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Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor

Mom Has Genius Solution to All the Photos and Video on Your Phone

Here’s how you can create old-school family home videos with a modern twist.

The Bump presents #MomBoss, a series dedicated to showing off all-star moms. We catch up with mompreneurs behind products we love, influencers who get real about motherhood and SAHMs who can multitask in their sleep.

You can’t help it—baby is too cute and you have to document everything they do. But besides taking up already-dwindling storage space on your phone, what do you do with all your photos?

Enter: Smitten Films. The company was started by mompreneur Lisa Ridd to find a solution for all those snapshots and cute clips wasting away on your cell. She and her Smitten Films team of video editor extraordinaires piece together all those precious moments into unique home videos. We chatted with Ridd to learn how a birthday gift for her husband transformed into her own company, and why capturing her family’s memories means so much to the mom.

Tell us a little bit about your story

I’m a mom of three—with my fourth due in February!—and married to a British expatriate. Day to day, I run Smitten Films, which I founded five years ago and in New York City. I have always loved family, film, stories and creating things, so it totally makes sense to me that I ended up here.

My path to this place was a journey. I was a psychology major in college, worked on Wall Street in New York and London and then traded it all in for a job in film production in London. At this point in my life, I definitely feel like I’ve arrived at a place where I’ve combined my passions, connected all the dots and am doing the work that I was always meant to do.

Tell us about Smitten Films and how it came about

Smitten Films creates custom family films from the videos and photos trapped on smartphones or other devices. We take disorganized or forgotten footage, pair it with the perfect music and titles and create a beautiful digital heirloom for families to treasure.

It came about when my first son, Jude, was born. I was taking so many videos and photos of him in those early days—on my iPhone (3!), DSLR camera and video camera. I felt frustrated having all this footage across all these different devices but had no way of enjoying it in one place.

When I was working in film production, I oversaw editing, so I knew how to make a story work, but I had to teach myself the technical skills of editing to create the stories I wanted to tell. During nap times and late at night, I taught myself these skills and edited together the very first Smitten Film—a highlight of the first year of my son’s life—and gifted it to my husband for his birthday. It was a total hit. I knew if I had this problem—tons of footage, but no way to enjoy it—other parents must have it too. And so Smitten Films was born!

What kinds of videos can Smitten Films make?

We makes films for all kinds of occasions, including:

  • First Year films recapping the highlights of a child's first year of life
  • Year in Review films recapping the highlight of the past year
  • Milestone films for birthdays, anniversaries and more
  • Travel films, which are perfect for family vacations and reunions

We came up with these different kinds of videos because they were so important in my life, or because repeat clients asked for them.

Our most popular film is the Year In Review, but my personal favorite is the First Year film, because that’s how Smitten was born! I also love the Travel films because, for many busy families, vacations can be where a lot of family memory-making happens, so we wanted to have a specific product to capture that.

Photo: Courtesy Smitten Films

If parents want a film made, what do you need from them?

We make it so easy for moms and dads to get started! All projects begin with an in-depth consultation about our clients' goals, footage and budget. Once we have jointly decided on the best film for their needs, we help gather all their materials.

The finished product includes creative titles and effects, custom song choices and a review period to make sure the film is perfectly suited to the family. We deliver the finished product in three ways:

  1. Customized DVDs
  2. A digital file to download as many times as a family wants
  3. A personalized “Family Theatre,”which is a password-protected, customized page on our website for clients to easily watch all of their films in one place and share with friends and family

We take so much pride in the fact that the vast majority of our clients come back for a new film every year. It’s a true testament to the quality of our work and the experience our clients have working with us!

How did you manage launching a company with young kids at home?

There is nothing easy about starting a business, especially with young kids. I think it helped that I had a very clear vision, but also wasn’t scared to take it slow. I did great work for my early clients, and then built up a strong client base over time. As I grew, I hired other moms I trusted to help me in editing, marketing, business development and clients services. Rome was not built in a day and neither was Smitten Films. It took years of patience and hard work, all while constantly adjusting as necessary as a parent.

Work-life balance is an elusive and ever-shifting thing for me. Some weeks I’m more focused on the business, some weeks I am more focused on my kids. I need to remain flexible and realistic in my approach to both.

Do you still have time to document your family's memories?

Yes, I still take a lot of pride in documenting my own family’s memories. I love experimenting with new techniques when it comes to filming our adventures together. And of course, Smitten still makes annual highlight films for our family every year, and we have vacation films made throughout the year as well. In fact, Smitten recently made and posted my family’s month-long adventure in Bali to our insta feed—check it out here!

What are your best parenting hacks?

*All the apps.

  • Dropbox for syncing and backing up my footage so I never have to worry about it
  • Amazon for all household needs so I never have to rush out for toilet paper
  • Equinox for scheduling my workouts directly into my calendar so I can’t make excuses
  • Huckle & Goose so we always have a recipe plan for the week and an easily shoppable grocery list

What are some ways you’re raising your kids differently than you thought you would?

I always thought I would work when raising my kids, but I never thought I would be running a business that is 100 percent inspired by my kids. This gives them such a unique perspective on what “work” is for me. It’s not just a job, but also a purpose. They love that they’re the reason for Smitten existing, and it means they’re really invested in what I do. They often get to enjoy the fruits of Smitten’s labor, whether it’s seeing their own memories turned into a film or seeing mommy in the press talking about how she loves what she does.

Do you have a guilty mom pleasure?

I really love natural beauty and everything that Cap Beauty and Onda Beauty do, so a big guilty pleasure is constantly visiting their stores and deciding what to buy next. I love going to Joanna Vargas for facials to feel like the best version of myself. I also love a good manicure from Paintbox. It’s all about supporting the #MomBosses out there so we can all put our beautiful visions out into the world!

Published December 2018

Plus, more from The Bump:

Photographers’ Secrets to Taking Great Baby Photos

13 Amazing Newborn Photo Ideas

How to Take Great Family Photos