Hearing is Believing
“Hearing Is Believing”, new feature documentary about the phenomenally talented young musician and composer, Rachel Flowers. An engaging look at 2 years in the life of a single mom and her two kids, living paycheck to paycheck, illuminating the bonds of family, the divine mysteries of creativity.
we pull together the ideal partners to launch a very special movie, and an extremely promising musical career.
The June 9, 2016 preview screening of “Hearing is Believing” in Ventura, California went amazingly well, winning people over to the great subject, great story, and great music before us. 2 screens. 400 people. Tremendous response. Much warmth, many tears, and a lot of love for the film and for the family that inspired it. Here are a few of the positive audience reactions…
“A wonderful film. Amazing story.”
“A priceless gift.”
“Opened my heart. Brought tears to my eyes.”
“Takes documentaries to a whole new level.” “You somehow channeled the soundtrack for life.”
“A superb Oscar caliber documentary. Look out for this unforgettable film.”
“An extraordinarily sensitive and moving film. Not to be missed.”
“Communicates the power of music and the connection and effect it has on the human spirit.”
“Full of compassion and vision for the life and music of Rachel Flowers.”
“A very real, beautiful, and challenging life situation depicted with great respect and sensitivity.”
“A refreshing and much-needed message to us all,
that we are capable of so much more than we think.”
“You walk out of the theatre uplifted, with a new sense of purpose for your life.”
“Director Lorenzo DeStefano asked, ‘Do you think there’s a place in the world for this movie?’
Yes, I do.”
Rachel Flowers was born on December 21, 1993 in San Diego, 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, Jeanie Flowers, a longtime musician herself, showed her daughter how to play “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.
“I wasn’t much of a talker when I was very little. I kinda talked a little, but I wasn’t really into talking a lot. I was always into listening to music, but I never really understood how to socialize and be around people, stuff like that.”
Rachel began attending the Southern California Conservatory of Music when she was four. Over the next ten years she studied piano, flute and adaptive music programs for the blind. In 2005 & 2008 Rachel was featured in two segments of “60 Minutes“, about the Music Academy for the Blind in Los Angeles. Currently a very active part of several Southern California jazz lineups, she is busy creating original compositions as immensely accomplished as they are uniquely her own.
On October 11, 2015 the Hearing is Believing crew collaborated with conductor Andy Radford and 50 members of the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony to rehearse and record Rachel’s composition, “AT THE END OF THE DAY”, an evocative and emotionally rich tonal landscape that establishes Rachel Flowers as a rarity in the music world – a blind film composer.
“Composing music is like learning how to plant a seed. You sort of feel it grow.”
Many attitudes about people with disabilities require redefinition. We have dealt with Rachel’s blindness in fresh and un-clichéd way that will connect the audience to the visual & tonal dreamscapes that inspire her amazing compositions. Rachel is very much an advocate for universal arts & music education, believing that these avenues of expression should be available to everyone. The film shows her as a living example of the benefit of maintaining and expanding programs of this kind.
A powerful story element in the film is the onset of blindness affecting Rachel’s father, Dan Flowers.
“My dad, he’s starting to lose his vision. He used to drive a lot. Now he can’t do it. I’d like to help him with certain things.”
A hereditary condition unrelated to Rachel’s prematurity-caused blindness, Dan is relying on his highly attuned daughter for help in adapting to this new challenge in his life.
In 2011, at 17, Rachel won the Ventura Music Festival’s Student Jazz competition and got a chance to play with the Grammy-winning trumpet player & composer Arturo Sandoval. In a sequence filmed for the documentary, Rachel and Arturo get together for a stirring musical reunion. At NAMM 2015 Rachel encountered many people who have been following her life and work for years, including Stevie Wonder, Dweezil Zappa & Keith Emerson. Rachel was invited by Dweezil to join her on his “Zappa Plays Zappa” tour on April 25, 2015 in Las Vegas, filmed for the documentary.
The filmmakers have created a dynamic, engaging portrait of a year and a half in the life of a tight-knit American family, a single mom and her two kids, living paycheck to paycheck in a working class neighborhood in Oxnard, California. “Hearing is Believing” revels in Rachel’s joyous and free-flowing love of song, illuminating in the process the bonds of family and the mysteries of musical creativity.
Producer/director Lorenzo DeStefano is among a growing number of appreciators of Rachel’s story and her music.
“ Making a film about someone’s life, even a short period of that life, is not something to enter into lightly, for filmmaker or subject. It is a bond that must hold for a very long time before fruition, and a lifetime afterwards. When I first heard Rachel perform in Ventura, California on January 18th, 2014, I had to adjust my working plans to include the story of this remarkable young woman.”
The filmmakers feel that Rachel’s deeply human and musically rich story will find its audience. Why? Because Rachel Flowers is a true survivor, a hyper-abled individual whose amazing music and inspiring story have the potential to be a beacon of hope out there.
We thank you for your support and hope you will consider joining “Team Rachel” along with the more than 150 contributors from all over the world who have come to believe in Rachel and in this film.
Lorenzo DeStefano – producer/director
Hearing is Believing Productions
P.O. Box 2063, Ventura, CA. 93002
(805) 641-3845 / [email protected]
Hearing is Believing & Rachel Flowers Media Coverage
Girl In Motion – Feature documentary highlights musician Rachel Flowers’ two-year journey
by Tim Pompey – Ventura County Reporter – June 6, 2016
Documentary About Gifted Young Musician On South Coast Premieres In Ventura
by Lance Orozco – KCLU NPR June 9, 2016
Gifted Musician Who’s Focus Of Documentary To Perform In Ventura County This Weekend
by Lance Orozco – KCLU NPR Aug. 22, 2014
“Hearing Is Believing” premieres in Ventura – Rachel Flowers documentary showcases her ability
by Tracy Lehr – KEYT TV June 12, 2016
All-Star Musicians Pay Respect to Keith Emerson at Tribute Concert in Los Angeles
By Mike Barnes – Billboard Magazine May 29, 2016
Keith Noel Emerson, 1944-2016
by Jerry Korvasky – Keyboard Magazine – May 19, 2016
Social Media Coordinator
About This Team
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.
Lorenzo DeStefano – producer/directorLorenzo 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)
Sandra Ruch – Executive 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!
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.
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.
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”.
Greg Herburger – Assistant Editor / Graphics / Marketing + Distribution
Greg is an editor at an award-winning post production studio in Denver, Colorado. He has experience in both fine art filmmaking and photography and creating commercial content working with advertising and marketing agencies to create and push compelling campaigns. His credit list includes work for Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Western Union, Beyond the Brick, Stadium Anthems, and of course, Hearing is Believing.
Steve Miller – sound recordist
Steve Miller has been working in the L.A. film & television market since 1990. In the early 90s, Steve shot BetaCam & M2 for KNBC and KTTV local news, and then moved into sound recording for documentaries, and news magazine programs including CBS’ 60 Minutes, NBC’s Dateline, and ABC’s 20/20, as well as various commercials, promos, and EPKs. Now Steve works as a production audio mixer and audio technician (sound recordist) for television, films, commercials, and documentaries. He has extensive experience as a documentary and TV News Magazine sound tech and soundman.
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“.