We had the good fortune of connecting with Stephen Small-Warner and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stephen, can you share a quote or affirmation with us?
“Walk by faith, not by sight”, I’m more spiritual than religious, so I didn’t first hear this from the Bible. Before I picked up a camera, I was thinking about dropping out of college. In discussion with my mother, she told me this quote, and as a person who visualizes everything, this just hit different at the time. I literally picked a camera up a week later. Eventually, I tatted this on the back of my arm as a reminder that you don’t always have to see things for them to exist. There have been times that it would slip my mind, and strangers would stop me and say ‘I like your tatt,’ instantly reminding me to leave room for faith. It bridges the gap to our most powerful visions.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a filmmaker who specializes in creating premium vertical content for mobile audiences globally. It’s the format of the future and a burgeoning content market. For a storyteller, it’s a fantastic way to engage with the audience. For a viewer, it’s a new art form to experience, like reading a comic book instead of a novel. Short stories in vertical is a niche. I’ve been having a lot of fun creating and discovering which content makes an impact.
I also have to note: Globally, more people have mobile devices than tv screens, so vertical stories are another solution to diversity in storytelling. A niche market segment that supports our growing storytellers is a win-win. Between premium Netflix content and the user-generated content of Tik Tok, there is a significant gap, and I think filmmakers worldwide can fill that.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The first thing that comes to mind is taking a road trip on the PCH! But before that, we gotta stop at Griffith park and check the observatory. Hit Thaitown for Fried spicy curry catfish from Pa Ord Noodle on Sunset. Can’t forget to swing over to Nappy Naturals for some teas & crystals. Grab a fresh juice from Swift Cafe. Pay our respect to Nipsey at Nipsey Hussle Square. Get a pickup order at Dulans on Crenshaw. Head to Santa Monica for some beach time and sunset. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have to shout out my family & lifelong friends. SmallWarner is my family name. My journey has been challenging, but my family and childhood friends supported me emotionally, financially, and spiritually from the day I chose this journey. I shot my wife’s senior thesis in college; she believed in me then and never stopped. My family gave me space (both figurative & literally) to create. That’s LOVE for an artist!! My childhood friends joined me in the film journey, teaming up to make our documentary AGANDI. My family & friends continue to keep me grounded and in tune with who I am without the camera. I would shout out specific names, but in lew of forgetting anyone important, I won’t. Being an innovator sounds good in theory, but in practice, it meant having people there as I failed more than succeeded. They remind me to measure my success by the quality of my peace, not the number of my wins.
The image of me with the light meter in hand– By Isiah Jamal Williams All other images are — Stephen Small-Warner