Helmrich is famous for perfecting the 'Single Camera Shot' filming style and his related technical camera innovations.
"...you can move inside an event and go with your camera to the right spot, at the right moment,... That’s what the whole single-shot cinema is about: trying to think of the world as a kind of clockwork, a machinery, with everything interrelated. The bigger and smaller things are just as important. In a clockworks you can’t pull out a little gear because the whole thing jams. The solution is to become one of the clockworks.", Leonard Retel Helmrich.
After Indonesian independence the Helmrich family repatriated to the Netherlands during the Indo diaspora. His father, Jean Retel Helmrich, was born to a wealthy totok family in Semarang, Dutch East Indies, fought against the Japanese invaders during World War II and was interred as aPOW for three years. After the war he married a Javanese woman. “It was forbidden,” Mr. Helmrich’s sister and producer, Hetty Naaijkens-Retel Helmrich, explained. “They had to get permission from the queen, from the Indonesian government, the Dutch government, the Muslim church, and the Catholic Church. It was Romeo and Juliet.” Growing up, the filmmaker “had a lot of problems because of his dyslexia,” she said. “The teachers were always complaining that he was living in his own world, but already when he was a little boy he made very good drawings.” The family’s belief in him extended to financing “Eye of the Day” and getting involved in other ways. Ms. Naaijkens-Retel Helmrich’s production company, Scarabee, produces Mr. Helmrich’s films; her son, Jasper Naaijkens, is his uncle’s editor — which cannot be any easy job, considering Mr. Helmrich can come up with hourlong shots.