Obstacles are what knock us down, shatter predictability, incite physical struggle, destroy the best-laid plans, and call everything we thought we knew into question.  But obstacles are also what truly define who we are.  They exemplify our character and whom we choose to become when life goes very off course.  Everyone struggles, but not everyone conquers those struggles to become stronger, wiser, and more determined than they ever were before.

Mike Esposito and Shaina Koren have redefined their definitions of obstacles and inspiration after working on a documentary film for Miami Heat Wheels, a non-profit wheelchair basketball program and member of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA).  The program provides opportunities to participate, learn, and develop the skills to play wheelchair basketball to persons with physical disabilities.


Mike and Shaina were asked to film a short video clip as a favor for the coach.   After spending time with the players and witnessing their drive, determination, and fortitude first hand, Mike and Shaina knew they had a story that needed to told and  The Rebound documentary was born.

The Rebound chronicles the journey of the Miami Heat Wheels team on their quest for a championship.  It follows the inspirational stories of several players who have redefined what it means to be (dis)abled and triumph over adversity.

What began as a freelance project stimulated a passion to tell stories that matter.  While Mike and Shaina had good, stable jobs at media companies, they knew that there was something more that they needed to do.  They decided to quit their jobs and commit to sharing stories fulltime at Shaina Koren Cinematography.

Last week, I had the pleasure of learning more about The Rebound and the inspiring entrepreneurial journey Mike and Shaina have embarked upon.

Q | What have you learned from working on this documentary?
We have learned SO many things from working on this documentary; seriously, the list is endless. For me, I will share two of my biggest take-aways.

1) Life is 100% what you make of it. No matter what situation/challenges life throws at you, your reaction is the only thing that will define how that affects you. This is why the film is titled “The Rebound”. This title has many meanings to us as the filmmakers – in basketball, it can obviously be a game-changer. How you react to the rebound determines the next play of the game. Similarily, there are a lot of parallels to how we see the rebound in life. We hope that everyone can get something out of the message of the film, whether you are living with a disability or just going through a rough period in your life.


2) It takes a village to create change. This process of filmmaking, crowd funding, and starting a movement for change would go NOWHERE without the amazing community that we are building around the documentary. We are so thankful for our success on Indiegogo and continue to get messages/support that reaffirms why we believe this is a story that needs to be shared. Community is everything!

Q | Why do you think it’s important to share this story? Over the past two years, we have learned so much about not only wheelchair sports, but also about disabilities and how they are misperceived. Before we were exposed to the Miami Heat Wheels, we had no idea that wheelchair sports existed beyond the Paralympics. When we first walked into the NWBA championships in 2013 with over 1,000 athletes; we were blown away at the scale and the athleticism of the athletes. We are not only filmmakers, but wheelchair basketball fans – and believe that many more people would be fans if they are exposed to this thrilling sport.

Q | Why is video a good medium to capture/share this story? With the documentary, we can share a story that we have been filming for 2 years in 60 minutes. Film is one of the most powerful mediums for storytelling because it combines photography, narrative, and sound/music to captivate and inspire the audience. This story needs to captivate audiences enough to make them think twice about how they look at someone with a disability. By getting to know the characters through our interviews and time spent inside their lives – the documentary will do just that; also in a concise, more complete way than a short story, novel, song, or photograph could ever do.


Q | What do you want people to take away from the documentary? After people watch the documentary, I hope they question their assumptions and look at people with disabilities with more respect. It’s important to realize that just because something is “different” about a person – that doesn’t make them any less of an athlete or more importantly, a person. Everyone creates their own reality and the quality of your health, your relationships, and your life is dependent on how you can rebound from the challenges that you are faced with.

Learn more about this incredible story and how you can get involved by visiting their Indiegogo campaign.

Photo Credit: The Rebound

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From the Editor
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