Two weeks in a row, President of SAG-AFTRA, Gabrielle Carteris invited We Make Movies’ Smartphone Studio to present at her weekly PTEOE (President’s Task Force on Education, Outreach and Engagement) livestreams for the SAG-AFTRA community. In just under two short weeks, the videos have accumulated a combined view count of over 9K, and are only gaining momentum on the SAG-AFTRA YouTube channel. At the end of week two’s presentation, presenters Aubrey Mozino and Sam Mestman earned high praise from Carteris, who declared “Your program, what you have been offering is really something that has resonated with the members. And I want to say thank you for that, because you are helping to empower. And we want everybody to feel empowered, particularly at a time when everybody feels very vulnerable. You’re really allowing people the ability to see their future."
And empowerment is indeed the goal of Mozino and Mestman, who developed the curriculum for the Smartphone Studio in 2018. Recognizing the growing need for video literacy as the entertainment industry morphed into a landscape of multi-hyphenates, the collective We Make Movies adapted by catering to content creators of all ilks. The Smartphone Studio was born and workshopped through the Los Angeles community, taken on the road to Chicago, St. Louis, Albuquerque, and other select cities throughout the states, and then expanded virtually during the pandemic. The curriculum underwent several iterations, has been refined, and is bringing mobile filmmaking education to anyone and everyone with a hunger to tell a story (or send in an undeniable audition tape).
The program provides insights into the best gear and apps to use when shooting self-tapes at home or beginning to create content of any kind. The first week delves into a demo of the powerful camera app FilmicPro, along with walking through some filmmaking theory and best practices, like utilizing the Rule of Thirds, and how to adjust and lock your exposure when you’re not working with professional lighting setups. With many actors shooting their auditions at home, oftentimes without anyone else there to assist them, these particular Smartphone Studio workshops are designed for performers dealing with the constraints of this new normal.
Week II focused on post-production for performers, using the extremely intuitive and easy to learn editing software, Final Cut Pro. Mozino and Mestman walked SAG-AFTRA members through importing their audition footage, trimming/rearranging clips, dealing with tricky requests for full-body slates, and even covered some color correction and sound sweetening tips. For many content creators it can be frustrating making sure your videos fit all the different aspect ratios of different social media platforms. The filmmaking duo also showed how Final Cut Pro’s "Smart Conform” option does all the heavy lifting of converting your clips from horizontal to vertical and vice versa.
Shooting, editing and uploading auditions or content has never been easier or more affordable, and that is the signature message of Smartphone Studio. If you don't believe us, just scroll through what SAG-AFTRA students have said about it on Instagram. Actor David Stanbra stated "@aubrey.mozino , that was excellent. You covered so much in such an accessible way. I can't wait to try out the gimbal you recommended as well is Filmic Pro! Thank you!!" while actor, Kelly Ryan, called the tutorial "the most informative and thorough #sagaftrafound
I’ve seen, you literally answered questions as I thought them." The program even helps younger generations of actors, as mother of child actor Ella Grace posted, "Loved it! Thanks for sharing your insight in the webinar. I’m parent of a 7-year-old aspiring filmmaker so trying to get her the right tools!"
The Smartphone Studio begins by sharing some basic principals of filmmaking, demystifies tested tools of the trade that work in tandem with what most folks already have in their pocket, and provide practical tips for garnering the proper footage in production and executing the right look and feel in post-production. With powerhouse organizations and leaders like Gabrielle Carteris of SAG-AFTRA behind We Make Movies, we are only one step closer to educating and empowering the masses, and unlocking the potential in every content creator, actor, and filmmaker.
Sapna Gandhiis an actor, singer-songwriter, and content creator. In addition to TVcreditssuch as BOSCH, SHAMELESS and SCANDAL, she has appeared in numerous shorts, features, and series, including festival darlings IN ABSENTIA (Raindance) and THUMPER (Tribeca). Gandhi has produced several series and films under the umbrella of her production company Elegant Grotesque(most recently SCRAP, starring Anthony Rapp and Vivian Kerr, and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds’ STRANDED ON THE EARTH, directed by Mike Bruce). She is also 1/2 of the musical duo,VATAVARAN, was born in England, raised all over the states, studied English and Women’s Studies, and trained at the American Conservatory Theatre in SF.