:

Boys and Girls Clubs Students Take on Green Screens

Thanks to Wege Foundation grant funds, Mosaic Film Experience partnered with West Michigan nonprofit afterschool programs to provide storytelling and digital film classes. Education Leads Mallory Patterson and Randy Strobl of Wrinkle Creative had fun leading the education courses, but they also worked hard to uniquely cater Mosaic curriculum to each student group.

Soon after arriving at the Boys and Girls Clubs programs at the Steil and Siedman Centers, Patterson and Strobl noticed the facilities had green painted walls. They immediately knew the students would have a blast learning about green screen technology.

Siedman Center Project

The Siedman Center project focused on hopes for the future.

“We challenged students to write out what they wanted in the future for themselves, their families, and their communities,” said Patterson. “Students shared their future hopes and dreams in front of the green screen and paired what they shared with the images behind them. We created a compilation video for the project.”

The students wanted to take their green screen fun a bit further by creating their own separate zombie apocalypse scene. Patterson shared that the zombie scene was an “interesting” but very inspiring piece!

Through this project, one student in particular fell in love with Stop Motion Studio, a free iPhone app, and used it to create a number of animations at home.

“She has even taught her brother how to create an animation with action figures,” shared Strobl.

Steil Center Project

Two projects were developed during Mosaic’s time at the Steil Center. The first project was created by a group of boys who immigrated from Africa.

“They shared that the first time they had ever seen a highway it took them aback,” Patterson said. “They had landed in Chicago and they experienced culture shock.”

Based on that experience, the group chose an action genre. The boys developed a storyline about the main character having a special medicine his brother needed, but people were after him for the drug. The film included a chase scene on a highway and a fight scene in front of the green screen.

“One student who held the idea became the director. He really took it seriously and kept the other students on task,” said Strobl. “At the end, as they were editing, he was very interested in when the film would be shown. He asked if he could bring his mom because he wanted her to see his work up on the screen and be proud. He also wanted to dress up for the red-carpet premiere event.”

The second Steil Center project was created by one student. She told the story of a girl who didn’t have friends in school and how important it was to have a support network. She utilized the green screen to curate her own settings. For example, because she was confined to filming inside the school, she used images of the outdoors behind her to signify her leaving school.

Once again, Mosaic leveraged the power of storytelling to teach students they have the power to create using mobile phones and free digital resources.

“This experience opens their eyes to a whole new world of career options,” said Patterson.

It’s an honor to partner with local organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs to help equip students with the critical thinking, collaborative, and creative skills they need for career readiness.


Loop Program Students Learn Storytelling and Filmmaking Skills

Many Grand Rapids Public Schools offer LOOP afterschool programs that provide academic support and enrichment activities for students. Mosaic Film Experience partnered with University Preparatory Academy Middle School (UPrep) and Alger Middle School LOOP programs to lead after-school curriculum centered around storytelling and mobile video production. The project was possible thanks to grant funding from the Wege Foundation.

The UPrep Project

The UPrep project challenged students to create stories based on inspiring song lyrics. Everything was on the table—from Tupac’s “Keep Your Head Up” to SpongeBob’s “Best Day Ever.” After they wrote their stories, students turned them into the plot of their film.

One student made a particular impact. In the last week of class, Mosaic Education Leads, Randy Strobl and Mallory Patterson of Wrinkle Creative, redirected this student’s distracting classroom behavior to a more positive role as director. It fit perfectly. The student directed a beautiful scene, pushing her actors to feel the emotion of a mom telling her daughter about life’s hardships. Eventually this student fell into the film’s mom role and nailed the performance.

UPrep students worked together to produce a creative film. But more importantly, they learned about their individual strengths, which will benefit them moving forward in whatever career they pursue.

The Alger Middle Project

The Alger Middle School project was based on student’s experiences. Strobl and Patterson broke students up into three groups of four. Two groups told bullying stories while the third group chose a high-stakes basketball game as their story focus.

On the last day of production, the basketball group came into class ready to film. One student had become the clear director and the group supported his vision and made it happen. At one point, there was an argument about who was going to make the winning shot in the fictional basketball game, but the director spoke up saying, “We don’t have time for this, we just have to make it happen.” The rest of the students agreed, and they quickly made a collective decision and recorded the scene. Throughout the filming process this group learned what it meant to work together as a team.

Throughout the week-long afterschool project, the Alger students also quickly picked up on and implemented filmmaking lingo.

“We heard them calling ‘quiet on set’ or ‘truck forward’ when directing the camera to move forward,” said Strobl. “They also discussed closeups, wide shots, and medium shots with each other, determining which would be best for each scene.”

Two groups finished their production early and began editing.

“On the final day we started packing up, but the students didn’t want to be done. It was a beautiful thing to see these students, who were often hard to engage in the classroom, so focused on the work of editing as a group,” shared Strobl.

Overall, the large class size came together to create three great projects.

Project Premieres

At the end of both programs Mosaic Film Experience hosted parent nights complete with a red carpet as well as catered food and popcorn to eat while screening the films. After each film, the student creators talked about what inspired their films and their creative process.

LOOP also invited Mosaic Film Experience students to share their creative work at their end-of-the-year Collaborative Youth Fair. Each LOOP site showed their projects at the event. While many other students displayed their science-based experiments, art projects, and interactive developments, the Mosaic Film Experience students shared their films with pride.

“It was a lot of fun watching the kids see themselves on screen and share their projects with their peers,” said Patterson.

The students persisted throughout the highs and lows of both projects while creating honorable work, developing new skills, and learning about a powerful creative outlet they had in the palm of their hand all along.

G-Cubed Program Teaches Girls They Have a Voice

Thanks to a grant from the Wege Foundation, Mosaic Film Experience had the opportunity to partner with Grand Rapids Public School’s newly developed G-Cubed program, a four-pillared afterschool program for girls in grades 3-12 from the seven middle and elementary schools feeding into Ottawa Hills High School.

“The goal of G-Cubed is to engage students in investigating and developing their life story through learning about stories of women in history and social justice lessons,” said Maleika Brown, Director of Equity and Inclusion for GRPS. “We want to help girls uncover their untold stories.”

With this goal in mind, Mosaic Education Leads Mallory Patterson and Randy Strobl of Wrinkle Creative taught students the value of elevating their voices through storytelling and how to create digital films to share their stories.

Throughout G-Cubed’s programming, girls learned about amazing women in history who broke the mold. The lead example was Lorraine Hansberry, the first African-American female author to have a play performed on Broadway. In response to the inspiring, powerhouse women they were learning about, Patterson and Strobl tasked students to think about their role models and have conversations with people in their everyday lives.

“We challenged students to interview their family, neighbors, or community members about themselves,” Patterson shared. “Then we filmed a compilation video to use at the beginning of G-Cubed’s year-end ceremony. By pointing out the positive, amazing qualities of the women around them, we wanted girls to see they can embody those qualities, too.”

The project held themes of young women empowerment, goal setting, and so much more. Girls were challenged to find creative ways to talk about their role models. Some students used poems to share how their moms inspired them, while others utilized animation and words on paper to express why Beyoncé was their icon.

Students shared how their various role models encouraged them to follow their dreams, put in the hard work, and speak up because they have a voice.

“This project opened our students’ eyes to new opportunities and new concepts, and gave them a chance to lead, tell their story, and support each other in new ways,” said Brown. “They had to be creative thinkers and problem solvers and I love that they were able to use and hone these skills in a new setting. Just being able to see themselves and their work on the ‘big screen’ was a huge confidence booster.”

We’re grateful for the ability to walk alongside GRPS’ G-Cubed program to empower and equip young members of our community with the skills they need to think critically, collaborate, and create as they prepare to step into careers. Another inspiring Mosaic Community program is in the books!

Baxter Community Center and the Periodic Table

With a generous grant from the Wege Foundation, Mosaic Film Experience hosted eight after-school programs for students in Grand Rapids. Each program’s curriculum was designed to teach students about storytelling as well as how to utilize filmmaking and editing techniques to create a mobile project. The workshop experiences were all very unique due to different class sizes and students’ interests.

In January 2018, Mosaic Film Experience partnered with Baxter Community Center for one of the after-school programs.

“Not long after we gathered together, we found the direction of Baxter students’ film project,” said Mallory Patterson, Mosaic Film Experience lead and owner of Wrinkle Creative. The Baxter students were excited about their teacher’s vision to create a film based on the periodic table of elements.

This project was anything but another educational science tool. The students had a blast using a table of elements song they already knew to guide their film.

Students learned how to cut in elements like animations, science experiment clips, and interviews with Lady Science, a character they created.

“We also showcased the center’s student talent in the film by including a karate routine and two dance steppers,” said Patterson.

As the project came together, one student was particularly interested in creating a unique beat for students to sing along to, making the periodic table song more their own. After instructors introduced him to the Garageband tool, he began mixing his own beats within minutes. Soon the whole class had downloaded the app and was making “sick beats” in a program they had never used before.

“Once you open the door of possibility for many of these kids, it’s really cool what they end up doing with it,” Patterson.

That’s true for every aspect of Mosaic. Whether it’s Mosaic Experience, Mosaic Mobile, or Mosaic Community programs, we utilize digital media to provide students with an opportunity to tell their unique stories and equip them with critical thinking, collaborative and creative skills all while educating them about new career possibilities.


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.