about Helen De Michiel

I am an independent film and media maker. (link to wikipedia)

Since 1983 my work has ranged from film and television to media installation and transmedia projects. I’ve made award-winning documentary and fiction works, produced programming for public television and created community media projects with youth. My films and video works are included in several museums around the country, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

My most recently completed project is the episodic transmedia documentary Lunch Love Community, that explores the story of how the citizens of Berkeley came together to change school food and launch a movement.

I also write about issues in public media and the arts. I am working on a new book project about how the deeply-rooted values of the media arts have a central role to play in the changing digital era.

From 1996 – 2010 I  was the National Director and Co-Director for The National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture, and from 2002-2007 I served on the Board of Directors  for The George F. Peabody Awards for Electronic Media.

I have my MFA in film and visual arts from the University of California, San Diego. Most recently, I have been Visiting Scholar at the University of Oregon, and will join the new Dept. of Critical Media Practices at The University of Colorado in January 2016.

I study Spanish every day, lift kettlebells and take care of my family in Albany, California. My favorite quote now is what Leo Lerman said about Maria Callas…”the most haunting voice I have ever heard, filled with lost joys, permeated with present despairs.”



Services and Offerings

documentary producer/producer/writer
Collaborating with individuals and organizations to create and circulate stories for theatrical, broadcast and the web.

creative consulting
Clarifying narratives, search for funding resources, identify approach and solutions for all phases of a media-based project.

interactive media strategy
Transforming ideas and stories into expressive media that spreads across platforms to connect with participants and audiences.

community engagement
Planning and creating strategies for deep community engagement and dialogues using media stories and tools.

workshops and speaking
Designing and implementing workshops and presentations on creating value in an abundant media environment. Themes include transmedia storytelling, open space documentary, and mapping participatory media and public engagement processes.


selected awards, publications, shows
A Closer Look book series [NAMAC]
Berlin Film Festival
Bush Foundation Arts Fellowship
California Humanities Commission
Cinema Pacific Film Festival
Deep Focus – The Future of Independent Media [NAMAC]
Digital Directions [NAMAC]
The Documentary Film Book
Fledgling Fund
The Exploratorium Artist Residency
Golden Gate Award, San Francisco International Film Festival
Independent Television Service
Jerome Foundation
Minnesota Humanities Commission
National Endowment for the Arts
National Science Foundation
Rockefeller Foundation Intercultural Fellowship
San Francisco Foundation
San Francisco Green Film Festival
Walker Art Center Artist Residency
Wexner Center for the Arts Artist Residency


completed works
Lunch Love Community (2014) the story of how the citizens of Berkeley came together to change school food and launch a movement in twelve short episodes. Online “watch and share” project circulating online, now in distribution with Bullfrog Films. Documentary, 78 min.

The Gender Chip Project (2006) A multi-layered portrait of five young women at Ohio State University over their four years of college training to enter into STEM fields. Documentary, 54 min. In distribution with Women Make Movies.

Paying Attention (2003) The urban landscape experienced through the senses of young artists and scientists working at San Francisco’s Exploratorium. Artist residency, participatory media project and gallery media installation, 20 min.

Tarantella (1995) A humorous yet darkly emotional story of a young Italian-American woman estranged from her family and her past. Returning home to her changing ethnic neighborhood, she uncovers hidden truths of her own history as she pieces together an extraordinary tale of family secrets, murder and unspoken love. Drama, 86 min. In distribution with Bonneville Entertainment.

The Listening Project (1994) This site-specific media installation created for the Walker Art Center, captures the deeply felt observations of fifteen high school students as they reflect upon contemporary art as a tool for self-discovery. Artist residency, participatory media project and gallery media installation, 20 min.

Turn Here, Sweet Corn (1990) An essay that traces the loss of a rural community and organic family farm to expanding urbanization. Documentary, 57 min. In distribution with Media Working Group.

Cyborg Alice (1990) A blend of woman and machine, sci-fi technology and Alice in Wonderland, the being of the title is perhaps as-imagined in the viewers own mind as she or he absorbs the evidence of this space, in which a female cyborg might live or workMulti-media gallery installation, Intermedia Arts of Minnesota.

Consider Anything, Only Don’t Cry (1988) A poetic video essay taking the form of a series of letters from the artist addressed to herself, a child, and the audience. Mixing performance styles, sound design and documentary, the piece is an elegiac reflection on the sense of home, memory/personal history, and the mid western landscape. Experimental, 22 min. In distribution with Women Make Movies.

And One And One And One (1984) A three-part video adaptation of short plays by Gertrude Stein (Identity, A Poem, A Circular Play, A Saint in Seven). A       collaboration with choreographer Laurie Van Wieren, this performance poem blends dance, original music/vocals, and stylized acting into a distinctive interpretation of Stein’s exuberant poetry. Drama, 37 min. In distribution with Video Data Bank.



selected essays

Documentary As Open Space
Hacking the Policy Space
Like Water Over Rocks
What I Think About When I Look At This Labor of Lunch
Like Mother Like Daughter
Sharing In The Gift Ecology
Sharing Food, Shaping Policy
Making A Living
Blending An Emulsion: Part One
Blending An Emulsion: Part Two
Contained Abundance
Jumping Fences – A Day In October
Beautiful Imperfections
Jamie Oliver Provokes
Finding Water
Eating With My Eyes
Break It, Stretch It, Bend It, Crush It, Crack It, Fold It
A Mosaic of Practices: Public Media and Participatory Culture
Next President Should Launch The Digital New Deal
Food Chains: Harsh Reality, Smooth Delivery
Engaging Ethics and Social Media
Slow Film
Open Space Documentary: A Working Guide Trend Paper



contact information


Helen De Michiel
1602 Marin Avenue
Albany, CA.  94707

Helen De Michiel

Producer     Director     Writer

Interactive Media Strategy

Collaboration (where we start)   Community  (what we build)   Conversation (what kinds to inspire)   Context (dynamic, fluid)   Complexity (always a given)   Circularity (responsive, interdependent)   Continuum (big picture)   Composting (ideas, methods practices into the new)