Rachell Shapiro, Producer/Director/Co-Writer
Rachell Shapiro is an award-winning, experienced producer, writer and director who attributes the passion and dedication she puts into her work to the inspiration she garners from life’s experiences.
The idea for From Hell to Here started a few years ago when Rachell read writer Drew Shinnick’s initial draft script which had a loose theme of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. At the same time as reading the script she heard an NPR news story about the suicide rate in the military outpacing the number of combat deaths (this was with two wars going on at the time.) Shocked by this statistic that was not well known at the time, she saw an opportunity to transform the script and develop it into more than just an interesting piece of entertainment; but a film project that had the chance to help promote change, educate, and be a springboard for a dialogue where maybe there was not one before.
After doing much research on the topic of combat PTSD and the difficulty many Veteran’s faced when transitioning back to civilian life she saw her passion for filmmaking as the best way to try and help make a difference to draw more attention to PTSD and the stigmas attached to it.
Rachell has been producing educational, informational, promotional and documentary films for a variety of clientele ranging from government agencies to non-profit organizations for over 10 years. She has done work for organizations and agencies such as: Department of Homeland Security, the United States Navy, the U.S Marines, the United States Air Force, The Department of Defense, The US Department of Veterans Affairs and the FAA, just to name a few.
Rachell believes that the strength of the story dictates the quality of a film. When you begin with true quality, the layers you add only enhance what is already there; and this is what makes a great story into a fantastic film.
Robert was sent to Vietnam in January of 1968, where he was assigned to fly command and control and scouts for the Headquarters Company of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. Four months into his tour, while on a scout mission, his helicopter crashed. He was severely burned and spent 10 months in the hospital. In 1970, he received an honorable discharge from the army and then spent the following 12 years on an odyssey that took him to Europe, Africa and Latin America to heal the wounds of war and reintegrate into American society. In 1982 he returned to the United States and did post graduate work to get his teaching certificate. He is currently publishing a two-volume memoir called: TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME: A Vietnam Veteran’s 12-Year Odyssey of Healing and Reintegration.
“Everybody came back from Vietnam with PTSD. That, in fact, was the main purpose of my 12-year odyssey of healing and reintegration. I like to think that I got over it, but I know there are still a lot of veterans out there who have never gotten over their PTSD.” – Robert L. Mitchell
Matt has appeared onstage in DC/MD/VA at The Bay Theatre (Wit – Dr. Jason Posner), The Hub Theatre (The Clockmaker – Pierre) – where he’ also a company member, with Washington Stage Guild (Magic – Rev. Cyril Smith) and The Kennedy Center’s Theatre for Young Audiences on Tour (Knuffle Bunny – Dad understudy). He has assistant-directed for Roundhouse Theatre (A Wrinkle in Time) and is currently directing and devising an original theatre piece for 0-5-year-olds with his wife, actor Tia Shearer, to premiere in 2012 with Alexandria-based company Arts on the Horizon. Regional performance credits include The Clarence Brown Theatre, Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Lexington Children’s Theatre, Virginia Shakespeare Festival, People’s Branch Theatre and Tennessee Stage Company. Regional directing credits include a dream once lost, a world premiere collaboration with Tia Shearer that opened at the 2007 Philly Fringe and Matt and Ben, a Tennessee premiere with People’s Branch Theatre. Matt is currently a teaching artist with The National Conservatory of the Dramatic Arts in Washington, DC and Compass Rose Studio Theatre in Annapolis, MD.
Drew Shinnick, Writer
Andrew Shinnick is an award-winning broadcast journalist with over 40-years experience as reporter, anchor, producer, Executive Producer and News Director. He was a senior news manager at three network-owned television stations. Among his honors, Mr. Shinnick shared the prestigious George Foster Peabody and the Edward R. Murrow awards for coverage of the 1989 San Francisco earthquake. Additionally, he has been honored by the Society of Professional Journalists as well as receiving numerous other awards (including an Emmy) for his work as reporter, show producer and senior editorial manager.
Additionally, as Senior VP of Production and Operations, he ran one of the nation’s largest television syndication companies. Mr. Shinnick got his start in journalism in the U-S Navy covering the war in Vietnam in 1966/67.
Dr. John Mundt, Script Consultant
Dr. John Mundt is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and a professional speaker and trainer whose clinical experience includes work with clients of all ages and from across the diagnostic spectrum. His primary professional focus is on veterans’ mental health issues, particularly the range of issues and problems impacting the returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. Dr. Mundt has been a Staff Psychologist at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center (Chicago, Illinois) since 1992, providing both long-term and time-limited psychotherapy, as well as psychological assessment and case management for veterans. Since 1996, Dr. Mundt has been the psychologist in the Medical Center’s acute-care partial hospitalization program, with a focus on the stabilization and brief treatment of traumatic reactions stemming from combat, sexual assault and inner-city violence as well as other types of trauma. His approach to treatment in this setting emphasizes intensive psychoeducation as well as aggressive case management and community advocacy for veterans in the program. In his private practice, Dr. Mundt engages individuals, couples and families around a range of issues, including post-traumatic reactions.
Celia Straus, Script Consultant
Celia Straus is an award-winning writer for print, video and the web with extensive experience in story telling using documentary and dramatic formats. She is currently writing her second book about OIF OEF veterans “When Warriors Come Home,” (Casemate, 2011.)
Her first book, “Hidden Battles on Unseen Fronts: Stories of American Soldiers with TBI and PTSD,” was a Casemate publication in 2009 and was written for the Armed Forces Foundation. In 2003 Celia started interviewing hundreds of men and women who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan to chronicle their stories. After several years her focus shifted to those troops and their families coping with TBI and PTSD. Working with the Armed Forces Foundation gave her extraordinary access to wounded troops and their families at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda National Naval Medical Center.
Celia served as designer, writer and producer on multiple non-broadcast training projects including American Red Cross 2006 disaster response nationwide and the award winning children’s program Masters of Disaster. She wrote and produced post 9/11 American Red Cross Response to Weapons of Mass Destruction.
She is nationally known expert/writer on adolescent girls and spiritual parenting. She has authored three books: The national best seller, Prayers on My Pillow, Inspiration for Girls on The Threshold of Change (Ballantine 1998), More Prayers On My Pillow, Words of Comfort and Hope for Girls On The Journey To Self, (Ballantine 2000) and an interactive parenting guide. The Mother Daughter Circle, Making Lifelong Connections With Your Teenager, (Ballantine, 2003.)
Gene D. Hamner, Script Consultant
Gene Hamner flew for the Airforce in South East Asia during the Vietnam War. He flew from Nakhom Phanom, Thailand and Quang Tri, Republic of Vietnam. While assigned to these locations he flew combat missions over the Ho Chi Mihn Trail in southern Laos.
Gene volunteered for a top-secret assignment for the Ravens, which involved flying in support of Royal Lao forces and other friendly indigenous forces in Laos. For this assignment they were “Sheep-dipped” i.e. military items were sent home and they flew as civilians, in civilian clothes-no uniform items were permitted. They were flying for the US Embassy while living in Laos.
He flew a total of 1397 hours of combat in a little under 2 years and had a total of 565 combat missions. He was a captain when he left the Air Force.
Tim Phillips, Camera Operator
Tim has over twenty-five years of professional experience in both the aesthetics and the technology of media production, yet his desire to learn and grow and push himself remains strong. He’s produced a wide array of informational, marketing, training, and advocacy programs for government and corporate clients, as well as social and historical documentary films, pro-bono and independent work. His passion for adventure coupled with his experience in the studio and field allows him to take his project seamlessly from concept and script development through production and post to final distribution regardless of the subject matter.
Steve Agnew, Director of Photography
Steve is an award winning cinematographer who has over 25 years of experience. His cinematography spans across a multitude of genres on a variety of different camera types. He has shot in the arroyos of New Mexico, the offices of military commanders, from high up in black hawk helicopters to the belly of naval vessels. His experience lends itself to a creative eye for unique and powerful images.
Craig Hirshberg is an award-winning editor who uses his experience as a photographer and photojournalist as well as his talent for design and multimedia development and incorporates that into his editing expertise. He’s got a practiced eye for composition and motion, in addition to being adept at realizing the vision of the creative team behind productions. His versatile work has helped garner several prestigious video awards. In addition to his creative side, Craig’s ability to quickly problem solve is an invaluable asset in a technologically dynamic industry. When away from the edit suite, Craig enjoys woodworking, canoeing and many more outdoor activities.