Our story begins over twelve years ago. We met while working at a production company and immediately hit it off as friends and colleagues.  In those early years, we spoke about our shared career goals to make independent, mission-driven films and form our own production company. Although our careers and lives eventually took different paths, we continued to find ways to work together while also growing our individual strengths in producing, directing, editing, and business development.  When the opportunity to join forces presented itself, we seized upon it and created FLOWSTATE; a women-owned, full-service production company based in the Washington, DC area.

FLOWSTATE Films combines our complimentary skill sets and shared passion for strong storytelling, cinematic aesthetics and a collaboration built on professionalism. 


Our Bios



Rachell Shapiro
Co-Founder. Producer. Director

Meet Rachell →

Rachell Shapiro

Rachell is an award-winning producer, director and writer with over 15 years in the industry producing high-end films and videos for a wide range of clientele from government agencies to non-profits to independent films. With budgets ranging from $5,000 to $500,000.00 she has produced projects requirng locations and crew around the country; casting and directing union/non-union talent; and directing realistic performances and interviews from non-actors. Rachell also co-wrote, produced and directed the award-winning film, From Hell to Here, a fictional short that journeys through the mind of an aging Veteran battling Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Accompanying the film is a companion discussion guide co-written by a VA psychologist designed to be used in classrooms, discussion groups and therapists offices. The film and guide are used in Universities and VA centers around the country. Rachell’s passion for storytelling is propelled by mission-driven content. Her passion for producing has led her to understand and appreciate the importance of the details, the significance of the story flow and the necessity and art of collaboration.

How do you find your work-flow?
For me, finding my flow requires an almost zen-like mind-set to come over me. Where the world around me falls away and what I’m left with is exactly the task at hand. In that moment I feel a supreme focus and an exhilaration because I’m hitting a stride in what I’m working on - and then I work feverishly, almost as if I stop, I’ll lose that edge. The catalyst for that feeling is work that is engaging and inspiring. That can be anything from writing a blog post about a topic that I care about or working on a project for a client where something small has ignited my creativity.

Who’s your favorite film director?

Baz Luhrmann and Wes Anderson. Both have very strong artistic points of view in how they tell a story. I love how bold they are in their choices. Whether you agree with them or not, it’s inspiring.

What’s your favorite drink?
• Cocktail - Old Fashioned
• Wine - Depends on the meal but a cab from Napa or chardonnay from Burgundy.
• Beer - Belgian Dubel’s

Where’s your happy place?
With my husband, a glass of wine, some cheese and either a wood burning fire or a body of water in front of me. Ahhhh...

What turns you off?
Inauthentic people

What motivates you?
Being underestimated


Kiley Kraskouskas
Co-Founder. Producer. Writer

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Kiley Kraskouskas

After spending her early twenties searching for truth in the halls of academia, Kiley found her passion in documentary filmmaking and never looked back. After working as a corporate video producer for several years in DC she realized her goal to direct her first documentary. Released in 2013, The Last Song Before the War was described by NPR Music as “one of the best recently released music films” and received a National Endowment for the Arts grant for postproduction and outreach.

In addition to co-running FLOWSTATE Films and working with clients she is also co-directing the independent documentary, DEAR WALMART, which tells the inspiring story of Walmart workers who are standing up and fighting back at America’s largest private employer. When she is not working or driving her son to swim practice she can be found obsessively listening to her favorite podcasts.

How do you find flow?
I have a tendency to either hyper-focus and work all night long or I spin my wheels and make myself crazy. Production work suits me well because of the deadlines and creative challenges it requires. When I am writing a script, my process is to read and re-read transcripts while I panic until suddenly a theme or a musical style will hit me and I can run with it.

What's your favorite coffee?
Starbucks Sumatra

What are your favorite Podcasts?
Start-up, The Tim Ferris Show, Mystery Show, Serial

What’s your flow state Space?
Early, early morning, clean desk, hot cup of coffee.

What are your most unforgettable documentaries?
The House I Live In, Better This World, Roger & Me, Eyes On The Prize

What’s your special skill?
Counting cards in blackjack.


Leola Calzolai-Stewart
Co-Founder. Producer. Editor

Meet Leola →

Leola Calzolai-Stewart

Leola is an editor and a producer with over 10 years experience working in non-fiction film and video. She’s worked with a large range of clientele from government agencies to independent filmmakers, and on projects from short branded videos to long form documentary. Leola edits in Avid, Adobe Premiere and Final Cut but she secretly prefers Avid and doesn’t care if that makes her a dinosaur. She’s also stepped into the role of producer on the award-winning independent documentary, The Last Song Before the War, in addition to the historical documentary, Black Diplomacy, now in development. Leola has lived in Mali, South Africa, and Belgium and has been to Timbuktu. Twice.

When do you feel in a flow state?
I never feel in a flow state when I first sit down to edit. There is usually a lot of angst and coffee involved, an almost obsessive need to name and organize bins, log footage, and take notes on the script. When I finally face that empty timeline, the first cut is the hardest. But once I have that in there and am happy with the first few cuts, something always undoubtedly takes over. I get into my rhythm and my flow, I usually forget to eat lunch, and look up only when it’s time to go get the kids. And then I come back the next day and pick up in the timeline where I left off along with the coffee and the angst.

Which words or phrases to do you most overuse?
According to my husband, it’s “I’m just sayin’…”

What is your motto?
“Winter is coming.” I’ve never been an optimist.

What is your favorite word?
Calliope and curmudgeon

What are some of your favorite films?
There are so many ways to answer this question, so many options to choose from but the films I always turn to for comfort or nostalgia are Tootsie, Trading Places, Bladerunner, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and every Jane Austen adaptation ever made (I would particularly recommend Persuasion). Some of my favorite documentaries include Hoop Dreams, Man on Wire, When We Were Kings, and The Last Song Before the War.

What’s one of the last books you’ve read that you would recommend?
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is pure fun, especially if you grew up during the 80s and are a self-identified geek.