Personnel Bios

 

Steve Ordower

Producer/Director/Writer

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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 Nightline60 MinutesBlackside (PBS) as well as The Bluesdocumentary 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.


Christopher E. Ellis

Writer/Actor

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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 MuseumHide-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.

 

David Kovacs

Award-Winning Scriptwriter and Producer

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Throughout much of David's 40-year career writing award-winning videos, films and plays, he and his wife Patty have also been involved in interfaith dialogue, and are two of the founders of the Chicago Interfaith Family School. With Leaps of Faiths, his work comes full circle to one of his first scriptwriting jobs - staff writer for the Emmy-winning children's program The Magic Door, produced by WBBM-TV and the Chicago Board of Rabbis. He's always been fascinated by how the media, spirituality and learning can intersect in ways that intrigue and involve audiences, and is excited to take that journey a giant step further with this exploration into the joys, challenges and mysteries of interfaith marriage.


Stephan Garnett

Writer/Journalist/Voice-Over-Artist

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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.


Dave Ortkiese

DP/Camera

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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

Editor

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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

Editor/Associate Producer

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 ActressMartha Berner & the Significant OthersShala, 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

Camera Operator

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.


Ryan Marshall

Camera/Graphics

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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

Rhythm & Light Publicist

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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 EssenceBar 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.


Michael NJ Wright

Cinematographer

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Michael NJ Wright has been a Cinematographer and Cinematography Instructor
for 30 years.

He is a Graduate of the American Film Institute and has studied at The
University of Illinois in Urbana, Columbia College in Chicago, with Ted
Liss and in Cephlonia Greece.

He has worked for , NBC, ESPN, MTV, WSNS, WYCC, Home Depot, Weber Grill, Motorola, Pacific Bell, Sears, McDonald's, Facets Multi-Media and many
Music Videos.

He has been awarded with two Telly Awards and one Midwest Emmy Award.

He is the creator of the Hegel Screenplay Technique and hopes to teach it outside of the College classroom someday.

"There's very little reason a conscientious writer cannot knock out a screenplay a month."

Born 5/29/1960- Wright is Married to Producer Caro Posse and they have one son, Marcelo Augustus Wright

Pictured with Michael NJ Wright (in Hat) Marquese Martin-Hayes (Back to Lens) and Cassie Negron. Two very fine actors.


Joey Domaracki

DP

Bio coming soon.


Rollie Hudson

Writer/Journalist

Bio coming soon.


Phil Donlon

Director/Writer/Actor

Bio coming soon.