Mobile Filmmaking with Stefanie Dworkin

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The Arab Spring, Black Lives Matter...Vines. These are just a few contemporary movements—political and otherwise—that have been defined by their use of smartphones. But the smartphone’s full creative potential remains largely untapped by most users. Stefanie Dworkin is a Brooklyn based documentary filmmaker/editor, photographer, and educator.

by Rachel Baron | December 6th, 2017

The Arab Spring, Black Lives Matter...Vines. These are just a few contemporary movements—political and otherwise—that have been defined by their use of smartphones. But the smartphone’s full creative potential remains largely untapped by most users. Stefanie Dworkin is a Brooklyn based documentary filmmaker/editor, photographer, and educator. She is also devoted to building curriculum and educating users on how to harness their mobile phones for film and media making. She leads our upcoming Mobile Filmmaking workshop next Sunday 12/17.

Development and Communications Associate Rachel Baron sat down with her to discuss her beginnings in media, the power of mobile film, and Michel Gondry.

    Rachel Baron: How did you get your start in media and filmmaking?

    Stefanie Dworkin: I was always interested in filmmaking as a kid. I started shooting photos with my mom’s Kodak Instamatic when I was 6. After college, I checked out the local cable access station in Palo Alto and got involved in their community and creating programming. I realized I loved filmmaking and editing. I’ve worked mainly in documentary and photography but have always had an inkling to educate and help with the iPhone. Lately, I’ve been focused on creating coursework for mobile filmwork and editing.

    RB: Is there work you have done on mobile film you’d like to share?

    I am very proud of a documentary I did on the Flatiron Building, Treasures of New York: The Flatiron Building. It aired on PBS in 2014 and tells the story of the iconic New York building that has captivated the world for more than 100 years. For that work, I used an iPhone to collect footage because I needed to go to the building for interior footage and wanted to be more discreet.

    RB: What do you think are some of the compelling elements of mobile filmmaking?

    SD: The iPhone is a very underused and misunderstood tool, but it is so powerful. Any person that needs to shoot video for any reason can. A friend of mine is from Iran and she uses small media to get stories that aren’t being told, like women’s rights.

    The audience may not notice a difference, but if they think about it, they will be amazed that such professional work was shot on an iPhone.

    RB: What are some noteworthy examples of mobile filmmaking you have seen?

    SD: Michel Gondry’s short film Détour. It’s a fabulous little film. And of course Sean Baker’s Tangerine.

    RB: What do you think students can gain from taking our Mobile Filmmaking workshop?

    SD: This class is about empowering people with their smartphone. It’s really an accessible tool and you can have so much control. For the filmmaker, there is skill and technical aspects involved, different technologies that can be used to help the recording experience.

    RB: Care to tell us about any of your current projects?

    SD: I collaborated with the Photographer Ashok Sinha on a piece about sticker graffiti called Sticker City. There’s a whole scene around these stickers, which appear throughout the city. We’re in the feedback stage now.

Learn from a local mobile film innovator! Join Stefanie in our upcoming Mobile Filmmaking workshop next Sunday 12/17. Register here.