Verissima Productions film credits include “The Art of speaking about the Unspeakable”, a portrait of the artist Samuel Bak, “The Jews of Memphis”, a comprehensive history of Jewish participation in this mid-America city and “Citizens Not Subjects!”, a broadcast documentary about the life of legendary southern political boss E.H. Crump.
Rachel Raz (Executive Producer) has extensive experience in the field of Jewish education nationally and internationally. She initiated and led the making of the Space Torah educational film. The purpose of the film is to preserve and share several significant historical events and to inspire other people. Rachel has a BA from Bar-Ilan University, and MJED (Master of Jewish Education) from Hebrew College.
Rob Cooper (Director and Co-Producer) has been producing educational films and broadcast documentaries for over 30 years, including “Good Mornin’ Blues”, with B.B. King, which aired nationally on PBS and received a Cine International Golden Eagle. He was also a producer for WBZ-TV’s “You Gotta have Arts” which won a New England “Emmy” award.
Pam Pacelli Cooper (Co-Producer) is a skilled researcher, oral historian and interviewer. She and Rob have been producing historical films for Verissima Productions since 1999, and were respectively, co-producer and co-director of the documentary “Zamir Chorale: Jewish Voices Return to Poland”, which aired nationally on PBS.
Austin de Besche (Director of Photography) Austin de Besche has worked in motion pictures for nearly 50 years, as a cinematographer and director. He has photographed feature films (Return of the Secaucus Seven and Lianna for John Sayles), documentaries (including Emmy winners Voices of the Children and On Thin Ice), national children’s programming (Postcards from Buster, Design Squad and NOVA scienceNOW for PBS), second unit television work (Cheers and St. Elsewhere), concert films, magazine shows, corporate films and television commercials numbered in the thousands. His most recent work as a DP includes The Year We Thought About Love, a feature-length documentary about True Colors, a theater troupe for LGBTQ youth, and the HBO film Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing.
Many of his projects have been award-winners: Return of the Secaucus Seven was chosen for the “10 Best Films of 1980” lists of the Los Angeles Times and Time Magazine. His skills and experience range from digital video to 35mm film, from tiniest location to big sound stage, from unscripted documentary to drama to special effects. His work has taken him to Africa, Europe, Asia, Central and South America, and all over the United States.
He is also an actor and performer: he has acted in commercials and corporate films, performed in plays, studied and performed improv comedy for several years, and sings in several gospel choir. He is a founding Board member of the Actors’ Shakespeare Project.
Mr. de Besche produced, directed, and photographed Pilgrimage into the Past, a documentary about a Holocaust survivor who walks again with his family the route of a “death march” he lived through at the end of World War II. It has screened at several festivals, and was praised by renowned documentary-maker Ken Burns as “a fascinating, terribly honest and challenging film . . . a great film.”
Billy Novick (Music) has gained international recognition as a performer, studio musician, arranger, and composer. He has impressed audiences and critics world-wide with his soulful, lyrical jazz clarinet and sax playing.
Mr. Novick has performed with both guitar wizard Guy Van Duser and the internationally-acclaimed New Black Eagle Jazz Band for over thirty years. His musical versatility has also made him a highly sought-after sideman in many different genres, including performances or recordings with J.Geils, Leon Redbone, David Bromberg, Martha and the Vandellas, Maria Muldaur , Odetta, Freddie Fender, Dave McKenna, Herb Pomeroy, Maria Muldaur and Duke Robillard, to name just a few.
If you haven’t seen him perform you’ve undoubtedly heard him on one of the more than 350 recordings, film and TV soundtracks where he has been featured. His film composing and arranging credits include Music of the Heart, Seabiscuit, The Opposite of Sex, Where The Heart Is, and Eight Men Out, among many others. You can hear his clarinet-playing on the theme for the popular PBS shows Antiques Roadshow . In addition, he has made frequent appearances on the Prairie Home Companion radio show and was featured in a thirty-minute interview on NPR’s All Things Considered.
He has composed fifteen scores for modern dance and his full-length ballet scores for The Great Gatsby and The Sun Also Rises premiered at the Kennedy Center to sold-out houses and rave reviews. Novick’s jugband adaptation of Peter and the Wolf, narrated by Dave Van Ronk, debuted in New York’s Lincoln Center and his orchestral arrangements have been performed throughout North America and Europe.
Heather Merrill (Archival Researcher) has worked in archival research for more than 10 years. Her associate producer and research credits include work on numerous independent documentary films, programs for Discovery, Showtime, and the WORLD Channel, as well as work for the PBS series American Experience, American Masters, and NOVA. She has also conducted research for publications including books on Theodore Roosevelt and the immigration laws of the 1920s. Some of her favorite topics have included women wrestlers, the roots of the modern Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and disaster studies.
Shady Hartshorne (Post Production) has been working in post-production in the Boston area since 1988. He has worked on a wide variety of television programs including: Antiques Roadshow; Frontline; Weekends with Yankee; and America’s Forests with Chuck Leavell. He has also worked in the corporate world for Liberty Mutual, athenahealth, Boston Consulting Group and many others. He last worked with Verissima Productions on the documentary “Citizens Not Subjects! Re-Awakening Democracy in Memphis”. As an avid follower of space science and exploration, he was thrilled to be able to help out with the Space Torah Project.
Arnie Harchik (Video Editor) has over 30 years of editing experience. Arnie has worked on many projects for PBS and WGBH. From rough cuts to graphics, audio, and finishing work, Arnie has done it all from A to Z (Antiques Roadshow to ZOOM). His latest series “Weekends with Yankee” is airing nationwide. Along the way, Arnie has earned four New England Emmy awards for documentary work at Connecticut Public Television, as well as several national nominations for ‘Outstanding Editing.