Ben Hicks

Co-Founder / Writer / Director / Producer

Ben Hicks / Square Pegs / Pea vs. CarrotAfter graduating from Columbia College Chicago, Ben Hicks co-founded Elephant Dreams Pictures with business partner Jon Pauss. This unique production company self finances and screens its films while distributing exclusively through its website and through local business' across the United States.

In 2007 Elephant Dreams Pictures released its first two short films both written and directed by Ben Hicks; the award winning Square Pegs and pea vs. carrot.

Ben currently lives in Tokyo and is doing pre-production for his first feature film, Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time, which will begin shooting in 2009.

Denise Hradecky


Denise HradeckyDenise Hradecky grew up in the Chicago area and started playing organ and piano in grade school.

She left home to move to Boston in 1996, taught herself guitar, and began developing her own musical style as an independent artist, while also learning how to record her own music.

In 2000, Denise moved to Raleigh, NC, recording and performing along the east coast. In 2004, she moved back to Chicago to go to school, but still performs in the area. In 2007 her music was featured in the short film, pea vs. carrot.

She says she will always be writing and recording, and mostly giving it away for free.

René Jermal

Co-founder / Producer

René JermalAlthough a proud product of Chicago, René Jermal finds her deepest passions in filmmaking and traveling. With her work background in event planning and fundraising, René helped co-found Elephant Dreams Pictures with Ben Hicks and Jon Pauss. Her dual relationship between business and the creative process turned her interests to producing films.

After graduating with a focus on Weimar cinema at the University of Illinois at Chicago, René Jermal developed a strong connection for the grainy, black-and-white quality of Super-8 film. She devoted herself to it for the next few years in short, experimental, and dark-humored films that explored the power, abuse and self-esteem issues involved with overindulgence. Her passion of music led her to make music videos for Casiotone for the Painfully Alone and Dark Dark Dark. René is also the founder of Me Productions, a division of Elephant Dreams Pictures, showcasing her own projects.

René currently resides in Tokyo, Japan in pre-production for Elephant Dreams Pictures’ first feature film.

Carmen Navis

Production Designer

Carmen Navis / Pea vs. CarrotCarmen Navis has a Bachelor of Arts degree in film and video from Columbia College Chicago. She graduated and finished her training in 2004, amidst working in the industry. She has a concentration in production design and prop craftsmanship. Her grooming as an artist began early in her education thus rewarding her partial scholarship to Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, where she studied industrial sculpture for two years.

Once shifting focus toward filmmaking, her sculptures evolved into video installation and performance mechanisms. She was guided toward film school and was able to nurture her aesthetic drive as a production designer in the student network. But Carmen still struggled with the niche role of the designer. Her first films were directed with her unique aesthetic that lacked any literal narrative. They were deemed taboo and often boring or inappropriate. In turn, Carmen Navis decided to develop her own unique bond with production design. She approached many films as she would in her installation work. She would sit with the author of a project and carve away at the bond between director and script. Through this worm hole she began to appreciate the many facets of being the visual director.

Carmen has designed over twenty short films including thesis works. She has directed commercials for production companies and designed spots for advertisement agencies. Carmen Navis production designs and art directs music videos, films, and commercials. Throughout her development as a film designer, she has left her imprint on every detail of the aesthetic that she has evoked. Carmen has worked in the film industry in Chicago, Los Angeles and Cleveland.

Carmen has experience in every visual role on a production and lately her experience has guided her to more long-term artistic endeavors. She is in pre-production at the moment for the first feature length project in which she will be designing and acting in. Carmen is amulti-faceted artist in both commercial and narrative spaces. She is most content when she can apply what she learns in production to other roles as a designer.

She is attracted to private collaborations involving alternative methodologies. She has an appetite for all art forms and does not like to put boundaries between herself and her work. Her perspective of humanism is quite clear; she views her experiences and creations as the edifice to a very monumental thesis that is her life.

Jon Pauss


No PicJon grew up in the Chicago area, but also spent a couple of his early years in Houston, Texas.

In June of 2003, he graduated from Columbia College of Chicago with a BachelorŐs Degree in Marketing.

Since graduation, he has worked for a print media agency, while residing in Chicago's Ukranian Village neighborhood. His interests include traveling, the ongoing journey of attempting to listen to every note of music ever created, playing/watching sports, and striving to be a part of something that is bigger than he is. While watching a great deal of movies is not a main activity/interest in his life, creating and working on something with talented friends is. It is for this reason that you are reading about him on this particular website.

BriAnna Weaver

Actor - Square Pegs

BriAnna Weaver / Square PegsBriAnna Weaver, a Kansas City native, has studied acting in Chicago and London, and is about to make Los Angeles her new home.

She recently received a BFA in Acting from the Chicago College of Performing Arts, and just finished shooting the feature film FAREWELL DARKNESS. BriAnna loved being a part of this crazy-creative production!

Kuba Zelazek


No PicBorn in Warsaw, Poland, 1979 -- At the early age of nearly three, Kuba Zelazek was forced to flee his native country because of Communism.

After spending only 7 months in Austria a dramatic event occurred that would alter his life forever. He was to move to South Africa.

There he spent his childhood years. The experiences gathered there have stimulated his creative nature. Eventually, events led him to the U.S. where he attended Columbia College Chicago.

Film School opened him up to a new way of expression, because this is where he discovered his love and passion for cinematography. Throughout college he would shoot many projects and begin to develop his own personal style.

Soon after graduating, Kuba was offered films to shoot throughout the U.S., mostly concentrating on the east coast. His experiences range from feature films, short narratives, experimental, commercial work and shooting for T.V. productions such as the B.B.C. He is the founder and president of Severed Head Entertainment, LTD. This production company supplies camera, lights, crew and even editing options for other filmmakers.