Scott Hamilton Kennedy



  • Director
  • Writer

Program Years

  • Directing Lab 2005
  • Fast Track 2005


Academy Award nominee Scott Hamilton Kennedy is a writer, director, producer, cameraman, and editor and has worked on everything from music videos and commercials to motion capture animation, scripted and reality television, and fiction and non-fiction film. Kennedy's documentary The Garden was nominated for a 2009 Academy Award for Best Documentary feature. It tells the story of the South Central Community Garden, the largest of its kind in the U.S., and its complicated struggle for survival. It premiered at the prestigious AFI Silverdocs film festival where it won best documentary and went on to win other awards (Florida and Camden FF, MMPA Diversity Award) and garner rave reviews from the likes of Kenneth Turan of the L.A. Times: "Excellent! Its lessons about the levers of power and politics, and how easy it is to get co-opted, are relevant everywhere. The Garden is a potent human drama." Kennedy's journey as a filmmaker began at Skidmore College, where he majored in theater with a concentration in directing. He was a DJ for the college radio station WSPN and spent his junior year abroad in London. Soon after graduating, Kennedy moved to New York City where he went from a P.A. and A.D. on music videos to directing his first video for Def Jam artist Nikki D, which garnered him a Gold Prize at The Houston Film Festival. This was followed by several number-one internationally aired music videos including Jimmy Cliff's remake of "I Can See Clearly Now." Kennedy went on to establish himself as a director of music videos, commercials, and promos for clients ranging from Tony Bennett to CBS and Mattel. He directed second unit on the Showtime movies Last Exit to Earth and Sea Wolf. Kennedy then had the unique opportunity of being hired by low-budget legend Roger Corman to direct four TV features, each shot in six days. Kennedy's debut documentary, OT: our town, tells the underdog story of the staging of the first play in twenty years at Dominguez High in Compton, California, and their attempt to produce Thornton Wilder's Our Town. OT screened and won awards at some of the top film festivals in the world including Toronto, Los Angeles (best documentary), Tribeca, SXSW, Palm Springs Int'l (audience award), and Aspen (audience award). OT was also honored by being 'short listed' for an Oscar nomination, nominated for Best Documentary by the Independent Spirit Awards, and awarded a Human and Civil Rights award from the National Education Association (NEA). Critics loved OT, and the film was included on several 'best of' lists, including the L.A. Times and Seattle Times. Kennedy has become a much sought after speaker and educator and has lectured and taught master classes in film at universities such as Carnegie Mellon, USC, and the Claremont Colleges. Kennedy also had the honor of being chosen to participate in the American Documentary Showcase, a Cultural Presentation of the United States of America. Sponsored by the State Department, ADS partners with the local Embassy, bringing in filmmakers to show their work and teach in countries all over the world. Kennedy is also developing several narrative projects, including an adaptation of The Garden. His feature script Up River, a coming of age action/adventure movie on the Los Angeles River, went through the highly competitive FIND Directors Lab and was featured on the Black List. Presently Kennedy is in post-production on a documentary with the working title Fame High, about the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA). Fame High follows five freshman and five seniors through a school year as they try to become successful actors, singers, dancers, and musicians. Kennedy grew up in Berkeley, CA, and now resides in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles with his wife, Catherine Borek, and their two daughters Tessa and Eden.

Current Project

Up River (Narrative Feature)


Christmas Day, Compton California. A group of inner city youth go on a quest up the L.A. River in order to return a stolen ring. The group must not only survive the perils of the LA River, but what they find out about themselves is just as important as completing the journey up - and back down - the river.