Schein was a founder of the Swedish Film Institute and led the organisation from 1963 to 1978.
He is best known for his role in pushing through the film reform of 1963, which ensured that 10 percent of the money from cinema ticket sales was handed to a central film organisation. This system guaranteed continuous production of Swedish films for several decades.
Schein was also a columnist in Dagens Nyheter for many years, and wrote several books on current issues. He also published several largely autobiographical books, including Schein (1980) and Sluten (1995).
He was married to actress Ingrid Thulinn from 1956 to 1989.