Deaf Film Camp Director
Michael Kaufer is a long time educator of Deaf, Hard of Hearing and KODA children for more than 25 years. Michael is director of the Deaf Film Camp (DFC) and has raised more than $150,000 for CM7 since 2010. Since 2015, Michael has worked closely with Lights! Camera! Access! 2.0, a non profit organization that provides training and resources for people with disabilities to gain employment in the media field.
Michael is also a certified Apple Expert where he provides workshops and training on Apple software commonly used at DFC. He strongly supports the DFC's mission, and believes every deaf and hard-of-hearing child can maximize their full potential in filmmaking, photography and acting. He hopes to eventually build a DFC studio at Camp Mark 7.
Deaf Film Camp Assistant Director
Lauren Ridloff’s first cinematic experience took place in her mind, reading books about places that did not exist, people who flew and time traveled. Her love of books and film took her beyond her hometown of Chicago to Washington D.C. and New York City. After exploring theater and majoring in Creative Writing at CSUN, she worked as a teacher in Manhattan, teaching children that they can dream and strive to make those dreams come true. Lauren co-directed Sign Me Alice for NYDT, hosted and directed NYC’s first Deaf rendition of The Vagina Monologues and went on to play a hearing maid in the upcoming, soon-to-be-released movie Wonderstruck. Today she works as a family liaison at Lexington School for the Deaf. Lauren is a true believer of the magic of expressing oneself through creative mediums, be it writing, acting or filmmaking. She believes that Deaf Film Camp is a haven for those who dream.
Storm Smith is known as a visionary storyteller through her work. Storm did not limit herself to only films, but rather expanded her horizons by producing and directing a variety of music videos, sports promotional videos, commercials, including ABC Family Switched at Birth, webinars and interviews. In addition, Storm is a motivational speaker across the nation. She delivered presentations regarding film theories and topics related to the power of passions, identity, and visual storytelling at Harvard University, UCLA, Boston University, California State University, Northridge (CSUN) and many more. Storm graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Gallaudet University and she will receive a Master’s Degree in Media Entrepreneurship at American University in May 2016. Currently, Storm is working as a Video Producer/Director specializing in Creative Marketing for the University Communications at Gallaudet University. Aside from living her dreams and making her passions a reality, she continues to be a vibrant role model for all members of the Deaf community, particularly for Deaf people of color. Storm also leads as an example for the hearing community, finding the courage to live a creative life.
Jay Kowalczyk was born in Florida, raised in New York, educated in Maryland and Washington, DC, lived in California and now lives in Austin, TX. He graduated from Gallaudet University with a degree in Social Work, and now serves as a media producer for Convo Communications. His training in Social Work has served him well in this seemingly different role, where his creativity has been allowed to flourish under the tutelage of Wayne Betts, Jr. and with Jarrod Musano's support. Recent works such as Nyle DiMarco - Beyoutiful and Austin - Our Community that Jay helped create at Convo are proof of his talent and the supportive environment in which he works.
Jay considers Deaf Film Camp at Camp Mark Seven to be his second home because he loves both hiking and filming! Camp Mark Seven is surrounded by the stunning Adirondack Mountains and Fourth Lake, and Deaf Film Camp teems with talented filmmakers.... what a perfect place for Jay to spend his summer!
Jason Roberts was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. Without access to captions in the 80’s, he focused on shots and body language to understand their stories. He developed an early interest in films as strongly influenced by Star Wars and 80’s shows/movies, even one with the Brat Pack! If you don’t know what is the Brat Pack, ask him as he will be gladly explain.
He graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with a bachelor of Applied Science in Multi-Disciplinary Studies with not just one major, but four majors! (Illustration, film, marketing and engineering.) After graduating from RIT, he got interned with a film production company. He has worked with Aaron Eckhart, Elizabeth Banks, Jessica Alba, Logan Lerman, Todd Louiso, Reed Diamond, Kristen Wiig, Jason Sudeikis, Timothy Olyphant and Will.i.am.
Currently, he works at DEAF, Inc. as Video Producer, as well as Rustic Lantern Films (a division of DEAF, Inc.). He edited an international award-winning feature film, Lake Windfall. Jason also just completed directing his first feature film (to be released later this year).
Jason lives in St. Louis with his wife Katie and their two dogs, Plutonium and Lily (she’s deaf).
Daniel Durant grew up in Duluth, Minnesota, and makes his home wherever his work takes him – which is usually New York, Detroit and LA. As an experienced actor on stage, screen, and social media, Daniel made his Broadway debut in 2015 and continued to shine on Broadway into 2016 as the co-lead role of “Moritz” in Spring Awakening. Daniel has received numerous accolades for this work, being featured in “The 12 Best Broadway Debuts of 2015” (TheatreMania), “Top 10 Best Theatrical Performances of 2015” (Huffington Post) and in the New York Times (“Daniel N. Durant: Telling Stories with His Hands”). Daniel has starred in several Deaf West productions, including the Off-Broadway productions of Spring Awakening (Moritz), Flowers for Algernon (Charlie) and the 2012 production of Cyrano (Bill). Daniel is also a recurring co-star in ABC Family’s Switched at Birth,playing the character of “Matthew” and co-starring in their 2013 Peabody-winning episode entitled “Uprising.”
Daniel is a passionate advocate for the Deaf community, with a life mission of supporting Deaf youth at every opportunity.
Moises Tobias is from Los Angeles, and grew up interested in the art world. I recognized my abilities as a filmmaker and story creator early on. I graduated from Marlton School for the Deaf. Currently, I am attending Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in the Associate of Graphic Design program. Following this, my desire is to apply to the School of Film and Animation (SOFA) in RIT program for the Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA) degree in 3d animation. My goal is to become a film director. At RIT, I am involved in Tiger Media as a filmmaker and editor. My work is to empower and educate children in filmmaking, storyboard and script development.
This is what you need to know about Douglas Ridloff. He is a proud resident of Brooklyn, USA. He likes: black coffee, street art and denim. He does: poetry, storytelling and freestyling, all in Sign Language. He is: a fearless visual artist, a poet, a performer, the owner and executive director of ASL SLAM, a monthly open mic event that is much more than just open mic. Ridloff co-produced and performed in ASL in the Raw, a “blue” two-man show. He followed up Jack of All ASL with Capital D, a mixed-media show that was shown nationally. He believes: that Sign Language is something that can be done straight or way out there—doesn’t matter, as long there’s a stage/camera and language freedom.
Ridloff is also co-founder and Chief Executive Director of Start-up business called CineSigns.
Sophia Ballester, passionate about Art and creations: paintings, sculptures, special effects, photographs and cinemas. All these forms relate to her job as a make- up artist specializing in special effects. Sophia's many projects are to participate in short / feature films, TV, photography sessions, theater, fashion and dance. She graduated from the Perth College of Beauty Therapy in Western Australia, and the Métamorphoses School of Make-up Special Effects in Strasbourg, France. She trained with world-renowned make-up artists with Kazuhiro Tsuji and Jordu Schell.
Clare Cassidy is a mother, teacher and photographer. Born Deaf, alongside with her identical twin sister, they both grew up taking photos and making short films. Their love for photography is still very evident nowadays. Clare's first and foremost love of her life would be her three boys, of course her husband and her cat, too. Her three boys are what motivates Clare to pursue her dream to be a traveling photographer. She hopes that her boys see her example and follow suit whenever they discover their dreams. She is always up for challenges, especially when it comes to creating artistic photos of children. Portraiture is her favorite genre, as well as Lifestyle photography. She does weddings, family sessions, birth photography and newborns. She likes to call herself a moments chaser, as she always look for the in-between moments to capture and forever pause through photos.
Originally from Mexico City, Omar Guzman moved to California at the age of 9. His passion for art began early on and is evident in every design he creates. Not only does he work for Convo as their Visual Designer, he also continues working with several Deaf individuals and businesses to produce superior works of art. He enjoys being a role model for the Deaf youth, helping them find their own potential through art and building their confidence to follow their dreams. In his spare time, you can find him going camping! He is truly honored to be a part of Deaf Film Camp and looks forward to joining their stellar team.
I’m Stephanie Garrison and my journey is whole lot of adventures as a freelancing visual designer and filmmaker with five years. I grew up in Austin, Texas. I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Rochester Institute of Technology. Many recognized my talent in design and film whereas I can rotate their design into an attractive, colorful, and simplicity with a sense of an outstanding brand awareness and marketing strategy through the society and internet. I am excited to share my knowledge, skills and experiences with youth.
Javier Tabares is a photographer and a filmmaker from Miami, Florida. He graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology and Gallaudet University. Mr. Tabares currently works at Gallaudet University's Office of University Communications since 2016. Mr. Tabares produced a video with Nyle DiMarco for Gallaudet University. https://youtu.be/KdSD-BxkPmo
Hello! I am from Linwood, New York, and just graduated from Rochester School for the Deaf. This is my fifth year with the Deaf Film Camp; the first 3 were spent as a camper! CM7 is like a second home and I have learned so much here. I am excited to have the opportunity to return! I love being a videographer, photographer and making movies. Last spring my school assigned me as the director of a film the students made named "A Day at a Deaf School" for the Junior Deaf Film Festival 2017. My own film called "I Will Be Back" won best animation. I have worked as a videographer and photographer at various venues including weddings, parties, and numerous school functions. I have live streamed several athletic events including Eastern Schools for the Deaf Athletic Association basketball games. When I'm not working at a local pizzeria with my family, I like fishing, bowling, drawing and hanging out with my brothers, family and friends.
DFC would like to recognize two devoted and hardworking individuals/volunteers who have made a significant impact on this unique program from 2013-2015. A special thanks goes to: