24 June 2010

Meet Jules Dameron - ASL Master

Jules Dameron is a filmmaker with a Master's degree in Film Production from the University of Southern California. Having founded Deaf Women in Film with the sole purpose for supporting, recognizing and helping all deaf women cultivate their careers, she's also an avid supporter of all who are frequent users of American Sign Language, especially associated with the film and arts industry. Hailing from Minnesota, she extends a friendly demeanor towards all she works with. In addition to Deaf Women in Film, Jules pursues her abiding love for directing films, having directed numerous short films. Jules is the CEO of her film production company, Damname Productions. She resides with her husband and three cats in North Hollywood.

20 June 2010

Meet Eli Steele - Unit Production Manager

Eli has worked extensively in the entertainment business, ranging from Production Assistant to Producer. In the last five years he developed, wrote, directed, and produced “What’s Bugging Seth,” an award- winning independent feature film. He recently completed “Katrina,” an MTV Network commissioned television pilot, that tells the story of two Hurricane Katrina survivors. Outside of the entertainment world, he is active in the hearing loss community and currently sits on the board of two non-profits that assist children with hearing loss.

19 June 2010

Meet Kimby Caplan - Cinematographer

Kimby Caplan is an award-winning filmmaker whose work has aired on PBS, ABC, and NBC affiliates. Her documentaries and short films have been shown in festivals across the country and internationally. Her films, as a Director and as a Director of Photography, have won awards in all genres. Caplan has just completed principal photography on a feature documentary about Cuban Exiles in America, “CUBAMERICAN”. Her first E! pilot on female wrestlers will air this fall and she is currently in production on set in Wyoming on a docu-drama about a vaudeville sharpshooter from the 1920’s.

18 June 2010

Meet Catherine MacKinnon - Producer

Canadian-born Catherine MacKinnon’s award-winning film “I’m Not From Hear” (2003) was shown at 20 different film festivals. She has worked in 25 productions including short films, television, documentaries, and feature films as a Producer, Co-Producer, Production Coordinator, Consultant and Director. She is a Co-Producer of an indie feature film, “HAMILL”. As a performer, Catherine participated in The Vagina Monologues, with Vanessa Vaughan, Rachel McAdams, and Shirley Douglas in the 2006 V-Day Toronto production, as well as provided atmospheric vocals in the feature film “Silent Hill” starring Sean Bean, Radha Mitchell, and Jodelle Ferland. Her recent acting gig was in a comedy-improv show “Kenny vs Spenny”. She also performed with the ensemble, “Voices of Chornobyl”, a co-production of Deaf West Theatre and Anataeus Theater. Catherine is a co-founder and a Festival Director of Toronto International Deaf Film and Arts Festival. She is currently finishing up her documentary short “Unheard Voices” and produced short films, “At What Price” (2009) and “Robbed” (2010). She is currently attached to produce “Rise From the Ashes”, a feature-length documentary. Catherine graduated from Ryerson University School of Image Arts with a BFA in Film Studies.

Meet Rhianon E. Gutierrez - Director and Writer

Born and raised in Southern California, Rhianon Gutierrez is an award-winning filmmaker, writer, and activist. She received her BFA in Film Production from Chapman University, where she worked as a Production Designer, Producer, Director, and Writer on award-winning narrative and documentary films. Her acclaimed documentary short, “When I’m Not Alone”, has won over ten national awards, including one from the Academy of TV Arts and Sciences, and has played in numerous festivals. She served as a co-director, co-cinematographer, and still photographer on the short documentary “Ritmo do Morumbi”, about a renowned percussion school in Sao Paulo, Brazil. As an activist, she has been recognized for her work within the independent living movement and with young adults with hearing loss. Rhianon has done documentary, outreach, and social networking for various non-profits, including Special Olympics, Best Buddies International, People First of California, and Alliance of Abilities. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Hearing Loss Association of California and does outreach work for It’s Our Story, a national disability media history project with the Victor Pineda Foundation. She has also been involved with campaigns with Oxfam America and Special Olympics’ Spread the Word to End the Word. She is a member of the Society for Disability Studies. Fiercely committed to fostering an inclusive society, Rhianon uses her film training to produce and direct intimate, inclusive, and character-driven narrative and documentary films to educate mainstream audiences about social issues.



Marco Aiello:
Marco Aiello is the type of artist that can't be defined. Still, whether he is singing commercial jingles like the "Hello Good Buy" Beatles cover for the immensely successful Target campaign, recording, singing and touring with his own original music, portraying drug dealers or serial killers for dramatic television shows such as "Criminal Minds" or portraying hilarious characters like "Festus" for the Nickelodeon hit comedy "Victorious" - you can't help but notice the thread that connects all his work: an authentic presence and voice. He thinks of himself as a student of the arts and strives to be a great artist - like those who came before who practiced being formless and available to be moved by the mysterious creative intelligence that exists within every human being.

As Gabe:
Italian-born, charismatic, and intense, Gabe is a talented musician and the best friend of Sal. He and Sal were roommates and music majors in college, and they have performed together off and on for the past eight years. They are like brothers; Sal is an only child and Gabe is the only one in his family who lives in the United States. He is good at learning other languages, though he does not know ASL. Sal and Gabe were patient with each other in college, which helped Gabe to develop his English language skills, and Sal to have a person who was patient with him when speaking. Gabe has been learning new material but Sal is still stuck playing the same beats.

15 June 2010



Douglas Ridloff:
Douglas Ridloff began his life in Queens, New York. After graduating from Gallaudet University, Douglas went on to get a MA in Deaf Education. In Manhattan, Douglas began a partnership and co-produced ASL in the Raw, a successful show that capitalized on working “blue.” ASL in the Raw ran for three years and was noted in New York’s Time Out Magazine twice. His ASL work has proved award-worthy, winning national competitions such as ASL Live! and Deaf Idol. Douglas has defined himself by doing a mixture of improv, stand up comedy, stylized ASL genres, and short films. Douglas shares his expertise as a teacher of ASL and Digital Media at PS047 – The American Sign Language and English Secondary School in New York City. You can read more about him at http://douglasridloff.blogspot.com.

As Sal:

Sal is an intelligent, perceptive, charismatic, and proud musician. He was born deaf as the only child of hearing parents who were musicians. Refusing to be defeated by his hearing loss, Sal’s family raised him as oral in the mainstream and surrounded him with music. Sal’s father taught him how to play percussion and pushed him to be the best musician that he could be. It was in college that Sal discovered ASL and began to use it as his main language. For many years, Sal poured everything into his music. He struggles to have the right attitude—he expects everyone to immediately accommodate him, and if they do not, he does not bother with them. He wants to grow but does not know how because he believes that no one will help him.

Sandrine - TEAL SHERER


Teal Sherer is an actress, producer, and activist for performers with disabilities. Her first Hollywood acting job was the Emmy Award winning film, WARM SPRINGS, where she also served as an advisor to the lead actor, Kenneth Branagh. Currently, Teal recurs on the hit award-winning web series, THE GUILD, playing a villain named Venom. Teal has performed onstage with Dustin Hoffman, Annette Bening, James Cromwell, Rosario Dawson, and Richard Schiff. Earlier this year, she starred in the Pulitzer Prize winning play, PROOF, in which she received rave reviews. Teal has produced four plays in Los Angeles, three of which included the talents of performers with disabilities. In addition to acting and producing, Teal teaches dance and drama classes to kids with autism. Read more about her on her website: www.tealsherer.com.

As Sandrine:
Sandrine is an artist who creates using nature as her canvas. An artist her whole life, she is creative, independent, practical, compassionate, stubborn, and self-critical. When Sandrine was 27, while returning from a road trip with friends, she was in a car accident. She was the only one who emerged with significant injuries, fracturing her spinal cord. Her sense of independence was shattered when she was in the accident. She moved back home with her parents, who treated her as if she were a delicate child in the beginning stages of her injury. Because she has been so fiercely independent most of her life, she struggles with the reality of her disability.

09 June 2010

Director Rhianon Elan Gutierrez on Deafness and Disability

Excerpt from:
On Deafness and Disability
The Hearing Loss Californian Summer 2010
©Rhianon Elan Gutierrez
May 2010

In the past three years that I have been a disability activist, I have constantly been reshaping my views on disability—from labels and language to social practices. I’ve analyzed how they influence each other and how they need to be transformed. Labeling becomes very complex when considering the definition of disability itself. The medical model focuses on the identification and correction of impairments, while the social model focuses on how we create things that exclude people with different abilities from having full inclusion. The medical model is not incorrect in its recognition of impairments (because it is true that some of us can’t see, hear, walk, or comprehend based on socially defined “norms”), but its fallacy is that it repeatedly attempts to categorize and normalize people to such an extent that the person and their complexities (political, emotional, and aesthetic) become secondary. The person becomes a label. When considering the social model, there’s a particular quote that I like from an issue in New Internationalist: “Disability isn’t primarily about the physical, mental, or intellectual impairments associated with it, but about society’s response to them.” Cultures construct rules and physical structures that include and exclude certain groups of people, and people with disabilities are historically and systematically excluded all over the world. Our longstanding ideologies of power and perfection have produced a cycle of labeling which has resulted in exclusion and control. As people are oppressed, minority groups form, united by their shared experiences of oppression and ability. This minority group formation has produced cultures who communicate through shared languages and ideologies. Participation in the activities of minority cultures and the use of their language can and have produced powerful paradoxes of mutual understanding and tension, progress and resistance, solidarity and struggle, and empowerment and fear. Both the dominant culture and subculture actively engage in the labeling of “us” and “them”. When a subculture gains visibility and power in the larger, dominant culture, I believe that its power lies in what its shared experiences transform in the dominant culture. The fight of Americans with mobility disabilities for accessible buses is such an example. I’ve learned that the sense of community that one feels within a culture can shape a person’s identity in ways that are painful, transformative, and beautiful. I have been transformed by my interactions with people who are Deaf, hard of hearing, oral deaf, and especially all people with disabilities. We all dance with adversity on a daily basis. When I identify as a person with a disability, I am expressing my solidarity with others who have experienced the oppression of inaccessibility in physical spaces and the redundancy of stereotypical and melodramatic representations of disability. Best of all, I am expressing the pride that comes with accepting my body in all its abilities and the empowered storytelling that results from shared life experiences.

I’ve thought about how a person views his or her body specifically as it relates to disability and the concept of wholeness. Wholeness is all about what one thinks and feels because both have everything to do with how one sees oneself and other people in the world. For those who are late-deafened and have acquired disabilities, the concept of wholeness is challenged by what existed before and what one has now, and for people with lifelong disabilities and even those without documented disabilities (the so-called “able-bodied”), wholeness is challenged by both psychological expectations and social barriers. I see myself as an important person in this world with a great deal to contribute. I see myself as a whole person. If a medicine were to be available tomorrow that cured my ears, making me completely “hearing”, I would not take it. My deafness has made me who I am. It has transformed the way that I look at the world and the compassion and loyalty that I feel towards people. It has helped me to be a better communicator and a better listener. I probably wouldn’t have said this when I struggled with my hearing aids five years ago, but I say it today with my cochlear implant, which has indeed helped me to comprehend sound on levels that I could not with my hearing aids. My one implant is by no means a permanent cure—but it gives me enough sounds that I work hard to understand, and I am still reminded every night about my deafness when I take it off. I believe that if we actually attempted to communicate our experiences with each other more often than redrawing binary lines, then perhaps there would be more shifting in thought and behavior. My work as a filmmaker and activist is influenced by my desire to challenge these lines and transform outdated, exclusionary practices and policies.

Why "Transients"?

I'm currently traveling on the east coast for conferences and meetings regarding disability and hearing loss issues, as well as meeting with friends and supporters of the film. A few times I have been asked, "Why 'Transients'?" Those asking either do not know what the word means, or they ask if it has to do with homeless people. Yes, "transient" is a word that can be used to describe homeless people, but this is not a film about homeless people. "Transient", for me, evokes imagery related to physical spaces that we occupy temporarily. The central characters in the film, Sal and Sandrine, are passing through an arts festival seeking a "space" for a short time, and what happens during the time they pass through this "space" forms the foundation of the film. They create art. They find each other. They struggle...and struggle again. They grow. The means by which they grow come down to effective communication with one another and confronting truths about their own selves.

This is not a film about "overcoming" obstacles. This is a film about learning how to dance with everything that you've got.

~Rhianon Gutierrez
Director and Writer

04 June 2010


Fundraising posters for TRANSIENTS soon to be in your hands and wallets.

02 June 2010

Director's Statement

"My experiences with deafness and disability permeate my work as an artist and activist, so I naturally wanted to create a story where the two central characters are artists with disabilities. I envisioned them in a space where they would inevitably collide with each other, and where the audience discovers them as they discover each other. Especially important in this discovery is seeing them portrayed as whole people, not as broken characters."

For the full statement, visit Project Notes on the Transients Official Website.

New Blog Launched

Welcome to the Official Blog for the short drama, Transients. Our amazing filmmakers have been working hard to gather everything we need so that we can promote the film before it begins production this August. Our goal is to raise $10,000. We have an Official Website and Twitter and Facebook pages, all of which will be continually updated with news about donations, fundraising, press, pictures, the "Festival of the Senses", and some words from the cast and crew.

Stay tuned!

-Rhianon Gutierrez
Director and Writer