It all started about 10 years ago when Steve's good friend, Jeremy said, “Steve, I'm curious to see how you are going to combine your passions for music and film & video production.” Well that is what has happened with the formation of Rhythm & Light.
Steve has always been passionate about music. He played drums at a young age, piano, violin, and participated in the Kenwood Academy High School choir led by Lena McLin, the niece of the founder of Gospel music, Thomas A. Dorsey. This choir turned out some amazing talent throught the years, and performed a wide variety of music including Classical and Gospel. Lena McLin also appeared on Steve's father's show, Jubilee Showcase, which aired on the Chicago ABC local affiliate television station, WLS-TV, from 1963 — 1984. Needless to say, Steve took in a lot of Gospel music as a kid, along with a wide spectrum of other forms of music.
He was exposed to artists such as Santana, Stevie Wonder, George Clinton, The Police, etc. and found himself being drawn to Jazz, specifically John Coltrane and Herbie Hancock, and Latin Jazz moving into adult-hood. He has since found his passsion with playing the congas, always feeling rhythm flow through him, hence the Rhythm in the Rhythm & Light.
Being the son of an Emmy Award winning producer and Civil Rights activist, Sid Ordower, Steve grew up with a sense of producing, along with a deeply felt desire to bring harmony and unity to the world. Steve is passionate about doing this through film and video production, especially through documentary work, since it is so powerful with bringing people into one another's experiences. It was Steve's good friend and colleague, Rollie Hudson, who came up with the name of Rhythm & Light as the two teamed up to work together on the Jubilee Showcase documentary project. Since then, they have shot several notable interviews, teaming up with Greg Jackson to shoot them, and Steve brought in Jan Muller to co-edit the trailer for this project.
While continuing to work on the Jubilee Showcase project, Rhythm & Light got involved with the Genesis Project (created to bring about unity through the arts with Jewish, Persian, and Arab peoples), Wrestled, and The Man in the Silo, short films by Phil Donlon.
Since then, Steve has met several people in the industry that share his commitment to quality and integrity. Rhythm & Light is not merely a production company, but also a structure for seasoned professionals to empower one another.
Steve Ordower is dedicated to educating people through film, television and music production, and is the founder of the Chicago-based film and video production company, Rhythm & Light. Ordower’s work has been seen on The Discovery Channel, IFC (Independent Film Channel), and the Gospel Music Channel, as well as through international distribution outlets. He also manages the Jubilee Showcase archive. As a result, he has licensed footage to Nightline, 60 Minutes, Blackside (PBS) as well as The Blues documentary series spearheaded by Martin Scorsese, and The Chicago History Museum.
Continuing with his involvement in Gospel music, Ordower worked on the live concert video project, Jessy Dixon Comes Home to Chicago, in 2007 as producer, director and editor. Ordower also produced and edited The Man in the Silo, a dramatic neo-noir film starring Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters / Oz), which premiered at the Fine Arts Theater in Hollywood, California as part of the SSG Screening Series, and was shown at The Gene Siskel Film Center in August 2013, as part of The Black Harvest Film Festival. Even though Ordower is focused on producing, directing and now writing, his dedication to education continues as he teaches the next generation at both the Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago (advanced editing and documentary) as well as Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism (storytelling in the visual medium). Steve is also developing a documentary film about Jubilee Showcase. Some of the on-camera interviews that have already been conducted include: Mavis Staples, Albertina Walker, U.S. Congressman Danny K. Davis (D-IL), Willie Rogers of the Soul Stirrers and Jessy Dixon.
He has recently produced a national PBS special celebrating Jubilee Showcase’s 50th anniversary, Gospel’s Jubilee Showcase, which aired on the Chicago PBS affiliate, WTTW-TV, in October and will be shown on PBS affiliates throughout the U.S. in December 2013.
Bio coming soon
Christopher Ellis is a published playwright and a screenwriter. With his screenwriting partner, film-director Phil Donlon, Christopher co-wrote the award-winning short-film Wrestled, as well the current film starring Ernie Hudson, The Man in the Silo. Both of these films were produced by Rhythm & Light. Recent theatrical productions include The Broken Museum, Hide-Away, and Pill. Dirt was given a reading at the Edward Albee Last Frontier Theatre Conference. Christopher is currently working on feature film screenplays with Phil Donlon including the expanded version of Wrestled called Streets of Heaven. He is also tackling a three-act play called Descent of the Condemned.
As an actor he was last seen at Chicago’s Bailiwick Theatre in Corpus Christi. Christopher is also the emcee for Vaudeville Underground with Arts Alliance, a multi-arts organization in Chicago.
In 1995, Christopher graduated from Columbia College of Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Theatre, and from NOCCA (New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts) in 1989.
Bio coming soon
Stephan Garnett has a 30-year career as a journalist. In addition to working as a suburban and community reporter, he has been an investigative reporter for The Chicago Reporter, and an urban and police reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago. He spent 14 years as a magazine feature writer and editor, first for ShopTalk, a trade publication, then as a contributing writer to Dollars & Sense and Blackbook magazines. More recently, Garnett has worked in radio, film and television. He has researched and consulted for documentaries produced by the BBC and CNN and has been an essayist for “Chicago Matters,” an acclaimed local Public Radio community series. In 2005, Garnett executive produced and wrote and narrated the script for a 15-minute multi-media documentary on the last building left standing at Robert Taylor Homes, once the largest public housing project in the nation. Garnett teaches Journalism Methods for graduates and Media Convergence for undergraduates. He also edits for the Medill News Service and has served as an adviser for Medill’s Global Journalism program.
Bio coming soon
As a cinematographer, Dave is always embracing new technology, and searching for new ways to tell a story through a lens. David Ortkiese is that rare talent who expands visual storytelling in the digital age, while receiving accolades from the industry for shows such as the Emmy-Nominated “Kathy Griffin: My Life On The D-List.”
Raised in Central Florida, Dave was drawn to movies from an early age. After college he found work as a lighting designer for theater and began gaffing for promos and features, which served as a vital apprenticeship for a budding cinematographer. Soon after he found himself moving to California and found work in the industry. Dave quickly moved up the ranks and landed his first director of photography job on “Girls Behaving Badly” for Oxygen Network.
While continuing to build his resume as a cinematographer, Dave has worked for Comedy Central on: “The Burn with Jeff Ross”, “The Ben Show”, “Tosh.O”, and “Mind of Mencia” , shot commercials for Old Navy and Chrysler, as well as a cameraman on such shows as “The League”, “The Biggest Loser”, “The Great Escape”, and “Curb Your Enthusiasm”.
Dave’s experience in improv comedy made him a perfect fit for “A Haunted House 2”, which began principle photography in August of 2013. It is his first foray into features as a cinematographer, and it won’t be his last. Dave O, as his friends call him, is currently Directing and DP’ing a new series for TLC.
Jan Muller, although born in Chicago, began working in video post-production in 1991 at Videocraft in Boston, MA, a post house that beta-tested the very first Avid systems. He recently edited the first three epiodes of “A Piece of the Game” a half hour sports memorabilia show on Media Process Group's Avid system which was just awarded a Midwest Emmy in November 2013. Besides editing numerous documentaries, short films and music videos on his Final Cut Pro system, Jan spent 10 years at WLS-TV and finally at WTTW editing the weekly film review show “At the Movies” hosted by Roger Ebert, Richard Roeper and several other talented film critics. He is also the official videographer for The Revelettes, Chicago's Grooviest Go-Go Gals, as well as for The Society For Vascular Surgery, for whom he is assembling over sixty hours of oral history videos.
He actually discovered editing at age 7 on his back porch using a record player and a casette deck to make his own mash ups of 45rpm singles of hit songs of the day.
Aaron Trager is a producer, editor and director living in Chicago. Born in the downriver Detroit area, he moved to Chicago a little over 4 years ago to pursue a second Bachelor's degree from the Illinois Institute of Art – Chicago in Digital Filmmaking. His first degree came from Eastern Michigan University, specializing in Telecommunications & Film.
After graduating from the Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago, Aaron was the lead editor and associate producer of an hour-long PBS pledge show that featured Clifton Davis and the “Jubilee Showcase” archive. This archive includes some of the greatest Gospel artists of all time. Such as, Mavis Staples, Albertina Walker, Jessy Dixon and dozens more.
Most recently, Aaron has worked with Kenmore and Craftsman through the Emmy Award Winning agency Suite Partners on multiple projects. This includes editing digital instructional manuals for the newest Craftsman products and also Kenmore's Starving Artist series which highlighted Chicago restaurants and local artists that were paired together for charity.
Aaron was also a integral part of organizing and editing Nike's coverage of the Chicago marathon. As well as packaging videos for World Kitchen, Pyrex, Wolcott Schools and many more.
In addition to company projects, Aaron has also recorded and edited live events for artists like Rise Against, Grammy Award winner Paul Wertico and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Dave Mason (formerly with the band Traffic). Other musical artists that Aaron has worked with include Black Actress, Martha Berner & the Significant Others, Shala, and Petras.
In his off time, Aaron works on his passion of creating personal narratives. His goal is to write and direct feature length films based on life experiences so that he can possibly contribute to the young minds of the future the way he was as a young boy. Aaron's senior film “Rebirth” has been submitted to multiple film festivals including Sundance Film Festival and Slamdance Film Festival.
Calin Johnson graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Film and Video in 2012. He has been working with Rhythm and Light Productions since January 2013. His duties involve managing their social medias, editing, and production work. Most recently he worked on a PBS special for Jubilee Showcase pledge show.
Calin also does freelancing for various companies. He often does production on music videos for Victory Records, doing anything from grip and electric to camera operating. He also shot and edited promotional and instructional videos for companies like Image Inflators and Insight Print and Display. Calin has worked production for Pepsi, Apple and Chantix commercials. He has shot countless live events, from a Q&A with lead actor Ernie Hudson from the film Man in the Silo to live comedy and music.
Inspired by filmmaking from an early age, Ryan Marshall went on to receive his BFA in Digitial Film and Video Production in the summer of 2012, graduating with honors.
Since Graduation Ryan has hit the ground running, working on shoots with such notables as: Ernie Hudson, Ne-Yo, and Bobby Jones. Working largely as a freelancer Ryan has gained experience in a wide range of capacities; from Cinematographer to graphics work and rotoscoping. He has looked upon each new project as both a challenge and an opportunity.
At the same time, Ryan has worked in his free time to hone projects he began in school, with the goal of entering them into Festivals.
One such piece is his senior-thesis film For Worse, a domestic drama which, portrays the immense sense of loss and the need to fill the empty spaces felt by a husband and wife by the loss of their son. Ryan Wrote, Directed, and Edited this tale of loss and the search for consolation.
Additionally, Ryan has taken on the Global debate on Pollution in the documentary “A Dinosaur in the City”. Directed by Ryan marshall and Calin Johnson, A dinosaur in the city explores the effects the presence of an outdated coal fired power plant on the city of Chicago, specifically the community of Pilsen where the plant resides.
Kimberly Vann is the publicity consultant for Rhythm & Light (R&L). She plans and directs publicity/promotion efforts for two of R &L’s productions, Jubilee, a full-length documentary film based on the Chicago-based gospel television show, Jubilee Showcase, and The Man in the Silo, a feature film scheduled to premiere at Chicago’s 19th Annual Black Harvest Film Festival in August 2013.
A graduate of Columbia College, Vann has held various positions in publishing as well as in the nonprofit sector, including Associate Editor for Dollars and Sense magazine, Communications Coordinator at the American Bar Association and Associate Director, Communications and Education, at the Illinois Nurses Association. In addition to Dollars and Sense, she has written for other publications including Essence, Bar Leader and Illinois Nurse. Vann is also the creator of the music blog, Sounding Off: Musical Reflections and Recollections, available on WordPress.com.
She is a member of the Association Forum of Chicagoland.
Cheryl has done various voice-overs for educational films, the Metropolitan Planning Commission, Wick’s Furniture training video to boost sales of their employees, and most notably a documentary on her father’s life featuring archive footage from the Emmy award winning gospel television show, Jubilee Showcase. Cheryl worked for Chicagoland Radio Information Services for six years serving the blind and visually impaired. She hosted her own weekly radio show reading Time magazine and bi-weekly show reading Redbook. The shows reached an audience of 50,000.
Cheryl has also acted as master of ceremonies and moderator for the Chicago premier of the short film “A Series of Small Things” as well as political action events for the National Association of Women Business Owners.
In addition, Cheryl’s singing talents encompass gospel, performing with Voices of Melody; classical, singing with the Choral Ensemble of Chicago; R&B, singing with the Soul Ensemble; and solo performances in jazz, and blues at Sherwood Conservatory of Music, Katerina’s, Davenport’s, Buddy Guy’s Legends, and the main stage of the House of Blues. Cheryl has acted in various plays both dramatic and comedic. She has studied with Jim Belushi at the Goodman Theatre, Don DePollo at Second City, as well as Victory Gardens, and Act I.
Cheryl’s acting and singing training helped to launch the first pronunciation class at Literacy Chicago which promotes education for adults in Chicago and an international division for English as a second language. Cheryl taught students from around the world offering techniques in pronunciation, reading, and writing skills. Foreigners were able to gain confidence in their communication by learning the skills necessary to be understood. Cheryl received the Starlight Award in 2000 for outstanding achievement and commitment to literacy.
Cheryl has also worked on the production team for the weekly cable television show, “Legal News You Can Use” for the Illinois State Bar Association serving as floor director and camera operator for 17 years.