Theo Schear

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Theo Anthony Schear
Kauai005 copy.jpg
Schear in 2017
Born (1991-10-11) October 11, 1991 (age 26)
Oakland, California, U.S.
Alma mater University of Michigan
Occupation Media Specialist

Theo Anthony Schear (born October 11, 1991) is a trilingual media professional from Oakland, California, United States. As a filmmaker, he is best known for Open Letter, a found footage documentary about R&B singer Frank Ocean. Schear has produced several commercials starring his 6-year-old niece Eloise including a Brita commercial featuring NBA superstar Stephen Curry[1] and his work on The ReDream Project earned him the rare honor of a Mid-America Emmy for Program Promo - Single Spot or Campaign.[2] Schear received a BA in Screen Arts & Cultures from the University of Michigan and was a member of Detroit Public Television's prestigious National Documentary Unit, where he served as Media Producer for the Detroit Journalism Cooperative. He is currently a Media Specialist for San Francisco-based non-profit PhotoWings and a credentialed film critic for Oakland-based collective REELYDOPE.

Early life[edit]

Schear was born in Kaiser Oakland Medical Center and grew up off Fruitvale Avenue before moving to Crocker Highlands at the age of five. His father is an attorney who represents whistleblower doctors and his mother is a sculptor. Schear was involved in a variety of athletic and artistic activities from a young age and enjoyed a busy social life throughout his childhood.

Family[edit]

Schear’s mother Sigrid Herr moved from Germany to California in the 1980s to chase dreams of The Beach Boys and open-mindedness. His father Stephen Schear, who had a knack for stained glass, followed his sister from Ohio to The University of Michigan to the Bay Area. Stephen had a daughters with two mothers at a young age, leading him to attend law school at Boalt School of Law. Schear’s older half-sister Tierra Del Forte is a fashion designer who has worked for multiple ethically-inclined apparel companies. Her discontinued clothing line, Del Forte Denim, was featured in Vogue magazine and worn by Cameron Diaz. Her husband Jesse Simons is the National Program Director for The Sierra Club. Schear’s younger half-sister Rio Govea, whose maternal family was closely involved with Cesar Chavez and the National Farm Workers Association, lived on a Buddhist retreat center for ten years before attending school for occupational therapy. His cousin Alan Berg initiated the concept of Double Fortified Salt, adding iron as well as iodine to common salt, with the aim of reducing iron deficiency anemia without requiring changes in dietary practices. Berg is credited with saving millions of lives through his work.

Education[edit]

Schear on Olympic Media Stage. Rio de Janeiro, 2013

Schear attended Park Day School in Oakland until transferring to the Head-Royce School for 7th grade. Although Park Day School does not give out grades, Schear always received high marks on academic assessment forms. During high-school, Schear attended an arts program at The Oxbow School in Napa, CA where he received rigorous training in painting and photography. Post-high-school, Schear attended the University of Michigan where he became acquainted with Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist and professor David C. Turnley. His final project in Turnley's class was a photo book about Stephanie Hunt, Mrs. United States 2007 ("the premier pageant for married women"). Schear worked closely with Turnley for several years, editing videos for his speaking engagements[3] and trailers for his documentaries.[4] It is widely understood that Turnley inspired Schear to pursue a career in visual storytelling, first as a photojournalist and later as a documentary filmmaker. As a freshman, Schear won a Fair Trade USA video contest with a film titled Outsourced.[5]

Schear spent a semester abroad in Rio de Janeiro studying Brazilian cinema and served as a PA for the local BBC office. As a student in Ann Arbor, Schear worked as a Video Producer for the James Duderstadt Media Library and as a Visual Effects Specialist for Giant Eel Productions, where he worked on music videos, commercials and short films. During his senior year, Schear was commissioned by fellow student and future Gizmodo Producer Zoe Stahl to direct a short film on redlining, which was awarded the TED Prize at TEDxUofM.[6] During his final semester, Schear and former partner Jordan Barse founded the Dicken Elementary Afterschool Filmmaking Program, in which he facilitated the production of Kids Are Better Than Adult Men (No Offense), a film written, directed, and acted out by 2nd-5th graders.

Career[edit]

Ann Arbor[edit]

Still from unreleased Rooms music video

In his final semester, Schear contributed to an independent theatrical production by Ellen Sachs and Jacob Axelrod titled Doing White Nights,[7] where he met future collaborators Gabriel Mizrahi Wilk and Peter Littlejohn. Wilk and Littlejohn would go on to form a band called Rooms, for which Schear played a major, although non-musical role. Schear lived with members of the band for several months and documented every public performance along with many hours of rehearsal and behind-the-scenes action. Schear and Littlejohn also produced a series of live music videos called Live in Peter's Attic.

Detroit[edit]

The Ethanol Effect crew

Schear’s first job after college was with the National Documentary Unit at Detroit Public Television. As a Media Producer, Schear was responsible for shooting, editing and producing short segments while managing Doc Unit media and archiving. Schear produced segments on a variety of subjects including Jim Johnson of Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources, Alvin Ailey dancer Tsehaya Smith, and Juan Atkins, “the originator” of techno. Schear served as Associate Producer of The Ethanol Effect, an hour-long special examining the human, environmental and political costs of growing and refining corn for ethanol in America hosted by Scientific American editor David Biello. Schear also worked on external projects such as ReDream, which won a Mid-America Emmy for Best Program Promo - Single Spot or Campaign (Non-News).

Outside of the National Documentary Unit, Schear served as Director of Photography on various projects for Washington D.C.-based production company Spark Media and as Camera Assistant for Oscar-nominated cinematographer Eric Saarinen on the production of the PBS American Masters production, The Architect Who Saw The Future. Schear also returned to California for the product of Drive Green With Eloise, a web-exclusive promotional video for Ford, SunPower and The Sierra Club.

San Francisco[edit]

In the fall of 2016, Schear and his former partner Lauren Iverson moved back to the Bay Area and lived with his parents. During the first few months, Schear and Iverson produced a promotional video for Yuba City-based company Iverson Orthodontics.

A Wine & Bowties function

In early 2017, Schear began working as a Video Producer for PhotoWings, a non-profit promoting photography as a means for social change. Schear also produces content for Oakland-based culture publication Wine & Bowties including subjects such as Syd,[8] Mannie Fresh and DJ Dodger Stadium.[9] Despite having moved back to the Bay Area, Schear still contributes work to Ann-Arbor based creative groups including the Threads All Arts Festival team and Anya Klapischak's The Hosting. He also shoots and produces short videos for the Gizmodo Media Group (formerly Gawker Media Group) websites such as Kotaku and Deadspin.

During a secret show at RS94109 headlined by Spanish experimental electronic composer Nicolas Jaar, Schear spontaneously collaborated with Jaar by casting his shadow onto the performer from the other side of the folding table.[10] In July 2017, Schear leaked a clip from an alternate music video for M.O.B. by Bay Area rapper Husalah.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Photograph of Tokyo by Alexander Aguiar, processed and scanned by Theo Schear

Schear lives in the Nob Hill neighborhood of San Francisco and leads a fruitful and saturated lifestyle, often attending cultural events after work and on the weekends. Schear's most frequent leisure activities include screenings of arthouse and experimental films (most commonly at The Roxie, SFMOMA and the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive), Golden State Warriors basketball games, and live music events. Schear has attended darkroom photography classes at Rayko Photo Center, and is believed to work out of a darkroom in his parents basement. It is rumored that Schear has processed negatives for Under Armour photographer Alexander Aguiar including his first ever roll of analog film, which holds images of Tom Brady holding the Lombardi Trophy on the Great Wall of China. Although he is not a vegetarian, his favorite food is tofu.

Rio de Janeiro[edit]

While studying in Brazil for six months, Schear worked with Ives Cesar and Casa Branca Models such as Amanda Fenelon and Mari Saldanha. According to popular legend, Schear partied with Magnum photographer David Alan Harvey and attended bi-monthly ceremonies at Ceu Do Mar, an indigenous/Christian syncretic church located in the mountains of Rio de Janeiro. It is believed that these ceremonies involved the consumption of ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic blend of plants often referred to as “the spirit vine”. Although there is legal amnesty for the use of ayahuasca in religious contexts in Brazil and in Oregon, United States, the substance is considered a schedule 1 drug by the majority of the world’s governing bodies. Schear has described the experience as “transformative”.

Costa Rica[edit]

During a vacation to Costa Rica in 2007, the Schear’s connected with a local family based in Nicoya, Guanacaste Province. The connection lead Schear’s father Stephen to return to the region on several occasions, eventually resulting in the construction of a house shared by the Schear’s and the Briceño family. Schear is thought to be a supporter of local futbol club Deportivo Saprissa, but has also been seen cheering for rival team Liga Deportiva Alajuelense.

Volvos[edit]

Schear is a dedicated Volvo enthusiast and has owned four Volvo’s to date. In 2013, he traveled by train to Virginia to buy an automatic 1973 Volvo P1800 ES, one of only a couple thousand ever made. His devotion to the P1800 ES was inspired by his mother who talked to him about the P1800 ES, her dream car, at a young age. Schear was a member of the Bay Area Volvo Club and a contributor to Volvo magazine. According to an article he wrote about the journey to buy the P1800 ES, Schear purchased the vehicle from a convicted cocaine kingpin. The car broke down twice along the way, yet he managed to make it to his parent’s house in Oakland, CA by Thanksgiving day.[12]

Screen[edit]

In 2015 Schear designed Screen, an iOS mobile app for movies featuring showtimes, trailers, watchlists and other movie info. Although Schear entered negotiations with Gathr, a "technology-based specialty theatrical distributor for documentaries and issues-oriented films", talks fizzled out quickly.

Pseudonyms[edit]

Schear as Gabrielle Martinez De Souza in "This Is Real Because I Say So"
Schear as Destiny Robbins in Kids Kidz Bay's "Destiny's Dancing Furniture"
Schear as Black Leather Jesus in Joel Rakowski's "Black Leather Jesus"

Schear has produced work under pseudonyms such as Destiny Robbins and Gabrielle Martinez De Souza, most notably a short film titled This Is Real Because I Say So. As Destiny Robbins, Schear guest starred in Destiny's Dancing Furniture by Los Angeles-based art duo Kids Kidz Bay. Schear has also played the role of Jesus Christ in Joel Rakowski's Black Leather Jesus.

OG Thunder[edit]

In 2017, Schear resurrected the Golden State Warriors retired mascot Thunder, appearing in public as “OG Thunder”, the geriatric equivalent. OG Thunder’s return was first reported by notable sports gossip writer Terez Owens.[13] [14]

Tattoos[edit]

As of July 2017, Schear is known to have two tattoos. The larger is a drawing by his niece Eloise on his upper left arm in the style of a Crayola crayon. The interpretation of the design is fluid, but the artist has described the tattoo as a whale with coral in a pink ocean and as a figurative representation of Schear himself. The smaller tattoo is a crescent moon on the left side of his rib cage. The moon symbol is believed to represent an affiliation with a cult, but reliable information about the nature of the cult has not been publicized.

Art Collection[edit]

Dennis Wornick's School Bus

The Schear Collection includes early works by several of his most prodigious contemporaries. Most notable are a print by Laturbo Avedon and paintings from the studios of Dennis Wornick, Tyler Finnie, and Brem Finnie.

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Client / Distribution Credit
2016 Go Water With Eloise Brita Water Filters / NBC, NBA TV Producer
2016 The Ethanol Effect [15] PBS World Associate Producer
2016 Scattering CJ Spark Media Director of Photography
2015 Drive Green With Eloise Ford / SunPower / The Sierra Club Director
2015 What's To Love? University of Michigan Residential College Director
2015 PBS American Masters: The Architect Who Saw The Future Peter Rosen / Eric Saarinen Camera Assistant
2014 Redlined'' Boundaries, Tensions, Integrations, Venice, CA (2014)
Cinetopia International Film Festival (2014) [16]
TEDx : University of Michigan (2014)
Director
2013 Selfie Windsor International Film Festival (2013) Director
2012 Open Letter Comcast Xfinity ON DEMAND Greater Boston Region

Toronto Student Film Festival (2013)
Frameline37: San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival (2013)[17]
Boston LGBT Film Festival (2013)
Queer Lisboa Film Festival (2013)[18]
Tampa International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival (2013)
Czech QFF MEZIPATRA (2013)[19]
Reeling31: The Chicago LGBT International Film Festival (2013)

Director
2011 Theo Lakeshorts International Film Festival (2011) Director

Awards[edit]

Year Film Festival Category
2013 Open Letter Toronto Student Film Festival Best Documentary
2013 Open Letter Tampa International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival Best Of The Fest
2014 Redlined TEDxUofM TED Prize

Music videos[edit]

Still from Coitus Interruptus
Song Artist Year
Overloaded LIL KIDS 2013
Coitus Interruptus LIL KIDS 2012
World So Cold Dubb 20 2011

References[edit]

External links[edit]