SHOOTERS: film screening and closing reception at INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART

We are so grateful to everyone who came out to the SHOOTERS program closing reception & film screening at the Institute of Contemporary Art in December! A huge thank you to the ICA staff, moderator Glenn Holsten, and Knight Foundation for their support, and to everyone who has supported us in 2017. Here are photos from our event captured by Jared Gruenwald.

Stay tuned for more!


Week 5

This week we continued the production process of the one-minute self portraits, we shot Yon's and Russell's. We also had two awesome guest speakers, and two amazing site visits. First speaker was Yoni Leibling, he's a producer in LA, originally from Philly. His new project is Monster, coming out in 2018 which follows a young man in NYC who is caught up in prison for a crime he did not commit. The film is co-produced by John Legend and Nas, and also stars A$AP Rocky and Jennifer Hudson. We can't wait to see it!

Our next visitor was Shaka Johnson, a criminal defense attorney here in Philly. His career path is impressive and fascinating, he started as a police officer/SWAT team, and then went to law school. He believes that it is his duty to provide a level playing field for people charged with crimes, in a society and system that is skewed against minorities and poor people. 

Our first site visit this week was to the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of! We met Acting U.S. Attorney Lou Lappin, and re-entry coordinators Cyndi Zuidema and Elizabeth Powell. It was incredible to sit at a table with a federal prosecutor and interact as humans, and not be treated like a number. We learned about all the different efforts the office is doing to support people coming out of prison. In what other world would we possibly meet and be able to talk like this?

Our 2nd visit was to PhillyCAM, where we met Gretjen Clausing and Antoine Haywood. We got a tour and learned about all the facilities and equipment available to ANYONE and EVERYONE in the Philly area, after they take a class. What a cool place to be able to create, and even get your content onto TV.

Weeks 4+5

These past 2 weeks have been amazing! Week 4 we visited Expressway Cine Rentals for a tour and lighting demo. John Baumgartner walked us through different kinds of lights and setups. We got to see firsthand how diffusion, color temperature, backlighting, etc all work together. 

James Madison the owner explained how Expressway is a full service rental and production house, and they strive to make the rental process accessible to anyone and everyone, especially people early in their careers like us. 

After the demo and tour we got to see Max Tubman the drone master doing his thing, and learned about the different regulations of drones, and how quickly the industry and market is changing. Russell wants to buy a drone now to film his mural painting :)

We've been working hard on our concepts for our one-minute self portraits, and Week 4 we dove into production! We shot Lindsey and Rich's videos in one day each, and it was an intense process with all hands on deck. Rashid Zakat and Aidan Un joined us as guest teaching artists and it was so cool to work alongside them, we learned alot. 

Week 5 we shot Russell and Yon's videos, and started going a bit into editing, which we will continue with next week!

Week 3: Site visit to Institute of Contemporary Art

Our site visit this Monday was to The Institute Of Contemporary Art Museum in West Philly. The first stop by me and almost everyone on our team was to the Elixir coffe bar inside the museum which may I say has the most amazing coffee and cappuccino. It is free to get into ICA and I would personally take full advantage of it. We met with Maori Holmes and Meg Onli. Maori is a curator, filmmaker and also the the founder of Blackstar Film Festival. She is the director of Academic + Public Affairs at ICA. Meg is the assistant curator at ICA. She created the Black Visual Archive website in 2010 and received a creative award for it in 2012. They are both strong and motivated black women. They showed us the exhibition Speech/Acts which is a group exhibition that showcases new and old art from Jibade Kahlil Huffman, Steffani Jemison, Tony Lewis, Tiana Nekkia McCloudden, Kameelah Janan Rasheed and Martine Syms. It explores black poetry and also how language has shaped Black American experiences. Almost everything in the exhibition was black and white aside from two or three pieces.The pieces were absolutely beautiful! Both women walked us through the different pieces and then sat down with us for an interview and group conversation. We discussed the issues surrounding the art, and the experiences all of us have went through in our personal and professional journeys. A huge thing that we all talked about was racism which we continued to talk about outside the exhibition.


Written by Lindsey Massarelli

Week 2: Guest Speakers

This week we had two visitors come out to meet with us at MING. These men are extremely knowledgeable and willing to share with us everything that they have learned and experienced, which was such an exciting opportunity to say the least!

Our first visitor was Glenn Holsten who is an accomplished, award-winning filmmaker. Some of his work includes Saint of 9/11, The Barefoot Artist, Hollywood Beauty Salon, and also OC87. Glenn also does video recovery diaries that tell stories of men and women over coming mental health, addiction, and relationship struggles. All four of us were super fired up to meet with Glenn for a number of reasons but the biggest one aside from his knowledge and experience in film was that he was El's (Sawyer} mentor. Glenn went out to Graterford State Prison to meet with El numerous times over a 3 year period to introduce him in film. Prior to Glenn coming out there El knew nothing about cameras and film. He may have touched a camera one time before their introduction, packing up equipment. He opened El's eyes to a world of film. Glenn's kindness and open-mindedness has had a domino affect--Glenn taught El, Jon learned from El, and now the four of us who have been previously incarcerated are being taught film and everything involved in production by the larger MING team. Glenn helped us with our "one minute wonder" concepts and ideas and also left us with a few things we will never forget:

#1: when starting a film or project ask yourself - What does it sound like? -What does it look like? - How is it going to make people feel?  #2: sound can completely make or break a video or film. We do not have to tell our whole story in one film, keep it short. And how to summerize your film in one sentence. Meeting with Glenn was an experience that we will never forget.

The second visitor was Nate Nichols, the owner of Palette group. Palette group is a creative and digital marketing agency that also deals with marketing through social media in South Kensington. Sitting down with Nate was so stimulating. He shared with us his background, the struggles he faced with race/heritage as a child in foster care and how the computer and design was his escape. It really showed us that no matter what your past is that it doesn't have to define your future. It’s not that we haven't heard this before but actually seeing someone that you all personally relate to and then see and feel their success does something for the soul. Knowing that he had experienced homelessness at one point and continued to persevere was more valuable than gold. The most admirable thing about him is that he gives the less fortunate and those who normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to work the chance to work with him.

Written by Lindsey Massarelli

Week 2: Our first site visits!

This past Monday we went to our first offical site visits. I don't even know how to begin to put our experience into words! We visited two sites, and the first was Fairmount Park Conservancy! We met with Adela, Luke and Ellen. Who knew that that the conservancy was so versatile? They do so many different things to make us look at parks in new and invigorating ways. (Art, Shows, Events, etc.).They believe that nature is important to the urban communities, and Fairmount Park is one of the largest urban park areas in the world with a history that few of us even know about. We learned about the Boxers Trail and Joe Frazier's story also that 9 parks make up Fairmount Park! I can not think of a better way to get together to explore, exercise , or just simply take a load off alone or with the family.

Our second meeting of the day was at Little Giant Creative to have a interview with Tayyib Smith. Tayyib considers himself a “serial  entrepreneur” Which is evident in his present and previous endeavors which include: Pipeline Philly, Little Giant Creative, The Institute of Hip Hop Entrepreneurship, Co-publisher of 215 Magazine, and also a music promoter for over 10 yrs. Tayyib graciously sat down with us and gave us some insight on his process  and also allowed us to ask him questions about his life, career, success and failures. When I asked him “When was the moment you knew you made it?” he replied “ I still haven't made it!” Which I personally found to be very humbling. Sitting in a conference room overlooking City Hall and the City of Philadelphia was extremely inspiring and ground breaking to 4 individuals who have previously been incarcerated.

Written by Lindsey Massarelli

Week 1: We are live!

After introductions and getting to know each other we jumped right into the curriculum, going over the basics of video production + storytelling, and setting goals for the following 6 weeks. Meet the 4 cohort members below, and stay tuned as we continue to document and share our experience!

EPISODE 01: Meet the Cohort


Richard Patterson

I am a rap artist from Philadelphia. I got into video to learn how to make my own. I learned video when i was released from prison back in 2013. I joined El Sawyer's  1st SHOOTERS program in 2014. I am here now learning more skills to help me continue to grow.



I am an aspiring photographer and director. I'm here to be apart of the SHOOTERS program to learn from professional film makers how to obtain professional skill sets. I want to learn how to work with others as a team. i look forward to being a part of a camera crew in strides to building my own business.


Lindsey Massarelli

I am new to film and production. I am here at SHOOTERS to combine my passion for telling peoples stories with film. To get real life issues out in the community. To me this is an opportunity of a lifetime! And I intend to take full advantage of it


Russell Craig


I'm a artist from Philadelphia looking to gain knowledge in media to incorporate in my art career. I also would like to start a you tube channel for my self.


Coming up: This week we visit Tayyib Smith of Little Giant Creative, and host guest speaker Nate Nichols of Palette Group.