Our Story

My interest in storytelling has always been an obvious factor in my life, but little do people know that it was a compensation for the void of my own life. It’s the part of my family history that ended when my grandfather was stripped of his own heritage. This has had its ramifications generations down the line. Growing up, I always knew my grandfather could not read or write. I just never knew why.  He spoke about the “Indian School” from time to time and it was an obvious source of pain for him, so I never pressed.  When my mother explained the facts of our past to me, it sadly created a void in my own life that I have always sought to fill.  I made my first feature Little Heart in 1997 at age 26 about a young Mexican man who was living illegally in the United States in an attempt to go to school and fulfill his dream of becoming a doctor.  Much of his story is told in correspondence with his sister who lived with an uncle in Mexico City. I filmed in the orange and lemon groves of Ojai and Limoneira, a migrant camp in California, where my parents grew up and met.  Shortly after, I took numerous assignments as an editor. Eventually, over the years, I edited and directed hundreds of commercials, over 50 documentaries, produced and directed countless industrial projects of all shapes and sizes, several narrative shorts and features. I gained skills as a 3-D artist, gaffer, director of photography, producer, writer and have mastered many key creative positions on a film set.  

 

When I met my now wife, Lori Bisaccia, in my 40’s, I had emerged renewed having just finished producing and directing a 26 episode documentary series for PBS called “Inspiration”.  I was filming a short film called Sister in a meadow in Ojai starring my  two daughters.  It was the first time since film school that I had truly done something for the mere pleasure of creating.  I was questioned  momentarily by a Ranger about my  permit. Luckily I knew his mom and sister (Lori) and he let us finish filming that day.  Lori recalls, “Simon sent me a message saying that he owed me a lunch or dinner.  I was intrigued as to why. He then told me that he was a film maker and was right in the middle of filming a movie in the meadow in Ojai, with the full cast and crew, when they were questioned by a Ranger.  I immediately knew he was talking about my brother (who was in charge of the meadow).’  We lived our lives in this small town with many of the same friends and experiences.  Lori describes her idyllic childhood as filled with happiness, make believe, travel and immersion into different cultures due to her father’s teaching of Anthropology and Survival,  “My Father was an amazing role model to myself and many others. His support and interest in peoples of all walks of life were passed down to me.  I consider this one of my greatest gifts from him.  He had a keen, respectful and loving interest in Native American culture. He attended and hosted Pow Wows, made arrowheads, moccasins, and other indigenous crafts specific to the Chumash who once thrived in what is now Ventura County.”

Meeting Lori at midlife was a blessing to me in ways that gave me both balance and support. Previously we lived our lives with other partners, had children, had many hard and life changing experiences, some very traumatic.  These experiences have given us important life lessons which help us to have a multi-faceted, empathetic and sympathetic way of dealing with people and situations.  When I sent Lori a rough cut of the film that I was shooting in the meadow, before we went to lunch, I didn’t realize that she agonized a bit hoping that it wasn’t horrible. Lori recalls, “I accepted the “thank you” invitation from Simon and he sent me a rough version of the movie and saved it for later. I was worried!  What if it wasn’t good?  What would I say?  I started to watch it.  I couldn’t believe it!  I was so amazed at how beautiful it was!   I immediately fell in love with him from the beauty of his work.  I thought, “Who is this person?  What an incredible gift he has. What an absolutely amazing vision and cinematic artistry! Over the years, I have realized that everything Simon does is a work of art.  He can make anything look amazingly beautiful, which makes me love him all the more!"

Simon Balderas
Director, Writer, Producer, DOP, Editor

Simon is a Native American film maker. Seasoned and self-directed, creative with the ability to bring complex stories to life with a unique and highly visual affection. He is able to communicate sophisticated concepts into beautiful and consistent visual poetry that utilizes lyrical and emotional conventions. At a very young age, Simon became an adept photographer eventually leading him to study critical film studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara.  His immersive approach has gained him an impressive array of skills that few creatives possess, becoming an accomplished Director/Producer/Writer/Editor/D.O.P.  Over the years, he has demonstrated the ability to deliver projects with extraordinary cinematic results. 

Lori Balderas
Producer, Writer, Casting Director

Lori Balderas is a multifaceted producer with a background ensued with a cultural education and awareness gifted to her by her father, Andrew Bisaccia,  who was a prolific anthropologist, scientist, educator, author and mentor. His worldwide travel included living among the few remaining primitive cultures of our modern world. Lori gained the privilege of living with the Fijian and Samoan peoples in the early 1980's which gave her a perspective of respecting all cultures.

Lori has a background in the modeling and beauty industry which led to her becoming an award winning professional photographer.  This also gives her a keen eye and intuition as a casting director. She also is an interior designer and owned her own home decor company, which gives her a gift of set design on productions.

Lori has enjoyed working side by side on the multitude of commercials, music videos, documentaries and films with her Native American husband, Simon Balderas since they started WonderMouse in 2016.

b. light Productions
 

Buffy Castillo
Entrepeneur, Executive Producer, Casting & Talent Manager

WonderMouse is a proud partner of b. light Productions and Executive Producer Buffy Castillo.  Buffalo the movie is a true story based upon the life of Buffy who is an inspiration to us and many others.

Buffy Castillo is an American Indian Executive producer and a true Los Angeles Native belonging to the Luiseño Tribe who inhabited the coastal region of Southern California and including what has become Los Angeles today. She is also affiliated with the Diegueño and Apache Tribes of North America. Gaining inspiration from her father who was a founder of Candelaria Native American Council serving economically disadvantaged and high-risk American Indian and Native American adults, children and families. Buffy grew up in a very consciously aware household learning the importance of caring for our fellow man from both lines of her family including her mother who also founded a Migrant Child Development Center for migrant worker families. Her life story is told in her feature film project entitled "Buffalo", a poignant recollection of growing up in Southern California as an American Indian woman. It is a unique female-centric film of empowerment, love and forgiveness. Buffy is a contributing member of the Sundance Circle.