A&E

Stanford filmmakers awarded by Academy

Alumni of MFA documentary program take home gold and silver

A pair of Stanford alumni have claimed the top two prizes in the documentary category at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' 2014 Student Academy Awards.

At the award ceremony, held June 7, Helen Hood Scheer took home gold for "The Apothecary," which followed a pharmacist living in a remote region of the American Southwest; J. Christian Jensen won silver for "White Earth," an exploration of the North Dakota oil boom told through the eyes of the children living there. Both are recent graduates of the Stanford's MFA program in documentary filmmaking. The two went through the program together, producing their award-winning pieces as thesis projects.

Scheer said it makes sense that she and Jensen would take gold and silver in the documentary category.

"The Stanford program has a reputation as being the best program in the country," she said, going on to explain that her professors pushed her and her classmates to be the best that they could be.

By way of example, she recalled the first project she was assigned: shooting a six-minute documentary with only 15 minutes worth of film -- as in actual film, not space on a hard drive. Being limited by the amount of film she had forced Scheer to plan meticulously, something that has been lost since the advent of digital video, she explained. When the amount of footage a director can take is essentially limitless, it creates the temptation to go into a project without a clear vision.

"They really challenged me to know what I was doing from a very early point in the process," she said.

Jensen agreed.

"I'm a huge champion of the program," he said, citing similar reasons as his former classmate. "It's a highly structured program. The structure lends itself to your ability to not only do well with your film but also make several films within a very short period of time."

Scheer said it was a "fantastic" feeling to take home the gold. Likewise, Jensen was elated to claim silver.

"I was pretty stoked about it," he said.

However, both added, winning the award meant so much more, in practical terms, than bragging rights. In the week leading up to the award ceremony, Scheer, along with Jensen and third-place winner Zijian Mu of NYU, participated in series of meetings with various guilds -- the directors', screenwriters', cinematographers' -- and power brokers in the film industry. All of this, according to Scheer and Jensen, was inspiring and is likely to come in handy as they both continue to pursue documentary filmmaking.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by randy albin
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 11, 2014 at 1:50 pm

this is tough going for documentaries and filmmakers to excel in this way. hats off to some fine entries. producer gale ann hurd attended Stanford. there are some who actually become successful. the Stanford dept. of communication is widely known and produces some great talent. congratulations and keep on with this kind of production, thanks


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Flirtation
By Chandrama Anderson | 4 comments | 1,550 views

King of the Slides
By Cheryl Bac | 4 comments | 1,191 views

Standardized Test Prep: When to Start and Whom to Hire?
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 764 views

The Future of our Parks: Public Workshops this Week
By Cathy Kirkman | 0 comments | 591 views

NO MEAT ATHLETE Workout/Running Group
By Max Greenberg | 2 comments | 566 views