Emmy honors keep coming for filmmaker Chris Schueler ’78

Chris Schueler

Chris Schueler ’78, winner of 20 Emmys for documentaries on societal issues, said lifetime achievement awards often go to people “at the tail end of their careers.” But he has no intention of slowing down.

Schueler recently was inducted into the Rocky Mountain Emmy Silver Circle for his filmmaking excellence. The organization honors television professionals who have made significant contributions to the industry for 25 or more years in New Mexico (where Schueler lives), Arizona, Utah, and parts of California and Texas.

“A lot of talented people have received this honor, so I am truly standing on the shoulders of giants,” Schueler said. “This recognition inspires me to continue to make documentaries on important issues.”

His most recent work titled “Vaccination from the Misinformation Virus” focuses on the success of COVID-19 vaccines while exploring common media falsehoods and anti-science narratives.

Schueler’s previous work includes the opioid crisis, global warming, vaping, homelessness, teen pregnancy and other topics.

“Chris really gets excited when he is able to connect with audiences on issues that are critical in their lives,” said Dean Butler ’79, a fellow filmmaker and friend from Pacific. Butler was among those who nominated Schueler. “I don’t think it’s a big stretch to say Chris is the most successful documentary producer ever in the state of New Mexico. He has had a very important career influencing the public with his exploration of critical issues.”

Schueler and Butler are dedicated to “paying it forward” in helping student filmmakers—primarily through Pacific’s Media X program. It was not surprising that a Pacific student played a key role in Schueler’s induction into the Silver Circle.

“One of the tasks Chris asked me to take on was the creation of the video that would honor him,” Butler said. “It was very important to him to have student involvement in the project. We talked to professors Kevin Pontuti and Gary Armagnac about nominating a senior to be an editor. They did not hesitate in putting forth Claira Sanborn.”

Sanborn ’23 worked diligently on the video and took part in a “watch party” from campus the night of Schueler’s award ceremony.

In a note to the student, Schueler wrote: “You did a wonderful job. Who would have guessed when you started at Pacific and we did that first Media Mash project that you would now be showing work in front of the Emmy crowd? I would have. We become better when we are surrounded by great people. You have a wonderful group at Pacific (teachers, mentors, lifelong friends) and those connections will carry you throughout your career.” 
Sanborn is grateful for the experience.

“It was a wonderful, high-pressured environment to work in. Chris and Dean both wanted the video to be special, as it was commemorating a lifetime of work,” she said. “Chris provided the tone and backstory, Dean was the producer extraordinaire, and I did the editing, putting it all together in time for the show. My favorite part of the experience was the final production day when the three of us spent half a day in an editing bay at Pacific getting everything polished up and finalized.”

What is next for Schueler? He recently met with the CEO of Ellis Island in New York City and one of the leaders of Angel Island in the Bay Area.

“We are looking at doing something on immigration that will be tied to the past histories of Ellis Island and Angel Island,” Schueler said. “There is a story to be told about those sites and where we are with U.S. immigration today.” 

“There are so many important stories out there to be told. And I am inspired to continue my work.”