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The Hands :: About


Charise StudesvilleCharise Studesville was nine-years-old when she got her first job as a professional dancer as the only child in an adult dance corps.   That same industriousness has driven her professional life since.  She used modeling gigs to help pay her way through college, along with simultaneous internships, including working as an Assembly Page in the Wisconsin State Legislature, a local television talk show, and a Sears Congressional Intern for a Senator on Capitol Hill.  She followed this up with grad school and running her own company, Cultureprints, consulting with schools and corporations on issues of cross-cultural sensitivity.  Using her training as a journalist at the University of Wisconsin, Charise decided to switch gears, and put her writing to work, beginning an award-winning career as a screenwriter.

In 2007, Charise jumped into the production side of the film business firsthand, and set her sights on working with Martin Chase Productions, headed up by Debra Martin Chase.  After hearing Debra speak at a Black Women Lawyers event in Chicago, and learning that Debra had helped nurture another Chicago talent by the name of Shonda Rhimes, Charise knew she had found the right place.  She soon began her six-month weekly commute between Chicago and Los Angeles, working at Martin Chase during production of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 and The Cheetah Girls: One World.  In 2008, Charise attended the USC/Warner Brothers Directing & Producing Summer Program at the University of Southern California, and finished up the summer by directing her first independent and award-winning film, The Hands

In 2010, Charise directed and produced a feature documentary on the organization Common Threads, and the impact of “food deserts” on the health and welfare of inner-city children in American cities.  She is currently working on two dramatic feature films and a television pilot.

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Production Designer 



Nabila Lester  is currently completing her third year in the M.F.A. Director’s Program on a full Courtney Ross Diversity Scholarship at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, where she has achieved acclaim for her directing and producing efforts. In addition to producing/directing over twenty short films, several award winning—including Independence Day, which won Best Student Film at the Indo-American New York Film Festival—she has also produced features premiering at Slamdance and the Santa Barbara Film Festival 2008. Her experience spans features produced by the F/X channel, New Line Cinema, Columbia Pictures, and Lions Gate Entertainment.

EDWARD OSEI-GYIMAH – Producer/Editor 

Edward Osei-Gyimah was born in London, having studied at the prestigious Dulwich College; Edward then went on to achieve a B.A. in English literature and Film theory at Brunel University. He spent the next six years working in the British media industry trying to gain production experience, before heading west in 2005 for the University of Southern California where he received a Master in Fine Arts degree in Film Production. During his time at USC he has worked in nearly every capacity of production and in 2007 Edward’s short film: “Growing Old Disgracefully” won Best Romantic Comedy at the International Student Film Festival of Hollywood, it also screened at the 2008 Pan African Film Festival and the 2007 Scene First Film Festival . Edward has been the recipient of an A.M.P.A.S internship grant; which allowed him to undertake an internship at Sony Pictures Entertainment.

In addition to The Hands Edward's recent works include his short film: Kwame, which is currently on its festival run, Head In the Sand a short film about the conflict in Afghanistan and he is currently Producing and Editing: Finding God In the City of Angels, a feature documentary examining religion in the entertainment capital of the world, as well as continually writing and directing his own projects.

ANDREW RUSSO – Cinematographer 

Experienced in both narrative and documentary filmmaking, Andrew’s passion lies in discovering the essence of the story when it comes to directing the photography of a film.  He has shoot award-nominated and award-winning films such as El Primo, The Lost Journal of Vice Marceaux, Moon Rock Lighter Fluid, and Dog Tags as well as festival bound films such as Scarecrow and The Ambassador's Wife. Andrew recently concluded production on the TV pilot Cost of Living as well as the feature documentary Figures of Speech directed by award-winning writer Mark Goffman. Andrew spends much of his time working on Best of the National Parks for the Travel Channel, which has taken him to Hawaii, New Orleans, the Grand Tetons, Southern California, and Alaska. Born in Chicago, Andrew received his graduate degree at the University of Southern California in Cinematography.


JERRY MOUSHEY – First Assistant Director 

Jerry is an experienced and successful businessman who has put his wealth of knowledge to work in the creative arena, including feature (Live Free or Die Hard) and short films, television (National Geographic Channel), music videos, and national commercials for major corporations (Heineken; Exxon/Mobil).  As First Assistant Director, he brings a no-nonsense approach to filmmaking that yields a perfect blend of respect for the craft, knowledge of the process, and the necessity for hard work to get the job done.

RACHEL PAYNE – Production Designer 

Rachel Payne is a native of Alabama where she attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham wherein she received a BA in Criminal Justice with a minor in Chemistry. After getting involved in a few local films, she discovered her love for Production Design. Subsequently, she attended the American Film Institute to pursue a MA in Production Design. At AFI, Rachel learned to visually and physically create a realistic environment to enhance a story.  Upon graduating, Rachel continues pursuing her love for design and has designed 3 features, 2 commercials, a Showtime short, a web series for Fox Atomic and numerous shorts.

DORAN DANOFF – Composer 

Doran Danoff is a pianist, singer/songwriter, producer and composer based out of Brooklyn, NY. As an instrumentalist and songwriter he is widely known for his original blend of jazz, folk, rock (and just about everything in between). He has been performing and recording professionally for the last 10 years as director of his own music projects including original jazz ensembles, rock bands, composing and conducting original contemporary classical works, electronic multi-media works and large-scale music/dance/art productions. In addition, he is the founder of indie record label and music production company Urbivor Records which specializes in music production for original songwriters and bands as well as original music for film, television, and the internet. Doran is currently completing his Masters degree in Music Composition from New York University (NYU) with a concentration in Film Scoring.

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“WOW - I just watched Charise's movie. I'm so blown away. Charise—what you managed to do in 10 minutes is nothing short of totally artful. I now understand why you are about to ‘blow up’.”
A Lotus Girl Film


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