The Team


Michele Hoffman Trotter

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Michele Hoffman Trotter is an award-winning educator who began her love affair with the ocean at age five with the gift of a shell. At sixteen, she took her first life-altering breath on scuba, and by twenty-three she was a fully hooked PADI instructor. Michele holds advanced degrees in Marine Biology (University of New South Wales) and law (DePaul University) and has worked with audiences of diverse backgrounds at Sydney Aquarium and the John G. Shedd Aquarium of Chicago.

Michele’s articles and photography have appeared in international publications including an underwater photo shoot for Playboy, and she has been recognized in several international photo competitions. Some of Michele’s favorite dive locations include Thailand, Ireland, Hawaii, Australia, Honduras, Bahamas, Puget Sound, and the Floridian caves. Currently Michele is an active contractor with Dive Into Your Imagination and a faculty member of Columbia College, School of the Art Institute, and Roosevelt University where she teaches a range of courses that span traditional ocean sciences to sustainability courses that encompass law, policy, and ethics. At the core of Michele’s teaching philosophy is the belief that there is an inner scientist in everyone. She resides in Chicago with husband Bob and young son Ryan (also avid ocean enthusiasts) who share in her research and travel adventures!

Michael Caplan

MC at CIFF square

Michael Caplan is an independent film director, producer and educator.  He has directed and produced documentary and fiction feature films in Chicago for the last 25 years.

His most recent feature length project, ALGREN, is a documentary that explores the life and legacy of Nelson Algren, the National Book Award-winning author of Man With the Golden Arm and Walk on the Wild Side.  The film premiered in 2014 at the Chicago International Film Festival with sold out screenings, and rave reviews, from the Hollywood Reporter to the Chicago Tribune. Caplan also directed and wrote A Magical Vision, a film that spotlights internationally acclaimed magician, philosopher, and guru of the magical arts, Eugene Burger.   Caplan’s documentary, Stones from the Soil, showed on national PBS in 2004.  The film is a personal film about a unique school in 1930’s Germany, in which a small group of Jewish teenagers were trained to become the vanguard of a new society.

Caplan is an Associate Professor in the Cinema Art + Science Department at Columbia College Chicago, where he teaches documentary and narrative film production as well as creative producing classes.

Annie Crawley


Annie AKA “OCEAN ANNIE” has become one of America’s leading ocean-environ educators. Founder of DiveIntoYourImagination, her company changes the way a new generation views the ocean. As an underwater cinematographer and educator, Annie has created a series of award winning books, DVDs, motivational art series and has become a Les Brown Platinum Speaker. Originally from Chicago, Annie has spent the past two decades living and working around the world. Traveling from Indonesia to Galapagos, Belize to Papua New Guinea, Annie has explored and documented life on our planet! Inspired by the words of her Grandmother when she was 10 years old, “You have to travel when you are young because when you get to be my age, you can’t climb the mountains!”

Currently based in Seattle, Washington, Annie works as a producer, photographer and motivational speaker. Specializing in the underwater realm she utilizes her skills as an underwater cinematographer, scuba diving instructor and USCG 100 ton boat captain on many of her assignments. Annie’s work has been published and broadcast worldwide, and the goal of Dive Into Your Imagination is to be in every school around the world and giving the gift of the Ocean to all. In the past two years, Annie has been on a public speaking tour reaching thousands of children, parents, professionals and corporations. Dive Into Your Imagination has received many awards including those from the Teachers’ Choice Award, Kids First endorsement, three iParenting Awards, and three platinum and one gold award from the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio 2009 Awards. In addition to this, Annie has written training manuals, launched, and her signature collection of images, posters, cards, magnets, window clings plus more partnering the ocean with inspirational messages.

David Winer


img_4501David Winer has been writing and playing music for most of his life. He has scored several short films, including the award winning “Tiny’s New Home,” “Check Please,” “It’s Alive” and, “Dunkumentary” and “Typing” which were both screened at the Cannes film festival. In 2015 David composed the music for two Superbowl commercials. He has also scored for Gatorade, Lexus, Lego, Nike, Google, Yahoo, Fiat, Michelob, Suave, Zoff (Japan), Dove, EA, State Farm, HP, Saturn, Gap, American Airlines, Huggies, Coca-Cola and many, many others. In 2013 David won a Silver Addy and was shortlisted at Cannes for his work on the commercial, “Lego Brick Thief.” His work on Gatorade “Stealin'” and 19 Crimes “The Banished” earned him AICP awards in 2008 and 2016. As a performer, he plays with the retro-rock “Imperial Sound,” the hip-hop “J. Davis Trio” and the family-friendly “Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players.“ David has performed on two of Justin Roberts Grammy nominated Albums. In 2016 David became a Grammy nominated producer for his work on Frances England’s “ Explorer of the World.” Born and raised in the Chicago area, David has had the distinct honor of playing Theremin with the Illinois Philharmonic and the Middletown Symphony in Ohio. David lives with his wife and two children in Evanston, Illinois. His marinated jerk chicken is delicious!

Mathew Broughton

Mathew Broughton graduated from Brooks Institute of Photography, a world renown professional photography / cinematography school located in Santa Barbara, CA. He then spent the next 3 years working as a full time underwater cinematographer and head editor for Dive Into Your Imagination Productions. A prestigious underwater video production company. Since then Mathew has gone on to start his own freelance video production & media services company (MatieB Productions). He is highly skilled as a professional videographer, photographer, and editor and works with clients both locally and around the globe. With the knowledge gained from years of experience in the production industry, Mathew has skills in many fields of cinematography, photography, and video editing. Working and collaborating with other professionals, he strives to bring the highest level of professionalism through his media services and film based productions. In his down time Mathew is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys camping and spending time in nature.

Jeannot Kuenzel

Jeannot Kuenzel is a German dive professional and camera aficionado residing on the Mediterranean island of Malta. When he’s not under water, Jeannot can be found on his commercial diving rib, taking fellow divers to the most beautiful wrecks and dive sites around the Archipelago. In 1998 he took his first foray into the underwater world and has been hooked ever since. Jeannot studied art, photography and digital media arts at the FADBK in Essen, Germany and has been an avid photographer for almost two decades. After a couple of years as a professional photographer, he moved to Malta and eventually turned his main focus away from the surface and towards the inhabitants of the liquid world while obtaining a degree in Communications and Psychology.

Jeannot found his ultimate passion and true calling when he first attached a cheap diopter to his primitive compact underwater camera. A world he refers to as “Aliens of the Deep Blue” opened up in front of him and quickly captured his heart and curiosity. Over the past five years Jeannot has upgraded and even customized his equipment, constructing his own lenses and diopters to take pictures with higher and higher magnification. His work has been recognized by many underwater macro enthusiasts around the globe and published in various forms of media. Outside of diving, Jeannot works as a cinematographer, editor and voice-over producer in the Malta advertising domain. He is also a musician, collaborating with local music artists and singer/songwriters.

David Morton

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David Morton is a Science Visualization Supervisor with over 25 years experience as a cinematographer focusing on combining digital arts with scientific content.

Recently, he has been integrating digital tools with learning experiences. He is part of an active informal education unit working with Chicago’s After School Matters, after school STEM initiative and, Scientists for Tomorrow, community based science programming as well as other Columbia College Science and Math outreach programs.

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