How your clients refer to you:
Website: www.smittenfilms.com, Instagram: @smittenfilms, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Ph. (917) 280-6022
How many years have you been in business in NYC?
How did you get your start and what was your initial inspiration?
The initial inspiration for Smitten Films came when my first son, Jude, was born. Like many first time moms, I was taking a ridiculous amount of pictures and videos of this incredible little person! Between my iPhone, my DSLR, and my husband’s devices, we amassed tons of footage in the first few months alone - but we had no idea what to do with it all. At that time, I was living in London, far away from my family and friends and I wondered: how I could gather all the footage into one place and make it 1) highly watchable 2) easily shareable with friends and family around the world and 3) something that would stand the test of time and that we would all enjoy watching in the decades to come.
Prior to having children, I worked in Equity Sales at Lehman Brothers but walked away (pre-crash!) from the Managing Director track to go work in film production in London. Working in production was a dream come true (despite the crazy hours and low pay) but when I became pregnant with Jude, I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to be able to be on location in Germany for two weeks with a newborn. So, I walked away from my job, but I never forgot everything I learned and I just knew I would use it all again one day.
While at home with Jude, I used nap times and the skills I learned from producing to begin editing together my footage into these beautiful family films that friends and family went crazy for. That’s when I knew I had something, and Smitten Films was born. (I didn’t formerly launch the company until my son Jude was 3, after I’d had my second child, Poppy, and had moved back to New York City – where #3, Hudson, was born!).
What do you feel differentiates you from others in your field?
When it comes to the craft of family filmmaking, Smitten prides itself on 3 things: 1) the ability to curate the perfect selection of footage from everything that we get from each client, 2) the ability to really weave that selected footage into a beautiful story, and 3) the ability to find the perfect songs to go with the film, which really adds to the experience of watching it. From a client service perspective, we think we do a great job working hand in hand with each client to understand all the particulars of what they want to show in the film. For example, making sure both grandmothers get equal screen time, or both stepparents are featured, etc. We also want to make sure we understand what the important family traditions, inside jokes, favorite songs, etc. are. Those are the details that really make the film so customized, and so memorable, to each family.
Finally, we are a mom-led business that employs all moms. This wasn’t exactly intentional but when we were interviewing for various roles (especially our editors), the candidates who understood our unique value and story telling angle were moms. As such, we are uniquely positioned to understand the needs of a mom who is overwhelmed by her digital chaos and wants to make something memorable out of it to show gratitude for the beautiful life she has created.
What do you feel gives you longevity in this big city with so many options?
Our clients know that we will be here for the long haul, supporting their family’s most valuable possession - their memories - as their family grows and changes. Almost all of our clients return every year to make an annual highlight film, and they know they can always count us on to be there and to deliver a priceless product.
We have an extremely close relationship with our clients. Many people let us into their homes to do footage transfers on site, so trust is really important. We sign iron-clad NDAs for those who require it and respect our client’s privacy at every turn.
How do you positively impact your clientele?
One of the most common things we hear from grateful moms is how much peace of mind they have after making a Smitten Film. Knowing that all of their pictures and videos have a place to be enjoyed now and to be preserved for the future is invaluable.
We also think we are helping kids gain a sense of family history and pride. When they look back on their childhood through their Smitten Films, they will see the family members, traditions, and places that helped make them who they are. All 3 of my kids LOVE watching their annual Smitten Films – it makes me so happy to know that we are giving the same gift to our clients; it is truly an honor to be part of their family legacy.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Getting to know our clients - they come from all corners of the world and since we are welcomed into their most personal moments, we get to see how they do morning routines, bath times, vacations, and school runs. It’s amazing how many small little differences there are from family to family but the most common theme is a love and dedication to their family. That, and the knowledge that we’re giving them a gift for life.
What is your favorite secret NYC spot?
I really love the one-time, pop-up, underground food scene that is happening in NYC right now. The whole thing is shrouded in secrecy and I love the element of surprise.
How do you benefit mamas?
Smitten was created by a mom and is 100% geared towards moms who lead busy, beautiful lives, but don’t have the ability to access and enjoy all the memories they have created. We swoop in and take care of it all for them so they never have to worry again. Sometimes moms feel guilty that they don’t have all their great media organized in a way that their family can watch and enjoy it – we take care of that, 100%.
What is the most memorable feedback a client has given you?
This is fairly common feedback, eloquently put, from a client who made a film to capture the first year of her daughter’s life:
“In my husband’s words, you crushed it. I cannot wait to share your work with my parents. More importantly, you have encapsulated a milestone year in a way that we will treasure forever... I have the worst memory, as my husband can attest, and I actually breathe easier knowing that I will have this amazing video always to reflect on what will be the most game changing year of our lives... the year we met our most beautiful little girl.”
Pay it forward and name your top colleagues in the same field or related field:
I think McKay Williamson does some really creative work for families – films are only one portion of what they do. And in related fields, Storykeep makes powerful family history films, tracing the roots of a family as far back as can be traced to the present day; very powerful stuff.
What is the best advice anyone's ever given you? Or what is your "mantra" / words to live by?
My mom always used to say, “Family is everything.” She had a laser focus on prioritizing her family and everything else just fell into place around that. Her mantra helps me keep things in perspective when New York City pulls me in a million different directions – I keep my focus on my family and everything else just has to take a back seat.
As moms, the day can escape us, what is your best time-saving trick?
APPS! All of our daily needs are pretty much automated across various apps – Amazon and Jet.com for staples, Huckle & Goose for meal planning, Equinox app for booking workouts into my calendar to ensure I never miss a class, Dropbox app for managing media on the go. Those apps, plus Google calendar color coordinating of EVERYTHING helps me manage our busy household of 5. Another trick (that I’m constantly working on): saying NO to some things so you can say YES to the stuff that is most important and makes you feel most alive.