CAST & CREW PIX & BIOS
Rachel Flowers – musician/composer
A multi-talented instrumentalist and composer, Rachel Flowers lives in Oxnard, California with younger brother Vaughan and her mother, Jeanie, a singer and musician. Born December 21, 1993 in San Diego, Rachel was 15 weeks premature. Her birth weight was one pound five ounces. She lost her eyesight at three months due to Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP). When she was two years old Rachel’s mother showed her how to play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” on the piano. Rachel picked up the melody immediately and was soon playing every song she heard by ear. The child had perfect pitch. Rachel became a student at the Southern California Conservatory of Music from the age of four. Along with her study of piano and music fundamentals, it was at SCCM’s Braille Music Division that she learned Braille Music Code and adaptive computer music applications. She expanded her range by playing flute in middle school and in the Hueneme High School band in Oxnard. In 2005 and 2008 Rachel was featured in two segments of “60 Minutes“ about the Music Academy for the Blind in Los Angeles. She is currently a very active part of several jazz lineups in California, including the Ottsen Flowers Clark Trio. She is also composing original material that is as immensely accomplished as it is uniquely her own.
The second child of musical parents, Jeanie Flowers was born and raised on California’s Central Coast. She took up the guitar at 12 years old, immediately wrote her first song, and joined her first band at age 15. Whether playing guitar in a country rock band, leading church worship services, or studying composition and ethnomusicology at the university, there has never been a time when music wasn’t the central driving force in Jeanie’s life. At present, Jeanie spends her spare time writing and recording her own music, and being the most awesome mom in the world to Rachel and Vaughan.
Dan Flowers was born singing “The Funny Farm”, proving that music was to become a major part of his life. A decade later he got his first guitar and started composing his own songs. He would eventually become a lead guitarist and songwriter in several California bands. Employing a wide variety of musical styles including country, rock, blues and even Japanese Taiko, Dan has moved into solo acoustic guitar utilizing alternate tunings to enhance his musical writing style. Although he is an accomplished graphic designer and artist, music remains his first love and closest to his heart. In 1978, when Dan married Jeanie, they never could have imagined being blessed with two beautiful children who would grow to share their parents love and talent for the arts. Dan lives close to Vaughan and Rachel in Ventura, California.
Lorenzo DeStefano – producer/director
Lorenzo DeStefano is originally from Honolulu, Hawai’i. He is producer/writer/director of the upcoming feature film “Hypergraphia”, based on the “The Inman Diary” by eccentric Boston diarist Arthur Crew Inman (1895-1963). “Los Zafiros / The Sapphires – Music From The Edge Of Time” is DeStefano’s award-winning music feature about the Beatles of 1960s Cuba. “Talmage Farlow” is his acclaimed PBS documentary portrait of the great American jazz guitarist. DeStefano is a Director member of the Directors Guild of America and past member of the Motion Picture Editor’s Guild. His screenplays include the originals “Finchley Dreams”, “Lads”, and “Deep Inside”. Adaptations include “Hypergraphia”, “Creeps” (from the play by David E. Freeman), “Cropper’s Cabin” (from the novel by Jim Thompson), and “Appointment in Samarra” (co-writer, from the novel by John O’Hara). DeStefano’s feature film editing credits include “Dreamscape”, “That Championship Season”, “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”, “The Killing Time” and “Gingerale Afternoon”. He was Supervising Film Editor and a Producer and Director on the ABC/Warner Brothers drama series “Life Goes On”, starring Patti Lupone. DeStefano is founder and director of The Ventura Film Society in Ventura, California. An alternative, year-round cinema cooperative since 2008, the VFS brings people together in the dark by screening compelling international films and hosting visiting filmmakers. (See FULL BIO)
Patti Channer – co-producer
Patti Channer hails from the Empire State and is a longtime resident of Ventura, California. She was the Administrator for her late husband, Gary Channer’s Pediatric Dental Practice from 1977-2005. This connection with thousands of patients and their families confirmed Patti’s belief that people are the soul of the city. In September 2004 she linked up with twelve other women who bought and share a stunning diamond necklace. Designed as a fundraising and awareness raising tool, the necklace and the larger idea of sharing has had a very beneficial effect on the community. “The Necklace: Thirteen Women and the Experiment that Transformed Their Lives” by Cheryl Jarvis, published by Random House in 2008, is the story of these thirteen Women of Jewelia and the way they transformed a symbol of exclusivity into a symbol of inclusivity. In the process they remapped the journey through the second half of their lives.Patti helps raise much-needed funds for many area non-profits including the Ventura County Community Foundation’s Women’s Legacy Fund, the United Women’s Leadership Council, FoodShare, Habitat for Humanity of Ventura County, the Turning Point Foundation, and the Ventura Film Society.
Randell J. Brasher – co-producer
Randell Brasher is a longtime employee of the Boeing Company, currently working in the Functional Test Division in Everett, Washington. His passion for music, be it as a piano technician, a sound designer, a builder of recording studios, or a lover of all things musical, compliments his engineering skills. Randell is a believer in the timeless value that the arts provide, bringing joy through the act of effective communication. He is grateful for the chance to help Hearing is Believing Productions bring Rachel’s amazing story to the screen.
Sandra & Jordan Laby – co-producers
Sandra & Jordan Laby have carried their passion for theater, music, and dance into the community. They have been instrumental in the founding and sit on the boards of numerous arts and cultural organizations including the New West Symphony, Focus On The Masters, the Rubicon Theatre, the Ventura County Ballet Company, and the Ventura Music Festival. The Laby’s brought to Ventura, California the nationally recognized Harmony Project, an LA-based early music education program that provides free training and musical instruments to over 2,000 inner-city youths. In collaboration with the New West Symphony they continue to bring this visionary program to a growing number of elementary and secondary schools. They see in the remarkable story of Rachel Flowers the joy and inspiration that a life in music can bring.
Sandra Ruch – Associate Producer
Sandra Ruch is a documentary film producer and creative advisor for filmmakers, festivals and media companies. She is Director Emeritus of the IDA (International Documentary Association), where she served as Executive Director and Publisher of Documentary magazine from 2001 to 2008. Ms. Ruch enjoyed a wide range of responsibilities, including initiating the first IDA Pare Lorentz Film Festival. In 2008, she started Cinelixir – a full service company devoted to advising independent documentary filmmakers on development, marketing and distribution, as well as festival and outreach strategies. Ms. Ruch was the co-producer of the award winning documentary “DARWIN” (www.darwindoc.com) She served as a Film Expert for the American Documentary Showcase, an international touring film program of the U.S. Department of State. She traveled to 18 countries bringing Award-winning American documentaries to audiences around the world, offering a view of American society and culture as seen by independent documentary filmmakers. She regularly serves on juries and expert panels at film festivals and conferences around the world. Prior to I.D.A., Ms. Ruch was President of Marketing for New Line Cinema, Sr. Vice President for Cinergi Pictures, and, for 12 years, served as Manager of Cultural Programs for Mobil Oil Corporation where she supervised the Mobil/PBS television series, Masterpiece Theater as well as MYSTERY!
Micheline Sakharoff – co-producer
After teaching French language and literature at California State Universioty Northridge for 25 years, the late Micheline Sakharoff dedicated herself to her family and to countless arts, culture, and social causes. Over many years she and her husband Albert quietly and deliberately provided the financial scaffolding upon which many of the premier arts organizations in Ventura County have been built. These include the Ventura Music Festival, the Rubicon Theatre, the Ventura Film Society, and the New West Symphony. Micheline’s engagement and support for the arts was instrumental in making Ventura a cultural center of the Central Coast.
Kuulei Shafee – Director’s Assistant
Kuulei Shafee is an actress and filmmaker originally from Maui. She received a scholarship to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles. Since graduating she has continued her acting journey on film and on stage, winnign Best Actress in a recent Honolulu production of Lorenzo DeStefano’s play, “Shipment Day”. Kuulei is also a writer and producer developing her own projects and is excited to be part of the Hearing is Believing team.
Kevin D. Wilson – editor
Kevin Wilson earned his Associates Degree in Post-Production from the Colorado Film School and is currently working on several projects in multiple formats and lengths. While working freelance he formed his company, 29 Frame Productions, in Littleton. Colorado, and has earned multiple credits for commercials, documentaries and narrative projects including “The Day Before Christmas” and “A Remarkable Life”. In 2012 and 2013 Kevin was selected to produce and edit content for the automobile giant, ŠKODA UK. He is pleased to be working with Lorenzo DeStefano on a project as challenging and rewarding as “Hearing Is Believing”.
Sergio Palermo – Additional Editing & Finish Editor
Sergio Palermo received a B.A form Art Center in Pasadena, California. His impressive commercial credits include work for Honda, Mattel, Neutrogena, Opel, BMW and IBM. He has edited award-winning work on documentaries for the Museum of Tolerance, PBS and the Fine Living Channel. A top film & television feature editor, his international list of credits includes “Seeds of Destruction”, “Where I Stand – The Life & Times of Hank Greenspun”, and “Los Zafiros-Music From The Edge of Time”
Greg Herburger – Asst. Editor / Title Design / Animation
Greg Herburger is based in Denver and works with an incredibly creative team at Milkhaus, the award winning production/post house. He has done commercial work for a wide array of clients including Eddie Bauer, Pepsi, Western Union, Pfizer, Mountain Dew and more. Greg specializes in long and short form editing and has a passion for motion graphics, project management and the entire filmmaking process. Some of the projects to which he’s contributed include “William Matthews: Drawn to Paint”, “LEGO: A Brickumentary”, “78/52”, and “Hearing is Believing”.
David Pu’u – director of photography
David Pu’u is a Santa Barbara-born photographer and cinematographer with broad experience ranging from editorial publication, to television and feature film production. For the past 15 years David has been a leader in the imaging community through his contributions to both new technology and uses of high-speed motion capture in film and digital 3D formats, which have been featured prominently on the global stage. He is lead creative and CEO of Neocreative Inc, which develops and licenses IP related to Photography, Literature and Film. He is co-founder of OceanLovers Collective Inc. In addition to his decades-long experience as a professional surfer and ocean photographer, David holds a Certification as a Rescue Boat Operator and First Responder via K38 Maritime and AWA, and is trained in risk assessment and mitigation in marine environments.
Nik Blaskovich – Director of Photography
Armed with an education in Mechanical Engineering and a background in architecture and design, award winning cinematographer Nik Blaskovich has built his foundation on a professional career as a photojournalist and product photographer. With a passion for outdoor sports such as mountain biking and skiing, Nik is a well-rounded cinematographer who has both the physical and design abilities required to capture a well composed shot.
Jacob Cunningham – Camera operator
Jacob Cunningham was born and raised in Austin, Texas. He attended the University of Colorado where he majored in psychology. Fascinated by his studies of the human psyche, he, after much soul searching, applied to and was accepted into the Visual Journalism program at Brooks Institute in Ventura, California. Here Jacob developed a passion for photojournalism and content-driven photography and visual storytelling. “Thy Will Be Done”, his prize-winning feature documentary about a local act of violence and the victims it left behind, was begun at Brooks and completed after his graduation in 2008. It received its world premiere at the Ventura Film Society’s Festival 2009, to much acclaim. He works as a producer/director/cinematographer for Lynda.com and as a freelance camera operator for projects he cares about, like “Rachel Flowers-Hearing is Believing”.
Steve Aguilar – Camera operator
Steve Aguilar is originally from Burbank, California and has had a long involvement in set construction, grip and other aspects of motion picture and artistic production in Los Angeles as a member of IATSE Local 80, and for many independent productions. He has been photographing arts & culture performances in Ventura County for over 20 years, chronicling many of the regions premier poets, storytellers and musicians. Steve works regularly on the technical staff of many professional theaters, including the Rubicon Theater, the Plaza Players and the Teatro de las Americas . He is a board member of the Ventura Film Society and provides technical support for the VFS as well as to other art organizations like Bell Arts Factory and Art City. Steve is also a musician, singer/songwriter and a performance artist. His passion for music and the creative image is what has led Steve to become a key member of the Hearing is Believing production team.
Steve Miller –Sound Recordist
Steve Miller has extensive experience working in the L.A. film & television market since 1990. Initially a camera operator, Steve moved into sound recording for documentaries and news magazine programs including CBS’s 60 Minutes, NBC’s Dateline, & ABC’s 20/20. Based in Oxnard, California, Steve is much in demand as a production audio mixer & audio technician for films, television, commercials, and spot news.
John Austin – sound recordist
John Austin is an L.A. based sound recordist, sound supervisor, and audio engineer with extensive production experience on documentaries, features, and reality television. His documentary credits include “Los Zafiros-Music From The Edge of Time” (Lorenzo DeStefano), “The Language of Music – Tom Dowd” (Mark Moorman), and “The History of Baseball” (Ken Burns). He earned a Prime Time Emmy award for sound recording on the Time/Life series “Lost Civilizations”, and a Cine Golden Eagle award for “Seasons in the Swamp“.
Brian Hutchison – additional camera & interviewee
Brian Hutchison first contacted Rachel Flowers and her mom Jeanie in 2013 after being blown away by Rachel’s videos on YouTube. He has since become a trusted friend and technical advisor to Rachel as she expands her own music producing capabilities. Brian is a multi-instrumentalist, recording artist, and a composer of rock, fusion and progressive rock music. He engineered, produced and performed on guitarist James Byrd’s albums “Flying Beyond the 9” and “Anthem” for Finland’s Lion Music. He has also co-written material and performed with the San Francisco area band Cairo on their “Time of Legends” album on Magna Carta Records. He is a Steinway Piano concert & studio technician, preparing and tuning pianos for classical and jazz performers including Billy Taylor, McCoy Tyner, Ahmad Jamal , Jeff Lorber, Harry Connick Jr., and many others. He has also composed and produced music for film &television including additional music for Hemdale Productions “Miracle Mile”, independent feature films, and music for THEA award winning installations
Gary Bourgeois – Sound Designer & Re-Recording mixer
Gary Bourgeois is one of the film industry’s top re-recording mixers. Among his nearly 300 credits are Pretty in Pink, Pleasantville, Meatballs, Janis, The Muse, Dolores Claiborne, Searching for Bobby Fischer, Benny & Joon, Lakeview Terrace and The Bourne Supremacy. He was the sound mixer on The Man Who Skied Down Everest, which won the best documentary feature Oscar in 1975.
Marie Gregorio Oviedo – Unit Photographer
Marie Gregorio Oviedo is a photographer specializing in candid and lifestyle photography. Her passion for stopping time stems from photographing her “demon child”, 16 year old daughter, Morgan. Her camera bag is permanently attached to her right hip and her trigger finger always itches. Marie’s focus is capturing the magic Rachel creates with her music, the love of her family, and the impact Rachel unknowingly has on the world around her.
Katrina Maksimuk – Social Media Director
Katrina Maksimuk’s unique approach to IT and Social Media solutions is a blend of professional and fun. By continuously learning new trends in technology and networking, Katrina is able to provide up-to-date resources to provide her clients with savvy solutions in today’s technological and economic landscape. Her industry experience includes work for City, County, State & Federal Governments, Departments of education, manufacturing, restaurants, pharmaceutical, health care, and Real Estate. She strives to link the goals of her clients with a dedication to maximum synergy that also creates and betters communities.
Mario Lopez – Website Administrator
Mario Lopez is not only the “Hearing is Believing” website designer & administrator, he has also contributed to the project since its inception as a graphic designer and a photographer. Through his company, Aztec Photography in Lompoc, California, he specializing in lifestyle photography and landscapes. When he is not in front of the computer he can be found camera in hand.