Like many moms, we have approximately 10,000 photos and videos of our children on our iPhones, and about five or so (maybe!) printed out and framed. And please, don’t even ask us about baby books and other special albums, let alone preserving videos…That’s why we were intrigued when we heard about Smitten Films, created by Lisa Ridd, a mom of four. To get started, you simply transfer videos and photos directly from your phone, then work with the team at Smitten to create a custom film that truly reflects your family—without you spending hours moonlighting as a video editor (because who has the time for that?). We spoke to Lisa about why she decided to launch this business, what the process is like and what’s next for her and her Smitten Films.
Can you please started by telling me a bit about your family?
We are a family of six: Jude is 10, Poppy is 8, Hudson is 4 and Oliver is 8 months old. My husband is English/French, I am Panamanian/American and after living for the past 20 years between Tribeca and London, we have finally settled in Rye, New York.
For anyone who isn’t yet familiar, how would you describe Smitten Films?
Smitten Films is the solution to the overwhelming question of what to do with all the pictures and videos that parents endlessly take of their kids. The cameras on our smartphones have made it so easy to capture footage – but that footage ends up sitting on our phones, totally unappreciated. At Smitten Films, we take the photos and videos that our clients already have, edit them down to the very best bits, and weave those bits together into a completely custom and very engaging film set to music with titles, graphics and effects. These films are meant to be enjoyed over and over again and to inspire creating new family memories. Our films also serve as an archive to pass down to future generations.
Such a wonderful idea. Is your background in film?
I went into a very competitive analyst program at Lehman Brothers right after college. While I loved the energy of the trading floor and the cast of characters that I met during my time in Equity Sales, my soul was nourished by the film classes I took at night at NYU. After 7 years in finance (and firmly on the path to becoming a very young MD), I traded it all in to start at the very bottom working in film production. I had finally followed my passion.
Of course, a year into my job as a producer, I got pregnant with my first child. I knew I couldn’t go back to working long hours on set with a newborn baby so I decided to stay at home. I was a restless stay at home mom (and I was living in London with no friends or family nearby, which compounded the issue), so I pulled from my experience in film and my experience in business to come up with the concept of Smitten Films. It took several years, another baby, and an international move for me to bring the concept to fruition, and I officially launched the business in 2013.
As a sole founder/owner, I am responsible for overseeing every aspect of the business – both the creative side (making the films) and the business side (strategy, finance, marketing, client services, etc.). I find that my background in both film and finance help me with the daily decisions I have to make. It also means I have a vast and diverse network that I can tap into for advice and inspiration on a regular basis.
How is your model different from any other services out there?
What sets Smitten Films apart from similar services is our mission to help families celebrate their memories, our dedication to our clients, our mom-only group of very talented film editors, and our commitment to the highest quality client experience and product. We are not an app, we are not an algorithm, we are not people editing offshore in a dark room; we are a passionate and purpose-driven group of moms who understand the beautiful and complicated journey of motherhood.
I read that your father inspired you…can you please share a bit about that?
The concept behind Smitten Films was inspired by the photo collages that my dad created for my family every year. The 30+ collages he made over the years adorn every inch of the ground floor walls of my parent’s house and they serve as a central conversation point for guests who come into our home, but more importantly, as a way for my immediate family to reflect on the beautiful memories we have created together. My kids love seeing that Mommy used to crush it on the soccer field and my sisters and I laugh hysterically over our choices in clothing (and boyfriends!).
Photo collages aside, my mother, who put family at the heart of every decision she ever made, is my forever inspiration. “Familia primera” or “family first” is what she always used to say and I proudly carry forth her tradition of putting family above all else. It inspires the way I raise my children and it inspires the way that I run my company.
So lovely. What else are you proud of in terms of this business?
I am so proud, and truly honored, that we help moms enjoy and reflect on the memories they have created with their families. I’m even more proud when clients tell us that watching their Smitten Films as a family helps them feel closer as a unit and inspires them to go out and create more incredible memories. Mission truly accomplished!
I’m also really proud to have built a business that supports talented working moms. All of our employees are moms who are able to work flexibly and remotely, while still doing what they love. It’s a total win all around.
Amazing! What can new customers expect when they sign up?
The process of making a film is completely custom to each client. Depending on how much footage they have, their budget, the purpose (ie Holiday gift, first year film, etc), we create the simplest solution for getting started. The first step is getting the footage and we can do it any of these easy ways: 1) set up a shared album on the client’s phone for them to transfer footage of their choosing 2) an in home footage transfer where we do the transferring 3) getting access to a client’s iCloud account so we can download and transfer from there. The ways to transfer footage range from extreme hand holding to a version where the client does it mostly themselves. Whatever works for them, we can do!
Next, we get to know more about your family, your preferences, your music tastes, etc. Then we get started on making your custom film. Rush orders can be done in less than 2 weeks, but on average, it takes 4 weeks for us to create a “rough cut” of your film to watch and review. Clients get a round of changes included in the price of their film and then we make the “final cut” for them to approve.
Lastly, clients receive their film in 3 ways: 1) beautifully packaged DVD(s) 2) a dedicated “Family Theatre” on our website – which is password protected and stores ALL of your Smitten Films and 3) a high resolution digital file for them to download as many times as they would like.
Do you have any work-life balance tips you like to share?
I have four kids and run my own company, so there is no balance! I live pretty minute to minute and am constantly putting out fires – so some days (or minutes) I am 100% focused on my kids and some days (or 5 minutes later) I’m 100% focused on my business.
It’s a juggling act and, yes, balls are often dropped. The best tip I can offer is: don’t sweat the small stuff. If your kids are loved, fed, behave like good humans, and have the right priorities, everything is going to be just fine. Having them wear the “right” clothes and have the “best” toys is a very distant priority for me.
That said, here are some additional tips that might be useful:
- Get your kids involved in cooking, cleaning, and chores early on. The earlier they get started, the easier it is. More kids = more work and mess, but also, the more kids to help you manage it! My kids are active members of our household and understand that the more they pitch in to do the housework, the more mommy and daddy are able to spend time with them.
- A precisely color coded, detail perfect, Google calendar is a busy mom’s best friend.
- Treat your partner like a partner. Demand more from them, and then when they rise to the occasion, demand more again!
- When I’m stressed and overwhelmed, my instinct is to bear down and work harder but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized I am more effective if I take a break and move my body. Sometimes I do 5 minutes of sun salutations, other times I put my headphones on and dance to a song. No matter what, I come back to whatever it is I’m doing with a fresh perspective.
- Trello for household tasks. Amazon subscribe and save for household staples so you never run out of diapers. iCloud for backing up footage automatically.
Wow, great tips! What’s next for Smitten Films?
Clients have been asking us to make more products with the footage they give us for their films – including photo albums and gallery walls – and after about a year of perfecting the workflow and the pricing model, we will be able to go live with these options in 2020. We also have a lot of exciting collaborations and partnerships scheduled for 2020 so stay tuned for those!
Ultimately, my plan is to be a one stop destination for all things related to high touch, high end family memories, with the Smitten touch. What that looks like is not yet clear, but I’m taking suggestions!
Anything else you’d like people to know about Smitten or you?
I would love for people to know that it is an honor to be able to do the work that we do, and that we treat each film with a lot of love, respect, and integrity.
If you commission a Director’s Cut film by November 12th, Smitten Films will give any first-time clients $100 off if they mention LOCALMOMS. Start the process by visiting https://smittenfilms.com.
Follow them on Instagram @smittenfilms.
This post is sponsored by Smitten Films.