Helen Hood Scheer is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, freelance producer, and associate professor at California State University Long Beach, where she spearheads the creative nonfiction track and serves as the internship advisor for students in the Department of Film and Electronic Arts. Throughout her instruction, service, and professional work, Helen is a strong advocate for students. In 2020, she won the Advancement of Women Award from the CSULB President’s Commission on the Status of Women, and both Helen and her students were featured in Claiming the Director’s Chair, an article expressing the CSU’s commitment to preparing the next generation of female filmmakers for California’s multi-billion dollar entertainment industry.
MFA in Documentary Film and Video, Department of Art & Art History
Additional coursework in Stanford’s Business School and Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school)
University of California, Santa Cruz
BA with highest honors in American Studies and a minor in History
Emphasis in Politics and Expressive Culture
Universidad de Madrid, Filosofía A
Emphasis in Spanish language, history and art history
Helen regularly teaches Documentary History and Theory (FEA 380); documentary production courses at the introductory, intermediate, and advanced levels (FEA 381, 382, and 383); Documentary Film Festival & Analysis Experience (FEA 384); and FEA’s internship course (FEA 492). Occasionally, she teaches other courses such as Media Aesthetics (FEA 299). Except in special circumstances, the documentary production courses are only intended for students enrolled in the creative nonfiction track.
Creative Work & Honors
Documentaries that Helen Hood Scheer has directed/produced/shot/edited have screened at over 100 festivals and museums including Hot Docs, Full Frame, True/False, and the National Gallery of Art; she has also worked on documentaries for other directors that have been broadcast on HBO, PBS, ABC, A&E, and National Geographic Television. Past credits include contemporary and historical films on a wide range of topics, from science and sports to arts and politics. She is an alumna of the Sundance Creative Producing Summit and IFP’s Spotlight on Documentaries.
Films Helen directs herself tend to be cinema verité portraits about emotionally complex outsiders who subvert expectations and embody intriguing ambiguities or contradictions. She made her directorial debut with JUMP!—an award-winning documentary feature film about competitive jump rope following kids pursue their dream of becoming world rope skipping champions; it premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival, was acquired by Showtime, broadcast nearly 250 times, and optioned for fictionalization. She also produced, shot, and co-wrote this project, produced an educational outreach campaign, and self-distributes DVDs. Scholastic Media created a 3-minute version for distribution to under-performing schools nationwide. Helen also made several acclaimed documentary shorts, including The Apothecary, which is about a druggist who operates the only pharmacy within a 4,000 square mile radius in the American Southwest while navigating a profound divide between his personal and professional life; it premiered at DOC NYC, won both Special Jury and Special Audience Recognition at Aspen ShortsFest, and the Student Academy Award. Both JUMP! and The Apothecary were selected by the U.S. Department of State as part of the American Film Showcase, a film diplomacy program that travels to American embassies worldwide.
Recently, Helen served as Consulting Producer on For Madmen Only (SXSW premiere), Archival Producer for In Country (Full Frame Film Festival premiere), and as a Consulting Producer on Landfill Harmonic (winner of SXSW's 24 Beats Per Second Award; broadcast on HBO Latino).
Helen is now in the midst of development on her own documentary shorts, consulting on work-in-progress documentary features by other directors, and is the primary producer and sound recordist on Body Parts,
For more info on production credits, awards and honors:
CSULB Special Projects
Helen has won several grants to brings acclaimed filmmakers to campus to screen and discuss their works. She has also created master classes for students with leading cinematographers, editors, and attorneys in the documentary field.
As part of her role as internship advisor, Helen organizes several professional development activities for students each year, including workshops and panel discussions with professionals in the entertainment industry. Additionally, Helen crafted an on-going program for students to attend top documentary film festivals such as Full Frame and True/False with scholarship funding from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
Helen’s students’ films have won the top awards at the CSU Media Arts Festival––including the Jury Award, Audience Award, and several Best Documentary Awards.