Helki Frantzen Cinematographer

Born in the Netherlands, and having moved all over, from Milwaukee to Indonesia, I am most comfortable adapting to new environments and spending time with people from all walks of life. After a year of college, I moved to Hobart, Tasmania, where I worked for five years in the local landfill as a member/owner of a worker cooperative, dodging bulldozers in order to salvage and sell reusable objects, gaining an invaluable education from the school of garbage. I returned to New York to study art at Bard College as a continuing studies student, received my BA and MFA, and made sculptures that facilitated social interactions in public spaces. Eventually I found that the camera I was using to document these interactions was the only prop I needed to explore my interests.

My relationship with people I am filming and with my film crew is especially important to me - I believe photographic images are a record of these relationships. Coming from a photography and visual arts background and having studied with teachers such as Stephen Shore, I am also drawn to the compositional and framing aspects of cinematography; for me the act of filming is often a meditative experience, a way to be in the present, get to know people and see beauty all around us.

After 10 years of working for media arts and education organizations (including the Center for Urban Pedagogy, NYC Parks & Recreation, CUNY, and Adobe Youth Voices) as a video and writing instructor, and making collaborative educational documentaries, I now work primarily as a documentary cinematographer. Currently I am based in Los Angeles, and have been working as DP on various documentary projects (for directors such as Joanna Sokolowski and Kate Trumbull-LaValle, Mikaela Shwer, Sara Newens amongst others), as well as regularly filming programming for Southern California’s local PBS station, KCET.

I am drawn to places of genuine community and ways that people practice getting together, and found myself a part of a community of dance roller skaters in Los Angeles, threatened by the extinction of their gathering spaces. To honor this culture, I began co-directing L.A. Roll, a feature length documentary (now in post-production) that explores the culture and people who surround the Los Angeles area roller skating community and how these diverse groups of individuals are brought together by their love of skating. 

View Resume