My Neighbor, the Entrepreneur: Lisa Ridd

The first in a new series of posts about locals starting their own businesses.

Who’s answering these questions?
Lisa Ridd, founder of Smitten Films.

Elevator pitch?
We bring people’s stories to life on film, utilizing all the pictures and videos that they already have.

I’m intrigued. Tell me more.
Smitten is about taking the everyday moments of our our lives, both big and small, and weaving them together to tell each person’s unique story. We take people’s media (pictures, videos, other images) and organize, curate, and edit it all into a meaningful film complete with music, titles, and effects. We just wrapped on a 10-year-wedding anniversary project (she surprised him with it on their anniversary trip to Paris!), a first year in a baby’s life film (screened at her birthday party!), and a compilation of well wishes from friends around the world to a proud family man at his 60th birthday party. Although clients often commission films for special occasions like weddings, anniversaries, or birthdays, there needn’t be a big event.Our films are also meant to be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home (or the homes of friends/family around the world) and to be passed on to future generations.

When was it founded? Where did the idea come from?
It was founded unofficially, on a project-by-project basis, in London in 2009. We officially launched in New York in February, 2013.

The idea came when my son, Jude, was born. An ex-finance girl turned film producer living far from home, I found myself at home with a baby and overwhelmed by a) parenthood and b) the sheer volume of pictures and videos it produced. In the first six months alone, I amassed 2,000 pictures and videos across my iPhone, DSLR, and video camera that, thanks to a sleep-deprived state, were all a bit blurry, majorly overexposed, or just flat out bad. What would I do with all of these imperfect representations of our little life? How could I combine them into one meaningful place for my family and friends to enjoy without boring them to tears?

From that frustration, I cobbled together my first film and when I shared the results with friends and family, everyone was clamoring for more. From there, we’ve expanded to make every kind of film you can imagine and all of it uses footage that people already have—breathing new life into otherwise forgotten, neglected, or inaccessible memories (time to get those 8mm film reels and Betacam tapes out of storage!).

Why “Smitten”?
I wish I could take all the credit! I was on the phone with a dear friend (who was conveniently studying marketing at HBS at the time) and I described to her how smitten my mother-in-law was with the first film I had made of our little family. My friend said, “When you turn this into a business, that must be the name!”

Who else was involved?
Smitten could never have launched if not for the women entrepreneurs in greater Tribeca, brought together by the HRP Mamas entrepreneurs network. In addition to my amazingly supportive friends and family, those integral to bringing Smitten to fruition were Rebecca Shine, Maureen Vazquez, and Jenny Kim.

How big is Smitten Films now?
Four strong! And growing….

Where is it headquartered?
On Murray Street in Tribeca.

How and where you do see it growing?
Since our launch, our business has been growing steadily through word of mouth, very targeted marketing/PR campaigns, and meaningful collaborations with NYC-based businesses—we intend to keep it this way next year. Building collaborative, long-lasting relationships with our clients is of utmost importance to us so that year after year we are helping them bring their stories to life and easing the burden of what to do with their growing digital pile. Starting in 2015, we will expand to offer other film-related services.

Does living in Tribeca inspire the company in any way?
Ever since I moved to New York 13 years ago, I’ve been in awe of Tribeca–its cobblestone streets, open-plan lofts, arched windows, and historical buildings—and have always wanted to be here. Of course it has changed a lot since then, but I still feel so lucky to be living and working here and draw constant inspiration from the area and its cross-section of creativity, business, and families. Smitten flourishes in Tribeca because people here appreciate unique, meaningful, and creative ideas and our films are all of those things. Also, the support for local businesses down here is amazing and the sense of community is equally as strong.

Any company hangouts around here?
Kaffe 1668 (at Murray, of course) is our go-to and Mulberry & Vine has officially become a favorite spot for lunch meetings. I will pretty much do anything for Tiny’s kale salad so I have been known to lunch there with clients. Sadly we don’t have any late night hangouts as we all have families to get home to, but later meetings have perhaps involved a bottle from Frankly Wines….

Any examples of films about locals?
Yes! This one [at top] is a ‘year in the life’ film of an adorable Tribeca family—you’ll recognize many of their favorite spots and you’ll probably even recognize them!

CHECK IT OUT: Lisa has offered to make a Smitten film about Tribeca, using Tribeca Citizen readers’ photos and video. Stay tuned…. Update: Here are the details.

Know someone around here starting an interesting business? Email



  1. This article brought a smile to my face as I imagined a group of women sitting together at Kaffe planning the business. That’s how Hanne and I started Downtown Dance Factory – AT KAFFE! many hours with coffees, pastries and laughs! This is such a great idea for a business – your description of the hours and hours of video and the megabytes of photos with no plan for what to do with it all – I’ve now got almost 12 years of that! (maybe by now it’s more than just megabytes?!) Congrats on an awesome business!

  2. Hey! I recognize both Lisa and the spot she was photographed in! ;-) What a fantastic business. How many cardboard boxes of material is too much?
    Thanks for the shout out and next time you’re in Mulberry & Vine be sure to say hi to me or Michelle! And we can talk about those boxes of raw footage in my closets….