The Hidden GEM Creative Studios works with award-winning media professionals from the commercial media industry or the social justice non-profit arena to create innovative media and educational programs. Artists in our network are available for creative or instructional services, and can be reached through our CONTACT page.
Rafael Flores, MFA (Co-Founder & Director)
Rafael Flores is a bilingual documentary and narrative filmmaker of Mexican-Lithuanian ancestry. He is Phi Beta Kappa Scholar who holds a Masters of Fine Arts specializing in Directing, Social Justice Film Production, Chicano Cinema, and Third Cinema. He also holds a BA in Comparative Literature and Cinema Studies from the University Washington. He is currently a lecturer at San Francisco State University and The College of San Mateo where he teaches Latin-American Cinema, Digital Film Production, Screenwriting and Documentary film. His work has been praised by various institutions that include: The White House, The Grammy Foundation, TED-X lecture series, the Cannes International Film Festival, the Writer’s Guild Theater of America, the London Guardian, and the Chicano International Film Festival.
Salihah Saadiq (Photography)
Salihah Saadiq, born in Austin, bloomed in Oakland, is a visual artist and photographer. An alumni to the Academy of Art University, Salihah is a multifaceted photographer with interests that vary from editorial, portrait, and fashion, to concert and event photography. She also works with a number of artists in the Bay Area on brand development, content building, and personal marketing. Currently, Salihah lives in Oakland where her photography studio is based at The Hidden Gem Creative Studios. There is where she houses the production of all her curated fashion and editorial shoot. She continues to shoot in the varied environments of the San Francisco Bay Area as well as the Austin and Central Texas area.
Sean Fong (Transmedia & 3D Light Projection)
With a background in business and solar technology, Sean Fong is an Oakland native and ad experimental 3D light projection artist. His creative interests lie in design, streaming, politics and activism. He is currently working on light projection exhibits for commercial spaces in collaboration with local small business owners.
Claudia Suarez (Operations Manager & Post-Production)
Claudia Luz Suarez is a Salvadoran born and East Oakland raised aspiring documentary filmmaker. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz in Film & Digital Media and Community Studies. Her films explore immigration policies, the changing political climate, educational barriers, and resiliency in Oakland. She strives to center youth and community voices in all of her narratives. Currently, she is a freelance film editor working to create professional content that highlights the different stories and organizations coming out of the Bay Area.
Sompong Viengvilai (Post-Production Manager)
Sompong Viengvilai is a Laotian-American filmmaker who was born and raised in Richmond CA. Inspired by his own families refugee experience, has has worked with various non-profit organizations where he refined his talents in film production. Mr. Viengvilai received his B.A in Cinematic Arts from San Francisco State University. His areas in emphasis within is Cinematography/And Post Production editing. He has worked in the non-profit media field for over 5 years, and his work has been praised by Redbull, NY Post, The California Endowment and Amaphiko.
Jehnovah Carlisle, MFA (Screenwriting)
Jehnovah Carlisle is an award-winning independent filmmaker based in Los Angeles, California. Carlisle graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a B.A. in Film. Carlisle also graduated from California College of the Arts with a MFA in Film Production. The short films that Carlisle has written, directed and produced have dealt with the realities of African American men haunted by troubled pasts, burdened by institutional racism, and scarred by trauma. Carlisle has experience in multiple genres (drama, comedy, crime) and also documentary filmmaking. His short films have screened nationally and his personal films are deeply rooted in the Bay Area community where he was born and raised. He was a San Francisco Film Society artist in resident in 2018. Carlisle currently teaches screenwriting at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Los Angeles, California.
Bronche Tay’son, MFA (Co-Founder & Performance/Acting)
With a background in acting and theater, Mr. Tay’son is a multitalented performance artist who was formally trained in New York. His previous work spans multiple genres and he has actively been working in the non-profit arena for over 8 years. Mr. Tay’son is one of the founding members of The Hidden GEM Creative Studio where he offered acting and modeling classes.
Stefan Ruenzel (Cinematography & Documentary Film)
Stefan Ruenzel is an award-winning filmmaker from Oakland, California whose work spans across narrative, documentary, and experimental realms. Crossing boundaries is important for him personally, as it is within the ideas he portrays on film. A boundless curiosity in people and fascination in the way diverse forms of life interact with the world are the impetus behind his sociological studies… and with a background in photography and music, film became his modern-day think tank ten years ago. Since, he’s worked as DP and editor on a nationally syndicated travel show on PBS, and currently works as a freelance producer and cinematographer in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Roy Miles (Animation & Design)
Also known as the Ghetto Geppetto, Roy Miles is a animator, toy maker and filmmaker from East Oakland. CA. His work has been praised by multiple institutions and he is one of the founding members of the Hieroglyphics Video Crew. Growing up childhood friend Del the Funky Homosapien, Roy draws upon his life in Oakland for his creative endeavors. Known for his animated series “HoodFoot”, Miles also creates merchandise and toys for his own brand line. Mr. Miles has also worked in the creative ad industry, and as a multimedia manager in the non-profit arena for over 20 years.