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Listen Closely A Project of Documentaries

Do you ever wonder how we are going to cross what seem like insurmountable divides between races, cultures, faiths and political systems?

Do you ever long for someone to stop and just listen?

Do you ever feel confused about why your conversations with your parent/spouse/boss/colleague/child seem to devolve into either cold silence or a shouting match?

I do too.

Even though most of us spend a majority of our day in communication with other people, and a large percentage of that time is spent listening, very few of us have ever been taught HOW to listen or WHY it's so important.

That's why I am making this film.

I've seen the power of listening deeply change the lives of my clients and I've experienced it in my own life. It saved my marriage. It changed the path of my career. It strengthened friendships and dissolved challenges. I've watched relationships change between parents and children, especially parents and teens, when the parents learned to listen differently. I've seen the positive effects of a school built around teachers listening to children and children listening to each other.

Listening is the point of connection that allows us to see past our own stories and emotions and acknowledge the other person as fully human. Listening with empathy - listening to understand - is the key to improving every relationship in your life.

Listening well is simple but not always easy and while some people are naturally good listeners, each of us can improve our listening skills. All it takes is knowledge, practice and the willingness to not always be right.

About the film:

Listen Closely is a feature length documentary that examines how the quality of your listening affects the quality of your life.

We are looking at the power of listening in the areas of love, parenting, business, education, end-of-life and social justice. With expert interviews and in-the-moment experiences, we examine different ways of listening, explore the notions of competence and mastery, dig into the barriers to listening and learn how to keep our hearts and minds open, even in times of conflict.

Now, more than ever, it's time to listen to each other. It's the essential first step for change and our greatest hope for the future.


Alana Sheeren has been listening deeply her whole life: as an actor and theater director, bartender, Pilates instructor, grief coach, and more recently as a podcast host, energy worker and advocate for racial justice. She holds an MA in clinical and community psychology from Antioch University and a BFA in theater. She believes in the power of listening to change lives, organizations and the world. She has conducted over 100 interviews for her web series on transformation and on her podcast, Create Your Magical Life. This is her first film.

Director of Photography:

John Phaneuf is an accomplished and sought-after filmmaker and editor residing in Ojai, CA. He promotes conscious companies and organizations on a mission to create a more sustainable, healthy, and just world. He has done extensive work with Patagonia, The Center for Mind Body Medicine, spiritual teacher and author Ram Dass, and countless local businesses and international charities. He is known for his dedicated passion, creative vision, and high skill level.

Here are just a few of the incredible people who will be sharing their expertise and experience in the film:

Gay Hendricks and Kathlyn Hendricks have been pioneers in the fields of body intelligence and relationship transformation for more than forty years. They've mastered ways to translate powerful concepts and life skills into experiential processes where people can discover their own body intelligence and easily integrate life-changing skills. Katie and Gay have empowered hundreds of coaches around the world to add a body intelligence perspective to enhance fields from medicine to sports psychology, education and personal growth. Together and singly they have authored more than forty books, including such bestsellers as Conscious Loving, The Big Leap, and Conscious Loving Ever After: How to Create Thriving Relationships at Midlife and Beyond. They have appeared on more than 500 television and radio programs, including Oprah, 48 Hours and others.

Ram Dass first went to India in 1967. He was still Dr. Richard Alpert, a prominent Harvard psychologist and psychedelic pioneer with Dr. Timothy Leary. He continued his psychedelic research until that fateful Eastern trip in 1967, when he traveled to India. In India, he met his guru, Neem Karoli Baba, affectionately known as Maharajji, who gave Ram Dass his name, which means "servant of God." Everything changed then – his intense dharmic life started, and he became a pivotal influence on a culture that has reverberated with the words "Be Here Now" ever since. Ram Dass' spirit has been a guiding light for three generations, carrying along millions on the journey, helping to free them from their bonds as he works through his own.

Be Here Now, Ram Dass's monumentally influential and seminal work, still stands as the highly readable centerpiece of Western articulation of Eastern philosophy, and how to live joyously a hundred per cent of the time in the present, luminous or mundane. Be Here Now continues to be the instruction manual of choice for generations of spiritual seekers. Forty years later, it's still part of the timeless present. Being here now is still being here now.

Other books include The Only Dance There Is (Anchor/ Doubleday); Grist For The Mill (with Stephen Levine, Celestial Arts); Miracle of Love: Stories of Neem Karoli Baba (Hanuman Foundation); How Can I Help? (with Paul Gorman, Knopf); Compassion in Action: Setting Out on the Path of Service (with Mirabai Bush, Bell Tower Press), Still Here: Embracing Aging, Changing and Dying (Riverhead Books); One-Liners: A Mini-Manual for a Spiritual Life (Bell Tower Press); Paths to God: Living the Bhagavad Gita (Harmony Books).

On February 19th 1997, Ram Dass suffered a near-fatal stroke, which left him paralyzed on the right side of his body and expressive aphasia limiting his ability to speak, along with other challenging ailments. The after effects of the stroke have once again changed his life and vastly altered his day, but he has been able to resume teaching and continues to share and teach. In 2004, following a life threatening infection, Ram Dass was forced to curtail travel and focus on recovering his health.

Ram Dass now resides on Maui, where he shares his teachings through the internet and through bi-yearly retreats on Maui. His work continues to be a path of inspiration to his old students and friends as well as young people who are just discovering the path of Being Here Now. His most recent books include Be Love Now (2011), Polishing the Mirror: How to Live From Your Spiritual Heart (2013) and Conversations with Ram Dass (2014). He is currently working on a book about end of life, with Mirabai Bush.

Sammy Rangel is the author of FOURBEARS: The Myths of Forgiveness, a breathtaking autobiography chronicling the ongoing physical and sexual abuse he endured as a child which eventually led him down a path of self-destruction that culminated in Sammy serving more than fifteen-and-a-half years of his life incarcerated, both as a juvenile and as an adult, most of that time in solitary confinement. FOURBEARS takes the reader on an in-depth journey into difficult topics such as the many stages of forgiveness, change, reconciliation, and recovery from substance abuse and the wounds that drive individuals to seek an escape.

Sammy also founded Formers Anonymous (FA) in August 2012. FA is a national self-help group based on the 12-step model and is for so-called criminals and addicts addicted to street life, violence, and who are looking for support and answers about change and recovery. Currently, Sammy is the Executive Director of Life After Hate, Inc (LAH), a unique 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded and run by former violent extremists. LAH's core services stem from the foundation of its members' reformed ideologies and decades of rare experiential immersion within some of the world's most violent extremist organizations. LAH works in the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) field, offers outreach, consulting, interventions, and support systems for individuals who have successfully disengaged from violent extremism, among other things.

Sammy's most crucial role in life is being an amazing father to his children. He is a beacon of light in the communities he works within and has received numerous awards and recognitions over the years for his dedication to serve the public as a whole and individuals in need of help. As someone once so aptly stated about Sammy, "The scary thing about Sammy is that despite all that he has accomplished...He's just getting started."

Vagdevi Meunier, PsyD, is a licensed psychologist and Clinical Assistant Professor at The University of Texas in Austin, Texas. She has a private clinical and consulting practice in Austin where she specializes in relationship therapy, intensives, and retreats, professional training and supervision, and organizational consultation. Vagdevi has extensive experience with multicultural psychology, especially eastern influences on psychological practice, and cross-cultural research on relationships.

Vagdevi has over 30 years of experience as a therapist, consultant, and educator. Vagdevi has been a certified Gottman Couples Therapist and workshop leader since 2006. She offers the "Art and Science of Love" weekend workshop for couples, developed by Dr.John Gottman, in Austin and in other cities in the US. A Master professional trainer for the Gottman Institute, Vagdevi has presented to professional and lay audiences in the US and abroad. Vagdevi incorporates mindfulness, neurobiology, and positive psychology into her presentations on relationships, and has published several book chapters and articles on the Gottman method of couples therapy.

Vagdevi is the founder and Executive Director of The Center for Relationships, a community counseling, training, and outreach center that specializes in promoting flourishing relationships in all spheres based on best practices in relational science. The Center for Relationships is committed to public education and outreach through innovative programs such as Care Week, couples retreats, social media presentations on love and sex, and Trust Recovery, and professional trainings in the Gottman method. The center is also preparing a research program looking at cross-cultural couples entering counseling.

Douglas E. Noll, J.D., M.A. specializes in helping people solve difficult, complex, and intractable problems. As a lawyer turned peacemaker, Doug has been voted as one of the Best Lawyers in America since 2005, by US News & World Report and has been recognized since 2006 as a Northern California Super Lawyer. He is listed in the Who's Who of International Commercial Mediators. He was honored as Lawyer of the Year in 2014 by Best Lawyers in America. In 2014, Doug was honored as a Purpose Prize Fellow by Along with his colleague Laurel Kaufer, Doug was named California Attorney of theYear in 2012 for their pro bono Prison of Peace project.

Doug's fourth book, De-Escalate: How to Calm an Angry Person in 90 Seconds, was released on September 12, 2017 by Beyond Words/Simon & Schuster. Doug is also the author of the book Elusive Peace: How Modern Diplomatic Strategies Could Better Resolve World Conflicts (Prometheus Books, April 2011), winner of the Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR) International Peace and Justice Book Award for 2011. In addition, Doug is the author of Sex, Politics & Religion at the Office: The New Competitive Advantage (Auberry Press 2006), with John Boogaert, and Peacemaking: Practicing at the Intersection of Law and Human Conflict (Cascadia 2002). He has authored numerous articles on peacemaking, restorative justice, conflict resolution and mediation, and is a mediator trainer, lecturer, and continuing education panelist. Doug makes his home in the Sierra Nevada foothills above Clovis, California with his wife, Aleya.

Mac Tristan was sworn in as Coppell Chief of Police on January 24, 2011. He came to Coppell after serving 29 ½ years with the City of Carrollton Police Department, leaving there as an Assistant Chief.

Chief Tristan received his Bachelor's Degree from Sam Houston State University, where he graduated with Honors. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, the Senior Management Institute for Police, John F. Kennedy School Government, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the U.S. Army War College Strategic Implementation Seminar in Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.

Chief Tristan believes strongly in Problem Oriented Policing and Servant Leadership of leadership and management. He not only teaches the subject, he has successfully implemented this philosophy in every bureau and department he has led, including the Coppell Police Department. He has worked with the Chinese National Police in Hangzhou, China and has lectured in Stockholm, Sweden with the Swedish National Police and as a speaker at the Stockholm Criminology Symposium. He continues to lecture on Leadership, Problem Oriented Policing, and the Servant Leadership of Management.

A former US Army Airborne Ranger, Marcel Brunel has spent the last 21 years working with organizations to help them improve leadership, communication and performance. Marcel works closely with many state and local governments and Fortune 500 companies such as PwC, Southwest Airlines, Dell Inc., Yum, Elmer's, and Baylor Healthcare, helping them link performance development to optimal results in an emotion economy.

Marcel is currently working with Police Chiefs and police officers to help them better predict and prevent certain behaviors in the field. Current methodologies are able to measure what the officer is like at home, at work, and when he or she is overextended or stressed, which allows the officer and his or her PD leaders to see blind spots that could be causing blind behaviors out in the field.

A father of three, Marcel has been married to his wife Susie for over 21 years. He serves as an advisor to the Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind and is the past Chairman. He currently serves on the Literacy Instruction For Texas (LIFT) Board. He has a bachelor's degree in psychology from Texas A&M.

Desiree Adaway is a seasoned nonprofit consultant and facilitator, and founder of The Adaway Group. She is known by staff, senior leadership, peers, and partners as being great at open, honest, and productive conversations. She is not afraid of addressing anything that gets in the way of great work. Her is positive, approachable, engaging, service-oriented and audience-centered.

In her own words…

It is not enough to focus on diversity. We have to focus on creating inclusive and equitable organizations.

My work over the past few years has been focused on helping institutions—to create more welcoming and supportive work environments for everyone, especially people of color, women, and, more recently, those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBTQ++), and disability communities.

A truly inclusive organization – an organization that welcomes, respects, supports, and values diversity within the organization – invests in programs that build relationships with diverse communities, develops and empowers diverse leadership, invests in staff and community development, through knowledge and action, systematically changes the culture of the organization so that all individuals and groups are encouraged to fully participate.

Michelle Vazzana, Ph.D., is the CEO and a founding partner at Vantage Point Performance, a global sales management training and development firm. She is also co-author of Cracking the Sales Management Code: The Secrets to Measuring and Managing Sales Performance. Vazzana has more than 32 years of successful sales and management experience.

Michelle has personally trained and coached thousands of sales people, sales managers, and sales leaders, as well as designed and facilitated programs for effective sales management, coaching and reinforcement, face-to-face selling, major account sales strategy, and telesales. She leads a team that designs and implements global end-to-end engagements for clients that create the environment to ensure long-term performance change.

Michelle earned a bachelor of science degree in computer science, a master of science in organizational effectiveness and master's certificates in both Instructional systems design and total quality management. Michelle earned her Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology with a focus on sales management practices. She resides in Virginia.

David Gau is an Operating Partner at Pritzker Group Private Capital, leading the firm's activities in the Manufactured Products sector. David has a history of building and operating multi-national organizations, most recently as chief executive officer of Intersystems, a manufacturer of material handling equipment for agricultural and industrial applications. Prior to Intersystems, David served as executive vice president of global commercial operations and group president of Industrial Fluid Power for GatesCorp. Gates Corp. is a $2.9 billion manufacturer of advanced power transmission and fluid transfer solutions, with more than 14,000 employees across 106 locations in 30countries. Prior to joining Gates Corp., David was president of Air System Components, a division of Tomkins.

David is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Dr. Sabrina N'Diaye, PhD, LCSW-C is an integrative psychotherapist and founder of the Heart Nest Center for Peace and Healing in Baltimore. There, she lovingly serves women, couples, other healers, and small groups. Her approach to healing is a blend of wisdom, science, and ancient spiritual practices. She is a student of the late Sufi Master Sidi Muhammad al-Jamal of Jerusalem, and incorporates Sufi healing into her work with individuals, families, and communities.

Sabrina received her PhD in Mind-Body Medicine from Saybrook University, where she studied the use of complementary and alternative interventions for physical, emotional, and spiritual growth. Her dissertation study focused on the use of guided imagery as a healing tool for African-American women with chronic STIs.

Sabrina has served as a guest lecturer for the Maryland University of Integrative Health, and adjunct faculty at Saybrook University. She is also a proud faculty member of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, where she teaches the art of self-care to healthcare professionals around the globe. She is currently serving the Center as a teacher and guide for Jordanian healthcare professionals who are in service to Syrian refugees.

Dr. Sabrina is a highly-respected member of the treatment community, and frequently lectures on cultural diversity, spirituality, stress management, self-care for healers, addictions, and the "magic" of connection. Her many audiences include police departments, flight attendants, healing artists, peacebuilders, and aspiring writers. She is currently writing her first book, The Laugh of Love, based on her maternal grandmother's ability to transcend multiple traumas and chronic illness.

Dr. Sabrina is a devoted wife, mother, daughter, and life-long learner, who remains humbled by the healing power of compassion, love and forgiveness.

Benjamin Mathes is the founder of Urban Confessional: A Free Listening Project. Currently in over 75 countries, their volunteers stand on street corners with signs that say "Free Listening" and provide compassionate, non-judgmental listening for anyone who needs to talk. Their work has been featured in over 40 national publications including the Huffington Post, The Atlantic, Fast Company, and The Big Think, as well as in over 30 international publications across 15 languages.

He has been an actor for over 20 years. He has worked with artists such as Clint Eastwood, Alan Arkin, Sam Raimi, Bradley Cooper, Andy Garcia, and Chris Rock. He received his MFA in Acting from the University of California-Irvine. As a producer, his films MURDER OF A CAT (starring Greg Kinnear, JK Simmons), and the biopic, PELE (in partnership with Brian Grazer and Ron Howard's Imagine Entertainment) both premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. As an instructor, he has taught at Auburn University, Cal State Northridge, University of San Diego, University of Lima, Peru, Catholic University of Lima, Theatre of Arts in Hollywood, UC-Irvine, and the Lincoln Center Director's Lab. His students have been nominated or awarded Tony, Emmy, Grammy, and Ovation Awards, and have appeared on Broadway, and in major motion pictures.

As an executive coach, he draws upon his 15 years of creative development, artistic leadership, and social entrepreneurship to help senior executives, management, and sales teams increase their creative capital in business leadership and team building, individual productivity, and presentation acumen. He is the author of two books detailing and investigating the creative process. The first, Thought Lozenges for Artists, is a daringly optimistic, "open-where-you-want" look into the creative process, and the second, CRASH: Unstuck Yourself, is a guided journal designed to directly combat the blocks holding us from our creative potential.

We are currently filming interviews and will continue through the first half of 2018 before starting post-production. We need your help! Please be sure to watch the video above and then share this page with everyone you know!

Our budget for this film is $280,000, which pays for high quality equipment, filming, editing, color correction, music, insurance, legal fees, travel & accommodations, website, narration, marketing and promotion, festival entry fees, fiscal sponsorship fees and a 10% contingency amount for unexpected expenses.

We have a number of exciting rewards for those who wish to get involved.

ALL donations are tax-deductible and receive a thank you on the Listen Closely website (currently under construction), special film updates via email and our eternal gratitude.

Donations of $25 or more receive a thank you in a special section of the end credits of the film.

Donations of $50 or more receive all of the above and online access to screen the film before it is released to the public.

Donations of $100 or more receive all of the above and a digital download of the film plus a signed postcard version of the Listen Closely poster.

Donations of $250 or more receive all of the above, a signed DVD copy of the film and an official Listen Closely t-shirt (3 designs to choose from)

Donations of $500 or more receive all of the above and a 30 minute private call with Alana Sheeren to get personalized tips on becoming a more effective listener.

Donations of $1000 or more receive all of the above and a signed copy of the Listen Closely script, filled with valuable information from all of our experts.

Donations of $5000 or more receive all of the above and 2 tickets to the film premiere (travel not included) and an hour private Skype conversation with Alana Sheeren & members of the production team where you get to ask us anything you want about the film and its subject matter. You could even gather a few friends and we will Skype into your brunch or dinner party!

Donations of $10,000 or more receive all of the above and 4 tickets to the film premiere (travel not included) and an invitation to a private donors-only dinner (dates and locations to be announced, travel not included).

Donations of $20,000 or more receive all of the above and an official Associate Producer credit for the film in the credits and on, 6 tickets to the film premiere (travel not included) and an opportunity to screen a rough cut of the film in order to give us feedback.

Donations of $50,000 or more receive all of the above with the following differences: an official Co-Producer credit for the film in the credits and on, 10 tickets to the film premiere (travel not included) and extra surprise producer-only experiences!

Donations of $75,000 or more receive all of the above with the following differences: an official Executive Producer credit for the film in the credits and on, 16 tickets to the film premiere and extra surprise producer-only experiences!

Donations may be made via the buttons above or by sending a check to From the Heart Productions, 1455 Mandalay Beach Road, Oxnard, California 93035-2845. Make checks payable to "From the Heart Productions" and put "Listen Closely" in memo line.

If you are interested in making a donation of $10,000 or more, please contact us at to discuss the details.

Our dream with this film is to start a listening revolution - to reach regular folks in the midst of busy lives and nudge them with information, with inspiration, with heart, so they begin to wonder how being a better listener would change their life. Our hope is that we will give people enough reason to walk away from the film and begin making the baby steps (or giant leaps) that lead to change and to show them where to turn next if their curiosity and their lived experience lead them to go deeper. Our goal is for this film to make the world a kinder, more understanding, more compassionate place, where parents, children, spouses, friends, business associates and strangers all listen to each other just a little bit more, just a little bit better.

You can help make this dream a reality, right now.

Supported by 31 Donations:

  • Jim and Lauri D.
    I Gave $250
    Sending $250
  • Corena C.
    I Gave $100
    Can't wait to see it and spread the good word!
  • Lis M.
    I Gave $50
    Great work - we’ll done. An honor to help. Lisa and Larry
  • Jen T.
    So important, so powerful. Thank you for making this happen. 🙏🏼
  • John R.
    I Gave $250
    This is an exciting topic in which we share your enthusiasm.
  • Lynae S.
    I Gave $250
  • Julie P.
    I Gave $250
    We are happy to support such an important film. Wishing you all the best and much success with this documentary, Alana and John! XO Julie & Bruce
  • Marianne J.
    I Gave $100
  • Kerrie  B.
    I Gave $100
    Alana, I could not be more honored to support this endeavor. It resonates deeply with all that I hold true. xo
  • SarahJane B.
    I Gave $5,000
    Such a worthwhile and significant project, especially for today's world.
  • Brenda M.
    I Gave $100
    Leaning in,...and sending love to you, Alana.
  • Jenn P.
  • Trisha  J.
    I Gave $100
  • Silhouette
    So delighted to help support your wonderful project, Alana! <3
  • Juli L.
    I Gave $100
    Sending so much love and good wishes for the making and sharing of your beautiful work. ❤️
  • Candace H.
    I Gave $100
    Happy to help bring this important project to light. Sincere best wishes.
  • Jennifer C.
    I Gave $125
  • Amy O.
    I Gave $50
    Congrats Alana and team...a very important topic! We can’t wait to see the finished work!
  • Elsie L.
    I Gave $250
    In a time when people are so filled with hate and divided, Alana has touched upon something that could bring us all together. Listen Closely...
  • Megan B.
    I know this will be amazing and I can’t wait to see it.
  • Silhouette
  • Jacqueline B.
    Wonderful words and images in healing for our time.
  • Casey B.
    I Gave $10
    I am so excited to see this come to fruition. The world needs this film, and I do not say that lightly.
  • Loreni D.
    May your film be very successful and touch many lives!! I look forward to it’s release.
  • Dian J.
    I Gave $25
    I love everything about this. Everything.
  • Elaine  M.
    Proud of you Alana!
  • Michele  C.
    I Gave $50
    Wow! I cannot wait for your movie! I can't wait to talk to you about a project I too am involved with that would compliment this so much! Way to go!
  • Amy T.
    I Gave $100
    This is so exciting!! Thank you for making this important film!
  • Samantha L.
    I Gave $25
  • Silhouette