The Mosaic Film Experience brings Hollywood filmmakers and business people to speak to students in a variety of plenary and breakout sessions. Courtesy Dianne Carroll Burdick
Looking around a crowded foyer at the Wealthy Theatre on a weekday afternoon, a sea of faces of all colors mingles, as does laughter and excited chatter.
This 600-student, two-day affair held earlier this month was the brainchild of Skot Welch, president and founder of the Mosaic Film Experience.
Welch started the event in 2012 to focus “on under-told stories, particularly those of social outsiders.”
The experience brings Hollywood filmmakers and business people to speak to students in a variety of plenary and breakout sessions. It also includes a mobile film contest, in which high school and college students may submit two- to three-minute videos shot and edited on mobile phones or tablets, with the elements of “theme, prop and saying” included.
Welch said he originally designed the contest for 12-minute films shot and edited using traditional film equipment, but he found that ended up being a barrier to entry for students, so he changed the format in 2015.
“The mobile part happened, because initially, we were getting films from all around the world and none from our own area,” he said. “That was wrong. So, we flipped the business model on its head. … We did Mosaic mobile, because it’s cheap and everybody has mobile devices. It was a flattener. We want to remove those blocks.”
He said he views the whole package as a way for students to learn life skills by participating in discussions about digital media.
“They get what they need to be successful in the marketplace, and they get it in a way that they don’t think is work,” he said. “If we can, in some way, give them the skills to be creative, critical thinkers and to learn that collaboration is the way things get done, they can be that much better off when they enter the marketplace.”
One of this year’s headliners was Phillip Boutte Jr., a costume concept artist who lives and works in Los Angeles on Hollywood films. His recent work includes illustration and costume design for the three most recent “Star Trek” movies, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay” parts 1 and 2, “X-Men: Apocalypse,” “Insurgent,” “Man of Steel” and “Inception.”
Boutte said he aimed to give the students a thorough overview of the skills his job requires.
“I work for major motion pictures and help visualize their ideas,” he said. “I’m going to show them a broad range of those skills, along with trying to inspire them to maybe join us. I want them to know jobs like that exist. It’s a high-demand field, but there’s very few of us who do it. In the art department, concept art is the norm, and there’s not as many costume designers who do what I do.
“You have to know how to draw. If you go to a school that specializes in that, you need a strong illustration foundation, and you have to know about history. You have to have an instinct and take things apart and use your imagination. I’d say it’s a very creative (field), but it’s also being a historian. You have to study and learn.”
Boutte said the costume industry has evolved during the past five or six years with the onset of 3D printing technology.
“Myself and my colleagues are using technology to bridge the gap between the 2D and 3D world. To do 3D printing, we print the actual costumes. When you see armor or gauntlets (in movies), they are designed in the computer and then 3D printed. You can be way more precise that way.”
He said he spends a lot more time working with 3D software these days than when he started.
“When I initially started, I would spend 90 percent of my time in Photoshop, and now, I’m spending 90 percent in Zbrush to sculpt the costumes. It’s a 3D program,” he said. “To start, they’ll usually do a body scan (of the actor) and then we work off that.”
Boutte was joined at the event by Antoinette Miller, manager of university relations and recruitment at HBO, based in New York City.
Miller’s primary focus was teaching the students movies and TV shows are about more than just the acting, directing, editing and production aspects.
“(I want to encourage) them to consider the corporate aspect of the film and media industry,” she said. “Students sometimes think, ‘I want to be on camera,’ and aren’t thinking about the business operations. But that can be a catalyst for success in the corporate environment. I think media and entertainment can sway your perception of the business, but it is a business. You have to work hard and think creatively and push the limits, and sometimes, there are barriers. There’s a finance department at HBO and a legal department, and there’s PR and marketing and sports departments. It’s all part of the industry.”
Miller said she hopes her talk will germinate seeds in the minds of students — they will remember her advice when it comes time to select a major in college or when it comes time to apply for jobs after college.
“Someone is going to remember what I talked about,” she said. “Someone will hear and act on it later.”