Stay True Philly – Summer 2017

Written by Andrew Vigna. Photos by Max Grudzniski, Kris Mendoza.

While we are passionate about video production, nothing gets us more inspired to work than using our skills and knowledge to help improve the lives of local communities. We were recently given the chance to take part in the Stay True Philadelphia project, through our sub-brand, Philly Photo Studio, and we lept at the opportunity.

Stay True Philadelphia is a Philadelphia-based non-profit dedicated to inspiring local youth to become leaders in their communities. This admirable organization allows under-privileged, at-risk youth the opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills, and confidence needed to become empowered, active agents of social & political change in their communities. Stay True offers a great variety of after-school, extra-curricular, and weekend programs for kids to take part in, combining academics and activism to give students an amazing service experience.

This summer, Philly Photo Studio will be partnering with Stay True for the sixth year in a row, offering introductory photography workshops designed to stimulate and inspire kids to express themselves through photography. At the the end of summer, the workshop will culminate in a  gallery showcase that will display the work that was captured by the group in the course of their day-to- day lives.

Max Grudzinski (photographer, Maestro / Philly Photo Studio) showing students photos from master photographers to get them inspired).

Along the way, Maestro interns will be documenting all the great events and activities that the students take part in throughout the summer, which will include bowling, camping, water parks, and various other fun activities throughout the city. Through Philly Photo Studio, we are also happy to be donating cameras, laptops, and a wealth of experience to help teach the youngsters about photography. In the words of our Executive Producer, Kris Mendoza, “If we could inspire even just one kid to take on photography, it would be a success for us”.

We know from past experience that working with the folks at Stay True is highly rewarding. It is truly amazing to see what the students are capable of achieving through photography, with just a little bit of guidance. It’s not every day that we are able to use our knowledge and expertise in such a meaningful way, and we really revel in the opportunity.

Check out the Stay True Philadelphia website if you are interested in getting involved with this quality non-profit. Stay True works with a number of well-known local organizations, including The Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Franklin Institute, Philabundance, and many more. If you would like to contribute anything at all, Stay True welcomes donations, and all proceeds go directly towards giving students the knowledge, skills, and inspiration to commit to a life of public service.


FIMRC: Project Cavite

We are super excited to share a short film that we just wrapped on, entitled Project Cavite. Our Executive Producer & Founder, Kris Mendoza, documented his experience while on a medical relief mission in the Philippines this past August and produced a mini documentary on his time there. For more on the project, read the short message from Kris and check out the video below!

Every so often, there comes a project that changes you — whether it’s the subject matter, the circumstances the shoot may have endured, a learning moment, or the impact you were able to make along the way. In the case of Project Cavite, it was all of the above.

In August of 2016, my wife, Melodee, my future sister-in-law, Norilene, and I all had the opportunity to go on a medical mission with the Foundation for the International Medical Relief of Children or FIMRC, a Philadelphia based organization that has a vast global reach with sites in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, India, Nicaragua, Peru, and Uganda as well. It was a destination close to home for all three of us, as we got to go to the Philippines for 10 days to help medical and social workers on the ground in the rural provinces outside of Manila.

Our family vacations to the Philippines usually include shopping at malls, visiting touristy attractions, and lounging on the beach with a tropical cocktail, so to come to the Philippines with an entirely different mindset and purpose was refreshing. It was equally inspiring to see the resilience and resourcefulness of the Filipino people and what they are capable of with very limited resources. To visit the impoverished areas and be able to make an impact in our short time there was nothing short of fulfilling and to see another side of the Philippines that we aren’t used to seeing, and still finding the beauty of the country is an unforgettable experience altogether.

I was lucky enough to tag along as a non-medical volunteer and document the daily happenings and be able to tell the story in the best way I know how. The short film below is a culmination of our 10 days onsite, operating as volunteers with FIMRC. I highly recommend the experience to any one looking for global volunteer opportunities, as they really did a great job in organization and local logistics during our time there.

Special thanks to FIMRC for the opportunity, Maureen, our field operations manager on site, and to our Senior Editor, Edward Cipolla for really helping to craft the narrative in the edit room.

-Kris Mendoza, Executive Producer, Maestro Filmworks

To support the great humanitarian work FIMRC is doing, please visit the following link:

Project Cavite from Maestro Filmworks on Vimeo.

Director/DP: Kris Mendoza
Editor: Ed Cipolla
Graphics: Andrew Czudak
Music: Premium Beat


This Saturday, Team Maestro joined the fight against lung cancer and succeeded in exceeding our fundraising goal of $1,000 by raising a total $2,530 for the Bonnie J. Addario “Your Next Step is the Cure” 5k.

It was so inspiring to see everyone out there hitting the pavement and being active TOGETHER.


A little bigger than last year, Team Maestro cleaned up in the 30-39 Men’s division with Asa, Kris, Geoff, Paul, and Yev sweeping the top 5 and again in the Women’s division where Eleonore and Ashley also took first place in their age groups. Shoutout to Joanna, Artina, Clay, and Tom who all placed top 5 in their age groups. Congrats to Yev for taking 5th overall and 1st in his age group and the biggest hat tip to Bill Burke for taking 1st in his age group as well and leaving us youngin’s in the dust!

Also, kudos to Andrew Czudak for winning a brand new FitBit Flex after taking the top fundraising spot with $660 raised!

A big thanks to our spectators, family, and friends who truly motivated the team throughout the run and a huge thank you to our official team photographer, Steven. We’re all so glad we were able to have fun while making a difference for a great cause in the process, this year’s 5k festivities were definitely some for the books. We’re already looking forward to next year’s!


Participant shirts were provided in partnership by Team F*Cancer (#teamfcancer), an endurance sport team charity that was established in 2007 by a friend of Maestro Filmworks.

Team Maestro at the Bonnie J. Addario Race for a Cure | October 2nd, 2016


Maestro Filmworks has put together a team to help raise money and awareness for a cure to lung cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer constitutes for 27% of all cancer deaths in the year 2015. Our team has set a goal to raise a minimum of $1000 as a team, while also training and staying fit in the process. Maestro has agreed to match all team fund raising and contributions up to $1500.

Participant shirts will be provided in partnership by Team F*Cancer (#teamfcancer), an endurance sport team charity that was established in 2007 by a friend of Maestro Filmworks.

Join us by clicking this link and registering to run alongside Team Maestro in this great cause!

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Team Maestro participants at the 4th Annual Race for a Cure

Philly Asian American Festival Recap

A bit overdue, but better late than never Just wanted to share a recap video we produced for the 2015 Philly Asian American Film Festival. We’re proud to support the great work the PAAFF does and had a blast watching a lot of the great films from the festival this year.

Special thanks to PhillyCAM and Oogeewoogee for supplying us with some supplemental footage.

Get in touch with PAAFF:
Twitter: @PAAFF
Instagram: @phillyasianfilmfest
Hashtag: #paaff15

Director/producer: Kris Mendoza
Editor: Ed Cipolla
Camera operators: Patrick Florescio, Joanna Shen, Stephanie Ramones
Music: Premium Beat
Special Thanks: PhillyCAM, Oogeewoogee, Asian Arts Initiative

2015 Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival – November 12-22, 2015


Starting this Thursday, November 12, the largest Asian American film festival on the east coast comes back to Philly!  The Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival (PAAFF) offers the best in the arts from the Asian American community. With films, music, and discussion panels, you can immerse yourself in the continuing success of Asian American artists.

From documentaries to international shorts, PAAFF debuts films from rising and established filmmakers alike. The monumental documentary In Football We Trust delves into the complex and tightly knit Polynesian community in Salt Lake City. As one of the chief sources for the influx of Pacific Islanders in the NFL, In Football We Trust gives unprecedented access in to the lives of four young Polynesian men as the navigate through high school, striving to overcome gang violence and poverty to find success through the promise of football. Family Gathering, a witty short film by David Au about a recently married interracial gay couple, explores the layers of an endearing Asian American family as they spend an afternoon together that no one will forget.


The discussion panels will focus on the recent triumphs of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans in major network television shows and the music industry. With success in shows such as Fresh off the Boat, The Walking Dead, Community, The Mindy Kaling Show, and Selfie, the APAs in Television panel looks to discuss the advent of Asian Americans on television. Panelists will include Peter Shinkoda, actor and star of Marvel’s Daredevil, and Denise Nakano, an NBC10 news anchor. Other panels will include Strength in NUMBERS, a panel discussing the current state of Asian American musicians in the hip-hop industry. Curated by Scott CHOPS Jung of Philly’s legendary Mountain brothers, a producer whose credits include Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj, panelists will be Chris PERIl-L Wang and Steve STYLES INFINITE Wei, both of Mountain Brothers, and Catzie Veilayphonh, a spoken word artist. After the discussion, a concert with performances by Danny Chung, formerly known as Decipher, Ann One, JL Jupiter, and Joanlee will be held.

Head over to for more information on all of the exciting events they have planned.



Challenge accepted: #icebucketchallenge

ice collage

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge surely has taken over our newsfeeds by storm in the past few weeks. At first, I was personally a bit hesitant to get involved. It seemed like a polarizing thing on social media — some angrily saying to just donate, others partaking in the challenge, while many did both. Say what you may about the challenge, but the pure numbers don’t lie. At the time of this writing, the challenge has raised more than $88M dollars (source: compared to the $14k raised in the same period last year. That was enough to convince us that we had to get involved, but we knew as filmmakers we had to do something pretty epic. Our answer to the challenge? Oh you know, just a couple of dudes getting iced in super slow mo in the studio.

We sure had fun in the process, knowing our experience and donated funds are going to a good cause. Check out the video below, and while you’re at it, head over to the ALS Association homepage and leave a few bucks!

Thank you to friends of Maestro for participating and also to Descendant Films for the camera and LensLends for the glass. It’s only right we now nominate someone else! All of the folks over Stay True Philadelphia: you’re up!

Running with Team Maestro

On October 5th, Maestro Filmworks will be joining a few hundred Philadelphians in running to spread awareness and research for lung cancer. Maestro Filmworks, along with friends and family, has created a team to raise funds and run a 5k at the 4th Annual “Your Next Step is the Cure” Race put on by the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation.

“We wanted to do something that would not only build team morale, but also be able to contribute to something meaningful and support a good cause — all while having fun and being fit in the process,” says Kris Mendoza, founder of Maestro Filmworks. “Supporting this cause is right in line with one of the three key initiatives which we believe in strongly: education, arts, and healthy living.”

According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the cause of ‘an estimated 159,260 deaths from lung cancer (86,930 in men and 72,330 among women)’ in 2014 alone. Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, along with many other great organizations, has been putting on events like this and is one of the largest patient-driven philanthropies nationwide devoted exclusively to eradicating Lung Cancer through research, awareness, education, early detection and treatment. Since being established in 2006, the organization has raised more than $15 million dollars for Lung Cancer research, patient services and awareness. Maestro Filmworks has pledged to match donations of all those who sign up for Team Maestro.

If you are interested in joining the team, register via this link and choose Maestro Filmworks in the “Select Team” drop down. All Team Maestro participants will receive custom race t-shirts.

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