Emily Schweber - Casting Director
Emily Schweber has been casting for almost twenty years.
She was trained by Mali Finn, one of the most respected casting directors in the business, for ten years.
During this time she worked with such directors as James Cameron, Curtis Hanson, Joel Schumacher, Frank Darabont, Larry and Andy Wachowski, Brian DePalma, and Steven Shainberg.
Together, she and Mali cast "Tigerland", "The Wood", and "Joyride".
Emily has established a reputation as one of the top indie casting directors. Her credits include "Second Hand Lions," Billy Bob Thornton's "Daddy and Them" and Gregory Nava's award winning PBS series, "American Family,"
Some of the films she's cast have appeared at the Sundance Film Festival, including, "The United States of Leland", "Bookies", "Chrystal", "Steel City", "Right At Your Door", and "The Go-Getter." Scott Caan's "The Dog Problem" premiered at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival.
"I love the creative input I can contribute to the director and producers. It's a thrill to bring talent to a small film and even a bigger thrill to discover new talent."
Recent projects: "The Other End of the Line", a romantic comedy for Hyde Park Entertainment, and "The Thacker Case", court room drama based on a true case, for director Brian Jun.
Lon Stratton - Cinematographer
Since 1984, Lon has been actively involved in cinematography. Based in Detroit, Michigan his projects as a Cinematographer include television commercials, feature films and narratives, aerial photography, and documentaries. "Each project has given me the opportunity to grow as a cinematographer and to gain a deeper understanding and respect for my craft".
Lon's credits as a feature/narrative cinematographer include: Ocean of Pearls, feature, Standing in the Shadows of Motown, feature/documentary, Corrupted Minds, feature, TimeQuest, feature, Life Goes On, feature, Ya Done Good, PBS documentary, One of Us, short drama and 21carbs, short satire.
Lon also specializes in aerial cinematography. Since 1987 his clients have included; Hummer, Chrysler, Volkswagen, Toyota, Spirit Airlines, Entergy, Lockheed Martin, Discovery Health Channel, Toyo Manufacturing, WBNS-TV Chopper 10, WXYZ-TV Chopper 7, title sequence for Corrupted Minds and a variety of stock footage sequences. He is a commercial pilot and has an aircraft that has been used for air-to-air missions, as well as some air-to-ground scenes.
Between l975 and l984, Lon was a service technician for Victor Duncan, Inc. (Later Panavision) in Chicago and Detroit, where he gained considerable knowledge and experience with all camera equipment used in the motion picture industry. In l984, Lon opened his own rental and service business, Stratton Camera, Inc. Through the years, his company has achieved a widely respected reputation throughout the Midwest for providing high quality equipment and impeccable service.
Jason Stewart - Editor
Jason was born and raised near Dallas, Texas. He began a lengthy college career by studying painting at the Kansas City and San Francisco Art Institutes. At age 25, the film bug bit, and Jason enrolled at the Academy of Art College to study all aspects of film production.
While in school, Jason worked as an assistant editor for San Francisco's Western Images, at that time one of the largest commercial post facilities in the Bay Area. After graduation, Jason relocated to Los Angeles, in search of more lucrative work.
For eight years, Reality TV paid the bills. Jason edited about 35 TV series and pilots in that time, usually serving as Supervising Editor, including 2 Emmy award winning seasons of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."
In an effort to transition into scripted projects, Jason began cutting indie features, one of the first being Bobcat Goldthwait's "Sleeping Dogs Lie," a festival hit which played to sold out theaters in the Sundance and Toronto film festivals. He then completed five other features of different genres, including "Deep Winter" featuring Michael Madsen and "LA Blues" featuring Anthony Michael Hall before working on "Ocean of Pearls."
"Ocean of Pearls" was shot on Super 35mm film and edited on Avid Xpress Pro. Posting cuts on the web and Fed-Exing DVD's allowed Jason to work in LA and Sarab Neelam to direct from Michigan for the entire post process. In fact, they spent a total of 2 days sitting in the same room for the whole edit. Once the cut was locked, Jason stayed on as a consultant to help see the project through the finishing process from film to an HDSR finish at Burbank's Modern Videofilm and a 5.1 mix at Santa Monica's Wow and Flutter.
Jason has a very understanding wife Rebecca, and two kids, Jackson and Scarlet.
Gina Amador - Music Supervisorr
Gina has over 20 years experience in entertainment with expertise in both film and television ranging from producing to post and music supervision. Ms. Amador graduated from UCLA with a degree in Ethnomusicology. She has performed flute and voice on various television episodes and motion picture soundtracks. Ms Amador is the CEO of Silent Bay Entertainment and is a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences.
Ms Amador began her career with Brillstein-Grey's award winning comedy, It's Garry Shandling's Show. Later she moved to Concorde-New Horizons to work for renowned guerrilla filmmaker Roger Corman where she pioneered creation of the Studio's first integrated film music department. Ms Amador has acted as a music consultant for Sony Pictures performing Ethnomusicological film music research and analysis for such films as Jerry Maguire and White Chicks. She was Co-Producer of the TV LAND production, William Shatner in Concert.
At Silent Bay Entertainment, Ms. Amador combines providing music supervision with post production supervision for both the major studios and indie films including work on "Under the Same Moon (La Misma Luna)" distributed by Fox Searchlight and The Weinstein Company; "Bangkok Dangerous" starring Nicholas Cage slated for release in Spring 2008 by Lions Gate; and the upcoming Hyde Park film, "Other End of the Line," distributed by MGM.
For "Ocean of Pearls" Ms Amador provided music supervision services. She worked with music recording star Karsh Kale and his team in Dehli, India to create original songs for the film. Mr. Kale has just released a new album with Anoushka Shankar that include collaborations with Sting and Norah Jones
Snatam Kaur - Vocalist
Snatam is one of the most popular New Age artists of our time, selling over 50,000 albums a year to fans across the U.S, Europe, Asia, South America and the South Pacific. Snatam Kaur's albums have topped New Age Retailer's Top 20 lists every year since 2004. She was the only artist to have 3 albums in the Top 20 in a single year. Snatam performs for tens of thousands of people from all walks of life each year, from the Bahamas to Singapore. One fan spoke for all when he said, "We come to Snatam's concerts to experience the beautiful atmosphere her voice creates, to heal and grow."
Snatam Kaur was born in 1972 in Trinidad, Colorado. Her parents were students of world renowned spiritual teacher Yogi Bhajan, who first brought Kundalini Yoga and the Sikh spiritual practices to the West. It was Yogi Bhajan who gave her the name "Snatam" (pronounced sun-ah-tum) which means "universal" or "friend to all." Snatam was raised in a musical family that practiced yoga, meditation and chanting. "I loved to get up in the morning and sing with my parents," she says. "My mother was my first music teacher. She taught me to love Gurubani kirtan (Sikh sacred music)."
When she was six, Snatam's mother took her to India where she met Bhai Hari Singh, one of the master chanters at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the holiest Sikh temple in the world. There she absorbed the sacred music continually being performed there. "Chant is the soul and life of the Sikh tradition. It's the main way Sikhs express their devotion to God. There's an amazing energy that happens when a community gathers to sing together," Snatam relates.
Back in America, Snatam moved to Bolinas, California with her mother and step-father, a former manager of the Grateful Dead. It was there she learned to mediate and sing as a way to pray and release emotions. She also learned to play the guitar and violin, and honed her songwriting skills. After performing her song "Save Our Earth" at a school assembly, Snatam and ten of her friends, coached by Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, performed the song for 70,000 people at an Earth Day concert in San Francisco.
In 2000, Spirit Voyage Records founder GuruGanesha Singh welcomed the young artist to his label, and signed on as her manager and guitarist. Working with an ensemble of talented musicians and New Age music producer Thomas Barquee, Snatam has generated one critically acclaimed album after another, including the bestselling CDs Prem, Shanti, Grace and Anand. The sound of Snatam's crystal-pure voice, the evocative Sikh mantras she sings, and the flawless instrumentation, create a sublime atmosphere that transports the soul.
Snatam spends much of the year on the road, singing and teaching yoga wherever she's invited. On tour Snatam is joined by her manager GuruGanesha Singh on guitar and vocals, by Ram Dass Singh who adds clarinet, piano and voice, by world famous tabla master Manish Vyas, and by producer Krishan Prakash Singh who takes care of sound for the band.
Today Snatam lives in Espanola, New Mexico with her husband, graphic artist Sopurkh Singh. She is continuing to study Indian classical music and her next CD will be out in June 2008. She is deeply committed to supporting the U.N.'s peace initiatives through her ongoing Celebrate Peace Tour, and is active in the interfaith movement, helping promote understanding and respect between the world religions.
Jeff Dowd - Executive Producer
Jeff Dowd is a Los Angeles based writer/producer, producer's representative, and a nationally recognized authority on marketing, distribution and exhibition. He has helped raise $28 million of financing for independent pictures in recent years.
Mr. Dowd was a producer of ZEBRAHEAD which Oliver Stone Executive Produced. ZEBRAHEAD won the Filmmakers Award at the Sundance Film Festival and was released by Sony Pictures. He Co-Executive Produced FERNGULLY...THE LAST RAINFOREST, the animated feature starring Robin Williams, Tim curry and Christian Slater. It was released by the Twentieth Century Fox and won the Environmental Media Association (EMA) Best Picture award.
Mr. Dowd has been on the board of the independent Feature Project, the International Documentary Association, the Sundance Film Festival and the Advisory Board of the Sundance Institute. He is currently attached as one the producers on several movies that will be made in the next year - all of which set the bar very high. "We will only make movies with great scripts. We believe we can make movies that are entertaining and commercial that will also contribute to a better world for us and our children." Says Dowd.
Mr. Dowd has consulted on the marketing or been a producer's representative on such diverse films as: BLOOD SIMPLE, THE BLACK STALLION, CHARIOTS OF FIRE, THE GREY FOX, GANDHI, HEART LIKE A WHEEL, WAR GAMES, HOOSIERS, THE STUNT MAN, HEARTS AND MINDS, DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN, DREAM WITH THE FISHES, BETTER LUCK TOMORROW, KISSING JESSICA STEIN, THE COCKETTES, SCRATCH, NEIL YOUNG'S GREENDALE and HEART OF GOLD, METALLICA: SOME KIND MONSTER, GREEN STRET HOOLIGANS, THE THING ABOUT MY FOLKS with Peter Falk and Paul Reiser and Carroll Ballard's DUMA.
Mr. Dowd was formerly with the Seven Gables Theatre Circuit of Seattle, Washington. During his tenure there, Seven Gables had the highest screen gross in the United States-on dozens of pictures. In addition, he often developed and supervised Seattle test markets for pictures requiring special handling. While in Seattle, Mr. Dowd was Co-Director of The Seattle Film Festival.
Mr. Dowd was involved in the planning stages of Robert Redford's Sundance Institute. He worked with many noted screenwriters and directors. These talented artists have all helped to enlarge and refine his knowledge and technique in the craft of screenwriting and film development.
Jeff has had the nickname "The Dude" since kindergarten. It probably has something to do with his last name being Dowd and the fact that he has always been a big guy. In Joel and Ethan Coen's movie, THE BIG LEBOWSKI, the lead character, "The Dude" aka Jeff Lebowski, played by Jeff Bridges, is inspired by Jeff "The Dude" Dowd. "His rumpled look and relaxed manner suggests a man in whom casualness runs deep."
Jeff has been a featured speaker at over 25 film festivals, institute panels and seminars and is now editing his book "The Dude Abides, Classic Tales and Rebel Rants."
Jim Burstein - Executive Producer
Jim Burnstein managed to beat the odds and make it as a successful Hollywood screenwriter without moving from his home in Plymouth, Michigan. Mr. Burnstein's screen credits include Renaissance Man, the 1994 comedy directed by Penny Marshall and starring Danny DeVito; D3: The Mighty Ducks (1996-1997); and Ruffian, the 2007 drama starring Sam Shepard co-written with Garrett Schiff of Los Angeles for ABC and ESPN. Burnstein and Schiff's latest screenplay Time of Your Life, written for New Line Cinema, tells the true story of Special Forces Captain Jeffrey Toczylowski who organized a party in Las Vegas for his family, friends and fellow soldiers in the event of his death in Iraq and then indeed died there. Other Burnstein and Schiff scripts in the works are The Richest Man in the World with George Lopez at Universal; AWOL with producer Chip Diggins; and Naked Shakespeare that Burnstein and Schiff are producing as well as writing.
Burnstein also served as Executive Producer of the 2007 independent film, Ocean of Pearls which premieres at the Miami International Film Festival in March, 2008. In 1995 Burnstein returned to his alma mater, the University of Michigan, to build one of America's premier undergraduate screenwriting programs in the Department of Screen Arts & Cultures. Since 2003 Burnstein has served as a member of the Michigan Film Advisory Commission where he has been a leading proponent of Michigan's new incentive package designed to bring more film production to the state.
Born in Detroit, Burnstein and his wife Cynthia, a high school English teacher, have called Plymouth home since 1977. Their son Gabriel and daughter Devin are both University of Michigan graduates, and their youngest son Jacob, a high school junior, hopes to be a Wolverine in 2009. Their baby granddaughter Remy is slated for the class of 2025.
V. Prasad - Screenwriter
A Los Angeles-based writer and director, V. Prasad's holds an MFA in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute and teaches the craft at UCLA Extension and at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Prasad's produced work as a writer includes "La Llorona del Rio", "Before the Rains" (uncredited) and "Ocean of Pearls." As a director, Prasad made the experimental dance film "Bhakti (Devotion)" and was accepted into Film Independent's first Director's Lab where he workshopped his script "Radha's Prayer" under the tutelage of indie filmmakers Alison Anders (Things Behind the Sun) and Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love and Basketball).
In his spare time, Prasad serves as a programmer for the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles and blogs on the craft of filmmaking at on-screenwriting.blogspot.com.
Mary Ellen Murphy - Production Designer
Coming from an advertising education and fashion background, Mary Ellen's talent for visual concepts coupled with project management experience became the foundation for film set design. After being the art director of a period costuming business, The Style Revival, in Ann Arbor, MI in the 1990's, she worked for an interactive media agency in a business management role. Upon the decision to depart the corporate world and go freelance, she worked as a photo, set and wardrobe stylist for various advertising campaigns and production companies out of Detroit. She soon honed her niche and interest in concepting and creating "all things the camera sees", unaware at the time this would be the catalyst to being thrust into the movie-making world.
Mary Ellen's first film job was in 2004 as Production Designer on the feature film, Trap, a suspense drama, shot in Ann Arbor. Initially brought onto a team of art directors, she was quickly promoted to the head of the art department. Having yet to work on a feature production, the learning was intense, demanding and all-consuming. Working closely with the writer/director on overall looks, the result was a visually stunning, bold, detailed, colorful and eerie image. Namely, the main set being a working artist's loft built and decorated to the finest multitude of layers, from an empty, run-down warehouse space. This production has had national film festival recognition and is consistently noted for it's alluring art direction and is often called 'an artistic thriller'.
From there, Mary Ellen went on to work as a Production and Costume Designer on independent and commercial features and short films. From managing the building of sets, to procuring and placing essential props and costumes based on characterization and working closely with the directors to bring their vision to life, she's completed 12 films to date. Being a Detroit native and choosing to remain there after working and living in New York and Los Angeles, Mary Ellen continues to freelance on national and local commercial productions in Detroit when not working on feature films.
"To have such a close and inviting glimpse into the Sikh community was truly an honor." Says Murphy. "To gain access to the homes and temple of the Director, his wife and their friends was the integral piece to achieving an authenticity to the look of the film. It was a delightful learning experience of the rich heritage and strong beliefs and connection of this community that led to the respectful visual representation" she sought in her job on Ocean of Pearls.
Ocean of Pearls Art Direction
There are several visual worlds to this story and the image contrast of Amrit's worlds is vast. From the stark, cold, institutional and somewhat rundown look of the Canadian hospital's aging medical environment to the modern, state of the art facility of the new transplant center as well as the rich, colorful backdrop of the Sikh Indian homes, temple and clothing portray the immense difference of the world's that Amrit lives in.
The gold saffron color meaningful to the Sikh culture's homage to God and Truth is symbolic and shown throughout the film. This color is strategically inlaid to represent and hint at the presence of this truth in the world in which the main character exists and to show it's existence in all places in all forms of individuals. This color is shown in and on unexpected people and places as well as the expected. From a small child in an airport scene to a nurse in a hospital scene, this color reference to the character in frame is the thread of the presence of this meaning throughout the film. It is not only the Sikh but all that have the ability to hold this truth within themselves. It is not until the final scene, when we see Amrit in a turban of this color, that this subliminal thread comes to fruition in the story.
Production Designer, Mary Ellen Murphy, worked closely with the director's wife, Jaspal Neelam, to bring an authenticity to the look of the Sikh environments of the story. She spent a great deal of time in the Neelam home and was a welcome visitor to other Sikh homes and temple within the closely knit family and friends community of Sarab and Jaspal. Together, this community, provided the consultation, exhibition, art work, artifacts, locations and clothing so valuable in achieving the reality of the traditional Sikh background as it relates into a modern, American Sikh lifestyle.
Because of the Director's affiliation to the medical community in Detroit, the production was given access to typically very off-limit areas of operating hospitals, including surgical areas, instruments and equipment. Again, this community of the Director's came together to provide consultation and tools necessary to portray authentic operating room procedure and practices. For the older hospital, the production used a dilapidated, closed section of a local hospital to recreate into a busy, working operating room, patient rooms and nurses stations. This was where the romantic dinner, hidden in a hospital room, scene between Amrit and Smita takes place.
The timely purchase of a new building, previously planned to house a health club and spa, by this Sikh community, became an integral location in the production and art direction of the film. This building, slated to become the new Sikh Gurudwara, door to the Guru, a place of worship, education and Sikh practice, would first be the film production studios of Ocean of Pearls. Because of the vast size and space of this building, the film company was able to not only hold their production offices here but build 5 of the main sets featured in the movie, including the homeless shelter, the Sikh celebration party, the Sikh camp office, the hospital boardroom and halls and the new transplant center lobby sets.
The backdrop to this story reflects the dark, the light and the vivid to the path the lead character travels and the glimpses of each along the way. It is truly a feast for the eyes and emotions.