Michael J. Epstein

Michael J. Epstein (born 1976), is an American filmmaker, musician, writer, and auditory scientist. Epstein has also spoken and written about the impact of local media on the arts, music service gatekeeping, effective social networking, and crowdfunding.

Michael J. Epstein
Born1976 (age 4243)
Alma materNortheastern University
OccupationArtist, filmmaker, writer, actor, songwriter, musician
Spouse(s)Sophia Cacciola
WebsiteMichael J. Epstein

Early life and education

Epstein was born in Smithtown, New York. His father is author Lawrence J. Epstein. Epstein grew up in Stony Brook, New York.[1] and was raised Jewish.[2]

Epstein comes from a technical background, but shifted toward creative work, saying he, "was building electronics projects and writing adventure games on my VIC-20 in gradeschool... [and] started seeing a lot of commonality between all of this creative work and my more formal training in electrical engineering as my creative skills advanced."[3]

Epstein received a BS in electrical engineering from Binghamton University[4] and a PhD in electrical and computer engineering in 2004 from Northeastern University and joined the audiology faculty there in 2005.[5] Epstein became a tenured professor at the university,[6][7] studying psychoacoustics, loudness, auditory electrophysiology, and sound design before leaving Boston in 2016 to pursue full-time filmmaking.[8][9][10]



Epstein, in collaboration with his wife, Sophia Cacciola, has directed four feature films: TEN, Magnetic, Blood of the Tribades and Clickbait.[11] The pair are focused on creating sociopolitical genre films.[12][13] Their film Clickbait started playing at festivals in 2018.[14]

Epstein describes his process for creating films as thematic. Discussing his first feature TEN, he noted, "We really wanted to expand typical characterization themes of using shortcuts and stereotypes to touch on the broader narrative of the film. Because the film is about the arbitrary meaninglessness of identity, we wanted to recontextualize the film itself repeatedly by shifting tone and genre."[15] Michael Gingold of Fangoria described TEN saying, "it veers off in directions you likely won't see coming, both in narrative terms and in the way it explores questions of female identity.”[16] Lauren Shiro of Curve wrote, "the movie takes on a political and sociological stance, examining stereotypes, identity, and also the subtext and themes behind story lines." [17]

Epstein has directed Artsploitation's A Taste of Phobia[18], Troma's Grindsploitation[19], and the 60 Seconds to Die series.[20][21]

Epstein has collaborated with monochrom's Johannes Grenzfurthner[22], Izzy Lee, Ungovernable Films[23][24], Troma[25], and Tanya Pearson of the Women of Rock Oral History Project.[26][14]


Epstein has played in indie bands, including The Motion Sick, Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling, The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library, Darling Pet Munkee, and Neutral Uke Hotel.[27][28]

The Motion Sick, featuring Epstein on guitar and vocals, were featured as the band of the month in 2006 in SPIN Magazine[29] and were selected as the best unsigned band in Boston by commercial radio station WFNX during the Last Band Standing competition.[30] They also won The Boston Phoenix Best Local Band 2009.[31]

Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling, featuring Epstein on bass, were awarded the 6th most creative video of 2011 in TIME Magazine.[32]

The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library, with Epstein on guitar and vocals, was selected as a CBS best rock band.[33] The band has focused on collaborations, including an original rock ballet at Dorchester's Strand Theatre with BalletRox,[34] Art-Exchange: a collaboration with artists to write songs based on visual works and create visual works based on songs, 37 songs to celebrate speakers at TEDxSomerville and a three-season run as the house band on the franchised Encyclopedia Show.[35] The band was part of a documentary created by Berklee College Pulse to showcase different processes for songwriting.[36][37]

Epstein also plays in Darling Pet Munkee, a band that writes garage-rock songs about items sold in comic books[38][39][40] and kindie band, Space Balloons,[41][42] focusing on children's songs about out-of-place aliens obsessed with moustaches and Kurt Vonnegut.[43]


Epstein was a professor of Audiology/Bioengineering/Communication Sciences and Disorders at Northeastern University from 2005 to 2016. He studied loudness and auditory physiology and has more than 40 published articles and abstracts.[44] He co-authored the Oxford University Press Handbook of Auditory Sciences chapter on Loudness.[45] His PLOS ONE 2016 article, "Toward a differential diagnosis of hidden hearing loss in humans"[46] was featured in The Wall Street Journal[47] and Scientific American.[48] It helped explain why many people with normal hearing struggle to hear in noisy situations.


Epstein has written short stories in the anthology "The Unnaturals" as part of Hydra Publications' Dystopian Express [49] and a crowdfunding guidebook for the In 30 Minutes series,[50] which was a finalist in the Foreword INDIES competition[51] and the Independent Publishers of New England Book Awards.[52]

Epstein has written articles for the starter filmmaking site, Filmmaking Fool.[53]


Together with Sophia Cacciola, Epstein was awarded an art residency with monochrom at Museumsquartier in Vienna, Austria in autumn 2017.[54] He created Nothen für die Tothen, an interactive music art installation for Roboexotica.[55]

Epstein also created sound collage art under the name "M-sli©k da ninjA"[56] and was involved with The Droplift project[57][58], for which CDs with copyright-violating samples were reverse-shoplifted onto store shelves[59][60], Dictionaraoke[61][62][63], songs created with vocals by dictionary readings of words, and the Beethoven Reclamation Society, a piece in which many artists each recreated a segment of Beethoven's 9th Symphony using sound collaging.[64]

Personal life

Epstein is married to filmmaker and artist Sophia Cacciola.[65] He resides in Los Angeles.


  1. Rice, Lewis. "Music to His Ears". Northeastern Alumni Magazine.
  2. "Four Questions with Musician Michael J. Epstein". Jewish Boston.
  3. "Michael J. Epstein [Interview]". Trainwreckdsociety.com. 16 October 2017. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  4. "Northeastern University Alumni Magazine feature". Numag.neu.edu.
  5. "Northeastern University Alumni Magazine feature". Numag.neu.edu.
  6. "Creepy Sounds in Modern Film". Northeastern University.
  7. "Meet Michael J. Epstein of Launch Over in Hollywood". Voyage LA.
  8. "Musical artist is leaving for LA; just no future in Boston area". Universalhub.com.
  9. "Financial strains, limited options for artists push powerhouse creatives out of the area". Cambridgeday.com.
  10. "Longtime Fixtures in the Boston Arts Scene Explain Why They're Leaving Town". Bostonmagazine.com.
  11. "CLICKBAIT - Without Your Head". Withoutyourhead.com. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  12. "Erotic vampire movie BLOOD OF THE TRIBADES sees release". Rue-morgue.com.
  14. "Meet Michael J. Epstein of Launch Over in Hollywood". Voyagela.com.
  15. "(re)Search my Trash". Searchmytrash.com. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  16. "TEN in Fangoria issue 335". Blog.michaeljepstein.com.
  17. Shiro, Lauren. "No One Is Who They Seem. Not Even You". Curvemag.ocm. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  18. "Artsploitation Films Gets A TASTE OF PHOBIA". Screamfix.com. 24 March 2018. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  19. ""Grindsploitation 2: The Lost Reels" COMING SOON! from Troma Entertainment, Inc.!". myemail.constantcontact.com. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  20. "Official Trailer For 60 SECONDS TO DIE Is Now Out! - Horror Society". Horrorsociety.com. 13 September 2016. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  21. "Horror Anthology "60 Seconds To Die" hits DVD, December 5!". Screenanarchy.com. 28 November 2017. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  22. "Vienna Round-Up! Our adventures in Austria in November". Blog.mikeandsophia.com. 17 January 2018. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  23. "TWS Week of Horror Day 2: Paul M. McAlarney [Interview]". Trainwreckedsociety.com. 24 October 2016. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  24. "UNGOVERNABLE FILMS - the ungovernable force". Ungovernablefilms.com. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  25. "Michael J. Epstein [Interview]". Trainwreckedsociety.com. 16 October 2017. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  26. "Volunteer Staff". Women of Rock. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  27. "Putting The Uke In Neutral Milk Hotel". radioboston.legacy.wbur.org. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  28. "Concert Review: Neutral Uke Hotel at Brighton Music Hall in Allston, MA". Theywillrockyou.com. 22 April 2011. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  29. "SPIN Magazine". Spin.com.
  30. "Last Band Standing". Thenoise-boston.com.
  31. "Boston Phoenix". Zedequalszee.com.
  32. "Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling "Episode 1: Arrival" - 6th most creative video of the 2011 in TIME". Content.time.com.
  33. "CBS Boston's Best Local Rock Bands". Boston.cbsllocal.com.
  34. "The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library & BalletRox Saturday night soiree – musings from boston". Bostonsurvivalguide.net. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  35. Dellatto, Marisa. "The Encyclopedia Show Brings Music, Mirth and Madness to the Davis Square Theatre - Scout Somerville". scoutsomerville.com. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  36. "Banded: Behind the Making of a Song - Berklee College of Music". Berklee.edu. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  37. "Berklee Grove: "What Happens When 5 Boston Bands Bare Their Creative Souls to a Berklee Film Crew?"". Berkleegroove.com. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  38. "Darling Pet Munkee / Boing Boing". Boing Boing. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  39. "DARLING PET MUNKEE…It's A Band Based On Old Ads Found In the Back of Comics…You're Gonna Like Them". Forcesofgeek.com. 2 July 2012. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  40. "DOCTERROR.COM". Docterror.com. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  41. "Somerville media monarchs float toward children's TV with 'Space Balloons' songs - Cambridge Day". Cambridgeday.com. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  42. "An artistic tribute to Kurt Vonnegut Jr". Thesomervilletimes.com. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  43. "Google Scholar Profile of Epstein". Scholar.google.com.
  44. "Oxford Handbook of Auditory Science: Hearing". Oxfordhandbooks.com.
  45. "Toward a differential diagnosis of hidden hearing loss in humans". Journals.plos.org.
  46. "Can't Hear in Noisy Places? It's a Real Medical Condition". Wsj.com.
  47. "Can You Hear Me Now? Detecting Hidden Hearing Loss in Young People". Scientificamerican.com.
  48. "Google Books". Books.google.com. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  49. "Crowdfunding book - Crowdfunding Basics In 30 Minutes". Crowdfunding Basics In 30 Minutes. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  50. "Crowdfunding Basics In 30 Minutes is a finalist in the Foreword INDIES competition - In 30 Minutes Guides". In30minutes.com. 27 March 2018. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  51. "Independent Publishers of New England - 2017 IPNE Book Award Winners". Ipne.org. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  52. "Michael J. Epstein". Filmmaking Fool. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  53. "Q21". MuseumsQuartier Wien. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  54. "MQ Journal". MuseumsQuartier Wien. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  55. "M-sli©k da ninjA: Aphorisms on Aphonia and Aphasia: Your Cure For Aphagia (A Collection of 39 Works 1994 – 2000)". Blog.mikeandsophia.com. 12 February 2011. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  56. "Free Music Archive: Various Artists [Droplift] - The Droplift Project". freemusicarchive.org. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  57. "The Droplift Project". Web.archive.org. 25 November 2005. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  58. "Shopdropping aka Droplifting: Guide to Reverse Shoplifting". Weburbanist.com. 27 December 2007. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  59. Hilburn, Matt. "Shoplifting in Reverse". Chicagoreader.com. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  60. "Wayback Machine". Web.archive.org. 2 June 2006. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  61. "Dictionaraoke". Npr.org. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  62. "Dictionaraoke". Wired.com. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  63. "The Beethoven Reclamation Society presents The Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125". Blog.mikeandsophia.com. 24 May 2017. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
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