DIRECTOR / PRODUCER, Randall Nickerson

Randall Nickerson has been working in the film industry since 1987, first as a stage and film actor and then transitioning into cinematography and ultimately into directing. Nickerson has shot for many news agencies and for several documentary films.


Ariel Phenomenon is his first feature length documentary after much practice in short form documentaries. Nickerson is also a professional commercial and nature photographer who has had highly reviewed galleries in Manhattan and Massachusetts. His photos have also appeared in several books including NY Times Best Seller UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go on the Record. His photography can be viewed here: Nickerson's film, video and photographic production company, String Theory Films, LLC, can be found at

CO-WRITER / STORY EDITOR, Christopher Seward

Christopher Seward is a documentary filmmaker and consultant with over twenty years of experience. He edited Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes and the top grossing documentary in history, as well as Moore's Oscar nominated Sicko - both earning him nods from the American Cinema Editors Guild as Best Documentary Editor of the year. He story-consulted on the 2018 SXSW Grand Jury winning People’s Republic of Desire, and the 2019 Sundance Grand Jury winning One Child Nation. While he continues to do some finish editing he has expanded into Directing as well as Producing, Writing and Supervising for a dozen other directors, applying his talents on films like Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, Wake Up and Fire in the Blood.

EDITOR, Rikk Desgres

Rikk Desgres is a veteran editor and has handled post-production duties for over twenty-five Florentine Films productions including Ken Burns' Emmy-winning Baseball and the Academy Award nominated Wild by Law. Rikk is the founder of Pinehurst Pictures & Sound, where he has continued to do post-production work on award-winning films such as the Emmy-winning documentary Divided Highways. His work can be seen and heard on PBS, ESPN, HBO, Cinemax, and several museums across the U.S. including the F.D.R Library & Museum and the National D-Day Museum.

COMPOSER, Nathaniel Walcott

Nathaniel Walcott is an accomplished musician, composer, and arranger. He has composed the scores for several films including “The Fault in Our Stars”, “Stuck in Love” and “Midnight Sun”. His work has been called thoughtful, emotive and intuitive. Walcott is a member of the band Bright Eyes and the touring pianist and keyboard player for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He has also contributed to the recordings of and performed live with a wide range of artists including U2, Jenny Lewis, First Aid Kit, She and Him, Jason Mraz, The Faint, and Ryan Adams. You can learn more about his work at


Rebecca Rideout

Rebecca Rideout has worked on award-winning PBS-broadcast productions with Florentine Films / Hott Productions, including the American Masters’ programs John James Audubon: Drawn From Nature, and Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America. She co-produced Feeding Frenzy, a feature-length documentary for the Media Education Foundation, and worked on dozens of films for museums and learning centers with Monadnock Media, such as the F.D.R. Presidential Library and GulfQuest: The National Museum of the Gulf of Mexico. Since founding Told Video in 2014 she has produced, shot and edited original storytelling for universities, non-profits, schools and businesses in Western New England.


Anne Krzanowski

Anne Krzanowski has been in the healthcare administrative/management and project management fields for more than twenty years. She has also successfully managed several photographic art exhibits in Massachusetts. For Ariel Phenomenon Krzanowski has served as the main social media liaison, business manager, web developer and crowd funding campaign manager. She has also assisted with editing.


Leslie Kean, Consultant

Leslie Kean is the author of the New York Times bestseller UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go on the Record (Crown/Random House, 2010) and field producer for the 2011 History Channel feature documentary Secret Access: UFOs on the Record based on her book. Kean was also a producer for the James Fox documentary I Know What I Saw.

Dominique Callimanopulos, Executive Producer

Dominique Callimanopulos has a background in Anthropology (BA) and Psychology (M.Ed). She is currently the Founder and President of Elevate Destinations, a sustainable travel company located in Cambridge, MA; Dominique worked with Dr. John Mack in the 1990s, exploring the alien abduction phenomenon internationally. Their travels took them to Australia, Brazil, Europe and Africa where they interviewed and filmed the Ariel School students.


When filmmaker Randall Nickerson first watched the Ariel School student interviews conducted by Dr. John Mack, he was struck by the sincerity and sense of truth demonstrated by the children.

Nickerson traveled to the school, where he began to locate the now-adult students, teachers and other witnesses, scattered around the globe. He has now been to Zimbabwe three times, as well as around the US and UK collecting footage for the film.

As Nickerson began to interview the adult students, it became clear that this story was not over for them. The event continues to have a deep impact on many of their lives. Their courage, conviction and consistency, both then and now, makes it difficult to dismiss this account as a child’s imagination. 

Check out the gallery below to find out more about the process of bringing this film into the world. 



Investigations of The Event

Investigations of The Event

Freelance BBC reporter Tim Leach (top left) was the first reporter on the scene. He contacted Cynthia Hind (top right), journalist and UFO investigator. Local and foreign news media crews, reporters, and TV show producers visited the school. Leach also contacted Dr. John Mack (1929-2004), a Pulitzer Prize-winning Harvard psychiatrist with interest in the UFO phenomena, who flew to Africa to film interviews with the Ariel School students in 1994. J. Mack photo credit: Stuart Conway

Journey to Ariel School

Journey to Ariel School

In 2008, Randall Nickerson traveled for the first time to Ruwa, Zimbabwe to visit Ariel School. Some had said the school was not there, or had burned down, but he found it with the help of one of the original local reporters on the case; he met staff members, teachers, and parents who had been involved with the school and event in 1994.

Research in Africa

Research in Africa

After visiting Ariel School, Randall traveled around southern Africa for over nine months conducting more than a hundred interviews with witnesses - of the Ariel event, and of other sightings from the region during the days leading up to and after September 16, 1994. During this time he acquired names and leads to many key witnesses, many of whom now live around the globe.

In Search of Witnesses

In Search of Witnesses

Since many families left Zimbabwe in the political turmoil in the late ‘90s, Randall tracked them down and traveled to the UK, around the US, and Canada to collect interviews with student witnesses. It was at this time that it was decided to go the more difficult route and have the story told by the people involved with the event, without narration or directorial voice over. While over forty Ariel students and staff were spoken to, some were not willing to speak on camera about the event.

Researching Archival Sources

Researching Archival Sources

Over seven news and investigative teams visited the school in the days, months and years following the event. News articles, archival tapes, TV specials, and other primary sources were collected for use in the film. The film also follows the Harvard Medical School's investigation of Dr. John Mack's work on UFOs, the first academic review of its kind in the 350-year history of the Harvard. Photo credit: The Star, South Africa

Bringing a Witness Back to Ariel

Bringing a Witness Back to Ariel

Randall went to Zimbabwe and Southern Africa twice to collect footage; in 2015, he returned to Zimbabwe with a student witness (seen here with Ariel School staff). The crew included Christopher Seward, co-writer and story editor, along with one of the original reporters to report on the story in 1994.

Post-Production Marathon

Post-Production Marathon

With the help of veteran story editor Christopher Seward (Fahrenheit 911, Sicko, People’s Republic of Desire, One Child Nation), Randall and the edit team worked to make the film take shape from over six hundred hours of raw footage.

Growing Interest

Growing Interest

The event & film has attracted tens of thousands of followers from around the globe. It’s been funded in part by hundreds of individual donors. Randall has appeared at conferences with Ariel student witnesses, and in radio and podcast interviews to spread the word about the event and film.

Coming Soon

Coming Soon

This photo is from the first test theatrical screening; the film has had dozens of review rounds with industry professionals to make it the best it can be. Randall has shared archival information with other productions, such as the upcoming film Phenomenon that features a segment on the Ariel event. This is a big year for the film, so follow us and join our email list for upcoming news.




Martin Willis Interview (with student witness)

2018: "Stuff They Don't Want You To Know" 

2018: MUFON Presentation (with student witness)

2018: Interview at McMenamin Festival

2018: The Richard Dolan Show

2017: The "What If?" Podcast

2017: Reddit AMA (with student witness

2017: The Unexplained with Howard Hughes

2017: Martin Willis Interview

2017: Coast to Coast with George Knapp





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